January 5, 2020
To the Editor,
Last night at the Y.M.C.A. a man named David had a heart attack while working out on the elliptical.
Within seconds, the staff and a Y member by the name of Christopher (a new science teacher at the Ross School) jumped into action.
It was amazing. Every member there did what they could to assist, even if it meant backing off. But with determination, compassion, and know-how, Chris literally brought David back to life — twice.
Between the Y staff, Christopher, and the quickness with which the police responded — not to mention the E.M.T.s, Terri and Sheila (forgive me if there were others whose names I don’t know), but because of all these people David has a great story to tell his friends and a baseline on his own health for moving forward. And he will move forward.
In a time when there is so much that makes me anxious for our future, this one event has given me a renewed sense of hope. Kudos to you all.
December 29, 2019
To the Editor:
While presidential candidates debate the merits and pitfalls of medical care reform, an example of why reform is desperately needed exists right here on the East End, where Stony Brook and its subsidiary, Meeting House Lane Medical Practice, have knitted together a virtual monopoly. My firsthand experience makes the point, as follows:
After seeing Dr. Steven Sobey, whose practice operates as part of Meeting House Lane, for several years, we had a falling out. Within days, I received a certified letter from him stating that he would no longer treat me because I am “hostile.” So I found another specialist, Dr. Richard Ashley, in Hampton Bays and made an appointment to see him. But on the morning of the appointed day, he had a receptionist call to cancel it. Why? Because I had previously seen Sobey who, like Ashley. operates under the rubric of Meeting House Lane. (Ashley refused to speak to me directly.)
I soon learned that Stony Brook had purchased virtually every practice between Westhampton and Montauk, and branded all as part of Meeting House Lane Medical Practice. Thus, I am forced to see a physician in Riverhead, who is part of the Northwell Group, which owns the practices Meeting House doesn’t!
In effect, we on the East End must choose between two monopolies. (I can’t prove this, but I have reason to believe that Stony Brook and Northwell have agreed to divide the territory between them, which protects the revenue stream of each and acts as a strong barrier to entry for other medical conglomerates and independent practitioners.)
Medical trust-busters like those who ended the railroad trusts early in the 20th century are needed now. Make no mistake: Medicine has become an industry, and we are all being railroaded!
December 24, 2019
Many local residents care for loved ones at home. Even those fortunate enough to have help will soon get worn out. I suspect that even Mother Teresa, were she still alive, could not take care of a single individual 24/7 for long. Many caregivers do this for years. Most are unaware of the importance of their own health and well-being. What would happen to their loved one without them?
There are several sources of free help in our area. I am not going to attempt to use the formal title for each group, but all are open to adults caring for other adults with dementia/Alzheimer’s at no charge.
The first and third Friday of the month at 1:30 p.m., meeting at the Family Service League at 316 Accabonac Road in East Hampton. The second Tuesday of the month at 11:00 a.m., meeting at the East Hampton Library. The last Wednesday of the month at 4 p.m., the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, 64 County Road 39 in Southampton. Caregivers for those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, also the third Wednesday of the month at noon in the Peconic Bay Medical Center at 1300 Roanoke Avenue in Riverhead. The first and third Thursday of the month at 10:30 a.m. in the Parrish House at Southampton Hospital.
DANIEL A. BRIGANTI
January 6, 2020
Happy New Year for 2020. A person might assume that because the date includes two of the same common number, 20 and 20, that this year will not have differing unpredictable events. Yes, 20 equals 2 squared (2 times 2 equals 4) times 5 in its simplistic prime number evaluation. But 2020 is 20 times the prime number 101, and 101 is a moderately high prime divisor for a low four-digit date. In 2020, I think we may have both common and unusual experiences.
Why am I speaking like this? Two connections: I now have brain cancer, a glioblastoma, and I love number theory. I was born on June 28, often written as 6/28, and 6 and 28 are the first two numbers that are called “perfect” (the divisors add up to the number: 1+2+3 = 6 and 1+2+4+7+14 = 28).
There is no year that is a prime number until 2027. I hope to live to a prime number year, which also includes the years 2029 and 2039. I have modified my attitude to what I should do every day. I am reviewing my history, partly to educate myself, and to experience both smiles and frustrations.
In 1969 I was a student at the Tanglewood Music Festival run by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New England Conservatory. I was a composer, and I also played jazz guitar in the large jazz orchestra. Now, I am only an amateur pianist, but I hope to put on one or two recitals this year, which will include Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert sonatas.
I left, heading toward being a professional musician, in the 1970s and became an avant-garde photographer (and normal one also) and sculptor. I hope to put on a show this summer of my often “visually radical” work done in the 1980s. That includes a nearly life-size hand-printed and painted photograph of me, nude.
And I just sent my recently finished short story, “Mort & Eleanor,” to some literary magazines. I always considered my literary work as just a hobby, though a serious one during concentrated periods of writing.
In reviewing my history and the future, 2019 was not a prime number. My glioblastoma showed up at an M.R.I. on July 10, 2019, and required over seven hours of operation to remove. I had to cancel my piano concert and my participation in a bicycle race on the French mountains of Mount Blanc. In 2020 and the future, I will be motivated by my interests in mathematics, logic, finance and economics, local politics and charity, the arts of all types, and, most important, people. Fortunately, I am not mentally reduced, as are many patients of this disease.
I will continue to do much town work, and I will discuss that frequently in the many letters that I plan to write. But the most important upcoming work will be visual, readable, and musical. My artwork, literature, and piano playing tell people that I love many of them, especially my wife, Pamela Bicket, who at the end of this month I will have known for 50 years. The most important reason that I do so much work of so much variety is that I want to make their lives better and make them happier.
Ducks Gone Wild
January 3, 2020
To the Editor,
You know that you live in a small town when feral barnyard animals merit above-the-fold headlines. Reading the ducks gone wild story about the recent kerfuffle at the East Hampton Nature Trail reminded me about the ducks of Otter Pond in Sag Harbor, where many moons ago we would visit frequently to feed them stale bread from our Uncle Tony’s grocery store.
At the beginning of the summer, among the hundreds of mallards, there could be dozens of fat, white Pekins, which had been abandoned when they outgrew their Easter duckling fluffy cuteness. As the summer progressed, while the population of mallards would remain stable, the Pekin count would dwindle noticeably, sometimes to zero.
A friend of one of my little brothers let slip why the Pekins were vanishing. His father might have had something to do with it, luring the flightless fowl close with tasty crusts and “adopting” the slowest ones.
With opposing factions dueling over their welfare, the previously domestic waterfowl at the Nature Trail got off lucky. Those long-ago Otter Pond birds were not destined for rehabilitation at the Happy Acres Duck Sanctuary.
January 2, 2020
As a Springs resident of more than 20 years, I am grateful for rescuers with Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) taking time away from their holiday to rescue domestic ducks abandoned in our community. (Re: “Nature Trail Duck Rescue Ruffles Feathers,” Jan. 2, 2019.)
Two years ago, a crested silver appleyard, a breed of domestic duck, was illegally dumped in the bay across from my home. He was very handsome, but he was alone, hungry, and like all domestic ducks, could not fly. I knew he needed help, but our local shelter told me they don’t accept ducks and our local wildlife center told me he wasn’t considered wildlife so did not have any place to keep him.
Wild Bird Fund, where I volunteer, suggested I contact LION. John Di Leonardo and his team drove two hours to save this duck’s life and then several more hours to place him at a vegan waterfowl sanctuary. He is now treated like royalty, provided with food, shelter, and excellent veterinary care, which is especially critical for his breed, which almost invariably develop neurological issues later in life.
It is embarrassing to read how some people in our community have disparaged this wonderful organization while these same people have allowed domesticated animals to languish at our Nature Trail with illness and broken bones.
