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Letters to the Editor for June 25, 2020

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 18:15

Art Apart
East Hampton
June 22, 2020

Dear David,

On behalf of the East Hampton Arts Council, we would like to thank the members of the East Hampton Town board for their generous support of Art Apart, a roadside art exhibit for everyone, which took place on Saturday, June 20. We would also like to give a special thanks to Sylvia Overby, who is our town board liaison, for helping us draft the resolution. Her guidance was very valuable throughout the process.

The community of over 60 artists came together to display their work that was created while under Covid quarantine. It was a great reminder of how our community can come together to support the arts and each other in a difficult time.

We would like to give special thanks to Idoline Duke, who conceived of the idea, and organized the event. Idoline’s tireless work and sense of humor throughout made the event a resounding success.





Overwhelming Support
East Hampton
June 17, 2020

Dear David,

I would like to thank the South Fork voters for their overwhelming support of our public schools in Amagansett, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Montauk, Sagaponack, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Springs, Tuckahoe, and Wainscott.

I also would like to thank the wonderful East Hampton community for allowing me to continue to be a vigilant school board member.

God bless America,



Growing Oysters
Lazy Point
June 16, 2020

To The Star:

The Suffolk County Aquaculture Lease Program, or SCALP, grants leases for private shellfish farming, mostly of oysters, in public waters of the East End.

Belatedly, its 10-year review has explored the very reasonable idea that unleased areas in conflict with pre-existing commercial and recreational uses might be withdrawn from potential future lease sites. New SCALP maps (viewable online) propose a variety of configurations to eliminate most conflicts. Comments are open until June 29.

Starting this program with a grab of public waterways set the stage for conflict. (Competing uses should have been considered first, a decade ago.) Now, some growers assert entitlement to the area and the water?s surface, not just to use as all other users do, but to occupy — to the exclusion of others. And the unanticipated switch from bottom-growing to floating cages is simply incompatible with many uses and is dangerous.

Meanwhile, during a May 28 public meeting about the new maps, some growers asserted their “right” to farm throughout the bays. They denigrated traditional uses of the bays enjoyed by thousands of people. They posed growing oysters as productive, in contrast to recreational fishing and boating. Several asserted that sailing vessels should simply learn to sail around floating farming gear.

This is not like sailing around a lobster-pot buoy. These are 10-acre sites that could each have 1,000 floating four-by-six-foot cages. In other words, the bays could now become an obstacle course for the public, so a few growers can profit by a takeover of public waters.

Imagine opening county parks to farming, then hearing the farmers complain that hikers, joggers, and birders are “unproductive” and should get smaller areas. The logic is identical.

Some growers argued they work 40 hours a week while a recreational user might boat 40 hours a year, dismissing many thousands of recreationalists who inject hundreds of millions of dollars to pursue their pleasure. Pleasure is the main economic driver of the East End. Some growers said that recreation is “non-essential” while growing oysters “produces food for people.” Actually, thousands of people’s recreationally-caught fish make up vastly more of their food supply than oysters.

So let’s get something straight: No one needs oysters. Oysters aren’t potatoes, corn, or cod by any stretch. Oysters don’t stave off famine. No parent worries that their children will go to bed without oysters. Oysters are a boutique snack, served mainly at high-end parties before the real food. Oysters are purely recreational. A farmed oyster is far less important than sailing a sunfish with your child or catching porgies with your grandkids. Farmed oysters have their place, but they are, absolutely, non-essential.

However, people do need, and possess, legal rights to safe, free navigation, fishing, and the waterways’ sheer essential beauty.

None of this conflict was necessary. Many potential shellfish-growing sites and methods could coexist alongside traditional uses in the East End region. If growers and the leasing program respectfully sought to slot appropriate gear into the right places, likely they’d have been welcomed.

During this comment period SCALP administrators now have the opportunity to bring this program into balance, in a way that recognizes and respects pre-existing uses on the East End and does not ignore the enjoyments that drive the region’s water-centered, recreation-oriented economy ? the reasons people are actually drawn here.

