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Letters to the Editor for August 20, 2020

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 20:15

Wandering Homeless
North Haven
August 13, 2020

Dear David:

Our superyacht boat people may be the Hamptons’ new homeless class. As an example of this summer’s local boating activities, on Aug. 13, 2020, at least eight megamillion-dollar yachts anchored overnight immediately adjacent to Mashomack Preserve.

Has anyone noticed the extraordinary population of luxury superyachts camping out in Sag Harbor bay this season? Over the years, yachts docking at Long Wharf seemed to grow about 20 feet in length each season. One could guess that because the stock market was zooming upward it allowed cramped, wealthy boaters to buy more comfortable digs.

Politics, racism, and the collapsing economy have become our focus lately, but in case you missed it, the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has continued to decimate the real economy, most employment, and cause widespread illness and death. Recently, the hilarious behavior of the stock market makes us question its relationship to any reality. The fortunate folks who have the means, or disposable income, to use the favored economics term, continue to enjoy sporting around on Wall Street to make killing after killing in the markets. Bully for them.

What I don’t understand is why so many of these fortunate few became our floating neighbors this summer? Why has there been no media coverage of this unusual phenomenon? Is this our new normal?

The new crop of 100-to-300-foot superyachts has obviously outgrown the capacity of even our newly refurbished Long Wharf. Avoiding dockage fees by camping out free alongside our sacred Mashomack Preserve is a privilege that appeals to them, and also keeps the riffraff at a safe distance. So far, we provide them ultimate privacy for some reason, but it’s hard to imagine any economic benefit redounding to our local economy.

I wonder how the Mashomack Preserve wildlife of birds, bees, bugs, butterflies, beasts, and sea life feel about this? The humming and buzzing of all the luxury equipment, and its exhaust fumes, is a new addition to this pristine nature preserve, plus the extra burden of all the motorized water toys. The flamboyant all-night lighting really runs counter to our local dark skies regulations, both in practice and in spirit.

I can only guess that our sweet little village and nature preserve have become a substitute for their usual summer in more fashionable digs, because that is not currently an option for these privileged folks.

The superyachts have parked here this year most likely because the occupants are United States residents despite the yacht registry, and have nowhere else to go, except to bounce between here, New York City, and Newport.

Remember, our U.S.A. government has grossly mishandled the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in the eyes of most other countries, we have become a hazardous hot spot. Severe restrictions have been placed upon all travelers from the U.S.A. The world health situation leaves even these wealthy folks unwelcome to go ashore in the rest of the civilized world. Europe, the Mediterranean, and all their favorite glamorous spots are inaccessible to them this summer season.

Pampered yes, but truly a wandering homeless class now. What irony!



Little Yappy Dogs
Barnes Landing
August 13, 2020

Dear David,

A picture perfect day — azure blue skies, emerald green water, briny southwest breezes about 10, surf barreling in on the sand bar, kids whizzing by on boogies and boards, seniors still trying to body surf. Plopping down in your chair after a swim and then it begins. The ever-present menagerie of little yappy dogs, some straining on leashes, others off-leash screeching at each other and the world around them, some peeing and some pooping.

Where’s Marine Patrol? Where’s a larger sign stating the town ordinance for dogs 500 feet east or west of beach entrance? Where’s civility? Where’s concern for your neighbor? I’m a dog lover — owned three Labs over the 40 years I’ve lived here and always taken them to the ocean off-season. C’mon people, enjoy the beach and let others do so too — leave the dogs at home!



Exactly Where They Are
East Hampton
August 12, 2020

Dear Editor,

As announced in The East Hampton Star, the town board is determined to hold a public hearing on the proposed zone change of the Pantigo Place Little League fields in October. The zone change from recreation to commercial may be good for Stony Brook University Hospital but bad for the ball playing youth of our community.

The Pantigo Place ball fields were created decades ago for the express use of our children. They have been an integral part of the town’s recreational infrastructure ever since. The town’s proposal to usurp these fields for use by the proposed Stony Brook Hospital Emergency Annex is a cruel idea.

Relocating the ball fields to Wainscott, far away from the children of Amagansett, Springs, and East Hampton north, is a powerful impediment to their participation. There has been insufficient to no planning for this relocation.

The proposed site, on Stephen Hand’s Path, is distant,  entirely without amenities, and the surrounding roads heavily trafficked.

Children’s recreational opportunities need to be created in or near the communities they serve. The Pantigo Place fields are ideal exactly where they are. The town should be defending these fields, not giving them up.

East Hampton Town has spent tens of millions of dollars banking land over the last half-century. Surely our town leaders can find four or five appropriately situated acres on which to relocate our young ball players.

The Pantigo Place fields are strategically located beside the police, the medical center, and food vendors at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. Few sites could be better suited or safer for our children.

If the town cannot find an equally suitable site on which to relocate the Pantigo Place ball fields then leave them where they are!