We should be focusing on not allowing domesticated ducks to be dropped off to fend for themselves when they do not have the skills to survive on their own. Finally, LION volunteers are not “outsiders invading us insiders.” This is a false division. LION volunteers go anywhere on Long Island (as their name implies) to rescue any duck in need. We should be grateful.
January 2, 2020
Domestic fowl are thinking, feeling individuals, not school-science experiments, Easter props, or objects to be thrown out like trash. Abandoning them is cruel and illegal and no different from abandoning a dog or cat. Left to fend for themselves, they often freeze to death, starve, or are killed by predators because they lack adequate foraging skills and can’t fly.
Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), the animal advocacy organization that I founded, helped rescue more than 30 birds in one week over the holidays, including three domestic ducks, the last survivors of six who were left to die two months ago in East Hampton. They were rescued at the request of an East Hampton resident and in compliance with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and East Hampton Village Police Department. All were underweight and one was in so much pain that she was no longer eating; instead, she hid in a cove. She’s being treated for fungal and bacterial infections and a badly broken, swollen foot.
Once they’ve recovered, they’ll live together in peace and safety in a private home or vegan sanctuary where they will get the shelter, veterinary care, and love they deserve.
LION’s only motive was their well- being.
JOHN DI LEONARDO
Long Island Orchestrating for Nature
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
January 6, 2020
I’d like to weigh in on the Nature Trail issue. I wouldn’t worry too much about this LION organization. They swooped into our area in January 2015 when the deer cull rally took place. Because they had come only for media attention and not for the actual deer issue, they were quickly ignored and they disappeared as quick as they came. Now they are back, to save the domestic duck population at our sanctuary, and pick up any media attention they can get. I actually hope they stay around because they are so disillusioned about our Nature Trail and so inexperienced with our wildlife and their behaviors, they are bound to crash and burn at some point. After all, if they were only out to do good for our wildlife, then why did they have to be escorted by Department of Environmental Conservation, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Village Police. Sounds like a very cowardly LION indeed. Actually it’s because they create disruption wherever they go.
It seems like only yesterday (Oct. 2019) that Meghan Bambrick borrowed my equipment and then broke her promise and attempted to capture five domestics at the Nature Trail without having homes set up for them first. Because she has no experience, she was only able to capture one, but not without severely stressing the animal out, as well as stressing out all the ducks at the Nature Trail. Witnesses watched in horror as she chased the poor ducks around and around, occasionally slapping the metal rimmed net down onto the duck in an attempt to restrain it.
The duck ended up in her bathtub, and she posted on social media the next day that she needed help finding it a home because she was too sick to finish what she started. And guess who was applauding this behavior and cheering her on? None other than John Di Leonardo, founder and leader of this great LION organization. A perfect example of the blind leading the blind. By the way, LION stands for Long Island Orchestrating for Nature. As if humans don’t impact nature and our wildlife enough here on the East End, this half-cocked organization from UpIsland wants to orchestrate it. Sounds like a disaster to me.
When I asked Meghan to return my work equipment, she refused and left my wildlife rescue gear up the Island, where she found someone to take the duck. No plan, no experience, no responsibility, no common sense. I actually had to cancel a job because she neglected to return my work gear. I had to enlist the services of the East Hampton Town police to get Meghan to return my equipment. That’s when her mother attempted to have me arrested for harassment. Can you imagine? That is why I will never allow either to be involved with my wildlife rescue organization. They are a severe risk to the safety of animals in my professional opinion.
Now, quickly on the subject of dropping off domestics at the Nature Trail. I am not condoning the abandonment of any domestic animal; however, in the case of these domestic ducks, folks are going to continue to drop them off at the Nature Trail and there is not much anyone is going to do about it. Might I remind the village chief, littering is a crime as well but not much gets done about that either. Let me also remind everyone that domestics also get dropped at Pussy’s Pond, Two Holes of Water, Northwest Woods, and even the beach. I wonder if LION has done anything for those domestics? Of course they haven’t. Again I’ll say, from a rescue responder point of view, I’d much rather domestics get dropped off at the safe sanctuary Nature Trail, than the other dangerous drop-off options.
I was totally capable of caring for the Nature Trail residents, but since it basically cares for itself, there is not much to be done. If the Village prefers D.E.C., S.P.C.A., LION, and the village police to watch over a simple “duck pond,” I think it’s a bit of overkill, but whatever (LOL). Believe me, I have plenty of real wildlife work to do from Sag Harbor to Montauk that keeps me very busy. Great job by the village board as well for allowing this to happen. Last time they let the D.E.C. into the Nature Trail, well, we all know what happened there — death.
Lastly, I want to mention Suffolk County S.P.C.A. Duck Detective Dan S. I don’t have to guess how this cheesecake got his job, as it’s clear he failed on having what it takes to be a real law enforcement officer. Duck Detective Dan called me from his cell and attempted to intimidate me with his amateur methods. He was so bad, I thought it was a phone scam. He said he knew all about me, yet he knew nothing of my nonprofit in wildlife rescue. Then, slander Dan told the Nature Trail committee chairwoman that I was not licensed to be dealing in the wildlife field — a serious lie from a Duck Dick, but once I put Dan in his place on the phone, he didn’t have much more to say except to call me an idiot and then hang up. For his asinine attempt at doing a proper job, I am no longer supporting the Suffolk S.P.C.A. and ask that others think twice before doing so.
For the record, I am licensed by New York State for nuisance wildlife control, wildlife rehabilitation, and wildlife possession and exhibition. I’m also licensed by the federal government Wildlife Fish and Game Service, and have a migratory bird permit. I’m certified in all aspects of Wildlife Rescue including R.V.S. (Rabies Vector Species). I have 30 years’ experience in the wildlife field, have a local wildlife business for 10 years in East Hampton and a nonprofit wildlife rescue operation here in East Hampton. I do wildlife education at dozens of schools, clubs, and functions. I’ve lectured at the Long Island Natural History Conference, Pine Barrens Association, and Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt. I created, produced, and hosted a wildlife television show for five years locally and have written the only book about the East Hampton Village Nature Trail (“Eden of East Hampton”), as well as a children’s book series “The Wild Adventures of Scurry the Squirrel,” a learning tool designed to teach compassion and understanding for our wildlife. So as far as my experience level, or the question of whether I’m licensed or not, it seems like S.P.C.A. Duck Detective Dan needs to stop, well, he needs to stop LYIN.
Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton
January 3, 2020
It’s time we gave seaweed a shot, and by seaweed, I mean specifically kelp. We Americans may be most familiar with this species from Japanese cuisine, but not only is it a superfood, rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential iodine, it is also a good nutrient sink for carbon and nitrogen, and provides an amazing habitat for many kinds of aquatic species. Our native sugar kelp is actually considered one of the tastiest varieties, and would be a great addition to the locally produced food economy. But that’s not all: Kelp can also be added to animal feed, makes fantastic fertilizer, and has a bright future in biofuels.
Kelp is now being farmed in Connecticut, Maine, Washington State, and parts of California, and I think it’s time we raise the possibility of adding it to local aquaculture efforts. I say this for a few reasons: It grows underwater and does not need floating gear other than a few buoys, an issue that has been raised recently in terms of shellfish operations and their clash with recreational uses in certain areas. Also, the growing season for kelp is November through May, opposite the traditional fishing season, so it’s an attractive option for commercial fishermen and baymen who want an alternative and additional income source, a situation made all the more timely considering the scallop crash this year and possibly into the future.
Currently there is no existing permitting structure for seaweed aquaculture in New York. We can remedy this by asking our local officials, including the town trustees, town board, and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, as well as our state representatives and Governor Cuomo, to support changing the provisions for aquaculture and including kelp in permitted uses. We need to raise the awareness of such an awesome natural ally at our doorstep in the effort of bioremediation, carbon sequestration, economic benefit, and a new future for a working waterfront in this town.
