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Letters to the Editor for November 30, 2023

Thu, 11/30/2023 - 13:11

Firefighters on Maui


    November 23, 2023

To the Editor,

    It's Thanksgiving and we have so much to be thankful for. We would like to send a special thank-you to the members of the Montauk Fire Department, especially Dick White and Dennis O'Reilly. We were contacted by Dick and Dennis soon after the wildfires devastated the town of Lahaina, on the island of Maui. They wanted to help the firefighters on Maui who lost their homes to the fire. There are 18 firefighters who were left homeless. They contacted us because they know our son Bryan is a firefighter stationed in Lahaina and wanted to be sure that all of the donations would go directly to the firefighters who were left homeless. The efforts of Dick and Dennis were a huge success and the donations are so appreciated by the 18 firefighters, their families, and the entire Maui Fire Department.

    Bryan is overwhelmed and proud that the town where he grew up is so supportive of the place he now calls home, over 5,000 miles away! That is the brotherhood of firefighters and the great community of Montauk always looking to help those in need.

    Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a healthy and safe holiday season.

    Thank you!

    Tom and Marlene Staubitser

Still a Small Town

    East Hampton

    November 26, 2023

Dear Editors,

    I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends. 

    I am writing to you all today to express my absolute joy and thanks for everyone involved in last week's Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. Both last year and this year, I helped to organize this event -- working with the town and the timers to make sure the event runs smoothly. This year, we had a record number of runners and walkers and fabulous weather.

    But I am not really writing to tell you about the event itself -- Jack Graves has that part covered. I am writing to express my gratitude for living in this amazing community. Back in 1976, this Thanksgiving tradition was started by John Keeshan. To my knowledge, Mr. Keeshan has since run or walked in every single Turkey Trot. This year, he wanted to once again participate but didn't feel like he could walk the whole three miles. Enter Patty Sales, his steadfast friend and walking partner. (She's been walking this race with him for 30 years!) Patty texted me on Tuesday prior to the race asking if there was any way to arrange transportation for Mr. Keeshan for the 5K route. I reached out to Councilman David Lys and John Rooney of the Recreation Department of East Hampton Town to see if there was any way to arrange for some sort of vehicle for Mr. Keeshan to ride in so that he could participate once again. Within 10 minutes, David and John had arranged with John Ryan Jr. and the lifeguards to use one of the quads stored out in Montauk and for Thomas Brierly to act as driver.

    On the day of the race, Mr. Keeshan and Patty arrived, Thomas arrived and escorted them to the quad, and Mr. Keeshan got to see that the race he started with eight people so many years ago now draws over 1,100 people to run, walk, bike, scoot, and celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and neighbors and to raise money for the local food pantries.

    Thank you again to David Lys, John Rooney, John Ryan Jr., and especially to Thomas Brierley for making this happen. People like this are the reason I love living in this town. No matter what people say, East Hampton is still a small town, in the absolute best way possible.

    Happy holidays,

    Jennifer Casper Fowkes

Parking Angle


    November 22, 2023

Dear David:

    The parking lot in front of the Montauk I.G.A. is an East Hampton Town lot. The town has just relined the parking on an angle. One of the problems this causes is the loss of five parking spaces. Further, this makes it very difficult to back into a space. Backing into a space makes it possible to load one's groceries over the rail and into the car trunk. I require a handicap space when I do my weekly shopping. If I don't back in and have the car's trunk close to the rail, I must carry each bag the length of the car. Walking four to six bags the car's length is difficult for me. 

    I have been told that angled lines are intended to prevent customers from exiting the lot onto Montauk Highway. I realize that the town will not admit that they have made a mistake and will not reline the lot. One partial solution would be to straighten the two handicap spots to permit these patrons to back to the rail to load groceries.

    If I am correct that this work was done to prevent accidents by cars entering Montauk Highway, there is a cheap and easy way to accomplish this. Across the street, the 7-Eleven has an exit that permits turning in either direction. Erect a sign that permits right (westbound) turns only,

    For a better Montauk,

    Dan Briganti

Tribe's Nobility


    November 22, 2023

Dear Sir,

    I write today in response to Christine Sampson's article "New York Governor Again Rebuffs Montauketts."