SCALP officials should finalize the 10-year review by withdrawing all mapped conflict zones from potential future leasing consideration, and mandating that gear used must be on the bottom as originally envisioned and that the danger, eyesore, and affront posed by floating gear be eliminated and prohibited.

Farming can coexist compatibly with all pre-existing uses of our bays if, only if, appropriately sited and configured.


Professor for Nature and Humanity

at Stony Brook University


To Discuss
June 21, 2020

To the Editor:

Last week I wrote about the new kayak racks that have been placed at Louse Point. Happily, this has come to the attention of the East Hampton Town Trustees. They are concerned about the new kayak racks, as well as those of us who voiced our upset, and are planning to discuss the pros and cons at a scheduled meeting.

It is heartening and relieving that our feelings have been earnestly responded to and have been heard by the East Hampton Town Trustees.




Spoiled-Brat Behavior
East Hampton
June 22, 2020

Dear David,

I hope everyone is starting to enjoy some semblance of normalcy, getting out in the fresh sea air and breathing in some positive energy. My family took a little jaunt to our favorite secret beach on Napeague yesterday, Father’s Day. Celebrating my husband and son, grandkids in tow, we set up our chairs a considerate distance away from the one couple on the otherwise empty small beach on the bay. Lovely.

Suddenly, a woman and her young daughter walk by, behind us. The woman preoccupied, seemingly measuring with her hands the width of the space from where we were sitting, to our Jeeps back behind us. She and her daughter were on foot, but there was a truck up the beach, parked, she was looking at. I say hello. My son and daughter-in-law nod hello, too. My husband was in the water with the grandkids at the time. The woman walks down the beach past us, and then comes back to where we are again, doing the measuring with her hands, the distance from us to the Jeeps.

My son says, “Would you like us to move our chairs closer to the water, so you can drive the truck by, if you don’t think you’ll fit?” There was plenty of room, but we were willing to cooperate and move. The woman says, “No, that’s okay, I think he [the guy in the truck down the beach] can fit.” “Are you sure?” my sons asks. “We can move our chairs.” She says “No, that’s okay.” With that, here comes the truck, and instead of driving right behind us as the woman was directing him with her hands, the guy turns and barrels up behind the Jeeps right on top of the dunes and grass! What the. . .?  We all look, including the woman. So my son says, “Whoa! What are you doing? Get off the dune!” The driver ignores him and continues down the beach, past us to their chosen spot. The woman now is apparently shocked/annoyed that my son said anything about the guy’s reckless driving on the protected dunes.

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” she says. My son naturally disagrees and says, “What? He drove right on top of the dunes. They’re protected, you’re meant to drive on the beach, are you kidding me?”

“We are environmentalists. We donate a lot of money to the environment. That guy [in the truck] loves nature.” she says. Can you believe this? Really, lady? She continues, in her self-righteous stance, “We live here.”

Enter me, from my beach chair, “We live here, too. He grew up here. You don’t drive on the dunes. You should know that, if you live here.” She keeps talking. She’s not done with my son. “You don’t get to police me. This is a free public beach. And now you’ve ruined my day.” Wow. My son shakes his head, and his wife says, quietly, “Don’t bother, leave it.” He does at that point. The woman and her daughter walk down to where the truck guy has parked.

I mean, is this what we have graciously invited here, to share our pristine beaches and beautiful countryside, a kind of folk who cannot be told anything about how to live here harmoniously with nature, on this fragile spit of land? We were not born here, but we respect this land and the sea we love and our protected dunes, as if we were. Because that is what one does. Is there just an absence of manners and civility and consideration for others? Perhaps an abundance of spoiled-brat behavior among adults and in front of their children? Is it entitlement? The societal proof seems to be there in front of us. Sad. Did no one ever correct this woman in her life, that she was so upset to say her day was “ruined”? The drama. Imagine a real problem or crisis coming her way, poor dear.

Anyway, I hope we can all live in harmony this summer and beyond, as our population has risen substantially during this pandemic. While this woman attempted to take her privilege and obvious issues out on us, we, however, did not let her ruin our lovely day. I felt the need to share this with you, because as I was taught, and I always subscribe to as a mom and grandma and human being, the wise words of Maya Angelou, “When we know better, we do better.” Thanks for the space.

