May 19, 2020
In brief, this is to say thank you to Helen Rattray for “Connections,” the weekly column that she has written and which we have enjoyed for some 50 years. And to note with appreciation, the care, the words and phrasing, and intellectual breadth that she has brought to us.
We have enjoyed her family memories as well as the coverage of her concerns: local, personal, and those of the broader world. Her comments on community events, as well as historical and current trends, have been incisive, eye-opening, and generous. She has shared with us her contagious optimism that the future of East Hampton will continue to reflect the best traditions of its illustrious past. Since her farewell announcement expressed a willingness to voice an opinion in print from time to time, or when the occasion demands, we will look forward to those times.
ANN and DICK ROBERTS
On the Scene
June 1, 2020
On a personal note, I’d like to thank you, your mother, Helen, your sister, Bess, and honor your father, Everett, who came before you for maintaining this fine newspaper of record for longer than I’ve been in this world. The East Hampton Star truly does shine for all. Not only have you always served the community with responsibly well-balanced journalism, your editorials shake the bushes and shake the conscience, encouraging the reader to leave no stone unturned. Your letters to the editor section allows a forum for dissemination of information and airing of opinions, almost always done in a very respectful manner by the fine residents of this community. I’d like to avail myself of that forum today and ask you to kindly publish the following.
I’m writing today to thank the emergency medical technicians and paramedics of the East Hampton Village ambulance and the officers of the East Hampton Village Police Department. On Memorial Day afternoon, my mother, Eileen, who is 86 years old, fell on the back steps of her house and severely fractured her hip. Fortunately, she’d gotten in the habit of carrying her cellphone, knowing such an event was an increasingly distinct possibility. She called me immediately, and I rushed to her house, which is about 100 yards from mine.
I quickly assessed she’d broken her hip and dialed 911. Within five minutes three police officers and a paramedic first responder arrived on the scene and in just a few minutes more there were I’d guess about six or eight volunteer E.M.T.s in personal vehicles and an ambulance. Within roughly 15 minutes of her fall my mother was in the ambulance and on her way to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, where she was treated, kept comfortable, and within 24 hours underwent surgery for a complete hip replacement. She’s got a long road ahead of her, but she’s doing just fine.
Every single individual involved in her emergency medical response, without exception, was incredibly professional, kind, and compassionate. They took an otherwise devastating and painful day and made it into as positive an experience as possible.
Words can only begin to express my gratitude to all of you who responded, and to each of you I’d like to communicate that your service to this community is deeply appreciated and valued.
June 1, 2020
In the article “Parrish Director to Move On” in last week’s Star, it seems to suggest that Terrie Sultan raised the money for the new Parrish Art Museum and that she had a hand in choosing the architects, Herzog and de Meuron. This could not be further from the truth. These plans were well in hand before Sultan’s appointment and put into place, with herculean effort, by the previous director, Trudy Kramer.
Many of Trudy Kramer’s friends, including myself, have been bothered by the near-erasure of her fine legacy. Trudy was the director of the Parrish for 20 years, or more, and was who made it into a real museum, with great dedication.
We have her — and her board — to thank for the fine museum it is today, along with, I am sure, Terrie Sultan’s contribution.
June 1, 2020
To the Editor,
I am running for a school board position in the upcoming East Hampton School District Election. This important election and budget vote will be Tuesday, by absentee ballot only.
I am the patriarch of the East Hampton Ryan family. I have been married for 60 years to my wonderful wife, Patricia M. Ryan, who is the heart and soul of our family. It has been a wonderful 60 years for me. It’s been a little harder for my beautiful bride, because I am big, loud, opinionated, and sometimes outrageous.
There are 50 Ryan family members consisting of 9 children, 24 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and 15 in-laws and significant others. Almost all of my family members have attended, or currently attend, school at East Hampton.
I am a veteran. I served my country in the United States Army, where I learned to be disciplined and to take direction. After leaving the Army, I worked to earn degrees from St John’s University and the University of California, Fresno with a master’s of mathematics). With these degrees, I was hired as a teacher of mathematics and computer, working for 28 years total in public education: Four years at the Westhampton Beach Union Free School District and 24 years at East Hampton.
A former athlete, I learned to be a team player as a proud member of St. John’s 1958-59 basketball team coached by Joe Lapchick and Lou Carnesecca, winning the Holiday Festival Championship in 1958 and the National Invitational Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden in 1959.
I am an experienced board of education member serving on the East Hampton School Board for a total of 24 years from 1993 to 2011 and 2016 to 2020.
From its inception I’ve been involved with East Hampton Y.M.C.A.-RECenter, first, working on fundraising and concepts for ways the facility might serve the community, then to the building and designing of the aquatic center. I have served on the board of managers at the Y.M.C.A.-RECenter for 25 years.
I understand the meaning of service and commitment. I am a “lifeguard for life,” first becoming certified as a teen, and holding that certification for 70 years. I eventually became a lifeguard trainer and examiner and continued to pass on my love of working with others and serving my community by protecting our waterfront township. Holding the position of East Hampton Town lifeguard coordinator for 30 years has enabled me to be instrumental in the growth of many swimming and lifesaving groups including the Stillwater and Ocean Lifeguard Program, the Junior Lifeguard Program, the Nippers training program, East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue, the Y.M.C.A. Hurricane Swim Team, East Hampton boys and girls highs school swim teams, and the Y.M.C.A. in-school swim program involving 11 grade students from Tuckahoe to Montauk.
I also have the privilege of managing the Amagansett Beach Association for 35 years, which is a wonderful beach club facility owned by its 95 family members.