Keep our children safe, active, and nearby.



Long Live
August 17, 2020

To the Editor:

Long Live the Montauk Brewing Company!



Must Not Forget
East Hampton
August 13, 2020

To the Editor:

I noted many many weeks ago an editorial in your pages concerning the various uses of our residential lanes and the need for accommodating bicycles. Well, as we slide into the middle of August, I’d like to add pedestrians, both single and in small and not so small groups, various pushed or pulled conveyances for transporting children, and roller-skates. We must not forget dogs on and off leashes. Where to begin?

Most of our lanes south of Route 27, at least those I use most frequently in East Hampton Village and Amagansett, can provide a kind of heart-stopping experience as the lanes are narrow, non-vehicular traffic seems to never, or at least rarely, depart from the paved areas, and as Further Lane becomes more and more of a traffic artery, for which it is not designed, and as what I call the creeping 18-inch berm has taken over the extended town or village owned rights of way almost completely, well, all your readers and you know exactly what I am talking about.

The creeping 18-inch berm becomes the creeping three-and-one-half-foot berm on Cross Highway between Middle and Hither Lanes, and it seems all of the residential driveways in that block are essentially blind, meaning anyone entering Cross Highway must pull well into the traffic lane before they can see if there is anybody coming. At its narrowest point midblock it is not without some care that oncoming vehicles need to encounter each other, and add a pedestrian or a cyclist and at least one vehicle must come close to actually stopping. The blind intersection on Hand Lane in Amagansett at Bluff Road presents the driver with the same dilemma as the Cross Highway property owners face: The hedge extends so close to Bluff Road that one must pull well into it to see if anyone is coming.

These dilemmas can be pretty well solved by careful and restrained driving habits, though these would seem to annoy many other users of these lanes. I have been passed at speed across the double yellow line several times on Further Lane, been passed on the right on Route 27 at least three times. I admit I adhere to the speed limits, but shouldn’t I?

I haven’t even mentioned large landscaping rigs, which seem every year to be about a yard longer than they were the previous year, and the congregations of vehicles that gravitate to construction sites. And that it seems no matter how many people in a group that is walking they are invariably side by side. A drive down a lane can become like a winter Olympics slalom course. I have noticed a few sidewalks in the Amagansett lanes but I have never seen anybody walking on them.

Surely both town and village could somewhat alleviate some of these problems by utilizing their existing rights of way in a carefully planned manner.




Bike Lanes
East Hampton
August 17, 2020

Dear David,

As we draw closer to the village election, we will continue to share with you and your readers some initiatives and processes that we intend to introduce to enhance both the efficiency and transparency of our local government.

One of the core missions of government is to provide for the safety and well-being of its residents. When it becomes apparent that an existing condition presents a risk to public safety, it is the responsibility of government to address the issue and take steps to mitigate the risk. This brings us to this week’s topic: bike lanes or, more accurately, the absence of bike lanes. We can’t think of one official bike lane in the Village of East Hampton.

One only needs to go out for a walk or a drive to realize that biking is growing in popularity and is here to stay. There is an ever-expanding proliferation of municipal bike-sharing programs across the country, which are flourishing. One was planned for the village prior to the Covid breakout. It is a fun, healthy, and ecologically sound means of transportation, which more and more people are utilizing.

The absence of bike lanes, even on high-volume roadways, is a glaring deficiency in our community. This presents a danger to motorists, pedestrians, and bikers alike. In many instances, motorists are forced to drive on or across double yellow lines to safely pass bikes sharing the roadway. Bikers must decide whether it is safer for them to ride on roadways with little or no shoulders or opt for the sidewalk, which brings runners and walkers into play.

Clearly, the introduction of bike lanes is long overdue, and, if elected, we will take immediate steps to advance this initiative. A risk matrix will be developed to identify high-priority roadways to help guide the order of work. As always, we will seek input and advice from our residents and stakeholders as the project unfolds.

Our goal will be to incorporate bike lanes on high-priority roadways before the start of the new season.

More good things to come! Stay tuned.

Please feel free to email us at [email protected] to discuss this initiative or any issue of concern. We would also be happy to schedule a meeting.

The Fish Hooks Party is the party that can get it done. Please vote for the Fish Hooks Party, Arthur (Tiger) Graham for mayor and David Driscoll for trustee, on Sept. 15.



Candidate for mayor


Candidate for trustee


Most Qualified
East Hampton
August 15, 2020

Dear David,

With the East Hampton Village election less than a month away, the Elms Party continues to keep local voters informed with online reports of “Important News” as it happens: “Reopening Our Economy, the Village, 2020-21 Annual Budget” with a discussion on the village’s financial stability, the community preservation program, the comprehensive plan, important information for voters in making their decision on Sept. 15.

