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Letters to the Editor for March 26, 2020

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 10:18

My Gratitude

East Hampton
March 19, 2020

Dear David,

As everyone knows, these are stressful times right now. As a result, I have had the opportunity to work very closely with all East Hampton Village department heads, their staff, and volunteers. I can say without hesitation that they are all some of the finest and most professional people that I have ever had the privilege to work with.

I know I speak for the entire village board when I extend my gratitude for the job they do every day for the residents of this village and in particular during this crisis. They have all “stepped up to the plate” when called upon and have performed admirably. Again, please accept my profound thanks and please stay well.

God bless all of you.

East Hampton Village


High Marks

Sag Harbor
March 23, 2020

Dear Editor,

I am not a Democrat but I want to give our Democratic Governor Cuomo high marks for all he is doing to fight this coronavirus and doing all this work by keeping politics at an absolute minimum. Thank you, Governor Cuomo!



Lens of Love

March 23, 2020

Dear Editor,

For the past many years I’ve had the great honor of helping to manage a local group called East End Cares. E.E.C. came together in the wake of Hurricane Sandy when the members of our community were overflowing with desire to help those devastated by the storm. The outpouring of kindness was astounding and so much good was accomplished I could fill an entire edition of your paper writing about it. But that’s not what I am writing about today.

Today we are facing a pandemic unseen in our lifetimes. The entire world is sick at once from something unknown and uncurable and unstoppable without drastic measures on our part and the sacrifice of many. We are all of us in crisis. Understandably we are terrified.

Our towns have filled up a few months early as many have understandably returned to their homes at safer shores to ride this out. The virus doesn’t care. Some of us are very vulnerable to this virus others are at less risk. Some are buying only what they need and others are hoarding. The virus doesn’t care.

Some are isolating alone and others are with their families. Some will suffer serious financial repercussions and others don’t have that worry. The virus doesn’t care.

We are all coming into this from different situations. Making different choices.

Crucially one of those choices will have a dramatic impact on the greater good, and we must encourage each other to fully honor social distance and isolation.

But at the end of the day ? the virus is in charge ? and we are in this together.

My experience this past week has been filled with calls and emails and texts ? everyone from beloved friends and neighbors, East End Cares volunteers old and new, heads of amazing organizations, town leaders, grocery store managers, local rock stars and journalists, to the lovely receptionist at the soon to be overwhelmed local doctor’s office.

Our discussions have been filled with questions: “What can I do?” “Who’s doing what?” “What will people need?” “What should we anticipate?” Isn’t this terrifying?”

And also filled with statements: “I am here to help.” “Let’s figure this out.” “We have food.” “We have funds.” “We have a plan.? “Wow, this is going to be really difficult. But we will get through it together.”

The amount of goodness out here, the ability and passion to be of service, to care for one another, is truly mind blowing.

Because East End Cares headquarters resides on Facebook, I have also seen a lot of commentary. Lots of sharing of information, support, and gratitude. And also a lot of complaining, blaming, mocking, nastiness, and misinformation. It makes sense ? there is fear in the air as much as there are scary infectious droplets. And like those droplets, fear seems to multiply exponentially and quickly and weaken us.

But I urge every one of us to pause for a moment. Look at where you are, at the sea, the sky, the things that have drawn us all to this magical spot on the end of Long Island ? where we now, at this moment in history, find ourselves together. Breathe in this blessed, clean healing air. And then turn your gaze back to your neighbors, all of them, and try your best to look beyond the fear.

It is my experience that we all possess amazing capacity for kindness and compassion. And I am choosing to look at this crisis through the lens of love truthfully, because selfishly, it makes me feel better. And because I know the more we all choose love, the better we will all feel. And this virus is no match for the collective power of that.

Be safe. Be well. And remember how much the East End cares.


P.S. Oh, and if you want to be on our volunteer list or you need help, send your info to [email protected].


Local Food

Gardners, Pa.
March 20, 2020

Dear Editor:

I want to thank you for the editorial concerning your take on food independence. I agree we only have farms because of the activism of people who believe farms are important to the community, though I don’t think many people thought the reason to preserve farms was food independence.

I spend my winters in rural Pennsylvania and come home to East Hampton in the spring and start fishing (commercial). There are thousands of acres of farms, dairies, fowl, meat, and many square miles of orchard near my home in Pennsylvania, yet most people go to the grocery store to get the things they need because we get milk from a bottle, not the cow. And yes, I know where milk comes from but it can’t be used directly from the animal; the state says it’s unsafe. So, with so much abundance it’s hard to think, even here, we’re food independent.

But, whatever the motive to save a farm, those who did it should be congratulated and praised. And thank you for mentioning fisheries along with farms.

Most people think of seafood as a farm-raised salmon from Europe or shrimp from Vietnam or tilapia from China, and not a local food industry near extinction ? as farms were 30 years ago.

Imagine if all the seafood we had came from away. It would be like eating bay scallops from Ecuador just like you did this year.

I don’t think that’s food independence.



Above and Beyond

East Hampton
March 23, 2020

Dear David,

I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to the people who work at White’s Apothecary in East Hampton.

The pharmacists are professional, informative, and efficient. They are happy to answer questions and really go above and beyond to make sure clients get what they need.  The staff is always helpful and cheerful. No matter how busy they are in these uncertain times, they greet customers with a smile, and kindly offer assistance. I feel grateful every time I go to White’s!




5 Cents

March 23, 2020

Dear David,

Great recovery plan — bail out the airlines and the cruise ships, both of which have been spreading disease, flus, and viruses for decades. Please don’t forget the hotels, Don. Meanwhile, provide low-interest loans to bars and restaurants, which they will not be able to pay back, and the banks will be able to repossess the real estate for 5 cents on the dollar.

Thank you,



Scare Piece

North Haven
March 23, 2020

To the Editor,

A recent piece appeared in Law Enforcement Today that seems derivative of a panic piece last week in The New York Post: “Locals in Hamptons furious that wealthy buying all the food and supplies.”

This article is from a known “conservative” police gazette that routinely stirs anxiety to emphasize the need for “law and order.” It is a blind regurgitation of the scare piece that appeared in The New York Post earlier last week.

The reported situation is quite overstated and neglects the wide degree of public good behavior here, and the availability of goods despite periodic shortages.

Certainly there are the spoiled few filthy rich who always seem to enjoy making a presence far beyond their actual value. Accordingly, many are hoarders, because they alone seem to matter. Shame on them, not us!

It is particularly disturbing to note that one of the best-known philanthropists of the area has bragged of her selfish, self-serving purchase spree. What a horrid example to set.

We are a good, law-abiding, and cohesive community, populated with both locals and visitors who, for the most part, behave and respect one another. Let us not forget that, and hold to our own high standards, not those of the fearmongers.




New York City
March 21, 2020

Dear Hamptons People,

I was greatly saddened by the news that some very wealthy people in the Hamptons were hoarding huge quantities of food while leaving almost nothing for others to buy.

I have been coming out to East Hampton for over 70 years, so this is an important issue to me. On the Upper East Side, where I live, volunteers are delivering groceries to the elderly or homebound, public transit and veterinary employees; pharmacists, drugstore workers, and grocery-store workers are risking themselves to provide our neighborhood with essential services. And of course the sacrifice of our medical personnel is enormous.

This is a time to be generous, kind, and heroic.

Please, Hamptons, do your best to keep everyone safe!




Anger and Disgust

March 22, 2020

Dear David

Appalling doesn’t cover what has happened to our little spot since the invasive species known as “citidiots” decided to display their sheer boorish behavior. I thought last week was a taste of what was to come, but it has worsened. Has anyone paid attention? The woman who allegedly boarded the Jitney and when getting off admitted that she had the virus? If true, she should be sued. Yes, they are increasingly, even unknowingly bringing the virus here. “Class warfare in the Hamptons” printed in The New York Post the other day didn’t scratch the surface.

These arrogant, disrespectful, inconsiderate, self-absorbed, glutinous jackasses have displayed a giant-size disrespect toward the people who live here. Like the man who filled a shopping cart with every carrot in the store, the self-promoted witch who bought out the drugstore of floss and toothbrushes and had to send her driver to the city for clothes and special face cream because “I have to look good!” She had to be exposed to things she didn’t know existed, like Del Monte peas in a can and Progresso soups?

Are any of these ignorant, self-absorbed hogs looting the stores, cleaning out P.C. Richard of freezers, ever aware that hoarding staples and basics deprives local people who also need food for their families. Many shop on payday only to find shelves empty. How do they explain to their children that there was little left on the shelves?

Their boorish, elitist wannabes’ classless behavior resembles the Tudors in the 16th century, with the “let ?em eat dirt” attitude. The slob taking 18 packages of chicken and a dozen loaves of bread, stripping the shelve bare. The security guard who had to protect the seniors so they could try to shop in the early hours. It is no wonder that the dislike of them, once hidden, has turned to obvious anger and disgust.

They are also displaying this greed to their spawn, who are witness to this outlandish disregard for others, and it will become learned behavior. So maybe if they slowed down a bit and left their 212 attitude on the L.I.E., that there is “we [who] live here” and are more important. If you cannot show any respect, take your sorry behinds and tired act elsewhere.

Yours truly



Totally Unfair

Bellingham, Wash.
March 22, 2020

Dear Star,

I just heard about the panic buying in East Hampton. The owner of Citarella was quoted as saying rich city people are filling five shopping carts with fancy foods and dental floss. Greed, mindlessness, and a lack of concern for others should not be put up with.

If the store manager sees someone panic buying they should set limits on how much of any one item people can buy. It is totally unfair to local people who don’t have the means to hoard 10 years’ supply of dental floss, of all things. How many teeth does that woman have?

As an ex-Springs resident, I am happy to say that people where I live now are generally kinder than rich New Yorkers. One morning we opened the door and found a large bag of rice with a note from an old neighbor, just wishing us well. Since we already had rice, we passed it on to a friend who gets food from the food bank.

Someone else told of finding a bag of toilet paper by her door. Every day we hear of some small act of kindness and kindness is what makes life rich.

May all sentient beings be kind to one another.




What You Earn

East Hampton
March 18, 2020

To The Star:

Like toilet paper, you never really appreciate it until it’s gone. Such are many things in life we take for granted.

There are times when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere we truly find ourselves. Knowing when to walk away is wisdom. Being able to takes courage, and to hold your head high is dignity.

There is no future if we only repeat the past. You can attract success as easily as you can attract failure. The wise understand, and fools follow the reports of others. There are only two options, progress or excuses. Useless when the mind is blind.

Politicians should promise only what they can deliver, then deliver more than they promise. Credibility is what you earn after you do what you say you will do.

For Congress, integrity should be choosing their thoughts rather than promoting their personal gain. The task ahead is never as great as the people behind you. The distance between success and failure can be measured only by one’s desire. Losers visualize penalties; winners visualize the rewards of success. Failure holds no more than we give it.

Life is something we give meaning to. To end up with a meaningful life you have to create it. There is no need to save anything for a special occasion. Life itself is a special occasion. Don’t let it be said dreams are a waste of time, for in dreams we plan our future. In silence lies the ability to listen; without it we cannot communicate. Discussion is an exchange of knowledge. Argument is an exchange of ignorance.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. This is where the greatest wastes, unused talents, and untried ideas lie. We are not limited by our abilities but by our vision. True change takes place only in the imagination; however, the strategy is to always look at the results.

Nobody can tell you the age of the human race but be sure it’s old enough to know better.






March 20, 2020

To the Editor,

So a bug, not a bomb. Yes, well, if you want to make G-d laugh, show him your plans.

Take care and be well, to you and your staff, David.




The Right Decision

East Hampton
March 21, 2020

Dear David:

Once again I must sing praises for Taylor Vecsey, who followed Patchita Tennant’s case with deep intelligence and patience. Patchita noticed Taylor’s dedication, and we invited her to a celebratory meeting in my office last week. I have been Patchita’s therapist throughout this case, and I have been overwhelmed with emotion as I worried that the all-white Suffolk County jury would convict a victim of domestic violence who acted in self-defense.

Our town knows Patchita Tennant. She was and will again be the longtime manager at C.V.S. To say she is loved is an understatement.

The overwhelming response after the verdict, “not guilty on all counts,” was apparent as I posted this information on Facebook. In the middle of a coronavirus outbreak, during a time of intense fear and anxiety, those jurors navigated a mountain of evidence and came to the right decision.

Taylor Vecsey was there every day. So was Tom McMorrow from The Independent, who also did an amazing job. The press is our very best recourse when the possibility of a miscarriage of justice is looming. Taylor is professional, caring, insightful, and dedicated. Please, let us all donate to keep The Star alive, and to help reporters like Taylor who report the news with the attention and fairness it deserves.

Sincerely yours,



Beyond Amusing

East Hampton
March 20, 2020

Dear Editor:

I cannot allow mistruths in letters to the editor or quotes by candidates in news articles to be presented to the public without correcting them.

First of all, for Tiger Graham to take credit for proposing a sewer district in the business center is beyond amusing. The initiative to create a sewer district, along with other water-treatment systems to protect our precious ponds and groundwater, was begun in 2015 when the East Hampton Village Board hired Lombardi and Associates to do an extensive study of our water bodies and make recommendations to the board.

As soon as that study was completed, we began the process of applying for permits to dredge Town Pond and assembled a committee to begin discussions about a sewer district. Please note that Tiger Graham did not join the village board until 2016. He was invited to be a member of the committee working on the project. That committee met for another year before the decision was made (at my recommendation) to hire a consultant (Nelson, Pope, and Voorhees) to make recommendations regarding the size and scope of wastewater treatment, location of a waste treatment facility, and other business center issues such as parking and work-force housing, which were also under discussion by the board. Now, suddenly, he seems to think they were all his ideas.

As far as Jerry Larsen’s attempt to change the facts in his own defense, I will simply say that everything I stated in my letter is verifiable either through the records at Village Hall or conversations with former members of the board who were there for all of his nonsense. I have no doubt that they would be more than happy to set the record straight.

So now we have two men who want to be mayor but can’t seem to get their facts straight. Is this the kind of people we want in charge? Maybe it’s time for the first woman mayor.

Sincerely yours,

Ms. Borsack and Mr. Graham are running for mayor of East Hampton Village, as is Mr. Larsen, a retired village police chief. Ed.



The Problem

Sag Harbor
March 15, 2020

Dear David,

Although I am not a village resident, I do have many fond memories of the village from childhood, having been born and raised in Montauk. My father, Frank, was very active throughout his life in community affairs, both politically and community- based organizations. I know the kind of commitment and passion it takes to put yourself in the public eye, taking the chance that your good name could be dragged through the mud.

I have watched the Village of East Hampton go from a charming, welcoming village to the state it is in now, virtually vacant in the off-season, regulated to the max, not inviting to many. I don’t know whose fault it is; it doesn’t matter. My father used to say, “If you’re busy blaming someone, you’re busy not solving the problem.”

I have known for more than 25 years and had the pleasure of working for and with Jerry Larsen since 2006. I have found him to be a tireless worker, a tough but fair boss, and a man of the highest integrity. I have seen him formulate unique ideas, and form alliances to accomplish good things. He is someone who is also not afraid to acknowledge when he is wrong, and is a good listener to all ideas. Above all, he is a problem solver, and I feel that he would be an excellent choice as mayor, to lead the village into the challenging future it faces.

Thanks for extending your long, faithful service to the village, Jerry!



Refusal to Engage

March 23, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray:

Mark Mendelman’s letter last week outlined the issues against the possibly illegal and largely clandestine process this town board, save Jeff Bragman, are following to get a grant for no good reason other than their desire to cater to paying recreational oyster growers at the expense of every other user-waterfront group in contradiction to the local waterfront revitalization plan’s goal of equal access, and to gratify their egos. Despite the state’s rejection, and their so-far refusal to publicize specifically why it was rejected, they continue to nuzzle up to the trough.

Reminiscent of Rodney King’s plaint, “Why can’t we all get along?” it is difficult to come to a compromise for the mutual good when one party continues to swing a club, lie about it, and ignore the due process any other developer would have to follow, and which they pledged to do, encouraged by Assemblyman Thiele and other state officials.

The one meeting arranged with local residents was canceled peremptorily and never rescheduled. The board’s refusal to engage with the residents, over 100 who have signed a petition against the project, has now led us to court. Unfortunately, the town’s behavior in this matter is not atypical. Ironically, a couple of weeks ago in The Star, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez was talking about involving the wider community in the board’s extremely unpopular decision to change the name of our hamlet, over the stated objections of our citizens advisory committee. In this case, they again continue to ignore the wishes or input of any of the most directly affected in favor of themselves.

Mr. Lys, Mr. Van Scoyoc, et al., have a particular problem with arithmetic, stating repeatedly that consolidating the current hatchery operation by grossly overdeveloping the community preservation fund property they bought ostensibly for water quality improvement, encouraged by neighbors and myself, on the corner of Gann Road and Babe?s Lane, will help filter billions of gallons of water because of increased shellfish aquaculture. This is the big lie, although no greater than their jury-rigged process of public engagement, purposely leaving out the directly affected local residents in favor of invitation-only “public” hearings for people involved in recreational oystering and directly affected town employees who can cut their summer drive time, for which they are paid.

The current hatchery operation produces more viable seed than it uses, than can be used regardless of transport mortality. A $5 million (and growing) factory project on a busy, largely residential street, that will further impair other user groups’ water and dock access for the benefit of about 100 paying recreational oyster growers, including the current supervisor, will have little, if any, positive effect on water quality over all. Why not just expand the Babe?s Lane preserve and knock down the house, rather than overdevelop the busy area for no good reason?

The town’s current project to raise the docks at the head of Three Mile Harbor because of sea level rise also seems to make the Gann Road-Babe?s Lane proposal even more absurd. How does the project look in a time of rising seas and ocean warming? Oysters are not magical solutions to the need to retreat, or to the impaired water quality from aging septic systems, waterfront swimming pools, green lawns, and overdevelopment.

We ought certainly to have learned by now that shellfish are not immune to temperature and water quality impairment. Further, the false water volume filtration claims are based on perfect survival rates for bivalves during the two-year time period it takes them to grow to adulthood under a narrow range of environmental conditions that are clearly under attack, and ignore losses due to natural predation and ever more prevalent diseases. Finally, every inch of the harbor bottom would have to be given over to shellfish. One oyster could filter that much, I guess, in about a million years, were it immortal, but. . . .

The dirty little secret is that the recreational grow-out and seeding operations are most effective in areas where the water is cleanest, well-flushed by tides, as exists naturally on Gann Road, close to the Gardiner’s Bay inlet, with a paucity of development on both the east and west sides of the inlet, considering Sammy’s Beach and Maidstone Park.

No one has yet been able to answer satisfactorily how many oysters equals one septic system replacement. Grant money is our money changing hands between governing bodies under the guise of largess, but it comes out of all of our pockets. Do we really want to so grossly misuse it? Are we creating jobs, helping the elderly, meeting real needs of the Springs residents for adequate cell service, firefighter and police communications reliability and safety, safe recreational bike paths, alternative means of transportation, and disabled persons’ access to trails, parks, beaches, and the like?

Are we willing to overpay for negligible benefit, if any? No real water quality improvement, less public access to the waterfront, more traffic in a burdened neighborhood, no new jobs, overdevelopment on the waterfront, changing residential to commercial zoning by fiat that no private entity would be allowed to pursue. Phony New York State Environmental Quality Review Act project. This is just plain wrong.

Duck Creek Farm Association



My Father

March 23, 2020

Dear David,

In The Star last week, I discussed that my father, Wolfie Cohen, had helped design restaurants for Meyer Lansky and the Jewish mafia without accepting money or partnership of any variety. More important points about Wolfie are that he won four elections in the City of Miami Beach (and never lost one). He never lied to the public or lied in private conversations, as some other politicians did. Wolfie was one of the best restaurateurs in the United States. And most afternoons and some evenings, he was a top gambler?card player in the two games of gin and hearts.

People loved his campaign events because he did not speak for more than a few sentences and then let everyone eat food that came from his restaurants. The Rascal House restaurant included the best delicatessen in the world. It also had an All-American kitchen, which was tremendous both in size and quality of output. Even more dramatic, the Rascal House had the largest top-notch pastry and bread bakery. Of the 265 employees who worked full time ? 54 hours a week back then ? 14 to 16 were in the bake shop. As a teenager, they taught me pastry baking.

The Rascal House occasionally ranked in the top 50 restaurants in the United States. The other 49 restaurants were fancy and significantly more expensive. Yet even their baked goods and much of their other foods were not nearly as well prepared, or as tasty, as ours. Almost no other restaurant in the United States self-produced as much as we did. Only when we visited three-star restaurants in France did we find an operation that did as much or more in the kitchen. The voters in Miami Beach saw Wolfie as a councilman who would not overprice its residents, neither their food costs nor taxes.

My father was called Big Daddy by many people. Wolfie was 6-foot-3-inches tall and weighed 270 pounds. He rarely talked more than a few sentences a day, even at work. Except for me and a few friends and relatives, no one with him was permitted to talk about anything other than sports, the weather, or their joint work project. He did not allow anyone to curse in public, or in private. He controlled the speaking not only of the mafia and bookies but also lawyers, accountants, judges, and government people. That control allowed those groups to play cards together, often at our house.

Wolfie might have had an I.Q. of 180. One newspaper called him the smartest person in South Florida. He had been thrown out of school, third and last time in 10th grade. He was probably bored with school and more involved on the legal edges of business, such as a pawnshop. He did not consider gambling illegal if you were treated honestly. He was well known as a winning gin card player, so to get games with non-locals he offered his partner to be a woman, Faye Blumin, wife of his accountant. Female appreciation was not correct, as she was a better gin player than almost any man in Miami Beach. Wolfie was also a world tournament bridge player who could remember nearly all the cards everyone had for 20 hands ? over 1,000 cards. Those skills made him one of the better hearts gamblers in the country.

Wolfie did talk to me, far more than anyone else, because his wife, Mickey Cohen, had died young in 1964. Wolfie tried to teach me how to accomplish what is needed by the family, friends, and our hometown, and not get into troublesome actions. He made me a legal adult in investments at age 16, two years after my mother had died.

I loved everything Wolfie taught me. In some areas, I learned more than any other teenager. But we both needed the wonderful Mickey, my mother and his wife.


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