My wife and I have proudly served our community as active members of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association for 35 and 34 years, respectively before retiring.
I believe my life experience and my love for this community makes me uniquely qualified to be a member of the board of education for the East Hampton Union Free School District. There are many educational issues that I am passionate about in our school district. This is a challenging time in education, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I will make every effort to support our district, staff, and community to ensure that East Hampton U.F.S.D. continues to be a leader in meeting the challenges of educating the children of our community.
I will continue to encourage our district to hire school staff who live locally and are an integral part of our community. I believe we can save valuable taxpayer money by addressing budgetary issues. As a mathematician, a long-standing member of the community, a former teacher in the district, and experienced board member, I understand our unique budgetary issues. I will continue to encourage open dialogue in the educational community between the school board, administration, staff, parents, and students.
I believe I can be an asset to our school district because of my unique background, my proven leadership, and my commitment to our wonderful community. Please consider voting for me, but more important:
Please consider voting “yes” on our 2020-21 school budget.
Please consider voting “yes” on a proposition to build our student culinary arts kitchen.
I want to continue serving our community. I’ll stop when I get old!
God bless America.
Thank you all for your past support,
JOHN J. RYAN
June 2, 2020
I am writing to encourage the Sag Harbor School District community to vote for Helen Roussel.
In the years I have known Helen, I have found her to be an engaged citizen who will speak up and take action based on ethical values, transparency, and accountability. I look at boards as a portfolio of skills.
Helen’s experience and training in education law, and as an educational advocate has enabled her to develop strategies that will increase student achievement and save money for taxpayers.
Helen has a proven track record advocating for several students in the local area, and has professionally advocated for over 25 students across Long Island. She has also organized local professional development for teachers and psychologists.
Helen has the experience and expertise to implement solutions for struggling students at the beginning, rather than allowing problems to grow. Fixing problems early saves taxpayer dollars by using fewer resources across a student’s school career. Moreover, high literacy levels increase output across the school, with less drag in classrooms and a higher level of confidence and success.
Furthermore, I’ve had the pleasure of working side by side with Helen on both the Sierra Club Long Island board and with the Sustainable Southampton Green Advisory Committee. As energy chair, I am looking forward to supporting her efforts to bring energy-saving green initiatives to the school and students closer to one of the fastest growing businesses in the world.
These accomplishments speak to Helen’s ability to collaborate and enthusiastically work with others. As a result, I think Helen would be a great addition to the school board.
Back to Work
May 26, 2020
I would like to introduce myself. My name is Sandi Kruel and I am running for Sag Harbor Board of Education this June. This year’s election will be different than ones in the past, with the ballots coming in the mail with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. I am asking for your support this year, because I believe that policies and procedures that are regulated by New York State Education Department need to be followed more closely.
I believe that the community has the right to ask questions, and be answered. I also believe that the spending of our tax dollars should be discussed with us, the public. I believe that each individual child deserves the education that best suits their needs. I believe that we can accomplish this the way it has been done in years past with transparency and all sectors coming together as one.
I am a 12-year school board veteran who not only graduated from Pierson but had three sons do so as well, one being in the Class of 2020. I have stayed heavily involved over the past 23 years in the school, and believe I have an understanding of what is sustainable for taxpayers, by attending all board meetings, serving on many committees, and never being afraid to ask the tough questions. So at this time, I ask, are you ready to believe in a better tomorrow for our children, taxpayers, and teachers? I am ready to get back to work on that side of the table and promise to bring communication, transparency, and honesty to the public and work cohesively to do so.
May 31, 2020
Dear East Hampton Star,
I have one question in regard to your May 28 editorial: Who is the “we” in “The Summer We Wanted?” Certainly not the frontline workers – doctors, nurses, hospital staff, police officers, or firefighters, who are risking their lives to keep us safe, not the small business owners that have been forced to close, not all the workers who have lost their jobs, nor the restaurant owners and staff who are struggling to stay partially opened, not the teachers who are missing their students, not the students who are missing their friends, not anyone who is separated from family, and certainly not the family and friends who have lost loved ones. So who exactly is the “we” you were writing about? I could not imagine a more insensitive response to the moment we are all in.
June 1, 2020
With all due respect, we are all “dependent on tourism” directly or indirectly. This is exactly why we should all work together to protect the health of our citizens, the sustainability of our environment, and the character of our towns.
CHARLOTTE KLEIN SASSO
Said It All
June 1, 2020
Once again your editorial in your May 28, 2020 edition said it all!
Having lived here for 28 years, almost nine years full time, the holiday weekend was the best in recent years. As you said, quiet to hear the birds was great and the lack of the normal short-term renters kept the noise down also.
I wonder if the town board read your piece and what their response was?
Just renewed our subscription for another year and look forward to reading it each week!
Please keep up the great work and thought in your editorials.
Stay well, safe, and enjoy!
WILLIAM and CAROL HARRON
June 1, 2020
I agree with “The Summer We Wanted” editorial last week, and I’ll tell you why. With less people out here, we can all breathe a bit easier and not feel so harried and frustrated, like on the roads, picking up groceries, or, god forbid, going to a local bay or the ocean. Is that too much to ask?
Don’t say local businesses can’t make it without tons of people out here. They’ll be fine, and they will be able to enjoy summer too, while making money, with maybe, dare I say, more patient guests at their hotels, restaurants, shops, farm stands, bars, and music venues. People are champing at the bit to go shop and dine and gather again, with whatever guidelines we must adhere to.