Peace and love,



Grating Growl
June 21, 2020

Dear David,

I was pleased to read the June 8 letter by Sophie French that touched on the disparity in noise regulations between East Hampton Village and the other villages in the town. It’s good to learn that I’m not the only one puzzled by this, and the frequent and grating growl of leaf blowers in Amagansett brings this home. In addition to making regulations uniform, I wonder why the town doesn’t mandate the use of quieter and more eco-friendly, electric-powered devices. Seems a no-brainer.



Public Relations
June 21, 2020

To the Editor:

Am I the only person who is outraged to read that the town board is considering spending “up to $10,000 per month” to retain a public relations firm to “control the message” and “generate consistent positive press coverage?”

I am quoting from your front-page story “Town Mulls a P.R. Firm” in last Thursday’s issue. And am I the only person who finds it incredibly ironic that Supervisor Van Scoyoc says, “. . . communication is always important”? Where has Mr. Van Scoyoc been since mid-March? Whether you are for or against Governor Cuomo, he did appear for 111 daily briefings to inform his constituency about “what the rules are” and “how to stay safe,” to quote Ms. Overby in the same article. Rather than spend up to $60,000 of taxpayer money over the next six months, may I suggest the supervisor and/or the board take it upon themselves to communicate with the public? Even something as simple as a daily email blast to voters would be better than nothing. And would cost nothing but time.




We All Know
East Hampton

June 22, 2020
Dear David,

It is not necessary to spend $60,000 on public relations for the pandemic in East Hampton Town.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it perfectly clear on the things that need to be done, and we all know what they are (

What we need now is strict enforcement, not public relations to make the town board look good.



Mullen and McCaffrey



East Hampton
June 19, 2020

Dear Editor,

As a professional P.R. consultant with more than 40 years of experience, I was surprised that East Hampton would spend $10,000 per month to convince the community that it is doing a good job dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. East Hampton is already doing an admirable job disseminating a message about its effective efforts and good works. The money spent on a superfluous P.R. campaign could be better spent on more worthwhile projects.




Healing Work
June 16, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray:

From the perspective of a gay, white, religious leader:

It is not in the name of religion to subjugate a people, not in the name of religion to deny a people their rights, not in the name of religion to expose a populace to disease.

But to lift up the dispossessed and brokenhearted, to welcome the stranger in your midst, to embrace public health as the healing work of God.



When We Call
June 17, 2020

To The Star:

I think we should take a deep breath and think about all the good police officers in our town, county, state, and country. Being a police officer has never been an easy job, but lately it has become tremendously difficult. Our cops need our support and appreciation. For weeks the media have been entertaining the thoughts of some regarding defunding and dismantling police departments around the country. That idea is ridiculous. How can anyone expect law and order without law enforcement? Look at what happened when peaceful protests turned into violent riots. Buildings burned, businesses destroyed, people injured and killed, and the free-for-all looting that cost businesses and taxpayers millions of dollars.

As a child I was taught the importance of respect. That concept is disappearing from our lives. My parents taught me to respect adults, respect property, other people, and to respect authority. A lesson I learned 60 years ago and still practice.

Perhaps, along with the additional training of police officers, some training should be directed toward civilians. When an officer responds to an incident, they are not looking for confrontation. If you are a law-abiding citizen and find yourself in the presence of a police officer, treat them with respect, and chances are you will be treated the same. When you see an officer, wish him or her a good day, thank them, let them know you appreciate what they do. It is wrong to judge them on the actions of a few who have made headline news, just as we should not judge the peaceful protesters as the criminals who caused all the destruction and riots over the past few weeks.

To all the men and women in uniform who respond to assist us when we call 911, Thank you!



Public Safety
June 19, 2020

Dear Editor,

I am thoroughly impressed! As I read in the papers, on social media, and TV there appear to be a great many experts in the field of criminal justice, social services, substance abuse, and the application of law enforcement. These commentators clearly understand every aspect and intricacy of the 385 million police-to-citizen contacts that occur every year.

There also appear to be a lot of folks out there who possess supernatural talents that enable them to see into the souls of police officers to identify deep hidden bias. Last but not least, we have elected politicians. You know, those are the folks who create the laws that establish the policies and guidelines that govern modern-day police departments, not to mention control of the services, funding, and level of training of every governmental agency. It would appear that between the experts, media commentators, and politicians after 244 years of existence, every community in America would have criminal justice, social services, and law enforcement perfected.

Well, the truth is the majority of citizens do not have a clue. They do not understand the burdens of society caused by inadequate education, economic opportunities, and poverty. The impacts of failed government policies on those who can least afford it, and the breakdown of the family unit. The destruction and chaos brought upon families by the vicious cycle of substance abuse, mental illness, and violence. The hardships caused because some find violence acceptable to achieve societal collapse, and a fundamental change of our constitutional principles.

Of all, the politicians are the worst. They pass blame with impunity. They comment as if they or the political party they represent has had no hand in creating policies and guidelines that governmental agencies and police departments operate within. They lack the courage to stand up for the men and women who go on duty every day and unselfishly place their lives in danger. They refuse to acknowledge that today’s police departments are the last line of public safety when government agencies fail to deliver. Mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, child endangerment, elder abuse, emergency first aid, and local regulations have fallen into the lap of today’s officers, not because they asked for the extra work but because government and society failed miserably. 911 is the number of last chances to the only government agency that is organized and ready to respond to any emergency calls for service 24/7 regardless of the situation, no matter how extreme or how dangerous.

Activists who call to defund the police, those who sympathize with hardened criminals over victims and those who seek a return to the failed policies of the past care little about the communities they profess to be concerned about. They are not your friend; they do not have your best interest at heart. They are not going to defend you against violent criminals, respond during your time of crisis, and are not running to their death to help you as so many police officers did on 9/11.

Over the past 10 years in the line of duty, 1,777 police officers have died, and over 150,000 have been severely injured.


Mr. Vilar, a New York State Park Police sergeant, is chairman of the East Hampton Republican Committee and vice president and chief administrative officer of the Police Benevolent Association of New York State, which represents State University of New York police officers, New York State Environmental Conservation police, New York State Park police, and New York State forest rangers.Ed.


Work Together
June 22, 2020

Dear David,

The Springs School is properly worried about the dangers of another fire because there is still little to no cellphone communication in Springs. Deb Winters, the school principal, has appeared at the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, telling us the scary story of the first significant fire she had experienced when she and the fire department both lacked cellphone communications. Many of us tried to help but nothing has changed.

Not long ago, a friend fell and broke her leg on Gerard Drive. Her cellphone did not work. Two fishermen drove by and stopped to help. Their cellphones would not work. They drove her to the Springs Fire Department. We need cell towers in Springs that work.

This problem has existed for many years. In 2016, the Springs Fire District commissioners began their work to build a cell tower on their property. At about the same time, the town board bought, for about $6.5 million, the cell equipment needed to be installed for the town?s emergency response work. That installation has not been done in Springs. These two elected groups have not been able to work together to remove the severe communication problems of people who live and work in Springs. In the Sept. 19, 2019, and Sept. 26, 2019, issues of The East Hampton Star, I had two detailed letters that discussed some of this history.

The Nature Preserve Committee, a subcommittee, or a special or independent committee, can help solve this problem. I have been on the Nature Preserve Committee since 2002 and I was chair for 12 years (I am now vice chair). Richard Whalen, the current chair, is an expert in land use. We could give the town a list, probably before the summer ends, of suitable sites for the cell tower.

For example, I wonder if the town board knows that there is a town law that says: ?Utility easements may be granted by the town board on the perimeter of property dedicated to theˇNature Preserve by a majority-plus-one vote.? That law allows the utility on any part of the perimeter and since the town owns many properties next to each other, the tower could be far from the street and other private properties.

My first personal proposal, already presented, is a town property which has no restrictions of its use and which is between the Fire Department and Blue Bay Girl Scouts. It would put the tower in the center of a wooded area that is about 450 by 600 feet. I would prefer that the town rent or sell a small portion of that land to the Springs Fire District and then the Springs Fire District would pay for all the installation. That is how these two elected groups should get along to help the Springs.

Also, as I reported last year, I had asked the Springs Fire District Commission to move their preference for the tower location so that it is next to their building and farthest from neighbors. They finally made that change to their proposal, but I also recommend that they present a detail on planting large trees to reduce visibility of the tower by neighbors. The Amagansett Fire Department has their tower on their property, and it probably does help that fire department. That issue needs knowledgeable but independent study.

I have heard hundreds of residents? worries about the lack of the cell tower. The town board and Springs Fire District Commission need to change how they have worked in the past so that we can all work together to find the best solution. There are continuing dangers, and many of us in Springs have urged cooperation for several years. That has not yet happened.



East Hampton
June 14, 2020

Dear David:

I just received an emailed press release from our congressman, Lee Zeldin. It is, as is his wont, full of self-promotion as a protector, this time of our drinking water.

In his release, Mr. Zeldin warns that Long Island has the most contaminated drinking water in New York State. This contamination is caused, in part, by the prevalence of “forever” toxins such as PFAs. Indeed, this newspaper has often written about the threat posed by these chemicals. Mr. Zeldin then proceeds to tout his so-called legislative efforts to combat the threat posed by toxins like PFAs, hopefully leading us to believe that he has been a champion in our fight for clean water.

Mr. Zeldin specifically points to his vote for the PFAS Action Act, which the House passed in early 2020. This bill would, among other things, designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances, which would prevent further contamination and require cleanup of contaminated sites, establish comprehensive testing, and monitoring of drinking water, and require a drinking water standard that would protect public health. Sounds great, right?

Well, what Mr. Zeldin hides from us is that he also voted for an amendment that would have blocked implementation of the public safety aspects of the act until the Environmental Protection Agency administrator certifies that the agency has completed its PFAS action plan. Given that Mr. Trump’s E.P.A. has failed even to meet the weak PFAS regulatory deadlines it had itself set and has done literally nothing to protect the country’s water supplies, Trump’s E.P.A. would never complete its action plan. So, Mr. Zeldin’s vote for the blocking amendment actually reflected a vote against the regulation of PFAS, despite his political ploy of voting for the PFAS Action Act. Fortunately, that amendment was defeated.

In his press release, Mr. Zeldin boldly states that “when it comes to our communities’ drinking water, there is no room for error.” He’s right; and because there is no room for error, there is also no room for Mr. Zeldin’s callous and dishonest posturing to his constituents.

In other words, we have no room for Mr. Zeldin. Lucky for us, we have the opportunity to replace Mr. Zeldin’s disservice to his constituents with a candidate dedicated to protecting our public health. That’s why we should all support Perry Gershon as the Democratic candidate who can — and will — replace Mr. Zeldin this November. Support Perry with your vote in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.




Foreign to Trump
June 21, 2020

Dear David:

Well, that didn’t take long. The ink hadn’t even dried on the decision by the Supreme Court rejecting the attempt by the Trump administration to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy before Mr. Trump was at it again. The very next day, he cruelly promised yet another attempt to deprive “Dreamers” of the only home they have known. DACA is the Obama administration’s plan to afford sanctuary, temporary though it is, to children brought here unlawfully by their parents. As with everything else that was Obama, Trump chafed at the protections the bill offered, and then instructed his administration to rescind DACA.

The unsurprising result was a ham-handed attempt to rescind DACA, which was rejected by the Supreme Court as arbitrary and capricious. As the court explained, the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act for, among other reasons, failing to take into consideration the livelihood (and contributions made to the U.S. economy and society) of the 700,000 DACA recipients. Empathy is a concept foreign to Trump.

In his latest Twitter rant, Mr. Trump railed at the court. Then, in an utter lie, he lashed out at the “Do Nothing Democrats” for abandoning DACA by failing to enact any congressional reform.

Nothing could be further from the truth. On June 4, 2019, the House Democrats (and seven Republicans) voted to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, which would have codified the protections afforded under DACA. Now, who was it who abandoned the Dreamers? Mitch McConnell never even brought the act to the Senate floor for a vote.