January 4, 2020
To the Editor,
I read with interest the article about the Ruins succumbing to the sea. Many know I was a confidant of Robert Gardiner, and as such I heard many stories about Gardiner’s Island at his feet, as the saying goes. On our tours all throughout the 1990s and upon our arrival at Lone Tree Hill overlooking Bostwick Pond he would immediately point toward the Ruins. “Look, look! That’s Gardiner’s Point (he never used the word Ruins). My great-aunt Julia rode a stagecoach there every summer on Sunday dressed in her finery.” Apparently it was tradition for the ladies of the manor.
When Gardiner said “stagecoach,” I asked, “Really? Like a western movie?”
“Yes, with a team of six!”
I doubted it but sure sounded dramatic, most probably a four-seater buggy with one horse, maybe two.
Bob also would tell of himself exploring the innards of the fort as a young boy. He said it was a labyrinth of tunnels and rooms, and that he could peer out of the arrowslits. (Who uses that word for a description of a small window of a fortress nowadays?)
Here’s another interesting reminiscence. A friend of mine told me that during the past century, the “bombs” that dropped on what remained of the fort were actually sacks of flour. Which created a huge white cloud upon hitting their mark. And as such many people would gaze in amazement from the mainland and not just from boats. I went around the Ruins once in my small boat to have a look. I can only describe it as having a very weird appearance, and I never bothered to go back. But Bob was always going back to Gardiner’s Island with his encyclopedic mind bringing the past into the present to any and all who would listen.
The self-proclaimed 16th Lord of the Manor (1690 was like yesterday to him) would never cease to revel in the memory of his most cherished ancestor, Julia Tyler, the first lady of the United States.
The Old Fort
January 6, 2020
Thanks for your reporting on the ruins of the Old Fort off Gardiner’s Island. Back in the mid-1960s I had quite a memorable experience involving the mysterious Old Fort.
I became enamored by the fort when I was a kid, here for summers from the late 1950s. I quite clearly remember seeing bomb tail fins and rotors salvaged by hobby divers on the town dock on Three Mile Harbor while my Dad, uncle, younger brother, Alex, and I chartered a wooden rowboat with an outboard engine to fish for porgies and blowfish off the bluffs to the north of Sammy’s Beach. For whatever reason I was galvanized with curiosity about the Fort. I was about 14 at the time.
Shortly thereafter my Dad purchased a beautiful, all-wood Riva, an Italian- made launch with a Chrysler engine, all-mahogany construction, nice soft deck cushions, all in a glamorous 25-foot package meant for the Med.
We took the boat out for a day trip. It was docked at Geoff Briggs’s marina at the head of Three Mile and on board were my father, brothers Alex and John, Alex’s swimming coach, Leo Butler, and me, at the helm. Before long we were in the near vicinity of the fort. As we drew closer to the island, with its massive walls and bright orange and yellow tetrahedron structure at its highest point we (I) ran the boat onto a shallow reef which extended to the southwest of the island.
It was shallow enough where my brothers could slip off the boat, and with the help of an oncoming swell eventually rock the boat off the rocks. Once all were back aboard I restarted the engine and turned back toward the entry to Three Mile, a mile or two away. We didn’t get very far. After the boat slipped the rocks I saw a 2-by-6-inch piece of hull floating in the water, an ominous sign, but I didn’t expect that the end would occur so quickly.
Within seconds, with the stern filling and sinking, the engine quit. Everyone grabbed whatever cushions they could, abandoned ship, and started the 300- yard swim to the fort.
The weakest swimmers were Coach Butler and our father. My brother Alex, who some of you may remember as being a strong swimmer, grabbed them and made his way to the island, dragging them both with their life preserver straps clenched in his jaws, one to either side.
We all made it ashore, and in a way a dream had come true for me to explore the old fort. We were marooned. None of the nearby boats heard my desperate toe on the button siren call as we went down, no one noticed that we had sunk.
It was about 3 in the afternoon. We were wet but drying out. My Dad and Coach Butler decided to try to build a fire by rubbing sticks together in anticipation of an extended stay.
I was only interested in clambering around the old ruins, imagining what the purpose of each remnant room might have been and eventually making it to the top, where the tetrahedron was perched. I presumed it was a target of some kind. And it was at that precise second, out of the corner of my eye, at a distance, to the northeast toward Fishers, I saw a gray plume in the sky. Within seconds, as the speck in the distance came closer, I was able to see it for what it was. A fighter jet, evolving into an F-4 Phantom, heading my way. I started to wave my towel.
What the pilot of the jet did next is something I will never forget. From an altitude above the bay of perhaps 200 feet, and not more than half a mile away from me, he pulled back the stick and went straight up into the sky, up and up and up, until he disappeared. It was the most beautiful arc one could ever imagine.
Perhaps an hour or two later we were able to grab the attention of a passing boat. They, in turn, contacted the Coast Guard. As night fell we were rescued and brought back to Three Mile where my Mom was waiting in a panic, having been advised of the rescue by the police, and told not to worry, “everyone is safe.”
Two days later we sent an aircraft up to try to locate the Riva for possible salvage. No trace of the boat was found.
It’s hard to believe that the old fort is gone. It seems like yesterday.
December 30, 2019
The end-of-year/New Year holidays seem to whiplash us from one extreme to the other: Eat, drink, and be merry vs. the customary New Year’s resolutions: Reduce social media, reduce weight, and embrace a plant-based diet!
One-third of consumers already report reducing their consumption of animal foods. Hundreds of school, college, hospital, and corporate cafeterias have embraced Meatless Monday. Even fast-food chains Chipotle, Denny’s, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell, White Castle, are rolling out plant-based options.
A dozen start-ups, led by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are creating healthy, eco-friendly, compassionate, convenient, delicious plant-based meat and dairy alternatives. Meat industry giants Tyson Foods, Cargill, and Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods have invested heavily in plant-based meat development. So have a number of Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and PayPal pioneers.
According to the Plant-Based Foods Association, plant-based food sales have grown by 20 percent in recent years, 10 times the growth rate of all foods. Sales of plant-based cheeses, creamers, butter, yogurts, and ice creams are exploding at a 50 percent growth rate. Plant-based milks now account for 15 percent of the milk market.
The plant-based New Year’s resolution requires no sweat or deprivation —just some fun exploration of your favorite supermarket, restaurants, and food websites.
January 2, 2020
The commercial fishing industry has recklessly created fisheries depletion, fisheries bycatch, and is a leading contributor to shoreline and ocean pollution. The industry seemingly has no respect for the sentience of the ocean’s inhabitants given their barbaric and archaic techniques for capture, and as the literature suggests, the industry provides food products that contain mercury, microplastics, and other toxins. Yet the Town of East Hampton website promotes commercial fishing via a picture of commercial fishing vessels. Sylvia Overby told me they were part of the Montauk fleet.
The Town of East Hampton should be industry neutral and shouldn’t be promoting any industry on their website, especially an industry like the commercial fishing industry that creates so many negative externalities. The town’s shorelines are polluted with commercial fishing debris and bycatch that I unfortunately come across too frequently, that no one seems to clean up, even the Town of East Hampton. Why doesn’t the town show these pictures on their website or clean their shorelines of the commercial fishing equipment debris and bycatch? Could there be a conflict of interest within the administration of the Town of East Hampton with respect to their promotion of the commercial fishing industry? Are any town administrators connected to or involved with the commercial fishing industry in any way? The Town of East Hampton seems stuck in the past and needs to evolve.
December 28, 2019
“Virtue signaling,” as defined by the Urban Dictionary, means “to take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else.”
“The real danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like action is happening when in fact nothing is being done.” Greta Thunberg, 17-year-old climate activist speaking to the United Nations.