I support local business 100 percent, year round, and so do my family and friends. I’ve shopped locally for over 30 years. Over 40, if you count all the summers I’ve lived and worked here. What’s wrong with a sensible summer? Personally, I’d be in the shops and restaurants much more without the crowds, which turn me off. I’d go to more music venues too, if knew I’d get a seat without Joe Schmo breathing down my neck. You know? We did it for 12 years in Montauk with our karaoke business at one of the most popular dive bars every Friday night. And we made money and the bar made money and we had no unmanageable crowds.
Now it’s a shit-show out there every summer. No locals even go anymore. You can’t get in anyway, there’s a limit occupancy, because it became unmanageable and dangerous. The hamlets were never meant for that huge amount of people anyway. The town’s roads can’t handle it and neither can the aquifer, our sole source of drinking water. We are a fragile spit of land out here. The hamlet plan needs new eyes or better glasses, in my opinion. A reality check for sure.
I walked that “neighborhood charette” back a few years ago in East Hampton. No one listened to us about how we needed a traffic study for speeding on our small roads and a look-see into the sandpit polluting the aquifer in the middle of a residential neighborhood. They have tunnel vision. Why not use old houses the town owns, and foreclosures and abandoned houses. (There’s one around the corner from me, in Whalebone Woods, empty for years and rotting away.) That’s a shame and a waste, not to mention an eyesore; people could live there.
Why is every old house turned into a museum? Let local families live in them, do a lottery according to need locally, and let people take pride in fixing them up, so they don’t have to move away, like so many local kids did and will continue to do, who cannot afford to live here anymore. Kids, whose parents don’t have extra houses in town or money to burn.
Why keep building “affordable housing,” for locals supposedly, when you’re really going to turn it into Section Eight housing for out-of-town people? There was also no talk of bike lanes on the hamlet walk. Or since. I agree with Zach Cohen, build bike lanes! Don’t you notice there are more cyclists year round? It’s crazy already and it’s not even high summer.
What’s up, East Hampton? Are you just going to be stuck in the past? Don’t ignore this dangerous situation, please. We need bike lanes, and we need them now. Put that in your hamlet study, people. That is what we need: a calm summer. And some sense and sensibility.
June 1, 2020
To the Editor:
The unanimous decision of LIPA’s board to approve community choice aggregation was very welcome news. Now Long Island towns can more fully participate in the state’s growing clean-energy economy. This moves the region closer to the goals of New York’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which mandates that by 2030, 70 percent of the state’s electricity be generated from renewable sources, and by 2040, 100 percent.
But other energy entities seek to undermine the goals of the C.L.C.P.A. for New York City and Long Island. Since losing a ruling that would have permitted building the Williams NESE pipeline under New York harbor, National Grid has come back with its “Plan B” to increase natural gas supplies. How can building new gas delivery infrastructure help wean us off this fossil fuel? It can’t.
Plan B calls for a new pipeline under north Brooklyn and the upgrading of liquefied national gas facilities and compressor stations. But why should these measures be approved when they take the region and state in the wrong direction? National Grid has even admitted that it could meet energy needs through investments in energy efficiency and by providing customers with electric heating and cooking solutions. Those measures would advance us toward the goals of the state’s climate law, not take us backward.
Gov. Cuomo: Keep us on track to enforce the climate law, which means a moratorium on fossil-fuel expansion. Reject National Grid’s Plan B.
June 1, 2020
To the Editor:
In a few weeks, local Democrats who are registered to vote have one of the most important choices they have ever made in choosing who will represent us in Congress.
They have three choices. Bridget Fleming is the only candidate who has been elected five times, has experience in local government, represents us as our county legislator, and is endorsed by over 12 respected organizations and elected officials.
Bridget has already taken on Donald Trump by standing up for affordable health care that includes pre-existing conditions, our environmental standards, and was named one of our most active and effective lawmakers by Newsday.
Her two Democratic challengers have never been elected and have no experience in government. We need a strong, effective, and proven leader now more than ever representing us in Washington.
Please save the following directions explaining how to make your vote count during the Corvid-19 pandemic.
You will get an absentee ballot application from the Board of Elections. Fill it out and sign the form. Mail the application back in the stamped envelope by June 16. Then you will receive the actual ballot. Vote for Bridget Fleming. Sign the smaller envelope and put it in the larger poster - paid envelope. Mail it back by June 22.
Or you can vote in person at your local polling place wearing your mask and standing six feet apart for your health and the health of your neighbors.
Bridget Fleming will not let us down. We so need her in Washington now.
Does Not Exist
May 31, 2020
Maybe I am missing something. The last press release update on the East Hampton Town government website was April 29, 2020. In the news flash section of the town website, some articles are more current, but are basically reposts of links to state and county websites and provide very little information.
On May 28, the East Hampton Town Business Recovery Group posted a flyer with links to help business owners find the information they may need to reopen.
Of interest in your May 28 article in the East Hampton Star “Outdoor Dining Gets a Boost, While Businesses Get Mask Authority,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the Department of Health Services would give automatic approval to restaurants that are expanding outdoor dining logistics once the local municipality approves. Yet I was unable to find this information on the town website.
I also do not find on the town website a reopen plan. If there is one, I apologize upfront as I cannot find it, nor can several others who have looked for it, and I would think something this important would have been reported on by our local press. Sadly it is my belief one does not exist. But I hope I am wrong!
Like it or not, East Hampton’s primary industry is tourism in all its forms, and Montauk is the town center for tourism. There has long been the belief that this town board is anti-business, particularly towards those in the Montauk tourism business. Montauk clearly has the most hotel rooms and restaurants. We also know the town supervisor wrote Gov. Andrew Cuomo to delay hotel and motel openings until later in the state’s reopening plan a week before Memorial Day weekend, but made no mention of the home rental market, which brings equally if not more folk from away into town.
