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Letters to the Editor for November 16, 2023

Wed, 11/15/2023 - 18:18

Special Thanks
November 12, 2023

Dear David,

The Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation would like to thank the Montauk community for joining us at our annual Veterans Day flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony. Special thanks to our participating Montauk scouts, including Boy Scout Troop 136, which performed the flag-raising, Girl Scout Troop 825, and Brownie and Daisy Troop 581, which led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, gave handmade thank-you cards to the veterans in attendance, and performed a rousing rendition of “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Special thanks as well, to Faith Mullaly, a Montauk seventh grader whose beautiful performance of the national anthem delighted the audience. We would also like to thank our generous donors: Hampton Coffee Company, for providing the refreshments, and Strawberry Fields, for creating a beautiful wreath the scouts placed in our veterans’ honor. It was a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community to honor our military heroes and to express our grateful appreciation for their service.



Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation Board


Robust Beacon
November 10, 2023

Dear Dave,

All the letters were great last week, reflecting a smart, informed readership.

Speaking of reflection, good to read about the restoration of the Lighthouse lens. As a night fisherman, I’ve noticed, for at least five years, the historic Lighthouse has sent an anemic, dim bleep. It will be fun and possibly helpful to see a more-robust beacon. Although the new, red airport light in Montauk now serves as a good reference. Visible 15 miles offshore, just head for them; you’ll make it home.



Trees and Forests
East Hampton
November 9, 2023

Dear Mr. Editor,

I hope all is well at The Star. I enjoy your “Mast-Head” column, especially when you get into your vessel, Cerberus. It seems you are always in some quagmire: peeling varnish, rigging issues, navigation, and now an overheating motor, which leads me to a question: Are you a yachtsman or a boater? Perhaps you could answer my question in your column.

On a more serious note, the “Guestwords” column from Olivia Brooks (Oct. 26) was/is most alarming. I, too, am a tree person. Whenever I have tree trouble and have to cut down or trim, it saddens me.

I don’t think the average person knows how important trees and forests are to our environment and our rural culture, i.e., our country atmosphere. It’s a shame that Ms. Brooks can’t implant that information and culture into the minds of the planning board, zoning board of appeals, and architecture review board and curtail the senseless downing of trees. I know these boards get punch drunk when they hear the word “revegetate” and that seems to open the door for anything, from clear-cutting a lot or digging into a dune.

The word “revegetate” in itself is obtuse. Nobody can take the place, or substitute, Mother Nature’s creations, especially trees — they are too big and take too long to grow. All board members should make an example and help save our wooded areas, not destroy them.

Best regards and yours to command,



‘Out of My Way!’
November 12, 2023

Dear David,

Okay, summer is long gone, but I’m wondering if it’s not just rude out-of-towners that come to Montauk. Two weeks ago driving on Main Street, a woman turning left onto Main comes right into the intersection inches away from my auto, raises her left hand as if she’s telling me, “Out of my way!”

This week in the heart of traffic on Main Street, an S.U.V. makes an outright U-turn, “Who cares about traffic? I’m turning.”

This is just a couple of I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-seeings. Driving defensive is of the utmost importance, as the locals are loose.

In God and country,



Property Law
November 11, 2023

Dear Sir:

As Montauk closes up for the winter, it’s worth mentioning again the terrible condition so many of the properties are in. I do not mean the eccentric houses in Ditch, which are charming, or the palatial estates on East Lake Drive, many of which are true works of art. I mean the abandoned properties. I mean the dozens of beautiful old homes that have been left to rot and decay while new buyers are found to tear them down.

What the real estate community seems to forget is that the foundation of English property law is not legal title; property under our legal system belongs to whoever will care for it, nurture it, and protect it. Therefore, I would encourage any members of the Montaukett Tribe — or their cousins or any young people who commute five hours a day to work in our stores — to spend a day walking up and down any street in Montauk, pick a house with boarded-up windows, and move in.

Cut the lawn, paint the walls, and make it your castle. In a matter of weeks you can elevate yourself from a trespasser into a squatter, and, in 10 years, the property will legally belong to you. And when our legal system tries to cheat you and tries to tell you that adverse possession doesn’t apply to “your situation” — as it no doubt will — I hereby pledge my legal services pro bono. I cannot promise we will win, but I can assure you they will lose.




A Faded Memory
Harrisburg, Pa.
November 12, 2023

To the Editor,

Regarding the color of Rowdy Hall, here is the real problem: The handful of revisionists currently making such decisions do not represent the stated interests of the locals of East Hampton.

The wishes of the hard-working, good-hearted local pillars of the community are being bound and shackled and shunted aside by the romanticized daydreams of a few who represent the new residents of the town. Subsequently, little by little, such decisions are uprooting the very social fabric that once made East Hampton a very special place to live. Thread by thread, the social fabric has been torn, and all that remains is a faded memory of what once was.

It’s shameful to think that the people who are making these decisions do not back or empower the working people; rather, they choose to smother the opinions of those who contribute so much to the town where they and their families have lived for generations. (Yet the few in control have no problem granting variances to those whose pockets are deep and full — to those who have contributed nothing to the town but escalation of traffic and increased tax burden.)

Perhaps if the deciders were truly interested in maintaining the historical facade of the town, they might begin by protecting the generational social fabric, and apply their preservation efforts to the history of the original 10 founding families.

As the 14th-generation direct descendant of East Hampton’s Nathaniel Lester, I was reared in earshot of our family lore, and I know that Nat Lester said it best: “Everyone wants their lobster, but nobody wants to smell the bait.”




Taxpayers Paying
East Hampton
November 10, 2023

To the Editor,

I have recently heard something that I find upsetting and disturbing. As of Nov. 1, East Hampton Schools will be getting free breakfast and lunch by the state for everyone. This is so unbelievable to me. I can’t accept the fact that upper-class kids in the school, and the well-off, will be getting free food while elderly taxpayers and lower-paid East Hampton residents barely making ends meet, not having enough food for their own families, will be paying for residents able to provide for theirs with free food.

When will it stop that one’s incomes are not the same? There are those with and those without, and those without shouldn’t have to keep giving and giving while others keep gaining. The state says let’s give everyone free food, but it is the taxpayers paying it, while the lower income does without. The elderly also need help, as our taxes go up and up.

If you find this equally upsetting, join me in writing to our New York State elected officials. Please send a message to New York State, “Enough is enough. You just can’t give away our hard-earned money to unnecessary and unneeded projects.”

Yours truly,



Vital Natural Resources
East Hampton
November 11, 2023

Dear Editor,

I agree with the recent Star editorial “Over-Building and the Environment.” East Hampton indeed needs to address the out of control development permanently transforming our environment. A first step in this process, however, should be a clearer understanding of what we mean by “important natural resources.”

Let’s think about what was once here. We’ve gradually transformed our wetlands, forests, coastal dunes, and grasslands into the fragmented and increasingly suburban environment we inhabit today. What was once a thriving, interwoven, and complex set of ecosystems has been fragmented, depleted, and, in many cases, rendered dysfunctional. Those ecosystems provided valuable natural services: They kept our watershed clean, provided habitat for the fauna and soil biota that keep the world a green, viable place. And they also sequestered carbon, both in the forest and grassland biomass, but even more in the microbial, mycorrhizal underground we so often ignore.

We, unfortunately, take these indispensable services for granted. We open our taps and expect clean water. We go to our farm stands and buy blueberries, squash, or tomatoes — all pollinator-dependent crops. And yet, we subject the very systems that make our expectations possible to the most harmful stresses. They are dying a slow death by a thousand cuts.

Every time we build out to the maximum, strip our properties of native vegetation and groundcover, including autumn leaves, we further reduce the ecological value of our land.

A recent meta study pointed out: “Private residential land . . . is among the most rapidly expanding systems on Earth.” Our residential properties exceed the amount of protected land in the U.S. Until we transform the nature of our property development, we will continue to undermine the very foundations that support our lives. Ecosystems do not respect property lines — they are cross-property systems.

In our climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, we can’t continue sleepwalking into the future. We need a town code that limits lot clearing of native vegetation. Our yards are vital natural resources.

Like everyone else, I enjoy my property rights, but I accept that those rights include responsibilities to be a good neighbor, to not poison or destroy the common environment. I trust that our town board understands all this. I hope they have the courage to act and write meaningful protection into a revised town code.



Thanks to All
North Sea
November 13, 2023

Dear David,

A heartfelt thank-you to the residents of East Hampton and Southampton Towns for the outpouring of support on Election Day. I am deeply grateful to be representing our community in the Suffolk County Legislature.

My gratitude is immense for the incredible teams at the county and town levels that provided structure and support for the campaign. Thank you, too, to each of you for not only voting, but for putting up signs; taking down signs(!); attending fund-raisers and events; hosting fund-raisers and events; writing letters of support; sharing your thoughts and ideas; making donations; encouraging your friends and families to vote, and in so many, many ways providing amazing levels of assistance. I am truly grateful — thanks to all of you — to have the privilege of continuing Legislator Bridget Fleming’s exemplary work.

I am extremely proud of the strong, positive campaign that we ran. Issues, ideas, and accomplishments were put forward. It was a campaign of positivity and hope. You, as voters, listened and heard and appreciated this approach. Thank you for this.

There is a pair of ospreys whose nest is at the Marine Station at Southampton Stony Brook College. The pair is named after my parents, Mary and Ral Welker. This is not just to honor the history of Southampton College, but also my Dad’s life’s work as a marine ecologist working to preserve and protect our fragile marine environment. Like those ospreys, may our community soar, working together despite our challenges.

Thank you,



So Little Left
November 11, 2023

To the Editor,

In a community where you have over a two-to-one voter enrollment, it’s easy to switch parties and be the candidate of the majority. It doesn’t take a lot of work or a lot of effort to come out on top. I commend all our candidates on the Republican ticket for their hard work and diligence during this year’s race.

The fabric of our community, for its past 375 years, has been eroding each year ever so quickly. One-party rule has created a town government that is unresponsive to the community’s needs, focused on national ideology and internal politics at the expense of less wealthy East Hampton residents. The disposable income of our second-home owners now far exceeds the capability of local salaries. We cannot build enough affordable homes to accommodate what’s left of our local population. It will take real forward thinking and investment to reverse the exodus of our year-round residents.

As we move forward, we must fight the impulses of urbanization, catering to the more affluent second-home owners and new residents, and those who know little about the historic fabric of our community that once was.

On behalf of the Republican committee and the candidates, it was an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to be the voice of the minority. Thank you for your support. We will remain a voice for you to express your concerns when a disinterested one-party rule government shuts you out.

To the winners, congratulations. I would suggest those who won yesterday’s election look back at what the fabric of East Hampton was as opposed to the fabric of New York City and UpIsland and resist the impulses to make here like there because so little of here is left.



East Hampton Town Republican Committee


Wonderful Experience
East Hampton
November 12, 2023

Dear David,

Looking back on the events from this past Tuesday, I feel that my colleagues and I who ran for election to the town board did an excellent job on a shoestring budget. Sadly, we didn’t have the luxury of large bank accounts to draw upon, nor did we have the same type of political machine backing us to push an agenda. All we had was an alternative voice and a different way of looking at the problems that continue to plague our beautiful town.

I offer my personal congratulations to those Democrats on their continued hold on the board and I am ever hopeful that maybe things will get better. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported our ticket despite the odds and voted to have another voice be heard on our law and rule-making town board.

We are all blessed to call East Hampton our home. I want to personally thank all the friends, family, and teammates who were part of this journey, part of this vehicle. Please know that I am grateful beyond words.

Of course, I do feel sad at not personally filling the seat but I am also gratified that I took a chance and put myself out there. At least I tried and just didn’t sit around complaining!

I also had the great adventure of meeting so many wonderful people in our community that I most likely would never have met otherwise. I feel assured that of all those people I did meet, 99 percent of them ended up voting for me. Simply put, I will plan to meet more people.

Life is a journey and this ended up being a wonderful experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Even though the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, I feel I still won. “Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?” (Marcus Aurelius, 161-180 A.D.)

Thank you,



Being Leaders
November 13, 2023

Dear David,

With the election, the Democrats have maintained total control of the town board. I offer congratulations. However, if the Dems wish to be known as the proactive party of community protection and environmental preservation, there are several simple things to do: continue the battle for control of our airport, don’t renew the gun club lease on our land, extend the gas-powered leaf-blower ban to year-round, stop the use of plastic bags in stores, and put a rational cap on house size.

Calling oneself an environmentalist is not the same as being one. Leaders don’t support the status quo — they improve it.



Open Our Hearts
November 13, 2023

Dear David:

I am both humbled and honored that East Hampton voters have placed their confidence and support in me — electing me the next town supervisor.

I wish to assure folks that our administration will always endeavor to reflect compassion, honesty, and integrity for our residents. As we know, the most productive way to open people’s minds is not to argue with them, but to listen to what they have to say.

As a community, we must continue to open our hearts to our neighbors, accept each other’s differences and stand together in peace and love. Which is truly what makes our town so special.




Been My Honor
East Hampton
November 13, 2023

Dear David,

I am grateful for the opportunity that the voters of East Hampton have presented to me to be part of the continued leadership for my hometown. It has been my honor to be able to lead and work for the residents of the Town of East Hampton in the capacity of town council member, a role that helps to shape East Hampton in a way that future generations cannot just be proud of, but also be successful in.

I want to thank my wife and family, my friends and supporters, the democratic committee, and all of the residents of East Hampton for trusting in me to have the energy and expertise to be your town council member. Without your support, the outcome that I had on Nov. 7 would not have been possible.

I promise to all the residents that I will work tirelessly on all of the issues that I brought up during my campaign. I will continue to work and engage the entire community in order to make the most-informed decisions possible and do it in a manner that is respectful of the traditions and uniqueness that East Hampton demands.

Respectfully yours,



Black, White
November 12, 2023

Dear David,

Nov. 12, 2020, the Town of East Hampton was served letters of enforcement to enforce town code here on Bay View Avenue. I guess the problem was we aren’t cutting footloose and the illegal geocube structure in the road has bags that are white, notwithstanding all the violations with this structure and its continued nuisance. If only the original black protective layer stayed, as we’ve seen now, the town would apparently waste no time to show up for violations. Which really makes you wonder about these current ongoings. Story as old as time. Locals and local businesses are expected to follow the rules to the letter. Second-home owners need not adhere. Two-tier system continues.

Still here,



Dangerous Times
November 11, 2023

To the Editor:

I found Francesca Rheannon’s letter in last week’s Star, which you titled, “Cease-Fire Now,” very moving, unsurprisingly, because it represented a lot of my own views.

As it happens, I was at the same “small, peaceful demonstration” she described. My first demo was against the Vietnam War in Washington in 1969. Of the hundreds of demonstrations I have attended since, the experience, Sunday in Sag Harbor, of a man yelling “Murderers!” in my face from one foot away was rather novel.

You published a couple of other intelligent, compassionate letters that made the case for a cease-fire in Gaza very well. (And then there was Bea Derrico.) I want to add my voice on a different issue: the accusations of antisemitism being made against anyone who expresses political or moral opposition to Israeli policies or actions.

I am Jewish and proud to be. I invoke Maimonides, Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and Einstein and their views on tolerance and freedom of thought. In the current environment, worse than anything in my lifetime (the division and anger during the Vietnam War were not quite this bad), people just like me, sharing my values, of every background and faith, are being accused of antisemitism. This is the result of a perfect storm, which includes organized campaigns by supporters of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli far right, anonymous websites, and some funding by dark money, all operating on the general moral weakness and panic of many of our universities and private employers. I have seen the physical threats received by some of my friends and law clients. People who are not antisemites and who share my values are currently being fired from jobs or suspended from schools.

In my personal, free speech writing I defined a term some years ago: “door-stop,” referring to a phrase used in sophistical, adversarial politics that has practically no meaning except that the speaker, one, really dislikes the target and, two,. wants you to suspend all rational thought and share their vengefulness now. I have studied many of these over the years, and have been the target of a number of them. Examples: “socialist” addressed to people who don’t believe in worker ownership of the means of production is a perennial. “Woke” is the word of the day, but most of the people flinging it could not define it to save their lives.

I find it personally heartbreaking that “antisemitism” is being diluted, pre-empted and converted into a door-stop. Certainly there is real antisemitism in the world, and, yes, we have seen some since Oct. 7. But (this is possibly the most serious and heartfelt letter, by a small margin, I have yet written to The Star), as a Jewish person from New York City, I have experienced a (very small) degree of antisemitism. I know what it is and isn’t.

Antisemitism is an older kid on a deserted country road in Massachusetts pushing you and saying, “I can smell a Jew a mile away.” Antisemitism is being told by the person driving you 400 highway miles in Texas that your people killed Jesus. Antisemitism is not criticism of the indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations in Gaza, or even an assertion that Israel has committed war crimes in response to Hamas’s atrocities. Antisemitism is not a call for a cease-fire.

The intense hatred, harassment, and doxing of people of all backgrounds criticizing political Israel, and the consequences for their lives, careers, and studies, are all reminiscent of some of the most unjust and dangerous times in American history.

For democracy and freedom of speech in East Hampton,



Middle East History
November 9, 2023

To the Editor,

There is a vast amount of rather uneducated, emotional, and opinionated discussion now based on slanted journalism, as well as all social media platforms.

My suggestion: Get and actually read “The Haj,” by the very famous author Leon Uris. It is a novel based on Middle East history, written 40 years ago. It addresses, predicts, and explains much of what is happening in the world today.



Has No Choice
North Haven
November 13, 2023

To the Editor,

The twaddle emerging from the letters written by Francesca Rheannon and Jim Vrettos (Nov. 9) deserve short response. What took place on Oct. 7 in Israel was, plain and simple, genocide orchestrated and carried out by Hamas terrorists. Hamas has called for the extinction of the State of Israel and of all Jews. Israel must protect its citizens and, to that end, destroy Hamas.

Hamas uses its own citizens as shields. As careful as Israel’s military forces are, there will unfortunately be civilian casualties. What other country in world history has been asked to stand down when trying to defend itself after being attacked?

At least five times since the United Nations partition and the establishment of the State of Israel, the Palestinians have been offered a homeland; each time they have turned down the proposal because their real goal is embodied in their slogan “from the river to the sea,” which means the annihilation of the State of Israel. That is why the fight persists and why any pause would simply allow Hamas to regroup, rearm, and prepare other attacks.

Israel has no choice but to carry out its plan to destroy Hamas. Ms. Rheannon’s grasp of both history and current events is suspect. Jews did not displace Palestinians; Jews have lived in the area she would call Palestine from time immemorial.

Whatever the internal problems that exist in Gaza, it is certainly worth remembering that Gazans are not governed by Israel but by Hamas. Finally, to both of them: It is extremely unfair and unjust to require Israel to live up to standards you would not require of any other nation.




East End Jews for Israel


Fighting for Our Lives
November 10, 2023

To the Editor:

Today marks the passage of a whole month since the start of this nightmare. Again I feel the need to share with you my feelings. I fear the battle for world opinion is being lost by Israel. I fear the reality of our lives here escapes the majority of people outside Israel.

I really feel the plight of the Gazans. It’s horrid what they are going through. But the world is no longer aware of the plight of our own nation. We are a nation in mourning. Every minute of every day we mourn for the dead, the young and old, who died in the most horrendous ways. We search for the hostages and fear for them, and we fear for the hundreds of missing people. We are such a small country that every one of us knows someone who died or is a hostage.

And now Hamas and its supporters are trying to deny the massacre ever happened. “It’s fake news,” they claim. “Israel is deliberately trying to kill Palestinian children,” they say, while using children and women and sick people in hospitals as shields for their own murderous rockets, terrorists, and other weapons, all geared to the total destruction of Israel. When they shout, “Free Palestine” they mean, “Annihilate Israel.”

So I just wanted to try to explain to you, my dear friends who are so far away from here, two things that engulf us/me:

The fear: It’s really the first time that I seriously fear for the existence of Israel. Hamas is much, much stronger than ever before, as is Hezbollah in the north on the Lebanese border. It is a much more vicious and determined enemy than ever before. It is dug down inside hundreds of tunnels, which are so hard to find and destroy. And it is backed politically and financially by Iran and Russia and Qatar.

The deepest sadness: We never stop mourning the dead, worrying about our sons and daughters who are fighting for our lives on the several different fronts. We never stop trying to help our own hundreds of thousands of refugees — yes, the center of the country is inundated with 200,000 evacuees who fled from the southern and northern borders, who had to leave their homes with no belongings whatsoever. Whole regions of the country have been evacuated.

So I am so sad all the time it’s hard to breathe.



Drawing Plans
East Hampton
November 13, 2023


Sunday’s New York Times Opinion section article by Damon Linker, the Washington Post article by Devlin Barrett, and others are presenting a scary apocalyptic vision of what ultra-right intellectual Republican groups are planning for the next Trump presidency: creating an autocratic, all-powerful presidency and utilizing the military, via the Insurrection Acts of 1807 and 1871, to suppress all opposition, Reconnecting church and state in the manner of the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century.

We need to understand the difference between conservatives who work within the Democratic system and fascists who want to tear the system down and remake it in their own image (quite Godlike). Furthermore, MAGA is a term borrowed from the Nazis. It is the fascist concept of us above all others at any price.

Emboldened by the widespread acceptance of the election-denial fantasy, a near-miss at overthrowing the government with no basis in reality, Republicans like John Eastman, Mike Johnson, and the Claremont Institute are drawing plans for a future Trump presidency that resembles Nicaragua and Russia more than our current system.

Their belief that utilizing Christianity as a cornerpiece to governing simply reinforces its fascist nature. There are no examples of Christianity and governance not being repressive, abusive, and destructive. In its 2,000 years of existence, Christianity, like every religion, puts its survival above all else and will do absolutely anything to guarantee that survival, which is often in conflict with the best interests of the population.

At issue are the concepts of governance and ruling. What is missing from Mr. Trump and his associates’ proposition is that the nuts-and-bolts reality of governance is about having clean water to drink, shower, and flush toilets for 350 million people. It’s about schools that teach, trains that run on time, hospitals that treat the sick. Millions of people need to be trained and organized to facilitate day-to-day operations. We have a massive bureaucracy because we have an enormous country.

We have rules and regulations to modify chaos, to protect us from abuse, and to maintain order with dignity. And that’s just the domestic side. We have political and social struggles relating to people’s rights and freedoms, racism, misogyny, and dozens of other issues. Governance is about what you give to the system, not what you take from it.

The struggle is not ideological but about practicality and equitability.

We signed on to a democratic ideology 235 years ago. We separated church and state because they weren’t compatible. We separated government into three pieces and limited the power of each branch. We began an experiment in democracy. We set parameters, which we expanded and contracted when they threatened the structure of the system. We recognize the threat because it is not hidden behind closed doors or dark alleys. It is front and center from the mouths of our politicians, on the internet, and in the media.

When a brain-dead criminal who was a near-total failure as a president and disrespects the system and the Constitution gets 70 million votes, we are in deep doo-doo. When he notifies the people that he will punish everyone who didn’t accept his election-fraud fantasy and everyone who went against him, we are forced to recognize that he is deranged and dangerous.

He can’t be re-elected. He needs to be put away.


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