What, you may ask, is the meaning of these conjoined quotes? Well, a couple of weeks ago, the State of New York turned down the Town of East Hampton’s application for a multimillion dollar grant to relocate the town shellfish hatchery from Montauk to Gann Road in Springs at a cost of more than $5 million.
We don’t know why the grant application was turned down. Perhaps because the state figured out that it is being defrauded by the town. As required by law, the grant application includes a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act that the project will not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts. However, as Supervisor Van Scoyoc himself stated publicly last August, weeks after the town board voted 4-1, over the objections of Councilman Bragman, to adopt the negative declaration and submit the application, it is not yet possible to ascertain the environmental impacts because “we don’t even have a plan yet” capable of environmental review.
The supervisor attempted at that time to justify the fake negative declaration by claiming it was only for the action of submitting the grant application, not for the project itself. However, the law is absolutely clear that there is no such thing as environmental review of a grant application distinct from the project to be funded by the grant. Moreover, even a cursory reading of the negative declaration makes clear that it speaks entirely about environmental consequences of the project, not about the environmental consequences of submitting a grant application that cannot by itself have any.
Or, perhaps common sense prevailed. Mr. Van Scoyoc repeatedly, mind-numbingly, justifies the project by declaring, “An oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day.” That might be relevant if the project were going to add so much as a single oyster to our waters. But it won’t, because we currently produce a surplus of shellfish seed, more than we can use.
As we saw so recently with the disastrous scallop harvest, the limitation on shellfish production is not lack of seeds, but lack of suitable habitat. And if we did need more seed, we would be going backward as the new hatchery will have a significantly smaller capacity than the existing one.
Why then is the town undertaking this essentially useless and wasteful project? Virtue signaling.
Indeed, no matter the issue, the major activity of this town board is doing little or nothing of consequence while trying desperately to appear to be doing something. Because doing nothing and claiming virtue is easy. Doing something substantial to address serious public problems is hard. It requires hard thought about what is achievable, marshaling of facts and research, cooperation with other civic actors not under the board’s control, and the risk of failure, of not achieving a stated goal.
In contrast, if there is no substantial or stated goal to be achieved, only the symbolic action of signaling virtue, little real work is required, no civic engagement is necessary, and there is no risk of failure. The supervisor doesn’t claim that more water will be filtered as a result of the project. Such a claim would be false and there would have to be facts to back it up. But an oyster will filter 50 gallons of water a day with or without this project. So, if you can sell that idea without actually undertaking to achieve anything, you cannot lose.
It seems that even an alert 17-year-old, Greta Thunberg, can recognize that this is not merely foolish, but actually dangerous business. Not only are precious resources wasted on nothing, but the opportunity cost of failing to act, because of the pretense of action, is potentially catastrophic. There will be a price to pay. Shame on all of us for tolerating a charade.
About the Route
December 30, 2019
Strangely absent from all the to and fro debates about the route for Orsted’s wind-power cable, one of the easiest and shortest has had little or no mention.
Imagine if the cables could land at the Life-Saving Station at Georgica Beach.
Do I hear the cries of outrage already? The route could follow across Georgica Road — possibly even through Georgica Cove — northward across Aquebogue Road to the southern end of Cove Hollow Road, thence north across Route 27 all the way to the Cove Hollow Road substation at Route 114.
However, Georgica is not Wainscott and most likely packs much more political and financial muscle. As has been famously written, the rich are different from you and me. Nevertheless, I think this proposal should be out there. For Orsted, this would entail considerable savings in time and money.
Another consideration that should not be overlooked with the Beach Lane proposal: Once Wainscott Main Street has been traversed, the next path is likely to be Sayre’s Path heading northward. Many homes on that road are smaller and quite humble year-round homes and they need a voice, too.
Full disclosure: As a full-time East Hampton resident, I have no ax to grind either way. Nor do I have any connection with Citizens for the Protection of Wainscott. I frequently bike Beach Lane all year and often hang out at Wainscott Beach.
It’s a new year again. Here’s to a clean and green future.
P. DAVID FREEDMAN
December 29, 2019
As we start the new year, I have been reminded by various articles in your paper that our local political environment is sadly almost as dysfunctional as the national one.
Our town has spent four years arguing over where a much-needed cell tower should be placed in Springs, or how high it should be. The answer seems it will eventually be placed at a Girl Scout camp instead of the local fire department? I’m not sure if this is being done in spite, but if this happens, it will deprive our mostly volunteer local fire and emergency medical corps of a much needed source of annual income.
In the new year, our town will also start to spend $5 to $6 million of its own and state money for a new shellfish hatchery that will do very little to improve our local water quality. From my understanding, we don’t even use all the seed that we currently produce. No matter how many oysters we put in the bays, they will not fix the water quality issues that are mainly coming from old septic systems and road runoff.
The money to be wasted on the new hatchery, however, pales against that
for the ever-changing Deepwater, now South Fork Wind Farm. Even by the most optimistic assumptions, it is two times more expensive than the larger wind farm that will come online a few years later. That is $800 million (50 percent of the original $1.6 billion projected cost) that could be used to fund cheaper renewable projects like solar.
It also ignores the additional $500 million that will be needed to upgrade the grid to send the excess power generated during the winter back UpIsland. A more pragmatic solution if the South Fork project goes through would be to use the $50 million offshore cable that will be part of the much larger Sunshine project and save $450 million to be used for other local renewable projects.
I always thought one of the reasons the town committed to being 100 percent green power over five years ago was so that we could do local renewable projects to offset our own use. This was supposed to help us avoid hundreds of millions in new grid upgrade costs to bring more power to the growing South Fork area. Now, ironically, the utility wants to spend twice that amount to send power back to the middle of Long Island?
One should realize New York State currently faces a $5 billion budget deficit and that the money potentially allocated for the South Fork Wind could be better spent funding more efficient energy projects that would probably allow for three times the amount of renewable energy to be generated — a win-win for both the environment and ratepayers. While I believe at least $1.25 billion of the investment needed for the South Fork Wind Farm should be avoided, I’m not sure why you seem to think that is a “negligible” cost if it is spread out over all the ratepayers of Long Island? That is the main reason to stop this boondoggle, not because of a pipeline in Wainscott.
I was encouraged to see during the Group for Good Government debates that all candidates running for the town board seemed to agree we have a deer management problem in our area. The increased deer population is clearly responsible for the destruction of almost all undergrowth in wooded areas and our yards. The significant increase in Lyme disease in our area would also appear to be closely tied to their population growth. And most obviously, the reason that car accidents involving deer have increased from 80 to 646 per year in the last decade.
The sad truth is that the town needs to start to do annual professionally managed culls to reduce the deer population. The cost would likely be in the $100,000 to $200,000 range a year, small change given our appetite for spending in other areas. Every year that this is postponed will only make it harder as the herd most likely grows at a 25 percent rate annually.
While I don’t have high expectations for common-sense solutions to be reached in most of the above-mentioned issues, hopefully at least in terms of deer management, we can start to take some responsible steps in the new year.
Now We Know
December 30, 2019
Re: “Wind Farm Naysayers? Who Are They?” (Dec. 26).
Thank you so much for this coverage. I’ve been wondering who was behind all this vague opposition to the wind farm. Now we know.
December 30, 2019
Thank you for your excellent editorial exposing the machinations behind the recent advertisements against Orsted and Offshore Wind.
We are now aware, after Cambridge Analytica and Russian meddling, how deep-pocketed political agents masquerade on Facebook and elsewhere as grassroots groups of concerned citizens. A group calling itself Citizens For Preservation of Wainscott has spent $15,000 recently on Facebook and Newsday ads, and powerful Republican lobbying interests are still working to perpetuate the use of fossil fuels on Long Island rather than approve the South Fork Wind Farm.
Alex Edlich, an executive with McKinsey and Company, ostensibly paid for these ads. McKinsey itself, as an adviser to giant corporations, has warned its clients about climate risk, so maybe it really is Mr. Edlich spending his own pocket money, but money trails are hard to follow.
If we convert to non-carbon energy, trillions of dollars worth of polluting fossil fuel assets will be stranded underground. Does anyone believe the profiteers in fossil fuel are not actively involved, openly and behind the scenes, in trying to stifle the incipient move to offshore wind? They have three objectives: money, money, and money. They are indifferent to the hunger, suffering, and death they are perpetuating.
East Hampton voters decisively rejected the spurious arguments from these agents that pervaded the recent election. But the money never sleeps. If we are too busy to raise our voices, resistance fomented by cynical manipulators will kill this process at the State Department of Public Service. Send an email to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, ([email protected]). The application title and case number is 18-T-0604: Deepwater Wind South Fork Export Cable Project.
Tell them this astro-turf group does not represent you. Tell them we need wind power, and we need it now.
December 30, 2019
With respect to “Wind Farm Naysayers? Who Are They” (Dec. 26, 2019), The East Hampton Star has lost its ethical compass in a shabby effort to bully Wainscott citizens who oppose Orsted’s planned landing of a high voltage power cable on the Wainscott beach and through their residential community.
To date, The Star has just debased its journalistic privilege by mechanically repeating Orsted’s (and the town supervisor’s) talking points. For example, it introduces the tired cliché that the installation of the first ever offshore wind energy high voltage cables in New York State, residential or otherwise, is just like the installation of a routine water main project. Really?
The Star has ignored independent studies that demonstrate alternative routes can potentially shorten the undersea route and the onshore cable route. Indeed, there are potential routes, which Orsted told the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott it would pursue in good faith, that could land in a nonresidential area, avoid traffic impediments, maximize the use of the rail corridor where electric lines are already used, shorten the overall route, and take to complete in one season.
For whatever reason, The Star finds the pursuit of a better route “inexplicable,” as if the only route that could possibly make sense is the self-serving one promoted by Orsted. As The Star offers insults rather than arguments to the challenge to the Orsted plan, it ignores academic studies, from professors at each of Dartmouth and the University of Barcelona, showing that opposition by targeted local communities is not an irrational vehicle for self-protective homeowners, but can be well grounded and actually promote better solutions than that proposed by local authorities or corporations who don’t have to live with the consequences of their actions.
For example, as time goes on, major issues have arisen wherever the project lands as to whether the project is sub-scale at 130MW. Indeed, the New York State Energy and Development Authority has indicated that projects of less than 400MW involve dis-economies of scale and higher costs per unit of energy than larger projects.
The Star is such a true believer in wind energy that it would recklessly impose a site that is a product of corporate arrogance and bureaucratic incompetence (e.g., the Town of East Hampton has done no studies of the best available sites). It is so convinced of the righteousness of its cause in fighting climate change that it has now gone beyond mere biased reporting to abandon decency in the service of its cause.
The town-appointed Wainscott Citizens Advisory Council opposed the Orsted project landing in Wainscott by a 10-to-2 margin (as did two of the five town board members); The Star states that the work of the council must have been “hijacked,” and the existing citizens advisory committee model should be terminated.
Local residents of Wainscott formed a citizens group to challenge the town’s effort to land a cable on their beach and obtained signatures from more than 1,300 community members who oppose the Orsted plan (many of whom spoke or wrote to the Public Service Commission); The Star doxes the leadership of that citizens organization and mischievously publishes their name and employer as part of some convoluted mix of a conspiracy theory and putative class warfare. This was harassment cloaked under the guise of legitimate journalism. It had no other purpose but to instigate attacks on the group’s leadership and chill the exercise of public discourse.
The Star’s unhinged attack goes on to bizarrely link the group’s public affairs adviser to Ukraine and the Mueller report. It then proceeds to say, “this is not to suggest there is a conspiracy” when that is exactly what it suggested. The Star needs to reacquaint itself with the standards of public discourse that it sets for others to follow.
On Beach Lane
December 6, 2019
I would like to respond to the “Wind Farm Naysayers? Who are they?”
I reside on Beach Lane, and I am for wind power, not against it. I know of no one in Wainscott who opposes wind power and reducing our carbon emissions, including those involved in the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott.
Our public water system, recently installed and now being weaponized by some as an argument to leverage support for the South Fork Wind Farm, was the result of the PFAS pollution of our wells, which the town did not immediately disclose to us. We learned about the pollution months after they were informed of it. They said they were verifying it. Yet when they finally disclosed the pollution, we were told it was not safe to bathe, drink, or cook with water from our wells. We would like to have known immediately as we all were potentially endangering our health. If we had been informed sooner, we would have had our well water tested sooner, which we did immediately once notified. We also connected to the water supply as soon as we could, being told that the health hazard was only increasing day by day as the pollutants continued to enter the groundwater. The town’s delay in notifying Wainscott residents about the PFAS in the groundwater demonstrates the lack of concern for our community. The push to accept the Orsted/Deepwater/Eversource plan for Wainscott (the longest total cable run) without vetting all options simply shows further disregard and makes us question if Wainscott’s best interests are being considered.
The mains were installed along the side of the road without using massive, heavy equipment and total access to Beach Lane was always available. It was done during daytime hours, using trenching alongside the roadbed, and horizontal drilling to cross under streets and to connect to residences. This was accomplished during normal daytime hours and not at night. Generators were not running 24-7 and there were no equipment and supply deliveries at night. People continued to walk Beach Lane to the beach, as well as easily drive there. Looking at the proposed construction site plan for the South Fork Wind Farm, we really don’t believe that one lane will always be open and there will also be a heavy increase of vehicles and personnel present on our streets and at the site.
Beach Lane is a narrow road and people drive to the Beach Lane beach as well as walk and bike along it all year round with children and pets. We do not know why we must be forced to listen to construction equipment running 24-7 disturbing privacy, quality of life and subjecting those along the route to the noxious fumes of diesel equipment, trucks, and trailers. The construction of a sound barrier would, for a time, block and possibly permanently affect the movement patterns of local wildlife including our deer population, hawks, and field animals. There are now nesting bald eagles at Georgica Pond — how will construction affect them? Orsted doesn’t appear to care, and it seems, neither does our town. In fact, a very viable alternative has not even been investigated by Orsted/Deepwater/Eversource, with no homes located as close to the proposed project as many of us are. It does not require our town trustees or town board to grant any right of way or easements to our streets or to our beaches. Most important, it does not require digging up Route 27 through Amagansett, which should not happen. That disruption would be totally unacceptable.
When I inquired about it, I was told that Orsted/Eversource would have to acquire rights of ways in order to do it. They were right. The transmission cabling out to Amagansett and Montauk cannot handle the power that the South Fork Wind Farm will generate. LIPA does have the rights of way as they run their transmission lines out there now. LIPA told Orsted/Deepwater they would agree to buy the power if they delivered it to the East Hampton substation where they can currently accept the onshore portion of the transmission cable. Orsted agreed, and if that remains in effect, we will be paying the highest price for electricity as a result and much of that power will go west and not be used here.
LIPA does need to increase its distribution to the East End, specifically to Amagansett and Montauk. Orsted/Deepwater/Eversource, with the town board’s support, needs to renegotiate with LIPA to upgrade the Amagansett substation, rather than the East Hampton substation and run the 60-kilovolt cable to Amagansett while requiring Orsted to land their cable on state-owned property (which is normally what has been done), and take any responsibility/liability off the shoulders of our town board as well as our trustees. The cable can be run alongside sections of Route 27 as needed and under Route 27 by horizontal drilling.