With all going on and what appears not to be going on, one has to ask why are the outside benches and dining areas in Montauk still tapped off? What is the short-term reopening plan, and when will it be published? Why is the town board unfairly starting the Montauk business community? Is there a long-term reopening plan, and if so, where is it?
The backbone of our economy is our small business owners and everyone that works at those businesses. We need to support our small businesses, and so does our town board. The livelihood of many families depends on it.
The East Hampton Town Republican Committee encourages all in our community to do something positive — check on an elderly neighbor or someone that you know is less financially stable. Donate to our local food pantry at 631-324-2300 or online at www.easthamptonfoodpantry.org, and most important, love your neighbor.
The East Hampton Republican Committee is the local party dedicated to working families, a living wage, environmental conservation, equality, diversity, and economic development for all. We believe in bipartisan solutions regardless of financial status or political party affiliation. Access to the 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 New York City political doctrine. Let us work together for a better East Hampton for all.
East Hampton Town
May 25, 2020
The draconian lockdown orders triggered nationally, the New York State “Pause” order, and local disaster preparedness plans, more akin to civil unrest plans instead of pandemic plans, were rolled out based on a dire predictive model that projected more than 2.2 million Americans would die as a result of Covid-19. That struck irrational fear in most people, who went along with such drastic measures in context of “flattening the curve” to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.
The predictive model was fundamentally and drastically flawed, the number of deaths by far, thank God, didn’t materialize. When the predictive model was discovered to be drastically flawed, no longer was there a rational reason for such harsh lockdown measures. All lockdown orders and Pause orders shuttering small business should have been withdrawn.
I sent an email to the East Hampton Town Board on March 30, writing in detail about the numbers not adding up and complaining about their overreach. At this point in time and thereafter was when elected officials and law enforcement officers went off the rails, violating their oath of office to uphold and protect the United States Constitution.
What was determined to be an essential business and nonessential business was totally arbitrary and discriminatory, a violation of civil rights of the “nonessential” business owner and their business. Don’t be fooled, this had nothing to do with the spread of Covid-19, no elected official nor law enforcement officer could rationally justify their actions. Law enforcement officers knew the violations they were writing were unenforceable but they continued because they were ordered by their superiors. That’s still no excuse because each officer takes an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution; they became bullies, ignoring the rule of law.
I don’t practice law. I’m not an attorney, but I can understand plain English. It’s very clear to me. I’m not going to make the argument. I will only present fact, a quote from the United States Department of Justice website. Perhaps someone will file a complaint with the U.S. assistant attorney general. Justice needs to prevail to make sure this never happens again. All actors need to be held accountable
“Deprivation of rights under color of law: Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. . . . The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.”
May 30, 2020
A Montauk resident who spent his career working with health-care organizations reached out to explore initiatives that the town could implement to help reduce the incidence of disease in our community. As we spoke, it became apparent that a town-sponsored flyer that highlighted the actions one could take to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in both English and Spanish, would be meaningful, if it could be broadly distributed.
After a bit of research, the New York State Department of Health flyer, titled “Protect Yourself from COVID-19 and Stop the Spread of Germs,” seemed perfect. The graphics were simple, the text was clear, and it was available for download in both English and Spanish.Next up was getting it into the hands of community members.
Many thanks to all who have signed on to this effort, including Cirillo’s Amagansett I.G.A., East Hampton Stop & Shop, East Hampton I.G.A., and Montauk I.G.A. as well as Springs Food Pantry, Montauk Food Pantry, East Hampton Food Pantry, CMEE Pop-Up Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, Windmill and St. Michael’s senior housing communities, and the town’s Human Services Department.
May you stay healthy and strong.
East Hampton Town Councilwoman
P.S. If someone is in need of assistance, please reach out to me at [email protected].
Follow the Rules
June 1, 2020
As many of you may know, I’m a bit of a recluse by nature. I’m agoraphobic and slightly claustrophobic. I don’t like crowds as a rule, but will suffer them when necessary. It may seem incongruous, but I also like hugs from people I know. It’s complicated. You might think that the pandemic would have allowed me to be more comfortable in public, however it has not. The forced use of masks has made me both claustrophobic and skittish as I have an irrational fear of people with masked faces. Lots of us do, and many don’t admit it, like being afraid of clowns. So the pandemic has caused me a lot of psychological stress. And I know I’m not alone in this.
The thing I most want to discuss here is the recent refusal of many people to continue to follow the rules that have been imposed on us by our state government. Recently, even though the rule is that you must be masked whenever you go out in public, I see joggers and bicycle riders and even people walking around without masks. I admit that the likelihood of catching Covid-19 from people you pass on the street is unlikely. But what if you find yourself talking to neighbors?
Most people are not observing the six feet of distance we all call “social distancing” when they meet people on the road, and often I see them without masks. In fact, a few days ago, I saw a cluster of people on the corner of Main Street and Job’s Lane in Southampton all bunched together like they were waiting for a bus or something, and more than half of them were mask-less. I also saw a number of people who were using part of the Maidstone golf course as a dog run a few weeks ago doing the same thing.
Social distancing becomes much more important when we are indoors together. Even a well-ventilated room, unless it has large windows open to the outside and a stiff breeze blowing, is a concentration point for diseases like Covid-19. Influenza is spread every year because people who are sick - and know they are sick - refuse to stay home and wind up infecting their coworkers and anyone they spend time with on public transportation or at public events. They also leave hazardous waste like tissues around, which can pass the disease on to whoever is emptying the trash. Though the precautions might seem excessive, they are really designed to keep the disease from spreading.