I applaud the Elms Party, under Barbara Borsack’s leadership, for conducting an honest and informed campaign. As a local village resident, I am convinced Barbara is the most qualified candidate for village mayor. Her years of public service experience provide confidence about what to expect from her future leadership as village mayor. As a proven elected official, Barbara’s leadership will keep East Hampton Village healthy, protecting our natural environmental resources and historic heritage. Look to Barbara to provide our village community with a productive and safe quality of life.

Vote on Sept. 15; make your voice count in this important local decision about our future. Thank you!



New York City
August 15, 2020


I read with great interest “Hauser & Wirth Arrives In Southampton, Inside and Out.”

I am a friend and family member of Jack Whitten. I am also a huge fan, both professionally and personally. Jack was obviously an enormous artistic talent; he was an even better human being.

Your article says: “Mr. Whitten’s painting, from 1974, incorporates the squeegee technique he developed at the same time as Gerhard Richter.” In fact, it is well documented that Jack developed the squeegee technique years before Richter did.

Jack’s greatness came in part from being a pioneer, in the truest sense of the word. Regarding squeegees, he was not just a pioneer; he was the first.



Huge Pile
August 13, 2020

Dear Editor:

If I could draw (I can’t) and I were a cartoonist (I’m not) the cartoon I would create is of a guy with a leaf blower wearing a mask blowing a huge pile of masks down the street.

Just sayin’.

Best wishes,



Fix This Problem
August 15, 2020

To the Editor,

I found the town board’s recent response to community frustration over insufficient wireless service in our area too little and too late. This is an issue I have written about twice in the past two years in The Star (and sent direct letters to the Town Board), as have many others.

To pretend now that this is due to a dramatic increase in our full-time population, and in cell and internet usage, seems to ignore the fact that this has been a serious issue for some areas like Springs for at least five years! During that time, the town has decided to wage a legal battle against one of its own fire departments over a badly needed cell tower?

I’m also baffled that the two temporary measures to address this issue do nothing for Springs, the most populous hamlet in our town and one with the worst problem in terms of cell coverage. This is a very serious safety risk that for some reason the town board has ignored, and now wants to spend several more years studying or hiring consultants for. This was also one of the many issues brought up in the past election a year ago and of course there was talk then about doing more studies.

It really shouldn’t be so difficult to fix this problem. Several months ago, Zach Cohen proposed a site for a cell tower in Springs that is on town-owned land that is between the Springs Fire Department and the Girl Scout camp (two sites previously considered) that would seem to make a tremendous amount of sense. The town should take this suggestion seriously since it is time to finally fix the cell problem in Springs before serious harm or death comes to one of our neighbors.

Please do this before next summer. The time for talk, or press releases, is over.



De Facto Policy
East Hampton
August 15, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray,

I write to express my extreme disappointment in the town board’s decision to yet again try to postpone the inevitable by hiring a consultant to yet again study how best to add cell towers within the town. This is a complete waste of money, and I urge you and The Star to vigorously lead the charge against it.

 In my opinion, in offering this course of action, Mr. Van Scoyoc joins a long line of town supervisors who have covered his true intentions (and those of the town fathers) to erect as many barriers as possible to the short or long-term relocation of people from New York City to the East End.

This de facto policy dates back to my first summers here in the 1950s, when the appeals were to veto the construction of a town bypass road in favor of improving the Long Island Railroad, and have only been exacerbated by the mass panic and exodus resulting from this spring’s pandemic.

While no one wants to see more blight produced by the erection of ugly cell towers, there are numerous ways to lessen their unattractiveness, and their potential harm to health has long ago been largely disproved. There can be no further delay in the installation of as many towers as are necessary to fill in the existing service gaps.

Cellphones for many are their only phone vehicle and will especially be so when Verizon announces the discontinuation in this area (as it is doing nationwide) of its traditional service via copper line. As for the internet, again I would hope The Star would urge the town to encourage the immediate completion of the service upgrades currently underway within the next 45 to 60 days rather than to allow its being dragged out to the frustration of all of those whose only viable choice for service is Altice/Optimum.

Thank you for allowing me to express these views. Again, I hope you and The Star will lead the charge for halting the senseless waste of money and what appears to be the town board’s infuriating delaying tactics.




Contacting AT&T
August 17, 2020

Dear David,

The full-page A7 last week is quite apparent. Since July, I have spent 72 hours on the phone with AT&T, who when the cue card they read from doesn’t have an answer they pawn you off. “You can purchase a booster for Wi-Fi calling from home”!

Finally, making enough complaints, climbing the ladder, I reached the advanced technical connectivity agent. He described the location of the towers and will investigate. He said the antenna on Three Mile Harbor Road is pointed at the airport and gun club. There is one on Foster Ave in Bridgehampton as well.

Hallelujah! On Saturday, I received a text “Thank you for contacting AT&T. Coverage is limited at the location you reported.” I was so enlightened to learn that! Not able to use the phone wasn’t a clue.