LIPA will be passing the cost to deliver power on to all ratepayers. However, delivering the transmission cable to Amagansett will require a shorter submarine cable and less cable laying and installation work for Orsted, reducing their cost. Power should be provided at less cost to LIPA, ultimately reducing our electricity delivery cost and covering their cost of installing the cables, which they will be doing anyway. Why should we pay for this twice over?
Orsted/Deepwater/Eversource told the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott that they would fully evaluate a Hither Hills route, which they recently reneged on. They have not attempted to find a solution, and instead seek to garner further support to force the cable landing at Beach Lane (their most “elegant” route). This is typical of Orsted. They will make empty promises to accomplish what they want. It is a foreign company, seeking opportunity in the U.S. At least they had the foresight to sell a 50 percent interest to Eversource, an American energy company.
I have been told that the structures for the windmills, the turbines, and the blades are all being manufactured overseas. Why would we outsource this work and take business away from U.S. workers? We have been building structures and rigs in our seas for decades and the U.S. manufactures steel, wind turbines, and blades. Why is our town board and LIPA so eager to sell our workers and manufacturers out? I do wonder. I would like Orsted, Deepwater/Eversource to let us know exactly where the towers, turbines, and blades will be manufactured. Hearsay is not enough.
Sadly, the proponents of the South Fork Wind Farm cable landing in Wainscott seem to be simply regurgitating what they are being told by Orsted/Deepwater/Eversource without question, independent analysis, and certainly no due diligence. Just do it quickly and get it over with for the greater good.
Peter Van Scoyoc, at a Wainscott citizens meeting, said he would not give an easement to Orsted until after the Article 7 review and the alternatives were evaluated. Recently I heard him say he endorses landing the cable at Beach Lane. I wonder why this change of mind?
Some thoughts to be considered: Underwater electric transmission lines warm our sea bottoms and consequently, our oceans. Rotating blades warm our atmosphere — it’s called friction. Diesel generators, running 24-7, produce large amounts of carbon dioxide. These generators will need to be on standby and ready to run to compensate for variations in offshore wind speeds. Very few proponents of the South Fork Wind Farm live or seem to want to live in or near the construction zone for months straight, with its noise, disruption, inconvenience, and fumes. We also have unaddressed concerns about the safety of living next to the cable. Why is it okay to try to force Wainscott residents to live with and be exposed to it, when it appears that a very viable alternative is available?
The town expects to receive a community benefit package of at least $8.5 million from this project and probably more. Perhaps they could pay the monies to LIPA to help cover the cost of transmission line installation, defraying some of the cost to ratepayers. Have LIPA do the upgrade in Amagansett in time to receive the shorter transmission line for the South Fork Wind Farm, receiving more power in less time, at a lower cost to LIPA, and, hopefully, to us the rate payers.
Industrializing the hamlet of Wainscott for any reason is wrong, just as digging up Route 27 would be. We are a farming community and have been so for centuries. We also have seasonal residents who come for the peace, quiet, beauty, and seclusion of the hamlet. Some will retire here, as we will. Protecting our environment means conserving what resources we have, as well as finding ways to reduce impact to global warming. (We do not have central air and open our windows for ventilation. We also use a clothesline whenever possible.) I commend our town for their solar initiative and support wind, but not at any cost to our environment. If all parties truly worked toward that goal and the residents of East Hampton, Montauk, Amagansett, Wainscott, and even those bused in from locations outside our area in a show of support, worked together, we can ensure that our environment is protected with an acceptable plan of action. Orsted/Deepwater/Eversource and LIPA want to sell us power and we need it, but we will have a say in how we will get it and what we will agree to. LIPA now purchases non-carbon supply off the national grid at less cost than what they have agreed to pay Orsted. Why would they agree to that? Perhaps we need another electric provider. I think so. Competition is a good thing.
January 6, 2020
Regarding “Wind Farm Naysayers? Who are They?” (Dec. 26, 2020): Your editorial suggests that the leadership of the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott are some lonely crackpots with a self-serving agenda out of step with the community. I know you know, however, that the effort is broadly supported by the local community as evidenced by the town-appointed Wainscott Citizens Advisory Council opposing the Orsted project by a 10-to-2 vote, 1,300-plus community members signing a grassroots petition against the route and two out of five town board members opposing the intent to grant an easement.
January 6, 2020
“Orsted Eyes 2020 Advances” (Jan. 2, 2020) is yet another example of The Star acting as the public relations arm for Orsted. Your laudable mission to combat climate change has undermined your newspaper’s journalistic principles to report the facts rather than be a blind advocate.
When a purported news story on Orsted reads like a press release, you know you have a problem. East Hampton needs its local press to provide objective reporting with critical thinking to include proposed benefits, costs, shortcomings, alternatives, and potential collateral damage of Orsted’s infrastructure energy project, not a lemming.
Anyplace But Here
January 3, 2020
To the Editor:
Thanks for your excellent editorial concerning the opponents of the South Fork Wind Farm transmission cable landing (“Wind Farm Naysayers? Who Are They?” Dec. 26). As a former commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, I’m no stranger to local opposition to projects like this. But the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott’s opposition to the transmission cable landing is “not in my backyard” on steroids.
The Wainscott landing is the preferred alternative because it is the least environmentally disruptive and, importantly, by far the one that affects the least number of people for the shortest amount of time. Unfortunately, despite the recognized immediacy of the unfolding climate crisis and the need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels, the citizens group is taking an irrational “anyplace-but-here” attitude because of some perceived inconvenience. The temporary inconvenience from burying the transmission cable would be minimal, and it would occur during the off-season when most Wainscott second-home owners are not likely to be around.
The South Fork Wind Farm is a critical clean energy project that won a competitive bid over a host of other more expensive alternatives that, if selected, would have contributed to air pollution, greenhouse gases, and continued reliance on fossil fuels. Connecting this offshore energy to the Long Island grid is now being reviewed by the Public Service Commission, in concert with a host of other state agencies including the Department of Environmental Conservation. I have faith that this time-tested process, along with local decisions by the town and the trustees, will result in a project that is good for the South Fork, for Long Island, and New York State. I urge the citizens of Wainscott to join in this effort. After all, coastal property owners have the most to lose if New York does not lead the way in combatting climate change and demonstrating to the world how it can be done.
New York Offshore Wind Alliance
The Bottom Line
Naysayers? Are we the ratepayers not entitled to know exactly how much our rates will increase? Just trust a foreign company, whose main concern is profit and definitely not the unknown burden that will hit us. Why won’t they tell us exactly how much? It is not the ratepayer who is misleading. Several underground vaults? Twenty is more than several, and they are box trailer in size. The excavation is double the width and then the depth will place these behemoths under water.
The recent water main installation comparison? A 22-inch-wide trench, 1,200 feet a day, which was closed and paved immediately. That was an emergency because of contamination of dangerous PFO and PFOAs, and a host of contaminants in our water that were poisoning us. Who knew about this and when did they know? Beach Lane is narrow and the whole road will be impassible. This is not a valid comparison.
Where is the secret maintenance cost (estimated to be $100 per unit per year?), which was reported in a European study that was published. What is the carbon footprint to manufacture the blades, the life span and abandonment costs when they cease to be profitable and wear out? The towers stay in place but how much to remove the blades and where are they disposed of?
Enough to power 70,000 homes means that the excess will be sold to the west of us. The average resident already pays more. How do they absorb the “just trust me” pitched by Orsted, yet we were kept in the dark that the original company was in negotiations to sell to a foreign entity? “It’s the money stupid.”
Then The Star conveniently slips in the political slant on the “naysayers” and inserts far more space than the real issue of how much? That is the bottom line we are all concerned about.