What I have found very upsetting is that people who live in New York City, the prime incubator for this disease once it arrived in this country, were allowed to come out east, potentially bringing the disease with them. Their presence has caused a number of problems for those of us who live here year-round. Most of you will remember the letters I’ve written about the supply problems that summer visitors and weekenders cause at local grocery stores. This has been exacerbated by the panic which most people - even locals - fell prey to back in March. Now that the weather is more summery (though it still feels a bit like mid-spring to me), people are emerging from the enforced hibernation and many more people from the city are coming to our region. And they bring with them yet again a feeling of superiority and privilege, which is maddening in normal times. With the pandemic still in full swing, it’s absolutely infuriating.
A good example of what I’m talking about happens every morning at a certain local cafe, where I habitually eat breakfast. The self-serve coffee area is really only designed for single-person use even in normal times. But people just have to have their coffee in the morning, and they crowd around the pots and boarding-house reach (which, for those who don’t know the term, is extremely rude) is the norm in summer. Since the pandemic, the rules (imposed by the board of health based on Centers for Disease Control guidelines) are that masks must be worn at the coffee area, gloves preferable, but hand-sanitizer is accepted and social distancing is definitely required. Though the posted rules do not explicitly say so, social distancing means that only one person should be at the coffee station at a time. I’m used to seeing the Hispanic workers coming in in clusters and though they have masks and use hand protection, they tend to stay in a cluster. I just stand back and let them be idiotic.
What gets my goat is that if I’m getting my coffee, which I pay for before I take it, and which takes me a very short time to finish prepping, and I ask others to stand back, they get angry and act as if I’m the one being obnoxious. I had this experience this morning with a woman who said of me, “He really doesn’t get it, does he?” to one of the servers. I know she was from the city by the way, because she told someone in a loud voice that she had just “gone home to the city for a few days.”
The crown of stupidity and hypocrisy was displayed by a lady who was standing within a foot of another patron while ordering. She was wearing a shirt that had a complicated message on the back about social distancing and “if you are within six feet of me you are too close. Do not pass.” I mean talking about not practicing what you preach! And in a restaurant environment, too.
I happen to be friendly with the owner of the establishment, and I saw him a few days earlier when I had a clash with yet another patron. After the clash, he came over and thanked me for following the rules. He said he had been appalled at the behavior he had seen that morning and was considering shutting the place down for the health and safety of all until the pandemic is over. After all, the holiday weekend had been, in his word, dismal. And I told him I would try to hang on as long as I can as a customer. But this morning’s spectacle has given me pause. I’m seriously thinking of eating at home until the pandemic is over.
I want to make something totally clear. All these precautions we take are not to protect ourselves but to protect others. Covid-19 can be present in people who have absolutely no symptoms, and they can spread the disease just as easily as people who are sick. This is why it is necessary for all of us to follow the protocols. Here on the South Fork, east of the Shinnecock Canal, we have been very lucky, and there have been few cases and fewer deaths (not to belittle the situation). It would be nice to keep it that way. The question is whether we should be letting people from what was the most concentrated petri dish for the disease come into our community. This is not an “us-and-them” argument, but rather one of public health. Most of the people coming from the city have not been tested. Those who have cloistered themselves for two weeks are still possible carriers and should still be observing the rules of wearing masks and social distancing. Most are, many are not.
Adding to my frustration is my personal opinion, which is based on what I learned about epidemiology in various classes including microbiology and science-and- society in college. It comes down to the choice between saving people and saving the economy. If you act to save as many people as you can, thousands of businesses close, millions lose their jobs, and the entire world economy grinds to a halt. This is what we have been thrust into and, yes, once the pandemic became a pandemic it was predictable that this would happen. The other reaction to the pandemic would be to keep life as close to normal as possible for the general public and let the disease take its course.
This is a choice, which is just as detestable as the one most of the world chose, as it means that millions of people would be condemned to death for what might seem “no good reason.” Yet, if you want to be scientific about it, the sad and awful truth is that along with global warming, humans ignored the warnings about overpopulation. There are now more people in the world than it can comfortably support. It’s not my opinion, but a solid, provable fact, which has been suppressed because there is only one way to deal with it anymore, and no one wants to be the one to do it. Well, as is well known to any ecologist, if a species won’t control its population, it will have to deal with certain natural factors that will limit them anyway. One such is illness and disease.
Pathologists have warned that such a pandemic as we are experiencing was not only possible but probable. Covid-19 got a foothold thanks to inaction by the Chinese, and a failure to recognize its spread in Europe (according to the best information I have). The fact that it might have been caught early is immaterial now. It’s here, and it’s deadly and exceedingly contagious. Since it has got this far, my own personal feeling is to let the human race develop herd immunity to the thing. A vaccine, which I personally would be willing to take, is at least three years away and even then I would have to see that there were minimal side effects and it should have more than 75 percent effectiveness. But like most people with a conscience, I stop short at condemning millions more people to an agonizing and ugly death.
Finally, I’m not afraid of Covid-19 for myself. I’ve survived a number of the worst influenza viruses that have come through in my lifetime. I won’t take a vaccine primarily because I got sick with the vaccine strain of the virus (shown by blood test) and because the max effectiveness recently has been below 40 percent. I have a robust immune system, which has refused to compromise with drugs. I wear the protective gear for others, to show them that I have consideration for them. It’s why I maintain a full six feet distance when most are clustering less than a foot from each other. And finally, it’s why I think I have to retreat even more from a life in public.