    The depravity of the governor's actions is exceeded only by the nobility of the tribe's response. But Sandi Brewster-walker, I humbly beseech you: Do not forgive the governor. Do not let her force you into yet another appalling legal and moral paradox where you are first asked to endure, and then to forgive, injustice. Because it will only be a matter of time before you are asked to thank the governor for her insult.

    Nobody is surprised that Gov. Kathy Hochul caved to the real estate community and casino lobby. What shocks the conscience is that she did so less than a week before Thanksgiving. Assemblyman Thiele has been a courageous and steadfast voice in the wilderness on this issue, but as he himself would likely acknowledge, his powers are limited. 

    Ms. Sampson's article states that in 1910, Judge Abel declared that the Montaukett Tribe "had disintegrated" and therefore formed no recognized "governmental unit" under the laws of the State of New York. Very well. Let's take Judge Abel at his word. If the tribe is not a recognized government, then it is an L.L.C. (or some other fictitious corporate entity). And if they are a fictitious corporate entity as opposed to a genuine nation of peoples, then they are the darling of our federal bankruptcy system and can expect to be treated with the utmost courtesy, respect, and patience. You can also be assured that Kirkland & Ellis, Cravath, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher will soon be competing to represent you in this tawdry affair. 

    But why would they do that, you ask? As the article states, the tribe has at least one asset of considerable value, namely, a legal claim to 4,200 acres of land in one of the most expensive Zip codes in human history. It does not matter in a bankruptcy court that this claim is disputed because "Congress did not define 'property' in the Bankruptcy Code, but it is clear that 'property' encompasses both contingent and disputed assets."

    Governor Hochul refuses to recognize this asset. So, the tribe needs to find someone more powerful than the governor who will. Now, whoever the tribe's creditors are, those creditors have creditors. And those creditors have creditors. And those creditors have still more creditors, until we get all the way to J.P. Morgan and BlackRock. 

    And let me tell you something about those guys -- no, I'll save that for my next letter. In this absurd situation, those guys can be your friends. If the governor won't recognize your claim to the land, I assure you that Robert S. Kapito and Jamie Dimon will. And if history is any guide, Messrs. Kapito and Dimon will force a federal judge to seize that land to repay any and all debts which the tribe has incurred as they have attempted to raise themselves from their "shiftless lives as hunters, fishermen, and farmers." And once J.P. Morgan and BlackRock have done so and collected whatever few million dollars they are owed, the rest will be yours.


    Austin Smith

Destroy the View

    East Hampton

    November 26, 2023

To the Editor,

    Absolutely atrocious! Everyone, please look through the peepholes on the barrier at Herrick Park on Newtown Lane. Look what the Village has done and is doing. The basketball court is there. Why destroy greenery, why destroy the only place to contemplate, why destroy the view, why, why, why? All the beauty is gone so kids can play a sport! Herrick Park is not big. It cannot comfortably hold a recreation center nor should it. Tennis and baseball are not enough? 

     Now that the grass is gone, the rain runoff will be a problem. Parking will be a problem. Parents used to be able to park close to the swings, carry children and strollers, et cetera, and now they will have to hope for a spot, probably park much farther away. 

     Most of the people who live year round in East Hampton and those who come in the summer to visit do not play basketball. To lose this wide-open space to an asphalt (or whatever the material is) slab is horrible, ugly, and not what most people want. We want views, we want nature, we want quiet, we want benches so we can sit and listen to the birds. 

    Jane Adelman

Disdain for the Public


    November 27, 2023

Dear David,

    Public hearings are foundational to good governing, to strong and fair process, and to citizen engagement. With hearings, boards have the opportunity to take in comments to the record and the responsibility to consider them in their deliberations relative to the applicable code standards. East Hampton Town has a record of respecting this robust public hearing process. 