So why not champion the closing of the airport, sand pits, and install solar farms to supply out little grid. We were not put on this earth so big companies and their hedge-fund honchos can fatten their already bloated wallets. If the money tree bends any more, we, who are the branches, will break.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
January 6, 2020
About your editorial “Wind Farm Naysayers? Who Are They?”: Your comparison of a water main project to the approval required for the installation and operation of high-voltage electric cables is one of the silliest comparisons ever made in an editorial. There is a reason that New York State mandates a comprehensive review through its Public Service Commission for the installation of high-voltage electrical cables.
In contrast, the P.S.C. process is not focused on environmental impact (and generally just focuses on prices and services) for new water mains. Water doesn’t emit electromagnetic waves and isn’t lethal when improperly touched; it does not have nearly the same scope of potential environment impacts that must be assessed to ensure that reasonable alternatives have been assessed and the route chosen is the best suited for the project.
There is a reason that town after town raises issues with high-voltage electrical cables that are not raised with water pipes. There is a reason Deepwater’s proposed landing site for an offshore wind farm was blocked by a residential community in Rhode Island and later moved to a state park. (And guess what, David, that high-voltage electrical cable is now exposed off their beach!)
Please David — and some of your Orsted-encouraged Wind With Wind letter writers — learn a simple lesson: High-voltage electrical cables and water pipes are not comparable. Okay?
Regards and happy new year,
The comparison in the Dec. 26 editorial only involved the cable’s installation. Ed.
January 1, 2020
I, as a woman, would like to voice my opinion about Greta Thunberg, this 17-year-old snot-nose, came to America to rant, rave, and cry about climate control. She needs to travel to countries that truly pollute the world, better yet, stay home and cry in your own country.
I don’t need to read assumptions from writers to The Star about the first lady. Melania Trump is a beautiful, classy lady. Your jealousy is showing.
In God and country,
January 3, 2020
To the Editor:
Your New Year’s article on the climate crisis should be a wake-up call — if anyone is still asleep. The climate crisis is overwhelming, so what can individuals do about it?
The activist route: Get political. Let your local, state, and national representatives know that they must take action on climate issues. Write them. Call their offices. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a national leader on climate policy, but the national government is moving in the wrong direction. Vote accordingly.
The personal route: Align your life with climate priorities. You can do something concrete and bring yourself some much-needed optimism at the same time.
For starters, stop contributing to the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State — tailpipe emissions — and trade in your gas car for a battery electric vehicle. As opposed to hybrids, battery electric vehicles use no gas, and are really fun to drive. The instant torque from an electric motor gives them breathtaking acceleration. You “fuel” them conveniently by plugging them in at home. You save a lot of money because electricity costs much less than gas, and electric vehicles require almost no maintenance. You can buy an electric vehicle with a range well over 200 miles from many manufacturers now, and for less than $40,000 even before incentives. Newly introduced models will qualify for federal tax incentives up to $7,500, and New York State offers $2,000 off the purchase price of any electric vehicle costing under $60,000.
As a Tesla Model 3 owner, I’m enjoying state-of-the-art technology while doing my part to lessen my carbon footprint. And I pay nothing for the electric that is produced by solar panels. Win-win! Operating a car on electricity produces far fewer carbon emissions than running it on gasoline, even when the electricity is generated from a fossil fuel like natural gas. And as more and more renewable power enters the grid from wind and solar farms, so much the better.
While the forecast on the climate crisis is grim, as individuals each of us can still make a difference. Be part of the solution.
Signs of Change
January 4, 2020
Dear Mr. Rattray,
The South Fork’s own climate progressiveness is to be applauded. The development of offshore wind, solar power, and community choice aggregation, and the groundswell of climate activism, especially among young people, are all powerful signs of change.
Less prominent in the article is the need to radically reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector. Cars, trucks, buses, and diesel trains account for about one-third of greenhouse gases in New York, fully 80 percent of that total from passenger cars.
Simply put, we must get out of our gas-powered S.U.V.s and other cars, and switch to electric vehicles. Of course, the usefulness of driving electric cars depends on our electric grid being powered by renewal resources.
Rebates on electric vehicles, pollution fees, and the build-out of the charging infrastructure are all necessary to get people driving electrics. Even town planning can play a role. Dense development within walking distance of a train station can drastically reduce car miles driven.
Encouraging the adoption of electric cars is crucial climate policy. Electric cars fight global warming.
January 2, 2020
Dear Mr. Rattray,
David Posnett, M.D., provides a welcome reality check for our current climate crisis. Global warming and the disruption it brings are already affecting our pocketbooks and our personal lives. The East End will be remapped, real estate disappear, and population disperse.
We will also see global warming on our plates. Warming, acidification, and algal blooms have already killed off the bay scallops. Fish are leaving their usual haunts to move to cooler waters, or will soon go extinct. In the foreseeable future, flood, drought, and heat waves will disrupt land-based agriculture as well, sending food prices soaring. The logistics systems we need to distribute our food supply will be in disarray from fire and flood.
The climate crisis requires global cooperation, although every local effort to move to renewal power and cut gasoline-powered transportation will help reduce overall greenhouse gases. We must realize that without action, we will not be able to survive on earth.
January 6, 2020
In the closing days of 2019, some very dear lifelong family friends became grandparents for the very first time. I also shared this blessing, welcoming my first grandchild in mid-October.
Besides the fact that I, as my dear friends will tell you, cannot express the joy of having grandchildren enough. We also both share in the reality that our grandkids were not born locally but rather in North Carolina. You see, despite growing up in East Hampton having family, making a post-college stab at a career in East Hampton, both our kids decided that the cost of living was too high.
Both kids and their North Carolina native spouses love East Hampton and would have liked to live here to raise their families. They also quickly realized that working 24-7 sacrificing their quality of life to be able to earn enough income to live in East Hampton was a price too steep to pay. The cost of living in the Carolinas is indeed less than half of East Hampton’s. It is also true that incomes in the Carolinas are less. But truth be told they are living a substantially better quality of life. They are earning close to comparable New York salaries and benefits in their professions. Property taxes are a fraction of East Hampton. Electric, food, gasoline, and every other expense is less, not to mention the weather is a lot better.
Many factors over the years have contributed to East Hampton’s un-affordability. Past elected officials and their planners failed miserably to anticipate the impact of zoning on school attendance, which is a significant contributor to skyrocketing school taxes, environmental protection of drinking water, harbors, and bays. They also failed to envision the need for economic development that would enable future job creation, diversity, and good-paying jobs.
Sadly East Hampton is on track to be a summer version of Palm Beach, where the work force commutes in but cannot afford to live. Over the years, our elected officials have used affordable housing as a political campaign slogan while, in reality, only building a pittance of affordable housing. While making people feel good yet accomplishing little in the grand picture. For years we have heard of the need for a new senior center yet nothing but talk and political posturing. Heck, a new Town Hall will be built before the senior citizen center and that truly is sad!
In short, our elected leaders and we as a community failed our children, and yet Town Hall today is just rolling along as if everything is peachy. HUD identifies 50 percent of town employees as low-income earners. After spending countless tax dollars on hamlet studies, nothing of any consequence has yet to be produced that we already did not know. That these old failed policies helped contribute to the crisis our children, seniors, and the environment face today.
East Hampton is no longer at a crossroads that time has long since passed. Our Democratic supermajority-elected leaders moving forward need to be bold and represent not just the wealthy elite that can afford high-price lawyers but all residents of East Hampton.
The East Hampton Republican Committee is the local party dedicated to working families, a living wage, environmental conservation, and economic development. We believe in bipartisan solutions regardless of financial status or political party affiliation. Access to government should not be based on what you can afford or how much you donate to a national or local political party. Town government should be fair, equitable, open, and transparent to all.