I will continue to shop for groceries, but otherwise I will not go beyond the end of my driveway. Too many people have made it clear that they feel their needs are more important than mine, and when they get angry because I want to preserve certain rules, which are for their benefit, I think it’s time to just let the babies have their bottles. Sorry, but maybe I’ll be back in the fall. Hope you guys can hold out till then. I wish you a productive summer season. I just can’t deal with the snobs and overgrown spoiled brats. I just wish that these people would stay away until the pandemic is over.
As always thanks for reading. And sorry this is such an angry letter. Stay well everyone.
P.S.: To my neighbors who thought I was having a fire over the holiday weekend, sorry about the smoke. It was wet charcoal, and I’m not surprised you called 911. In fact, it was exactly the right thing to do! I was sterilizing my Kamado grill the same way an oven self cleans itself, and I had a fire extinguisher and hose on hand (as I always do) just in case. Be warned that I will be doing a lot of barbecue and there will necessarily be smoke but not as heavy as that morning.
May 25, 2020
To the Star:
Should we be concerned? My wife and I took a walk on the beach last Sunday, May 24, wearing our masks, perhaps unnecessarily in the lonely circumstance. The beach was not crowded, social distancing being easily observed, quite a strong cold wind from the north. We walked into the wind knowing its assistance will help out on the return trip.
Along the way we see a few hundred feet away a group of four people not wearing masks in animated conversation coming towards us from the north. A sudden gust alerted me to the question of how far and how quickly could the vapor from their mouths travel in our direction on the gusty. Went home and cleaned the masks.
May 26, 2020
As of May 27, 2020, over 100,000 human beings have lost their lives in our nation due to Covid-19. This is approximately the number of our dead service members during the Vietnam War (1954-1973) and Korean War (1950-1953) combined. Most of these casualties were combat related.
During these months of horrendous deaths of both young and old, nurses, doctors, radiologists, E.M.T.s, police officers, fire department members, and many others on the front lines, it has been noticeable that our national leadership has been non-existent. From January through April 2020, Trump did little other than say, “We have only five cases.” “We have it under total control.” “It will be over by Easter.” And then he proposed the voodoo treatment of disinfectant and ultraviolet light to eradicate the virus. On Feb. 26 Trump informed the American people that “we have had tremendous success, tremendous success, beyond what people would have thought.”
Due to Trump’s total incompetence and the continued zombie existence of Pence’s non-leadership, our economy is rapidly reaching the depths of the Great Depression with unemployment reaching over 30 million.
The government issued checks, and unemployment benefits will do little to ease the long-term economic damage and pain that Trump has inflicted on our nation.
Thank God for the governors—in particular Gov. Cuomo—who have done their best to fight the virus.
Wear your mask, be safe, and vote in November.
June 1, 2020
To the Star:
“We are at war”: A wankers lament in the face of a crisis. Imagine if the enemy had missiles. Why do we have a government?
Our wartime response to Covid-19 was a combination of indifference, incompetence, and capability. The Trump administration ultimately failed because it had no ability to deal with a problem of this magnitude. In truth, it is incapable of dealing with any problems. Trump only blows air, and he is surrounded by people who have never worked in government and are clueless about how government works. Consequently, there was and isn’t a plan to deal with the virus and no plan to reopen and stabilize the economy. Plans require knowledge and vision. Hot air works for balloons. Just stating the obvious.
The economic issues that have arisen from the virus are far more complicated and challenging than the virus is. For example, by July large numbers of people will have run through their savings and will be unable to subsist on unemployment alone. Millions of people face evictions from their apartments and homes because they are financially up the creek. If the municipalities create a moratorium on evictions, allowing tenants and owners to stay in place, then building owners and banks will need to dig into their resources to stay afloat. Forcing workers to stay home limited their abilities to pay rents and mortgages. Having them go to work, if there is work to go to, puts their lives at risk.
So if the virus forces the government to shut down the economy, it causes multiple levels of problems. Should the government not be responsible for resolving those problems? While shutting down was the only option, the government still has to assume the obligations of the problems it created. Furthermore, even if people go back to work and don’t get sick and die, it could take many months or even years for the economy to return to normal.
The economic issues are staggering. The nation’s fault lines have been harshly exposed. What’s our plan for moving forward? Do we envision reworking our system to avoid future breakdowns? Knowing that shutting down was going to devastate the economy, did we make plans to deal with it?
Pain starts at the bottom and works its way upward. The Great Depression lasted 12 years. How long do we anticipate the pain to last? There are millions of people who haven’t recovered from 2009. Is there anyone in this government, besides some Dems, who know anyone in pain? Did anyone in the cabinet ever work for a living? How do we calculate the economic and emotional damage that is devastating the population when the president won’t wear a mask?
The disconnect between the American people and the government is staggering. Our leader tweets about Joe Scarborough and Twitter while the country is being wasted. Genetically defective is the nicest way to put it. But much more than that is the inability, the incapacity, and the disinterest in finding solutions. Why does government exist?
Hot air is useless against a pandemic and a broken economy. It may warm the hearts of his supporters, but it leaves the rest of us unable to breathe — like someone with a knee on your throat.
May 29, 2020
To the Star:
We need to shout out to Jack Dorsey (Twitter C.E.O.) for his new online course, which was introduced this week titled “Backbone 101.” This course should be mandatory to all congressional and Senate Republicans. The course premise is based on fact-checking, conspiracy- theory identification, and just plain truth- telling, which seems to be a major character flaw in the Republican Party. The course also concentrates on “character and backbone development” for Republicans who are silent when their president lies on his favorite social media platform. The course also has a major emphasis on “presidential distraction techniques,” which points out how Trump’s fire-branding is plain cover for his incompetent leadership.