Here is what to do: Contact the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322. File a complaint and get a case number. AT&T corporate will be notified within five days of the complaint and will respond via telephone to address the complaint within five days. Contact the New York State attorney generals office and file a complaint. “Please try your call again later.” I had car trouble late at night.I had to walk home in the dark. Then Saturday, I experimented by making a call at 11:30 p.m. “Please try your call again later.” What if it was an emergency?

Here is a question: Why was the placing of an AT&T antenna on an already erected wind turbine tower denied?

Make the F.C.C. call a.s.a.p. and you will get resolve.

Yours truly,



Deeply Unsettling
August 17, 2020

Dear David,

Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott claims that incorporation as a village will halt the threatened “industrialization” of Wainscott. C.P.W.’s focus has been on Beach Lane. They seem to have overlooked the 77-acre sand pit north of Route 27 where the real industrialization risk lies. The resulting and disturbing irony is what the village government group has proposed seems likely to lead to a large-scale industrial development that should concern us all.

Let’s be clear. There is no industrialization threatening Beach Lane, and thus none to save it from. Running the offshore wind power line down Beach Lane will involve temporary, disruptive, construction activity, but Beach Lane will be restored to its current bucolic state following completion of that construction.

What would be affected by incorporation is the future of the sand pit site, the plan for which threatens long-term, irreversible damage to Wainscott. How does Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott propose to deal with development of the sand pit? So far as we can tell, it doesn’t.

C.P.W.’s village budget doesn’t provide a penny for dealing with the development of the sand pit. Its free, volunteer village government would be unlikely to have the time, the expertise, the resources, or the legal support to withstand the pressure for that development.

Furthermore, C.P.W. has declined to even say whether it supports the Wainscott hamlet study or opposes the sand pit development plan. The absence of a position or a plan in this regard is deeply unsettling to those of us who are united in our concerns with the whole of Wainscott, indeed with the whole of East Hampton. I suggest that it is neither smart nor prudent to trust the C.P.W. group with the future of our hamlet, our town.

What the group should do if truly concerned with the future of Wainscott is support the Town of East Hampton in its implementation of the hamlet study and the restriction of the development of the sand pit. All the money that C.P.W. is putting behind its incorporation drive to spare itself from short-term construction disruption would be far better spent in advancing the acquisition of the sand pit to preserve it as public land for recreation and green space.



Speed Limits
East Hampton
August 17, 2020

Dear David:

I write this in my private capacity, and not as a representative of the town or the town planning board, which I chair.

On its website, the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott claim that an incorporated village of Wainscott “could set and enforce lower speed limits in Wainscott (which certain towns are not able to do, but villages can) and improve dangerous vehicular traffic conditions.” Indeed, Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1643 provides that an incorporated village “may by local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation establish maximum speed limits at which vehicles may proceed within such city or village”.

But Section 1643 includes at least three important caveats on this particular village power: First, the section does not apply to “state highways maintained by the state.” In other words, speeds on Route 27 and Route 114 would not be impacted by incorporation. Second, with regard to local streets, the section states: “No such speed limit shall be established at less than 30 miles per hour.” In other words, speeds on local roads would remain pretty much as they are now, even after incorporation. Third, although the section permits a limit of 25 m.p.h. to be established “on or along designated highways,” Opinion 98-23 of the state controller advises that “a village has no authority under section 1643 to impose a village-wide maximum speed limit of 25 m.p.h. The village must justify each linear portion of a highway designated as a 25 m.p.h. zone on a case-by-case basis. Each linear designation must be separately and independently justified as a special case.” In other words, an incorporated village of Wainscott may not have the final word on reducing local speed limits from 30 m.p.h. down to 25 m.p.h.

More troubling, however, is the assertion that an incorporated village of Wainscott could “enforce lower speed limits.”

Supporters of incorporation claim that the additional cost of incorporation to Wainscott taxpayers would be no more than $300,000. They base this on the belief that essential services, such as policing – which includes enforcement of traffic laws – could be subcontracted to neighboring municipalities (presumably the Town of East Hampton) and that the increased costs for these services would be offset by a reduction in town taxes.

However, if an incorporated village of Wainscott subcontracts policing powers to the town, the town can be expected to continue to set policing priorities over the entire range of penal laws and traffic laws, including when and where to enforce speeding laws. Supporters of incorporation may be mistaken in relying upon the town to aggressively enforce the 25 m.p.h. speed limit, which they seem to promise.

If supporters of incorporation want to be certain that a lower speed limit will be enforced, they should recommend that an incorporated village of Wainscott establish its own police force and determine its own policing priorities. Village Law Section 8-800 does provide that a “village may, by resolution, establish a police department in such village and appoint a chief of police and such personnel as may be needed, and fix their compensation.”