Come and check us out at our next monthly meeting. We will not judge, nor will we demand that you follow a national, state, or N.Y.C. political doctrine. Let us work together for a better East Hampton for all.
East Hampton town Republican Committee
January 6, 2020
The next stage in the scheme devised by Mayor Paul Rickenbach, who resigned from his position on Dec. 31, to defeat my mayoral candidacy unfolded at last week’s village board of trustees meeting when it was announced that the village board will appoint a new mayor and village trustee.
I expect that Barbara Borsack and Ray Harden, who are candidates for those positions in next June’s village elections, will be named to those posts.
This charade, no doubt intended to give Ms. Borsack an edge over me in the election, is clearly inappropriate. However, I believe that it will backfire.
I will continue to meet with village residents and explain my ideas about how we can go forward to work for a revitalized village for all village stakeholders.
Residents will be able to contrast my ideas and commitment with how Ms. Borsack improves on the outdated policies and performance of the current village administration.
War Against Women
January 6, 2020
The G.O.P. had escalated its war against women.
The latest salvo? Scores of G.O.P. congressional representatives have submitted to the Supreme Court a brief urging the court to reconsider — read overrule — Roe v. Wade, the court’s decision upholding a woman’s right to seek abortion services. Our congressman, Lee Zeldin, was a signer of that brief, which calls Roe “unworkable.”
These G.O.P. representatives could not be more out of touch. Today, public support for abortion rights remains as high as it has been over the two decades that public opinion has been sought. Currently, 61 percent of the Americans polled believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Only 38 percent say it should be illegal in all or most cases.
It’s time to hold Mr. Zeldin accountable for his role in the assault against women’s rights. Not only has he been a strident opponent of abortion rights, turning a deaf ear to public opinion as well as his constituency, he has repeatedly acted in ignorance of women’s freedom and health. In addition to staunchly opposing abortion rights, he has voted over 30 times to defund Planned Parenthood.
Just as with abortion rights, Mr. Zeldin is on the wrong side of public opinion in his efforts to eradicate Planned Parenthood. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 75 percent of Americans, including majorities of both Republican men and Republican women, support federal Medicaid reimbursement for Planned Parenthood to provide services such as contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screenings. Mr. Zeldin’s positions immorally put the Republicans’ extreme agenda ahead of the importance of providing women and others with important, basic health care services.
There should be no place in Congress for representatives who brazenly disregard the needs of their constituency, as has Mr. Zeldin. Indeed, Congress should have no role in deciding what a woman wants to do with her body. It is time for women to tell Congress that that decision is ours and ours alone to make, whatever that decision might be.
January 2, 2020
You continue to use your bully pulpit to promote your agenda with lies and propaganda. Sadly, you refuse to either familiarize yourself with the facts or knowingly promote your divisive hate- filled rhetoric.
The article below details the unedited and complete account of the Charlottesville comments; all the facts, not the edited propaganda version. If you still consider yourself a journalist I suggest you read it at breitbart.com: “Joe Biden Releases Ad Touting Charlottesville Very Fine People Hoax.”
Support of Israel
January 2, 2020
I want to commend you for having the courage to print your recent editorials regarding the anti-Semitism of President Donald Trump.
As you pointed out, President Trump praised the neo-Nazis and Klansmen at Charlottesville, Va., as “very fine people.” Nor did he have a problem with the Nazi chant that “Jews will not replace us.”
Believe it or not, and it is not fake news, Nazis do not like Jews. They hate Jews. During World War II they murdered six million Jews through mass shootings in pits, starvation, forced slave labor, and gassings at death camps. However, for President Trump, they are “very fine people”?
Klansmen do not like Jews either. If we look at our collective history, we will learn that many Jews were lynched, particularly those accused of rape (also a favorite German Nazi theme) or for engaging in the Civil Rights Movement (look up the fate of Andrew Goodman).
As for Trump’s support of Israel, it does not mean he is not an anti-Semite. Israel is a multicultural society that is made up of Jews, Druze, Christians, and Muslims. Most Israeli Jews are secular. Trump supports Israel in the hope of getting American Jewish support for his re-election bid. I am happy to report that I have never seen an Orthodox Jew wearing a MAGA or KAG hat at a Trump rally, probably for obvious reasons.
And for those who will point out that Jared Kushner and Ivanka are Jewish and, therefore, Trump cannot hate Jews, I would like to allude to a statement by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Nazi SS who implemented Hitler’s orders to murder all Jews. When the “final solution” was being fine-tuned, one of Himmler’s subordinates asked him about the fate of the “good Jews.” Himmler replied, “Yes, we all know one or two good Jews, but that is not going to make a difference; they all have to go.”
By the way, there were 13 anti-Semitic attacks in New York City alone in the past two weeks.
Happy new year.
December 31, 2019
To the Editor,
When President Trump rationalized the House Democrats impeaching him by bragging that “we didn’t lose one Republican vote in the House,” I wondered if that got him to thinking about his infamous “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters” enough to fantasize that “I could shoot some Democrat on Pennsylvania Avenue and not lose any Republican voters?”
December 23, 2019
To the Editor,
What has always seemed to save our political system is its mediocrity. If Mickey Mouse ran for president he would get 45 percent of the vote. Something which we have always been roundly criticized for, but in truth has saved our butts from the extreme madness that we are experiencing today. For a democratic system not to be an interminable slog, it needs politicians who are smart, courageous, and not too corrupt. Ours are often very smart, rarely courageous, and substantially corrupt. (They almost all become extremely wealthy.)
The greatness about mediocracy is that we don’t have to live under the pressure of being great. How does it matter if someone else makes better cars or has better health care? Saying we’re the greatest country in the world doesn’t get you a free ride on the subway or a burger at McDonald’s. It’s a really dumb mind game.
When our politicians expand the edges of acceptable corruption and push our system to its extremes, our under- carriage gets really squishy. Rarely does this extremism take root. (See Barry Goldwater.) And so we are not well equipped to deal with it when it does. The Trump impeachment process unveils all of our systemic flaws and genuinely threatens to bring our democracy to its knees, the Constitution and the structure of the government.
The House impeached Trump as it’s supposed to do. The Senate will try him following the Constitution. It’s not rocket science as long as the rules are followed. Trump has been accused and found wanting. His right, or better his obligation, is to prove his innocence. If he doesn’t get a fair trial our system is compromised. If the trial is rigged the system caves.
Because we are so mediocre, so totally lacking in courage and principles no one comes out and says the president is a bag of shit — dishonest, a lying, scheming jerk who would unquestionably do what he is accused of. Ask anyone who knows him. His screw-up is who he is. Not a single person stood up and defended his character, his honesty. It’s not that he didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t, scam Zelenski. It’s that the Dems are out to get him. Until Christianity Today, rising from the muck of evangelical Christian mediocrity, calls Trump an immoral piece of garbage who should be impeached.
It would be a “duh” moment if American evangelicals hadn’t already sold what’s left of their souls to Trump world. Locked into their capitalist/Jesus dogma, they have anointed Trump as the second coming, the perfect nexus of the pathological, lying misanthrope and religious faith-healing carnival barkers. What would Jesus think?
The response from Trump and evangelical leaders was expected — Communists, unpatriotic, anti-Trumpers, anything but good Christians. Their arguments didn’t defend the president. Primarily, they asked if the magazine’s editors wanted Warren or Sanders or the members of the Squad to run their country, as if no one but Trump would be okay for them. Essentially, exposing themselves as deranged quasi-Christian whack jobs. Evangelical Christianity without Jesus is pure fascism.
So we return to the certitude of our political and religious elites and take solace in their fraudulence, their ineptitude, and their mediocrity. We are often like hens in a yard surrounded by predators who are fortunately too rabid and crazed to finish us off. Every morning when the cock crows we thank God for the mediocrity that sustains our existence.