While this course is long overdue in pointing out Republican cowardice it should be mandatory for all Republicans who worship MAGA platform lies. That being said, I feel Lee Zeldin should be first in line to register for “Backbone 101.” I am sure he would learn some basic leadership qualities beyond the doors of Fox News, which he so proudly occupies. For over three years we have witnessed Republicans turn their heads to the truth and support a liar and corrupt man. We have to ask what are they afraid of — a tweet calling them out. Republicans have to realize they have been labeled for years as the “party who has brought our country to a wrong place.” As we watch “right-wing extremists” storm the state house in Michigan and the governors’ mansions in Kentucky, Republicans are silent in their MAGA cocoons.
How much more damage can Trump and his Republican cowards do to this country. At least now Twitter is willing to call out the man who lies for a living. Registration for “Backbone 101” can be done anytime by accessing Trump’s Twitter account and reading the platform clarifications to the continuous stream of lies, conspiracy theories, and distraction topics. Republicans beware this is your guy, your “liar and chief.”
Seven Deadly Sins
May 26, 2020
I’m not a religious man, but I recognize the value of religious heritage. It provides us with rules, templates for living an honorable life. Civilization requires that we rise above our most base animal drives in order to hang together. I read somewhere that the Torah includes 163 commandments of various kinds. The Bible condensed them to 10, but Christian tradition augments them with a lot of corollaries.
Today I heard Trump talking about religion. He was reading the speech, the way he does in the halting monotone of a fourth grader struggling with the words. He was piously calling for reopening of “churches, synagogues, and [pregnant pause] mosques.” I could imagine him later saying to his handlers, “Who included mosques in there!? I just wanted to throw a bone to evangelicals, and they won’t like that!”
Trying to place Trump within religious tradition, the Seven Deadly Sins pop to mind. Pride, Greed, Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, and Sloth. Don’t know why these are called sins. They are character traits that dispose one to sin. If you had an employee who embodied any one of these traits to the extent that Trump does each one, you would fire him, check his pockets, before having security escort him from the premises, and call a locksmith to change the locks on the doors.
Shortly after his election in 2016, I wrote a letter to the Star despairing “What have you done, America?” At the time, I could not imagine what an embarrassment he would be to this country. Only after observing his behavior for years did I fully grasp that he is the complete, unabridged, and annotated anthology of poor character. Worse, I was too naive to imagine the cowardice and lack of imagination of the party ruling the Senate, who have permitted this wrecking ball to lay waste to the aspirational ethos of America in all its particulars.
As we, a diminished populace, limp toward the next election, one wonders if America itself has shriveled to the level of Trump and his spineless acolytes. Is this administration an aberration from which we can recover, or a mirror reflecting what we have become? My Great Aunt Hattie, a wealth of aphorisms, used to say, “Tell me who you go with, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
True and Faithful
May 31, 2020
To the Editor:
Bruce Colbath’s rabidly partisan approach to politics has placed him in an absurd position. He attacks Congressman Zeldin for not “listening to the experts” on the issue of the Wuhan flu, and for having no medical experience.
Would these be the same experts who advised that eminent physician Dr. Andrew Cuomo to issue his March 25 directive that forced nursing homes to take in patients already sick with the flu, causing the deaths of thousands, and ignoring the pleas of doctors at these nursing homes? Don’t look for that March 25 directive any more on the New York State website though. It’s been taken down. I wonder why.
As late as March 23 Cuomo and the genius mayor of New York City were advising people to ignore Trump and head on down to Chinatown, and were calling Trump a racist and a bigot for shutting down flights from China. Mr. Colbath has nothing to say about that.
As for what creepy, sleepy Joe Biden, the serial sniffer, thinks, even he doesn’t know.
Mr. Colbath can take some comfort in the fact that one member of the Cuomo family did follow good advice. Chris Cuomo, while running around out here in the Hamptons recovering from the Wuhan flu without a mask, apparently got his hands on the drug his brother has forbidden and used it to help cure himself. Not hydroxychloroquine, that terrible drug recommended by Dr. Trump, but chloroquine, the stronger version of the same medicine.
To ignore all this and instead attack Congressman Zeldin, apparently for going to law school rather than medical school, is just plain silly. Even sillier, when you realize that Mr. Colbath himself is a lawyer, not a doctor. Lee Zeldin has been a superb congressman, a true and faithful soldier, and a dedicated family man. He deserves, and we need him, to be re-elected.
Should Be Ashamed
May 28, 2020
During his entire career as our so-called congressman, Lee Zeldin, has obstinately opposed health-care reform and legislative efforts that would facilitate Americans’ access to affordable health care. A short list of his more notorious efforts includes: Mr. Zeldin voted more than 70 times to overturn the Americans Affordable Care Act, he led budgetary efforts designed to gut Medicare and Medicaid, he was a leader in the passage of the ill-fated Americans Health Care Act, which even Mr. Trump came to regard as a “nasty” bill. After the Affordable Care Act was defeated in the Senate, Mr. Zeldin was one of the champions behind efforts to dismantle it piece by piece. Most recently, he signed on to a letter supporting a lawsuit by several G.O.P.-led states seeking to have the A.C.A. declared unconstitutional.
So it came as a shock when I received a press release from the Alliance for Patient Access announcing that Mr. Zeldin was a recipient of its “patient access champion” award. Sounds great, right?