    Recently, I've been seeing the public's participation in hearings come under assault on a few fronts. First, as the size of development projects continues to swell, so too has the litigiousness among applicants and their agents. It seems no one will take "no" for an answer and, now, most denials by a board result in an automatic "Article 78."   

    But it's not just the boards that the attorneys are battling. The public hearing itself has become a new skirmish line in their offensive: We've observed lawyers disparaging and working to disqualify public participation.

    For example, at a December 2022 Zoning Board hearing regarding 175 Atlantic Avenue, 19 members of the public offered comments regarding the proposed large speculative development and its potential to degrade severely both the natural resources on the lot and the character of the surroundings in one of the most important public areas in town. In response, the developer's attorney worked aggressively to disqualify public comment with a specious claim that members of the public lack "standing" to speak at a public hearing, and to cow the board into ignoring the public's input. 

    In September of this year, citizens engaged deeply in another Z.B.A. public hearing, this one for a large new house that also potentially threatens unique natural resources and the rural community character of the beloved and fragile Sammis Beach area. 

    At that hearing, the applicant's attorney came out swinging -- his first words being disdain for the public, alleging that their comments were "all completely off base," "contain gross factual errors," and that the "objectors . . . don't know or understand" what is proposed. He then demanded that the board should listen only to him and not the public.  

    Beyond the Z.B.A., of late, a second front in the battle for public hearing rights has opened up at the A.R.B.  

    As a bit of context, unlike the other three town boards which are bound legally to hold hearings, our town code doesn't mandate the same for the A.R.B., though it explicitly grants the A.R.B. the power to hold them. The A.R.B. has deployed public hearings in the past, but apparently, discarded them in 2009, for reasons we have yet to understand.  

    The absence of A.R.B. public hearings is of particular concern. With its codified jurisdiction across the town's agricultural overlays, historic districts, and special landmarks, the A.R.B. has decision-making power over some of the more consequential construction taking place in some of the most important areas across the town. 

    With a new A.R.B. chairwoman appointed in 2022, it was a welcome development when she proposed that they resume public hearings. After substantive discussion at their Jan. 12, 2023, meeting, the board agreed unanimously to a protocol requiring public hearings for all new and substantial development applications on properties in agricultural overlays, historic districts, and also for special landmarked structures, with possible exemptions for smaller things, such as for a fence, from the hearing requirement.  

    The new protocol wouldn't apply to projects initiated in prior years that remained pending in the review pipeline in 2023, so it wasn't until the summer that new applications emerged, triggering the hearing requirement. 

    On Sept. 26, the A.R.B. vice chairwoman acknowledged the public hearing need for a significant new development application for 43 Wainscott Hollow Road in an agricultural overlay, but she was met with intense resistance from some fellow board members who fired off a barrage of objections to invalidate the hearing protocol, including: that public hearings should have happened earlier in the process, that hearings are "punitive" to the applicant, and that because some members were "favorably inclined" to the application, a hearing wasn't needed.  

    Not a single one of those excuses was an accurate, let alone valid, reason to override the protocol and arbitrarily deny a public hearing, but by a four-to-one vote, the hearing motion failed.

    On Nov. 9, when another new build at 45 Wainscott Hollow, in the same agricultural overlay, was ready to proceed to A.R.B. hearing, the protocol was scuttled again by an aggressive attack. The first blows came from the applicant's agent, who meddled and maligned public input, having the chutzpah to assert that nothing the public would say could be of value or any relevance to an A.R.B. decision, and cooing that the A.R.B. had been doing just fine all these years without the public -- all that capped off by a not-so-veiled attorney threat to litigate if the A.R.B. pursued public hearing.  

    Shockingly, the next assault on the public came directly from an A.R.B. member who cast suspicions on the "end goal" of fellow members supporting hearings, made inappropriate presumptions about what the public would say at a hearing, and, in a particularly ugly pass, while characterizing himself as being "diplomatic," said: "Honestly [. . .] I think that this public hearing [. . .] is like feeding the applicant to the wolves." All in all, this siege appeared to intimidate a couple of other members, and the motion for public hearing failed, three-to-two.