In most of Suffolk County, the cost of compensation for a single police officer approaches $200,000 annually, including salary, pension, health, and other benefits. Multiply that figure by the five officers who it would be necessary to hire in order to have just one single police officer on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and an incorporated village of Wainscott would incur a cost of close to $1 million annually.

Of course, that one police officer would require a chief of police, a headquarters, a patrol car, and communication equipment, in order to provide police coverage to an entire incorporated village of Wainscott, which measures some 7.3 square miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the incorporated Village of Sag Harbor.

And maybe, at some point, that single police officer might also have the time to enforce a promised 25 m.p.h. speed limit of dubious legal certainty.

Very truly yours,


(This has been edited to correct the state minimum speed limit, which had been transposed incorrectly by The Star as it prepared the letter for publication. Ed.)


Home Delivery
August 17, 2020

To The Star:

We all know that the U.S. Mail Service is in dire straits with its political defunding, removal of sorting machines, removing mail boxes, cutting of salaries and overtime, etc. Our timing may not be optimal, but the desire for home mail delivery in Amagansett has been escalating for some time. The Covid situation may have brought this to a head in that people are shopping online, hence more packages which means more waiting on long lines in a very small post office where not everyone believes in nor are following the social distancing guidelines.

Well before the influx of New Yorkers coming east, Amagansett’s population has increased greatly, making the current post office impractical, not safe, and certainly not efficient. The employees who work there are stellar, hard workers, who are exposing themselves on the front lines for our mail! They are doing an amazing job, considering the situation.

Meanwhile, home delivery has been discussed over the years at the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee meetings. Since both surrounding towns of Montauk and East Hampton have mail delivery but not Amagansett, we decided it was time to take action. Weeks of phone calls to the United States Postal Service district office followed, resulting in a U.S.P.S. district supervisors’ meeting to format the guidelines and requirements needed in order to submit the request for home delivery.

(At this point I’d like to point out that homeowners can pay for their P.O. Box and not have delivery if they choose but, right now, home delivery is not available to anyone in Amagansett)

This is a topic that should be presented to all Amagansett residents for their opinion, so we decided that a public group meeting held via ZOOM on Sept. 14th at 7 p.m. is a good way to do that. And what better way to reach Amagansett residents than to put a flyer in each P.O. Box! The postal box delivery fee to do that costs just under $400.

This is where we need help. The Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee sent our request for funding back to the town board through our liaison, hoping they would fund this as they have done others, but two town board members were not enthusiastic in helping the citizens of Amagansett with this issue. As a matter of fact, it was very disappointing that the only town board member who lives in Amagansett was not receptive. At the same town board work session last Tuesday, the supervisor and Councilwoman Overby stated that Montauk did not have mail delivery even though Montauk homeowners can have home delivery if they choose to, and most do.

Considering the huge amount of real estate taxes that Amagansett generates for the town as a result of the boom of new construction over the last five years, I was very surprised that they were resistant to consider covering this small postal fee to help us reach the community. They also said, “We don’t fund committees,” but meanwhile thousands of dollars in funding were secured for two of the committees that Ms. Overby chairs: The Arts Council: Resolutions 2018-869, 2018-739, 2014-781 and The Energy Sustainability: Resolutions 2016-847, 2015-170, 2018-103. These committees needed the funds and that’s fine, but so do we.

There are so many people on line at the Post office, shopping the farm stands, ordering from the takeout restaurants, or just out and about around town that all voice the same desire for home delivery. Within one hour of my standing at the post office, I received 30 signatures on the U.S.P.S. supplied petition without hardly saying a word. This is the important first step and it’s apparent we will need the help of the community. For more information about how you can sign, get involved, or voice your opinion and be included on the public Zoom meeting that we hope to have, please email us at [email protected].

Thank you,



August 16, 2020

Dear David,

As someone who joined the environmental movement on the first Earth Day in 1970 (yikes, that’s a half a century ago!), I think the most environmentally important thing I can do this year is vote. The second most important thing is make sure everyone I know votes, and then, do everything in my power to enable all Americans to vote. Of course, I’ll vote for people who will restore dignity to government and have a zeal to save us all from the consequences of environmental folly.

Since we are all safer if we don’t go anywhere crowds gather, I intend to vote by mail. However, the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a mega-millionaire appointed by the president in May of this year, has turned the post office into a political football, canceled all overtime, and is intent on blocking an efficient mail-in. If the mail-in vote does not arrive promptly so it can be counted quickly, and results of the election are not known without delay, the country is wide open for chaos.

It seems to me, therefore, that patriots will call upon the White House and Congress to do everything possible to permit all of us to vote safely, knowing that an orderly process will be in place and the mail will go through.




Mail-In Ballot
East Hampton
August 17, 2020

Dear David,

How to obtain your mail-in ballot for the presidential election: Call the Suffolk County Board of Elections in Yaphank at 631-852-4500 and request an application for an absentee ballot.

When it arrives, fill it out and return it immediately to the board of elections (Post Office Box 700, Yaphank, N.Y. 11980).

In October, the board of elections will forward the actual (real) presidential ballot to you. It must be returned by Oct. 27! Good luck!

Yours truly,



End Times
Myakka City Fla.
August 17, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray:

Like many, I have watched as our nation has seemingly come off its axis, and wonder if indeed we are approaching the end times. Then I saw in last week’s issue that Chucky Morici met personally with the president of the United States, and I knew that all was right with the world. We are going to be okay after all.


P.S. Has anyone from Montauk Fire Department Company 1 ever met with the president?


Addled Brain
August 13, 2020

To the Editor,

Jeez, no mention of this in your hilarious editorial? Great news for Trump supporters. The addled brain buffoon came out of the basement and chose the one woman that called out his history of sexual perversity and his numbing attitudes toward blacks!



Empathetic Leaders
East Hampton
August 11, 2020

Dear David:

In the early ‘70s when I began teaching at East Hampton High School, I was captivated by the first Democratic woman who declared her candidacy for president of the United States. I campaigned for Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and although the nomination went to George McGovern, I would have voted for anyone except my generation’s nemesis Richard Nixon.

But wow! For a brief moment, I could picture a woman in the White House, and not just any woman, but a New York educator and advocate for the welfare of children, someone to whom I could relate. I cannot emphasize how important it was to see women role models in politics then, as it still is. Congresswoman Chisholm, who always identified herself as Barbadian-American, was a fierce, brave, intellectual Black woman, who was striving to be the leader of the free world. She was an inspiration to me.

Yet, it was not her time. History marched on, and so did I, more like walked on, as I paced the halls of Southampton Hospital in labor in July 1984.

With the sound of a news radio station emanating from my room, I heard Geraldine Ferraro’s name announced as the vice presidential running mate of Walter Mondale. I thought to myself, okay this baby I am about to birth will live his or her life knowing a woman served in strategic leadership as vice president of the United States. Ferraro was a former educator and child rights advocate from New York, and my thoughts went back to Shirley Chisholm.

Yet, it was not her time.

And, more recently Hillary Clinton, supremely qualified to serve this nation, became the first woman to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for the presidency. Running against a reality television host, I was convinced she was positioned at the perfect intersection of not only who this country needed, but running against someone this country could never want.

When Hillary Clinton visited BookHampton on Main Street, I waited on line like so many others to buy her autobiography, thank her for her previous service to this country, and wish her well in her future commitment as president. A reporter from The East Hampton Star, who was writing a piece on her visit, came up to me and asked how long I had been waiting on line. I answered something to the effect that I had been waiting my whole life for her. I realize now the “her” to whom I was referring was every woman in America. Yet, it was not her time.

At this very moment, it has been nearly 50 years since I distributed campaign buttons to people that read, “VOTE for Shirley Chisholm.” The baby born in Southampton Hospital was the first of my children born there, and is now a married man. Today, another supremely qualified woman, a woman of color, has been recognized as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. When I spoke with my daughter a few minutes ago, I said two words. “Kamala Harris!” She yelled, “Yes! Biden and Harris, Yes!”

It is time, not only for a woman to be vice president, but for Kamala Harris to be vice president and Joe Biden to be president. We need them to heal and help our nation. We need to return to a sense of decency and respect. We need empathetic leaders who will put people before politics. In November, vote like our lives depended upon it, because they do.

It is his time and hers.




To Do Good
August 17, 2020

Dear David:

The announcement of Senator Kamala Harris to be Joe Biden’s running mate on the Democratic ticket in the 2020 presidential election has certainly created a lot of energy among Democrats. Biden’s choice signals that diversity and inclusiveness are qualities important to his campaign and any future presidency, and is intended to usher in more civility in the political discourse.

While I join many others in saying “You Go, Girl!” I also acknowledge that Senator Harris did not do so well in the Democratic primaries. Expansive government programs like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All sound really good, but are so expensive and impractical that they never get enacted. Her proposals did not resonate with voters. Ever the centrist, “Go With Joe” became the most palatable choice.

As for the Green New Deal and its component of a carbon tax, there are many ways to reduce carbon emissions, yet imposing punitive taxes on the companies that still provide the energy for the majority of the country’s daily needs doesn’t address this problem directly, especially using the fee and dividend approach. Why? Because these additional taxes will just make everything more expensive, and swell the government bureaucracy to administer it. Besides, with many coal plants closing and renewable energy achieving cost parity with fossil fuels, we do not even need to go there. Instead, I believe the best way to reduce carbon emissions is to utilize energy that does not produce carbon emissions. On the policy front, incentives and support for individuals and businesses that are researching, developing, installing, deploying, and investing in all forms of clean and renewable forms of energy and energy efficiency offer a better choice. Recently, seven Republican senators called for renewable energy to be part of any future stimulus discussions. I agree with this position, and support their leadership in the Senate.

Yet even here on the East End, when presented with the opportunity to go full speed ahead on a utility scale renewable energy project, we get delays and red tape. The South Fork Wind Farm could provide emission-free power generation with none of the headaches associated with extracting and refining fossil fuels, yet the project has been delayed not only by Covid, but by a small cluster of people who do not want the landing cable to be embedded under their street. Using the Beach Lane landing site, the transmission cable would go underground for about four miles to the Cove Hollow substation. These opponents’ solutions? Enter at Hither Hills and bury the cable for 12 miles. Three times the time, three times the cost. Does anyone really believe this is beneficial to the residents of the East End? Or the Earth? The more time we spend on delays, the hotter it gets. And close to home, we have another die-off in the making for Peconic Bay scallops that should motivate everyone to proceed as fast as humanly possible to get this and other renewable energy assets operational.

Supporting renewable energy projects will also create a great opportunity for jobs. Indeed, the sector had significant job growth in all areas in all states prior to the pandemic. It feels way better to earn a paycheck than to wait around for the unemployment check, and what better way to do good for the individual, the community, and the planet? Governor Cuomo and other governors have set aggressive targets for achieving emissions reductions. We must all work together to achieve them.

So what actions would a Biden-Harris administration take in forming an energy policy? How would they support the growth of the renewable energy sector? Cultivate American leadership in clean-tech innovation? Or, would they spend valuable time and political capital taking revenge on Big Oil?

If elected, I also wonder how Harris would respond to calls to defund the police. She has dodged these questions pretty effectively so far, directing her answers to community reform. Clearly, having made her career as a prosecutor and attorney general, she worked in partnership with the police for years, and going soft on crime or working to gut police budgets around the country may not be as easy as some people think.



August 13, 2020

Dear David:

It’s always about him. Forget about the rest of the Americans he took an oath to protect. And now all he cares about is his hair.

First, let’s just consider the background. More than five million Americans have contracted the Covid-19 virus. Almost 170,000 Americans have died from it. Our economy is in shambles, more than 16 million Americans have lost their jobs, and thousands of small businesses have shuttered, many for good. All of this largely the result of an utter lack of leadership from the White House, and a lack of any plan to stem the spread of the pandemic or to rejuvenate the economy.

What is Mr. Trump concerned about today? Showerheads. Rather than focusing on the pandemic or the economy, Mr. Trump has his administration focusing on changing showerhead regulations to permit increased water flow. Currently, federal law limits water flow from showerheads to 2.5 gallons per minute, regardless of the number of nozzles. Mr. Trump is driving a move to allow that limit to apply to each nozzle in the showerhead. Experts posit that this would increase water consumption to as much as 15 gallons per minute, which some say would wash you out of your bathroom. Not to mention the waste of water.

What is the national security issue presented by the showerhead limit? None. As only Mr. Trump could admit with a straight face, his concern is personal: He needs more water because, as he put it, “My hair, I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.”

So, as we are mourning those we have lost to the pandemic, caring for those who are sick or just plain worried about getting sick, having lost jobs or shuttered businesses, don’t expect any empathy from Mr. Trump. His concern these days is making sure his hair is perfect. Just perfect.

Can’t we vote tomorrow?




Fake News
August 16, 2020

Dear David,

Back in 1979 I had the misfortune to work for Rupert Murdoch and The New York Post. I worked for over a year on Page Six. The page’s number-one source at the time was Roy Cohn, who had first gained notoriety as the right-hand man of Joe McCarthy, the rabid and discredited senator from Wisconsin who gained notoriety for falsely identifying Communists in our military and government. Though McCarthy was discredited, Cohn survived and became, sadly enough, a power broker in New York City.

Who did he mentor and embrace? Donald Trump. Before he was disbarred in 1986, Cohn was Trump’s lawyer. He defended the Trump organization in 1973 when the Department of Justice sued it for discriminating against people because of race and color. The D.O.J. prevailed.

In 1979 Roy Cohn, Trump mentor, McCarthy sycophant, was the lawyer representing Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. The I.R.S. was prosecuting them for tax evasion at their nightclub, Studio 54.

I got a call from a man identifying himself as a top New York City press agent. He claimed he saw Hamilton Jordan (then Democratic President Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff) snort cocaine in the V.I.P. room at Studio 54. I asked who he was and who could corroborate it. He gave me his name and said, “Just print It.” I didn’t.

But a few days later the Murdochs’ New York Post ran the headline “Hamilton Jordan Snorts Coke In Studio 54.” In smaller print it added “Top Press Agent Says.” Every newspaper and TV outlet then printed the accusation.

Urban legend has it that Lyndon Johnson once asked his campaign aide to spread a rumor that his primary opponent had sex with pigs. When his aide responded that there was no way that was true, L.B.J. responded, “I know, I just want to see the S.O.B. get up and deny it.” The top P.R. agent was nothing of the sort. He was an intimate friend of Roy Cohn. Cohn slandered Hamilton Jordan in the hope that this would somehow pressure the federal government to ease up on their clients. The Carter Administration did not. Hamilton Jordan was sidelined by the Carter Administration while the absurd drama invented by Roy Cohn played out.

A year or so later a grand jury exonerated Jordan and the prosecutor essentially confirmed it was all a Cohn ploy. I was recently interviewed about this fake news story for an upcoming documentary about gossip in New York City. The interviewer asked if I thought Roy Cohn was the godfather of fake news. Roy Cohn taught Donald Trump the way to accuse his opponents of false news while playing his followers for fools with fake news. I said no.

Trump is the kid who learned the tactic from Roy Cohn, an American disgrace. Cohn learned it from Joe McCarthy. He was the godfather of fake news.

Our democracy is in danger. Vote to dump Trump.



Walled Us In
August 11, 2020

Dear David:

Many years ago, North Brother Island (situated between Riker’s Island and the Bronx) was home to a largely unknown hospital that housed victims of leprosy, typhoid fever, and other highly infectious diseases. Their conditions so threatened the general population that they were isolated from the rest of New York.

Today, we have a new North Brother Island – and it is America. We have all heard how Mr. Trump has congratulated himself and his administration for the job they have done in botching the response to the Covid-19 virus, now responsible for at least 160,000 American victims. The rest of the world has offered Mr. Trump its verdict. The rampant spread of the virus across all of America has caused virtually all of the rest of the world to decide that Americans so threaten the world’s population that we can’t leave our country.

It is indeed ironic that the wall Mr. Trump vowed to build has not walled out those he has deemed undesirable; it has walled us in. There is virtually no country that will allow entry to Americans without severe restrictions.

What is so strange is that Mr. Trump continues to brag about his work, which has resulted in America becoming the pariah of the world.  That shining city on the hill — Mr. Trump has transformed it into a smoking ruin. The G.O.P. enablers in Congress have watched this tragedy without lifting a finger. And this is supposed to be winning!

There is no reason for any of us, regardless of our party affiliation, to stand by and watch this train wreck.  If you aren’t registered to vote: Register! And then, all registered voters should move their feet and vote for the Democrats on the ticket for each and every office they might be seeking.




The West Bank
East Hampton
August 17, 2020

To The Star:

Thomas Friedman almost wet his pants in his New York Times Op-Ed piece on the Israel/United Arab Emirates rapprochement. The U.S. media couldn’t have been more ecstatic over this deal, which has an Arab state formally recognizing Israel. Groundbreaking, earth-shattering possibly. Altering the balance of relationships in the Middle East. Most definitely.

The deal, which will permit the U.A.E. to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for Israel’s pledge to curtail its annexation plan for parts of the West Bank, appears, with no details available, pretty straightforward. Israel had been planning to annex parts of the West Bank. An immoral, illegal, and criminal action in the eyes of most of the world, in exchange for not taking this action, Israel is to be rewarded with diplomatic recognition. The deal is analogous to a rapist being set free if he promises not to rape the other children in the family.

The deal reinforces the idea that only power and wealth have value, and those who hold power are free from legal or moral constraints. The deal doesn’t set any new precedents but simply reinforces existing ones. It reminds the Palestinian people that they don’t have any real value in the world.

Arab countries in the Middle East have been searching for ways to unload the Palestinian/Israeli problem. They neither like nor want to support the Palestinians, and now have a pathway out. The benefits of relations with Israel far outweigh the pain in supporting the Palestinians. The tension and anxiety around this issue will lighten the burden in Middle Eastern geopolitics. If other Middle Eastern countries follow the lead of the U.A.E., the support system for the Palestinians will completely disappear and Israel will be free to do whatever it wants.

If other Sunni countries follow the U.A.E. lead, the balance of power in the Sunni/Shia struggle will change significantly. Iran will be even more isolated; Saudi Arabia will be emboldened.

Israel is the real winner on every level. Since its settlements already give it de facto control over that part of the West Bank, annexation isn’t necessary. The Palestinians have lost the small amount of leverage in future negotiations with Israel. The existential threat of an attack on Israel by Arab nations will go away. Israel will no longer be considered a pariah because of the Palestinian problem. Arab countries that join in will profit from having access to Israeli wealth and power, which could substantially benefit Israel.

The Palestinians, however, will bite it. They will be formally, not de facto, sacrificed as part of the deal, the price that all players who are powerless and poor experience in the world. Business as painfully usual.

The commonality of a callous cruelty and a sense of self-righteous egomania allow the deal to move forward with no concern for the consequences. What consequences?


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