Well, not so fast. Although the Alliance for Patient Access claims that its mission is to ensure that patients have access to F.D.A.-approved therapies, research by industry insiders reveals that the A.F.P.A. is nothing more than a front group established to do the bidding of the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, a list of its financial supporters as of January 2020 includes virtually every major pharmaceutical company. Its efforts to advance “patient-focused” efforts have included pressuring Congress to oppose value-based purchasing for Medicare Part B drugs, issuing studies opposing opioid-prescribing restrictions, endorsing legislation that would block health-care policies that would encourage patients to try first the most cost-effective therapies, and questioning the safety and efficacy of certain generic drugs.Critics of the A.F.P.A. argue that the group opposes even modest efforts to limit spending on branded drugs, escalating health-care costs for everyone.
Of course, the A.F.P.A. seeks the support of members of Congress to do its bidding in supporting industry-supported legislation and opposing legislation the A.F.P.A. opposes. This is where the “patient access champion” awards come in. Those congressional representatives named as “patient access champions” have done nothing to champion patient access to health care. Instead, the award is A.F.P.A.’s way of thanking cooperative legislators for doing its bidding and simultaneously pressuring those lawmakers to support the A.F.P.A.’s policy agenda. Moreover, these euphemistically named awards can shield lawmakers from criticism for votes opposing legislation antithetical to the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.
So, the bottom line is that being named a “patient access champion” by the A.F.P.A. is akin to receiving an A grade from the N.R.A. It signifies little more than devoting one’s congressional efforts to doing the pharmaceutical industry’s bidding. As one of those “champions,” Mr. Zeldin has done nothing to further the health-care interests of his constituents, and he should be ashamed to accept any such “award.”
June 1, 2020
Just a few questions. Al Sharpton, where are you? Governor Cuomo: Where are you? Idiot De Blasio: You with your handle this with a light touch, why aren’t you standing in front of the police and telling the rioters nicely to go home. Mayor: See your daughter was arrested. It seems she infiltrated the riot groups.
Peaceful protest is the American way. However rioting, destroying private property, looting is not okay. Desecrating churches, burning down all that you can is despicable.
In God and country,
Fake News Fix
May 31, 2020
I really feel sorry for our local self-promoted historian, philosopher, light-on-facts pontificator. Since he favors redistribution of wealth and cannot afford a current paper, I want to give him a paid subscription to a valid news source. Apparently when he is having a hissy, detest America fit, it is like his little “binky.”
He retreats to his garage and unwraps three-year-old Gray Lady papers to nurture his fake news fix. Apparently he is unaware that the hoax perpetrated upon General Flynn has been exposed and apparently linked and possibly orchestrated by the Oval Office occupant! Planting seeds of a coup de etat?
I assume he feels that Sally Yates had an epiphany when she heard him discuss the plot. He spoke about the spying. Of course all Obama’s minions who testified under oath denying they had or saw any evidence of Russian collusion. As soon as they got in front of a camera, someone wound them up and they flat out lied to the worn out tune. Oh! What a tangled web he weaves. They wasted $30 million in taxpayer funds, as well over three years on pure evil
Wait! I will have Alfred E Newman donate old Mad magazines instead of me wasting money. No recycling needed.
New York City
May 28, 2020
To the Star:
A significant issue waiting in the wings, assuredly to burgeon, upsurge after the Democrats’ nomination or sooner. In mid-April 2018, a renowned Democrat stated, “When a woman alleged sexual assault, presume she is telling the truth.” However, on May 1, 2020, the very same Democrat declared, “I believe that women deserve to be heard, I believe they need to be listened to, but I also believe that those allegations have to be investigated by credible sources.”
Well, well. Is this the consequence of maturing? Of cerebrum elevage? (A French term for the progression of wine between fermentation, a wine’s adolescence, or education. Good wine-making decisions during elevage can help the juice to achieve its full potential; bad decisions can leave it flawed.) Or a crisis control attempt, evoked by the unforeseen, unexpected emergence of the Joe Biden-Tara Reade episode, a tryst in moderating a Hubristic mindset, from “presume,” “ dismissive,” in the direction of “listen,” “investigate,” and “credible.” Could this be? Check current rationalizations, reactions, to this unfolding episode, asserted by the very same entourage that only two years before partook, and formed the Brett Kavanaugh gauntlet. “Believe survivors never meant that was the beginning and the end of the inquiry. What it means is that you take it seriously.”
Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager: “I firmly believe that women have the right to be heard, and heard respectfully, however such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press.” Senate staffer Tara Reade alleges that Biden sexually assaulted her in the early 1990s. Joe Biden vehemently denies this.
The New York Times: “Believe Joe Biden, he is telling the truth, and this did not happen.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she believes Joe Biden, and is proud to support his bid for the presidency. Gillibrand: “When we say believe women, it is for this explicit intention of making sure all women come forward to speak their truth, to be heard. Vice President Biden has vehemently denied these allegations, and I support Vice President Biden.”
Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, who are viewed as potential running-mate picks, no comments, either. The behavior he is alleged to have done is inexcusable, but it will not change the way I am going to vote.Believe survivors, sexual violence is not a partisan issue. I think Biden is the better choice, and I still believe Tara Reade. Will it change the impression of a particular voter who’s making a binary choice, Joe Biden and Donald Trump? Said Pelosi, “I don’t think so. Why are many people still refusing to believe Reade? Among the primary reasons, sheer political inconvenience. It is an uncomfortable calculation for Democrats. I feel like a hypocrite, but too much is at stake.” And many, many more. A classical, political gymnastic spectacle, giving rise to a moment’s dilemma, piteous, imploring help, sympathy, but also alluring cynics, and satire from the other side of the isle. My contribution.
When searching for a definition of dilemma, find this one on top of one list. “To be, or not to be: that is the question/ whether it’s nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/ And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep, to sleep; perchance to dream.” Note “Sleep.”
EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL