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Letters to the Editor for December 23, 2021

Wed, 12/22/2021 - 10:19

For All They Do
East Hampton
December 17, 2021

Dear Editor,

I would like to take a moment in these busy times to say thank you and happy holidays to our police, fire and ambulance personnel. It is not often enough that these fine folks receive recognition and thanks for all they do for our community throughout the year.

I know many of these individuals personally and I know that they do not do what they do to be praised. I also know that they deserve to be, so thank you! We are blessed to have you as our family, friends, and neighbors. Thank you for working around-the-clock shifts, for volunteering your personal time, for answering calls at all hours of the day and night, in all kinds of weather, and for dealing with the craziness of our world with kindness, respect, and professionalism.

Several weeks ago, for the first time in my 50-plus years on this Earth and living in Bonac, I needed to call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Thankfully, the ending to this story is a happy one, and all is well. At the time though, when a loved one was in distress, I can't begin to tell you the feeling of relief when the familiar face of Officer Dave Martin walked through the back door while another familiar face and lifelong friend, Sonny Sirici, walked through the front door. Immediately you know that you are in good hands. Thank you East Hampton Town Police Department and Springs Fire Department ambulance.

To all who answer the call, we are forever grateful for you. Stay well and stay safe.

Happy holidays!

All our best,



Takes Many Hands
December 11, 2021

To the Editor:

We at the Springs Food Pantry would like to publicly acknowledge the generosity and community spirit of so many in our community. While our mission is to help those who are food insecure, whether they are senior citizens on fixed incomes, working families who do not make enough to make ends meet, or seasonal workers who have been laid off, it is an effort that takes many hands.

We are so thankful for the people and organizations who have helped us meet the needs of those who are in need of food assistance. During the past year, Balsam Farm, Share the Harvest Farm, and Amber Waves Farm have donated fresh, nutritious produce that our recipients are thrilled to receive. One Stop Market, Goldberg's Bagels, Springs General Store, Carissa's Bakery, and New Light Breadworks have also been incredibly generous to the pantry, donating a wide variety of food products.

And last but not least, a thank-you to all the individuals who gave throughout the year. We are in awe of the tremendous response, and feel so blessed to live in a community where neighbors help neighbors.







Vice moderator


Fine Gentleman
December 20, 2021

To the Editor:

An appreciation for Alex Russo — I met Alex when I was a student at George Washington University. One summer, Alex invited me to be an assistant at his summer school in East Hampton. The school was in a barn in back of a grocery store where Citarella is now located.

One day, at Georgica Beach, he and Arlene Bujese introduced me to a beautiful dark-haired girl. Fifty years later, I can say that I have had a wonderful life in East Hampton.

We will all remember Alex as a great artist and teacher, a poet and combat artist. I will also remember him as a fine gentleman who gave me a beginning in East Hampton. Thank you, Alex.



Wonderful Man
Hampden, Me.
December 19, 2021

Dear David,

When Carol and I first approached The Star about generating local contacts who might have known her great-uncle and former village mayor, Jud Banister, David suggested starting with a letter to the editor as a starting point. We did and received only one or two contacts. The first was a phone call from Ralph George. He told us he had some materials and information we might be interested in. He was right. On our next visit, we met him at his home. He invited me into his basement, finished to look like the inside of a warship cabin, and told us about Jud and, primarily, his parents' relationship with him.

His mother had worked in Jud's steam laundry on Race Lane, and his parents bought several small lots from Jud that were part of the old Olympic Heights development. In keeping with the times and dealing with trusted folks, Jud sealed the deal with a bill of sale written and signed by both parties on the back of one of his laundry tickets. Those really were the days. Another wonderful East Hampton man sailing into his promised land.



East Hampton
November 26, 2021

To the Editor,

I am so relieved and encouraged by the recent appearance in a full-page statement in your newspaper by prominent artists and supporters of LongHouse. As an early writer expressing shock and dismay at the firing of Matko Tomicic, I was beginning to feel that I was simply one isolated and unimportant voice in what has been the opposition to an unfortunate decision by the board of directors of LongHouse, which would not be heard by any other important members of our community. Apparently this has not been the case.

I call on other friends of Jack Larsen and LongHouse to continue to press for the dissolution of the current board and its leadership and the reinstatement of Matko to his former position of leadership of this beloved institution before irretrievable damage is done to its future viability.



Support the Use
December 19, 2021

Dear Mr. Rattray,

The Artists Alliance of East Hampton is a nonprofit organization that has been supporting the work of local artists since its inception as the Jimmy Ernst Artists Alliance in 1984.

We fully support the use of the Gardiner Mill Cottage as a gallery to exhibit the work of local artists.

Although East Hampton has been long known for its history as an art community, we have very few venues to showcase the many artists living and working here. The Gardiner site creates an exciting juxtaposition of works by past art colony artists with current artists. We are hopeful that this use of the Gardiner Mill Cottage as a showcase for local art continues.

The Artists Alliance thanks Terry Wallace for his foresight in exhibiting the work of so many East End artists.




Artists Alliance of East Hampton


True Gems
East Hampton Village
December 18, 2021

Dear Editor:

Upon leaving public office over a year ago I didn’t expect to be writing a letter to the local newspaper any time in the future, but reading Ralph Dayton’s lovely letter in last week’s edition caused me to stop and reflect long enough to prompt a trip to my computer for a quick note of gratitude.

Both the Town and Village of East Hampton have been blessed by some of the most beautiful natural beauty to be found anywhere, and both have also benefited from the generosity and foresight of both their residents and leaders throughout our history. As a descendant of some of our earliest English settlers, I’ve always felt the responsibility of stewardship in the protection of our natural and man-made treasures that have been lovingly and carefully handed down to us by those who went before.

As village residents we are blessed to have some of the true gems in our town, including Town Pond, the Hook Mill, Home, Sweet Home, the Sea Spray Cottages, Bannister Park, Hook Pond, Georgica Pond, our beautiful beaches, the Main Beach Pavilion, the Georgica Life-Saving Station, the Egypt Green, the amazing Nature Trail, the Sheep Fold, and of course, Herrick Park.

During my tenure in office we were fortunate enough to add to that list of special places through the generosity of our residents as well as with the availability of the community preservation fund in the purchase of the Gardiner Mill Cottage, the Pantigo Green, the Moran scenic easement, the Gardiner Mill, the newly reconstructed Dominy Shops on North Main Street, and additional acreage for Herrick Park. (Appreciation also goes to the East Hampton Historical Society for their stewardship of the Mulford Farm, the Town House, the Hook School House, and Clinton Academy, all of which add to the amazing ambience and beauty of our historic Main Street.)

When the opportunity came for the village, through Ralph Dayton, to add additional acreage to Herrick Park, it was another gift to our residents. How many times will an opportunity arise to add open space for the public enjoyment right in the heart of our village? It was a rare gift that we were quick to seize upon, and our thanks go to Ralph Dayton for the opportunity. It is a wonderful tribute to his late father, Frank, who served our village so well and acted as the steward of that property for so long. When it became possible to obtain the final piece of the puzzle, the property where the house stood, we would open up the addition to the park and establish an area of passive recreation on the wonderful Dayton property, including park benches and minimal landscaping to highlight the lovely trees and open space now in the public trust.

We owe it to our own descendants to continue this legacy of preservation and public space that has been part of our history since the very beginning. And we owe a debt of gratitude to those who preceded us in their efforts which have brought us to this place, which once earned East Hampton the national title of “America’s most beautiful village.”




Rent Their Homes
East Hampton
December 18, 2021

Dear Editor,

The solution to East Hampton's unaffordable housing problems is to build housing for seniors. With over 7,000 seniors living two or fewer to a house and with those houses having only a single bedroom occupied out of three or four, a clear solution exists: Allow seniors to rent out their homes to young families and allow seniors to downsize into rental apartments concentrated within walking distance of services. The town should use its money effectively by building and renting apartments to seniors willing to in turn rent their homes to year-round families.

To avoid the disruption to school districts like Springs, certain areas of the town could be excluded. To avoid rent gouging, only year-round rentals at regulated rents would be permitted. But a formula could be arrived at that would allow seniors to pay for their rent and earn an appropriate rate of return that includes maintenance and depreciation on their rented property. The town could subsidize rents for those who need rental assistance. The seniors' equity in their homes would be preserved for their estates. Real estate brokers would handle the rental transactions.

This is not too different from what happens now, except that today longtime members of the community have to sell their homes once they cannot maintain them and leave town because there is no senior housing. Their houses are too expensive for locals to buy and go to ever-richer nonresidents. East Hampton on this glide path will end up as a Provincetown — wild in the summer and abandoned the rest of the year with services provided by commuters.

All that stands in the way of the solution I propose is the town changing its approach, from the nonsolution of building a minimal amount of affordable housing where it is not wanted, to building senior housing for the people who live here, where they want to live, close to services.




Reclaim Our View
December 17, 2021

Dear David,

Your editorials and the reporting in The Star — for at least two decades — have been supportive of protecting and appreciating our star-filled night sky. Thank you.

And, as you pointed out last week, it is a vanishing natural resource due to increasing and unnecessary light pollution. "Light pollution" is strictly defined as "unshielded, excessive, and unnecessary night lighting." Our mission is "dark sky," not "dark ground."

Unfortunately, the town appears reluctant to update our lighting code and to update the guidelines for new site plans, as well as enforce the current zoning code. Over the next few weeks, I'll send your readers the specifics of what is needed for our town and the village (and our residents and businesses) to adhere to "best practices" for night-lighting.

If we simply followed the Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting, as issued by the Illuminating Engineers and the International Dark Sky Association (two organizations that have been at odds with each other in the past), we can reclaim our view of the stars in the sky, as well as protect flora and fauna, human health, and provide a safe nighttime environment for drivers and pedestrians. There should be no objection to this; it's beneficial for everyone in this entire town, including visitors and businesses. It's safer, costs less, lowers taxes, and can even bring in dollars from astro-tourism during the winter months when the sky is most clear.

East Hampton's policies to protect our view of the stars is falling behind other communities. Last week, New York City enacted a "lights out" law to protect birds from unnecessary night lighting, and Suffolk County is poised to enact a Kelvin maximum, per International Dark Sky Association recommendations, from 3,000 to 2,200 Kelvin to reduce the blue in light sources, which affects human health, night vision, and sky glow. We should do the same.

More next week, and with thanks,


New York State Representative

International Dark Sky Association


Clean Energy
December 18, 2021

Dear David,

The polluters don't care about you. But they want you to think they do. That's why you will start hearing their scary warnings about clean energy coming fast and furious as New York starts putting our groundbreaking climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, into effect in 2022.

That's why they used a lie to destroy last year's campaign to fund the C.L.C.P.A.: they said it was a "gas tax." (It wasn't. It would have made polluters pay, not the public.) Now they are going after the push to electrify our buildings — something we must do to achieve our goals of an 80 percent clean, renewable-energy-powered New York by 2040.

But it's not just about the climate. It's about our health. Did you know New York leads the nation in premature deaths resulting from the air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels in buildings for heating, hot water, and cooking? Did you know that indoor air pollutants from burning gas and oil in buildings are often two to one hundred times greater than outdoor air pollutants? Did you know gas stoves can cause and trigger asthma and worsen respiratory illnesses like Covid-19?

It's also about saving money. This winter, homes that heat with fossil fuels are likely to see their fuel bills rising from 22 percent to 94 percent, while homes that heat and cool using electricity (like heat pumps), will see an increase of just 4 percent to 15 percent. It costs a lot less to operate a heat and cooling pump than fossil fuel heating systems. (If you have solar panels, it will be even less.) I know. I have one.

If Joe Manchin finally gets out of the way and lets the Build Back Better Act pass, New York will get billions of dollars to help us move to a clean-energy economy. Some of that money will go to helping New Yorkers electrify the homes they live in. Meanwhile, you can go to the town's Energize East Hampton website to get a jump on making a cleaner, healthier, and cheaper home for yourself.



Focused Approach
East Hampton
December 18, 2021

Dear David,

The town board has taken an important step in accepting the recommendation of the seniors center selection committee to hire R2, a partnership of Chicago-based Ross Barney Architects and Ronnette Riley Architects of New York City and Bridgehampton, that has done various projects on the South Fork. The selection process was exhaustive, with 15 firms responding to the town's request for proposal. The committee whittled down that number to four, and then to two finalists.

The seniors center replacement process has sometimes seemed slow, but the focused approach has led to an ideal location. The next steps in the design will include the architects reaching out to the community, and especially the senior center staff and senior community, to get their input on what the design should include. The project, which has a completion date in early 2024, will result in a net-zero, energy-efficient senior citizens center and will assist the town in achieving its renewable energy goal.

Thank you to the senior center selection committee and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and the rest of the town board for moving this important project forward.



East Hampton Democratic Committee


More Than Willing
December 19, 2021

To the Editor,

I always thought that Republicans were conservative, cautious, resistant to embracing threats to tradition, so why are Democrats the ones taking vaccinations and booster shots in an abundance of caution while Republicans are taking their chances unvaccinated, refusing to be told by experts as to what to do with their bodies, and continuously losing their lives, but more than willing to tell women what they should do with their bodies? If this is all about protecting personal freedoms, let me say this does not feel like freedom.



Build Better?
Sag Harbor
December 16, 2021

Dear Editor,

I am so upset at what the progressive left, including Joe Biden, is trying to do to bring down our country, all in the name of Build Back Better. Would one of your progressive or Democrat readers please explain what build back better means? Please be specific and describe what you want to tear down and what you envision the Build Back Better result will be so I can better understand this madness.




Biden's America
December 15, 2021


In Joe Biden's America, a stocking full of coal will be a cherished gift.

Merry to all!



Did the Right Thing
December 1, 2021

To the Editor,

Sure, Americans love to envy the rich, an uptown problem seen in few communities as in the Hamptons, but they also like to vilify them. When Hayden Soloviev did the right thing and rejected the idea of a celebratory shot of whiskey, he was lambasted by peers and faculty alike. I wasn't there, so how do I know? Because I have extensive experience with both the Ross school and Hayden. I have known Hayden since he was a young boy; he has never lied to or misled me in any way, not even in typical and easily forgivable adolescent antics. His words have always matched his actions and thus, trust is built. I know this as a father of boys, but also as a clinical social worker. Humans aren't what they say, they are what they do, Hayden has always demonstrated honesty, integrity, kindness, and ambition. I, without reservation, believe him.

Contrast that with my experience with the Ross School. Against my will, my son had attended the Ross School since pre-K. I have experienced it as a system of lies, deception, and secrets. What is it really? It's a nice idea with a poor application. It's the manifestation of a wealthy woman's ego, a lot of icing and very little cake.

Residents and workers in East Hampton will tell you tales of the boarders, with their inappropriate brat-ery and anemic supervision. Given "Lord of the Flies" isn't sanctioned by a Tibetan monk and, therefore, off brand, it's likely not taught at the Ross School but it doesn't need to be, there are pervasive patterns of it playing out in real time. Remember the Ross School attempted their model in the city as a charter school. The Department of Education shut the school down for out-of-control behavior among the students. When I asked the head of school about it (can't remember her name, it was about 20 interim heads of school ago), she simply said in a "let them eat cake" tone, "Those children were African-American."

I once asked if the Pledge of Allegiance is part of the daily routine at Ross. Many months later, the question was never answered, but I was vilified as supporting "indoctrination." Ralph Abraham, the mathematician and math mentor at Ross (unlikely he has ever been there) once told me about the benefits of psychedelic drug use for a developing math whiz. Never could get an answer about that one from whoever was the head of school at that point.

Nothing at the Ross School ever seemed to work well, they were pretty good at excuses and deftly skilled at demanding checks but that's about it. When Hayden told me his story, my initial thought was, "Yep, sounds about right." My son was on the same trip, and when I asked about the incident, Bill O'Hearn said, "I can't comment." I replied with, "Sure you can. My 14-year-old was given a shot of distilled spirits under your care; 1,800 adolescents under the age of 25 die every year as a result of ingestion of alcohol, so, what gives?" O'Hearn hid behind Courtney Ross's wealth, acted above reproach and accountability, and refused to answer.

Fast-forward to the court case. The typical Hamptons car pool line gossip mill was all aflutter with the news. Instead of wanting to know what happened, the kid was made fun of. After all, his family is very wealthy, how could he have the temerity to want accountability? What a brat! Was the Greek chorus refrain of privileged white people pretending to love diversity and care about anything other than their self-congratulatory parties? That sentiment seems to be the ghost in the machine of the judge's opinion.

Judge William Condone didn't buy Hayden's argument, saying he had a hard time believing the fallout because he "watched others take a thimble of whiskey." Enlighten me, judge, what is the appropriate level of distilled spirits for young teenagers half a world from home and under school supervision? I was going to say "none" but clearly it's not a big deal to the judge. Perhaps "sober as a judge" just doesn't apply here.

In addition to minimizing the child welfare violation, Judge Condone missed the point entirely. The abuse wasn't from the "thimble of whiskey." The abuse was from being ridiculed by peers and faculty for doing the right thing. Apparently the Instagram fallout was brutal but the judge chose to ignore that aspect. What a sexist response, while the media lights up about Instagram being toxic for girls, apparently it's just fine if you're a boy, especially if you're a rich boy trying to do the right thing, I mean, what's he all upset about? Doesn't his family have their own plane? Maybe Bill O'Hearn and Judge Condone can get together and have some Scotch and a few laughs at the expense of this young man? In short, the kid has never lied to me, the Ross school has, many times.



Would Have Had Years
December 16, 2021

To the Editor,

Dec. 14 was the ninth anniversary of the horrific massacre of 16 6-year-old first graders, four 7-year-old first graders, and six of their teachers inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Doing the math tells me that when it happened, our nation's latest mass-murdering school shooter, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, was also 6 years old — and oh how I wish that, somehow, he had been the only 6-year-old killed that horrible day.

To me, a retired elementary school teacher, Dec. 14 will always be another "date which will live in infamy," even though it did not take the 2,000-plus lives which led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to brand the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor with that famous (infamous?) phrase, nor the almost 3,000 lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pa.

Personally, I have always felt that referring to that horrible day, which I still call "September 11," as "9/11" was disrespectful, mainly because it helped newspaper headline writers save space and allowed people to say it with two fewer syllables. It was also a less than ideal choice since 911 was already institutionalized as a national emergency phone number. However, when it comes to the Connecticut school shooting, I agree with the Newtown resident who asked that her town's tragedy only be referred to as the numerically-dated 12/14, so as not to forever brand her town's name synonymously with this unspeakably evil act. For me, there are a lot of other numbers that 12/14 brings to mind.

First, there are the 20 youngest victims, who were all just first grade students. Four of them were only 7 years old, and 16 of them were just 6 years old. Together, they had lived only a combined 124 years, only two years longer than the oldest human life span ever recorded. During the same month they died, the two oldest people in the world also died, although not violently, and at the very advanced ages of 115 and 116 years old. These 20 children, collectively, should have had decades, centuries, and even millenniums of life ahead of them.

So please let me count the ways that 7-year-olds Daniel Barden, Josephine Gay, Chase Kowalski, and Grace McDonnell, plus 6-year-olds Charlotte Bacon, Olivia Engel, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, and Allison N. Wyatt were all cheated by their way-too-early deaths:

None of them ever got to celebrate a double-digit birthday, such as turning 10 years old, much less have a chance to blow out nine, or even eight, candles on their birthday cakes.

They never got to turn 13 and have a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah; nor did any of the girls get to have their sweet 16 party.

They never got the chance to graduate from elementary school, much less middle school or junior high school. If they had lived to graduate from high school at age 18, they at least would have had a combined 360 years of learning and laughter.

Had they lived into official adulthood at 21, that would have meant a combined 420 years of education and enjoyment. Turning 22 and graduating from college would have afforded their mothers and fathers a combined 440 years of parental pride.

Had they each reached 50 years of age, besides their AARP memberships, they would have had 1,000 years in which to provide themselves with marriages and children, not to mention providing their own parents with grandchildren to spoil.

Had they been allowed to reach the Social Security age of 62, that would have meant a combined 1,240 years of life, including working at jobs that would have contributed to many aspects of American life.

Getting to retire and earn Medicare benefits at age 65 would have meant a combined 1,300 years of living life to its fullest for them all, including award-winning careers after which they'd receive their gold watches, and never need to worry about health insurance.

If they each got their biblical "three score and ten" years, that would have given them a combined 1,400 years to live and love. Given their actuarially average life spans of 80 years each, they would have had 1,600 years in which they would even have had grandchildren of their own.

And although President Abraham Lincoln was not referring to individual life spans with his oft-quoted reference to "four score and seven years (ago)" I will take some poetic license and fantasize about giving each of them those 87 years of life, which would have totaled 1,740 years of freedom to live their lives as they saw fit.

And if I could somehow bring them all back to life, I would give them a total of 2,000 years, enabling each of them to become a centenarian, with still good-enough health to blow out, with one single breath, all 100 candles on the biggest and best birthday cake of his or her whole, long life.



Unanimity of Ignorance
East Hampton
December 19, 2021


Watching the news in Paris, I am struck by how quickly the program is over: information, lots of facts, and virtually no opinions. Not hours of endless partisan bullshit. No systemic idiocy. Not for profit.

The drama around the one-seat Senate majority is indicative of the serious malaise in our political system. The idea that political parties vote as a block is almost obscene. It represents excessive self-interest and indifference to ideas and policies.

As we debate the United States' political system, distance is a leveler. We don't have a bad system that needs to be fixed; we have bad players who need to be eliminated. Bad players will screw up any system however brilliant it might be. Bad players driven by money are lethal and destructive.

Governing in democratic systems is about different parties finding a balance to making life fair and safe for the people. If they can't find the balance then they should quit and let someone else take their place. Animus between the different parties who are pledged to governing together is a violation of their oaths of office. Calling the other party the "enemy" and threatening their lives violates every principle of democracy.

So, when you have parties that vote unanimously against each other, you have a political virus. (See Covid-19.) Its almost impossible to find a single issue that every member of every party agrees upon. The question raised is, whom are you loyal to — your party or your country? Or are you simply a political tool who is controlled and manipulated by party leaders?

The unanimity of ignorance replicates old Soviet Union elections, where 98 percent of the population supported candidates. Elections without choice is totalitarian fascism. Unanimity in the face of truth is simply fascism.

On the extreme is that Republicans support election fraud claims, even though the A.P. study of the six Trump contested states uncovered 475 cases of possible fraud out of approximately 25 million votes cast (1 in 50,000).

Analogous is the belief that it's okay for an armed 17-year-old kid to shoot three people in order to protect property when we spend trillions of dollars every year on local, county, state, city, and federal police, plus the F.B.I., Homeland Security, and a dozen other agencies to protect property and maintain order? (No one thought to send the kid home.)

For example. The condition of the U.S. infrastructure system is near catastrophic. No explanation needed. Estimates to marginally fix the problem range from $4 trillion to $6 trillion. Serious analysts think $8 trillion to $10 trillion. Only 10 out of 49 Republicans voted for the $1 trillion bill. What were the other 39 reprobates thinking? Why are they still in our government?

For example, the U.S. military-industrial complex is the most corrupt and incompetent piece of the U.S. government. It lies about virtually everything, screws up twice as much as it succeeds, and gets more funding every year — all this with exceptional soldiers on almost every level except the top. There is never a Republican, and only rarely a Democrat, who votes against or even questions the defense budget. Their profile in lack of courage is always applauded.

Gerrymandering is perhaps the most destructive piece of mindless partisanship; redesign the districts to make them favorable to one party of another. Expecting automatic allegiance from voters because they don't care about issues but about party. Assuming most voters are idiots and will do as they are told, it is unnecessary to run candidates who are intelligent and insightful.

There used to be a leveling expression: "What do you bring to the table?" It doesn't exist among bad players. Democracy only functions when it does. Otherwise we slip into a viral form of "fascism," and we can't tell the difference.


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