    If characterizing the public as a pack of wolves is "diplomatic," one wonders about the unexpurgated opinion of the citizens of East Hampton. It's one thing as members of the public to find ourselves in the crosshairs of lawyered-up developers and applicants trying to stymie and smear us. But it is quite another to hear disrespect about public engagement and disdain for hearings expressed by sitting members of a board. 

    The disparage-and-disqualify-the-public tactic is a serious threat. Not only must the public push back and advocate assiduously for their legitimate rights to be heard and considered, but the boards and our town attorneys must be unwavering in their protection of the legitimacy and value of public comment. 


    Jaine Mehring

Exceptional Résumés


    November 27, 2023

Dear Mr. Rattray, 

    What a smart and wonderfully conciliatory, as well as newsworthy, gesture supervisor-elect Kathee Burke-Gonzalez has made by offering to reach across the political aisle to fill her vacant council seat. Actually, I am not surprised. Kathee has been on the council long enough to know just how thankless and tough her new position is going to be and that fresh, creative ideas can only help her administration. Bravo!

    But why insist the three candidates on the Republican and Conservative tickets who ran for office on Nov. 7 apply hat in hand by having to submit a resume and personal statement? Councilwoman Cate Rogers, Councilman David Lys, and Councilman-elect Thomas Flight, as well as the one-third of East Hampton voters who endorsed Gretta Leon, Michael Wootton, and Scott Smith in the voting booth, are well aware of these three candidates' exceptional résumés already. Kathee does not have to "cast a wide net." 

    Lynne W. Scanlon

Bragman or Drew


    November 27, 2023

To the Editor, 

    A modest proposal to the town Democrats: In January, appoint Jeff Bragman or Rick Drew to the vacant seat on the town board. 

    Both are intelligent, independent, knowledgeable Democrats with excellent values, whom the local machine ejected from electoral politics as it relentlessly transformed itself into the dreary, valueless entity which continues to hang on to power -- with "consider the alternative" its last selling point. 

    I am hopeful our new supervisor will prove to be a new sheriff in town, in part because she seems to have the needed qualities (if she will only exercise them) and because the Democrats desperately need to reassert a personality and a set of values if they hope to retain power. Bringing either of these folks back into governing and the conversation would eloquently signal the badly needed revitalization of the party. 

    For democracy in East Hampton,

    Jonathan Wallace


    November 26, 2023 


To the Editor,

    Do you pay your taxes? Then the budget is balanced always. It's the spending and future spending that is the issue every year. Guaranteed money always received with no interventions for growing salaries with no repercussions for continued gross malfeasance. 

    Still here, 

    Joe Karpinski

Heartbreaking Harbinger 


    November 27, 2023

Dear David,

    Overheating from burning oil and gas is not a future problem, but a present one ("National Climate Assessment: Reality Is Not Pretty," Nov. 22). We see the changes in our communities and shorelines: ever more flooding and beach erosion; risk of saltwater intrusion into our water supply, devastation to marine life and commercial fisheries. These changes are ever more costly to our pocketbooks and the economic health of our community.

    The environmental shift to warmer winters is also causing an invasion of the southern pine beetle, the biggest threat to the pine barrens from the Hamptons to Montauk. Our string of warmest years on record has made our community a destination for these destructive insects. My favorite place to hike locally used to be Napeague State Park; now it's a graveyard for its formerly magnificent trees. It's a heartbreaking harbinger of more destruction to come.

    The gas industry and its apologists are spreading disinformation far and wide throughout our state. But, contrary to their claims, wind power is clean, reliable, and affordable (and on track to become even more affordable in the future, as technology and market share advance). Scientists have debunked myths that wind turbines hurt bird populations (fossil fuel power plants are over 30 times as deadly) or lower property prices (they actually improve property prices). 

    We must transition to clean energy A.S.A.P. if we are to survive. Fortunately, Gov. Kathy Hochul is resuming her interrupted push for offshore wind farms. Four large projects have had to go out for rebid. Governor Hochul must expedite the resumption of those long-planned wind farms and the rollout of new offshore wind projects recently selected.

    Objections to local solar and offshore wind projects are running out the countdown clock to Climate Armageddon. The South Fork Wind farm, now under construction, had to overcome massive opposition from a tiny cabal of deep-pocketed locals, delaying it by two long years in a time when we have no more time to lose.

    Those who are trying to delay the switch to clean power don't care about you, me, or our future. They are just trying to fatten their shareholders' profits at our expense.

    Francesca Rheannon

Blatant Lies


    November 27, 2023

Dear David,

    Thank you for publishing my letter to the editor in last week's East Hampton Star. As a follow-up, this past Tuesday I received an email newsletter from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority that indisputably supports assertions made in my letter.

    The subject line of the email stated: "Induction stoves: the cleaner, greener way to cook." Under the heading was this subtitle: "Induction is gaining steam for its precise temperature control, superior safety, and speedy cooking times without using fossil fuels." NYSERDA's claim, that an induction stove's electrical usage is "without using fossil fuels," is blatantly false. NYSERDA, being the energy authority, should know climate-change science requires the accounting of Scope 2 Emissions, that is, the offsite production of electricity. We are being lied to.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels in the production of electricity. On the E.P.A. website's "Power Profiler," you can enter your Zip code to find the carbon footprint of the Long Island grid from burning natural gas, oil, and other fossil fuels that consists of carbon dioxide (1,210.9 pounds per megawatt hour), sulfur dioxide (0.264 lbs./MWh.), and nitrogen oxide (0.912 lbs./MWh.). The national average of carbon dioxide emissions alone from the production of electricity is 852.3 lbs./MWh., whereas the Long Island grid is 1,210.9 lbs./MWh., about 60 percent greater than the national average. Sixty percent greater than the national average? How can NYSERDA spread such blatant lies?

    Also last Tuesday, New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a "media literacy" initiative to "inoculate" school children against "conspiracy theories, misinformation, and online hate." I can't make this stuff up. 

    How can New York State be the arbiter of truth when it is lying to us at the same exact time? Governments from the national level to the local level are the greatest purveyors of propaganda and misinformation. Beware of any government which claims to be the arbiter of truth. Whose truth? Has critical thought become extinct?


    Frank Dalene

First-Class Facility


    November 27, 2023

Dear David,

    After being tipped off by other Montauk pet parents, I read the article in the November 23 issue of The Star, enigmatically titled "What Was Built and What Should Have Been Built," which disclosed a nonpublic meeting of the planning board on Nov. 15 regarding the structure that will house Molly Miosek's updated, expanded veterinary facility.

    Some members of the board spoke negatively about the design of the building and had invited neighbors to voice their objections to changes required by the builder.

     We pet parents had been looking forward to the opening of Dr. Molly's new facility, which will offer equipment and treatments like other clinics in the area in addition to a grooming service.

     Montauk has many restaurants, boutiques, shops, delis, real estate agencies; three gas stations, three wine and liquor shops -- but barely one medical facility and only one veterinarian to tend to the welfare of our best friends. Let's not miss this opportunity to provide her with a first-class facility.

    I urge the planning board to keep working with the consulting engineer to assure that this project will come to fruition.

    Eva Moore

Dr. Molly


    November 26, 2023

To the Editor, 

    Given that the last sentence of your article correctly states, "a local veterinarian, a Dr. Molly, will eventually occupy the building," common sense and community need dictate that Molly Miosek immediately occupy the building to care for pets while its neighbors and a board eventually discuss parking and rainwater.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Donald Newman

Warm Caretakers


    November 27, 2023

To the Editor, 

    Molly Miosek and her small team are first and foremost professional, warm caretakers with amazing bedside manner with all four-leggeds and their humans. In August 2020, I was adopted by Sage-Leo, an adorable, joyful, and hilarious 7-month-old rescue pup with a good bill of health from the vet office in Arkansas. When I took Sage-Leo to Dr. Molly for her annual checkup and vaccines, Dr. Molly tested her for heartworms, twice. Sadly, both tests confirmed that Sage-Leo was infected. Dr. Molly lifted up our sunken chins, and immediately prepared a fantastic six-month treatment, which she, along with Sage-Leo's vet at Harlem Animal Hospital, implemented perfectly. Today Sage-Leo is joyous, happy, still hilarious, and 100 percent heartworm free! Sage-Leo and I look forward to working soon with Dr. Molly at Sandy Paws Veterinary Clinic in downtown Montauk!

    Bruni Burres

Beautiful Building


    November 27, 2023

To the Editor:

    This letter is on behalf of Molly Miosek and her wonderful veterinary care. Our dogs have been her patients since our permanent move to Montauk in 2015. We had used [another] veterinarian for 30 years so to say we were a bit nervous about the switch is an understatement. We had five dogs at the time, a chow mix and two Shih Tzus, both rescues, and one Shih Tzu and one toy poodle from puppy mills. From the very start Dr. Molly welcomed this motley pack with open arms, even the littlest one, who has a difficult temperament to say the least. She provided excellent care throughout their life span. We have since lost two. She is an excellent diagnostician and clinician providing compassionate, thoughtful, and appropriate care for each one, even during the loss of two of our beloved pets.

    For many years Dr. Molly saw her patients in a mobile unit. She did a fine job, but her capabilities were limited due to the size of the physical structure. She has now erected the most beautiful state-of-the-art facility right in the village. Not only has this building added to the aesthetics of our beloved Montauk but more important, she will be able to expand her services in this facility. We will be able to have our dogs groomed on site; we now travel to Syosset. She will be able to offer other services, i.e., X-rays and surgery. For these services we currently travel to Roslyn. Once this clinic is open, we will gladly have our dogs remain right in Montauk for all services. 

    With all due respect, we ask the Town of East Hampton planning board to find a way to resolve the issues they have outlined so that all parties involved will be satisfied and the Montauk community can finally have a veterinary clinic where their pets can be treated by Dr. Molly.

    Richard Ashley, M.D. 

    Tammy Ashley, R.N., M.S.N.

Pretty Trivial


    November 27, 2023

To the Editor:

    Your article last week about the dispute over 94 South Euclid Avenue in Montauk was incomprehensible. I've read it three times and still can't understand what the issue is. What I do understand is that Molly Miosek, who is mentioned as an aside in this story, has poured her heart and soul into this building, meant to house an animal clinic that is sorely needed in our community in Montauk.

    After reading this article, one is left to think that the town planning board isn't interested in what is in the best interests of the vast number of residents of this town. Instead, it seems they're far more interested in the interests of a handful of complainants, whose concerns sound pretty trivial. 

    The building in question is beautiful. It's already positively impacted the community and improved the look of the area. Its impact will be far greater when it's permitted to open and be of service to the many beloved pets of Montauk families who need care. 

    The Star should be advocating for this building to get approval to open immediately. 


    Eileen Murphy

Inverted Jenny


    November 24, 2023

Dear Mr. Rattray,

    I know, so soon. Maybe it's the season, the giving spirit and all. Two nights ago Mary was watching "Love Actually" for the many-ith time. I joined her with about 45 minutes remaining, when things start coming together. Remember? Colin Firth's character decides to learn Portuguese, fly to Lisbon, and propose to Aurelia; the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) realizes he's in love with Natalie and heads out on Christmas Eve to knock on her door; Liam Neeson's character drives young Sam to the airport so he can run the security gauntlet and show his love for the enchanting Joanna before she flies away; Claudia Schiffer magically appears at the school holiday concert to flirt with widower Liam, Bill Nighy's hilarious aging rock star realizes he loves his chubby manager. . . . Well, five minutes in, I was a mess.   

    So here we are, Mr. Rattray, and I have two little stories to share with you. I think you might feel better changing into your flannel snowman pajamas and sitting on the floor by the fireplace. There ya go! Okay: We have a very dear family member who is a social worker at a children's hospital in a distant state. She is intimately involved with many very young transplant patients and their families -- an emotional and challenging vocation for anyone. And yet it is her passion. A few days ago she called her mother and described an incident that nearly brought her to tears. A teenage boy who'd been waiting for a kidney donor was finally rewarded with the announcement that one had been located and it met the necessary specifications (whatever that might mean). It was joyful news for the boy and his family. Just before he was to be anesthetized for the transplant procedure he pleaded with the surgeon to take a photo of the new kidney, close to his face, so he could remember the organ and the day that would change his life. A highly unusual request and definitely not part of normal hospital protocols. But she allowed it. The picture was taken, the boy went under, and into his waiting body went the living kidney. When I heard this story, well, waterworks.

    Ready for the next one? Don't worry, there'll be no weeping. Okay, maybe a little. You may recall that my grandfather was born in 1877, just 12 years after the end of the Civil Way. I was named after him, though that has nothing to do with the story, so strike that. From the time of his youth, Grandpa was an avid collector of American stamps, a philatelist, as hobbyists are known (though the term sounds a little shady to me). He showed me his collection when I was just a kid of 10 or 12, and even then I understood that it was a very special, extremely well-organized collection. He helped me start my own stamp collection, which I really enjoyed for a few weeks, but then I lost interest. Short attention span, even then. Grandpa passed away in the early 1970s. A few years later my mother called me from Rochester and said, "You know, your grandfather left his stamp collection to you kids and it's been in a safe-deposit box since he died. You're the oldest, and I think you should sell it. I'm afraid to have someone open the box to value the contents -- it would be easy to lift a stamp!" I hadn't thought about the stamps in well over a decade, but I knew Mom was right. So we looked up stamp dealers in the area and scheduled three different appraisals. The highest one was just over $12,000. It didn't feel right to me then, but Mom said we should sell it and divide the money so it wasn't just sitting there. We took the offer and that was the end of it. Four grand apiece for my brother, sister, and me.

    Years later I was returning to New York from a business trip in Detroit and, bored, started leafing through the airline magazine. I came upon an article about American stamp collecting, and how values of certain rare stamps had gone up astronomically, driven by hypercompetitive philatelists. And there, in living color, was a photograph of a mint block (four) of the rare "inverted Jenny," nickname given to the Curtiss biplane (1915-1927). There had only been 100 of the misprinted upside-down Jennys. And this one had recently sold at auction for $200,000. I slumped in my seat. And that was only one of several rare stamps in the article that I recognized from Grandpa's collection. I dreaded telling my family, but everyone shrugged. We couldn't have known at the time, they assured me. But I felt like a dumbass. We were bilked. I could have taken the collection to New York and made appointments with several of the auction houses. But that was then, and this is now.

    And now? Now we have a Nov. 15 piece in The New York Times with the headline, "What Is the Inverted Jenny Stamp, and Why Is It Worth $2 million?" That would be the price just one of the Jennys recently sold for at auction. $2,006,000 to be precise. I brought the article to my sister's attention. Joan's reaction? "At the time the money helped me get my footing in New York, Lyle, so I was happy." So what am I thankful for? Many things, but my sister and brother come to mind right now.

    Stamps? When we run out, I just get a book of Forever stamps.

    To Jenny!

    Lyle Greenfield

Afraid of History

    East Hampton

    November 26, 2023

To the Editor,

    We are right to teach all our children the beliefs that our country was built on and who our founders were and what they achieved. 

    But can we make sense of our world today with just this knowledge? Growing up in New York I learned that the North fought the South to free the enslaved. It takes some digging to learn that all the Northern states had enslaved people and New York more than most. 

    I wonder, too, if schools in the South mention that not only was the South's ruling class hoping to keep slavery and extend it to new territories but to take it to new countries as well?

    Can we understand the white riots in Cicero, Ill., or the Black in Minneapolis without a sense of context?

    Should we leave our history to historians, politicians, pundits, and hobbyists -- about 1 percent of the population? I think not. 

    Let's not be afraid of our history. Let's arm all our high schoolers with it. How else can they solve the problems they will surely face? 