And guess who else abandoned the Dreamers? Lee Zeldin‚ who voted against the House bill, demonstrated yet again his predilection for abandoning his constituents in favor of cozying up to the latest ill-conceived and cruel position espoused by Mr. Trump. So, don’t expect Mr. Zeldin to lift a finger this time around to help those DACA recipients among his constituents, even in the face of overwhelming public support favoring the Dreamers.

By the time you will have read this, Democratic voters will have chosen their candidate to oppose Mr. Zeldin this November. I hope all voters, Democrats and Republicans, will get behind that candidate and rid us of this scourge.




Think Again
June 22, 2020

Dear David,

How simple it is to see or hear something on TV. Run to your source of typing and run with the story. No research in a day or two, believe CNN, MSNBC, etc., the Secret Service was the reason the order to drop smoke bombs on the crowd in D.C. so the president could cross the street to the church that was burned almost to the ground by the protesters.

If you sincerely believe that looting, burning, and outright physical beatings of innocent bystanders is okay, please think again. The downright murder of George Floyd was despicable. The police department should have fired this animal a long time ago. According to his record, he was a time bomb. However, the destruction and loss of businesses was so uncalled for.

The N.F.L. has turned around its reasoning concerning Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is not a hero. He received a huge salary from playing football, he could have worked with community services, the local police departments and more, but he didn’t put his money where his mouth was. Out for himself, wearing “cops are pigs” socks. He made the decision to kneel for our national anthem as a showing of his feelings, no concern for anyone else. The anthem should be a symbol of love of our country.

In God and country,



A No-Brainer
East Hampton
June 22, 2020

Dear Editor:

In 1969, I was hired by the United Council of Churches of New York City to design a program to fight against systemic racism in New York City. My territory was Brooklyn and the Bronx, about 3.5-million people. I was the only staff member. They obviously weren’t very serious.

This work segued into working in drug treatment and prevention in the same boroughs. Working in the South Bronx and Sunset Park and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, our kids were white, brown, and black. Mostly poor. Mostly in the same boat. Except for their expectations. The options for the white kids weren’t great, but were better than for the kids of color. Their issue was class. The bottom of the white-world pecking order.

The reaction to Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter was at its core a racist trope aimed to misdirect our reality. Equating systemic racism and police brutality toward African-Americans with the way white people are treated is a venal form of knee-jerk fascism.

Yet, hidden in A.L.M., but not intended for publication, is the harsh reality for poor white people who suffer from much of the systemic abasement that blacks suffer. Low wages, poor schools, too much policing. Living in a class tracking system that creates generational poverty and misery. While slavery plays a significant role in this issue, the racism component creates exponentially more pain and misery.

When we compare the U.S. to communist systems, which we always did, we were able to explain how great our system is. But when we compare ourselves to other capitalist countries we are not so great, and sometimes not great at all. Racism exists everywhere in the world but our racism was so intrinsic to our development as a country that we were obligated to normalize it into our system.

Slavery and then its myriad offshoots allowed us to become the most dynamic economic engine ever. Slavery had a minimal impact on U.S. workers early on because there were 3,000 miles of vacant territory (Native American excluded) between the two coasts. Consequently, people who weren’t happy with how they were treated had the choice to go west. This escape mechanism served to pacify working-class people and to create even more economic growth.

In the 20th century, when communism became a viable force, economic growth again reached extraordinary levels. Marshaling millions of people to work together for what was supposed to be the common good showed great results. While different from slavery it contained the basic underlying condition of slavery. Confinement: Meaning no freedom to leave.

In truth, once we turned to globalization, we no longer needed the slavery culture. More important is that we no longer needed large segments of our workers. Racism, as an essential economic tool, became irrelevant. A third of America was completely screwed — obsolete, outdated, unnecessary.

It is under these conditions that A.L.M. becomes relevant. Yet, in the last election, the choice between someone who spent her life working to improve the lives of working-class Americans and someone who screwed everyone he could possibly screw was a no-brainer for 60 million voters (27 percent of the electorate).

Are we racist or masochistic or some lethal combination of the two?



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