    Tom Mackey 

Condemn or Condone

    East Hampton 

    November 19, 2023 

Dear David, 

    I'm proud to be included in the criticism by Messrs. Saxe and Agoos in their Nov. 10 letter directed to the ones that Francesca Rheannon (Nov. 6) and I wrote (Nov. 5) concerning the road to a lasting and just peace in the seemingly never-ending wars and conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. Their criticism starts with a seldom used word -- calling our ideas "twaddle." Was it a typo? Even The Star's crack staff can make an error. As residents of East Hampton, did they mean to say waddle? Were Francesca and I being likened to some of those ducks who go waddling up and down the road at the nature preserve on David's Lane? 

    It wasn't a typo and they did mean to say twaddle -- a term defined as foolish, empty talk and writing amounting to nonsense. It's a dismissive tool usually used by people who have little of substance or counterarguments to offer. Their own short letter is full of the same failed revenge rhetoric of the past with nothing new to offer. "Israel must destroy Hamas." "Israel has no choice but to carry out its plan to destroy Hamas." Those are their simplistic answers. They do an enormous disservice to some of the other thoughtful, nuanced, compassionate, and pained letters of others who wrote in -- including the excellent ones by Jonathan Wallace, Orna Bird, and the irrepressible Neil Hausig in which alternatives are offered. Both Francesca and Jonathan mention a small, peaceful Sunday rally in Sag Harbor calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza that was disrupted by a few people with Israeli flags screaming at the top of their lungs standing right next to their speakers as they attempted to recite the names of the Palestinian children killed by Israeli bombs. 

    As co-founders of East End Jews for Israel, I wonder if Saxe and Agoos are aware of that rally and the boorish response to it? If they weren't part of the response, do they condemn or condone it? What Jewish values do they think these counterprotesters were exhibiting? Certainly not the ones Francesca learned from her father, Rabbi Martin Freedman. As Neil puts it, "The essential problem is that killing begets more killing." As Francesca puts it, "Genocide is not the answer to terrorism." "Do they think that they are protecting Israel by supporting the relentless bombing of civilian families?" Do you? Show some leadership, gentlemen. Too much twaddle and waddle on your part. Cease-fire Now! Peace Now! 


    Jim Vrettos 

Less Than Meh

    East Hampton

    November 26, 2023


    There are clearly two Americas in our current equation but they are not red or blue, Democratic or Republican. These false equivalents serve only to obfuscate our reality. It is in the Biden/Trump analysis that we are able to get to the essence of who we are and how we function. 

    Our struggle is between mediocrity and hot air. Mediocrity is defined by what we accomplish in comparison to what we might be capable of accomplishing. H.A. or B.S. is the concept of fake news, false equivalencies, and incompetent governing. 

    For example, our military almost never wins. The best soldiers, with the best equipment, the best intelligence, and the most money. The weakness is in the leadership, both military and civilian. This also pertains to health care, education, infrastructure, etc. Our potential is never realized. We are mediocre or worse.

    We haven't had a functional, competent president since Lyndon Johnson. Twenty-four years of Clinton, Bush, and Obama is less then meh. Trump took us over the edge because his incompetence was shrouded in B.S. His relentless psychobabble and the relentless babble from the media combined to confuse and destabilize the real world. 

    Enter Joe Biden. There is a misguided belief that we need a younger, more dynamic, less doddering president to better represent our mediocrity. Knowledge of government and how it works isn't required. A historical perspective which allows for a vision of the future not required. The ability to get things done in a complex democracy not required. We are delusional. We think that we are better and more than we are. We don't suck because we can't do better. We suck because we don't aspire to do better and we are comfortable sucking -- a possible definition for mediocrity.

    The question is not, Do we deserve better than Biden, but, Do we deserve Biden? 

    Look at Covid. Trump pretended, lied, pretended, postured, lied. Ignored all the experts and fabricated an alternative reality. More than a million dead bodies. Only in the mind of a total imbecile are they not real. Biden sucked it up. Told the truth. Provided huge support for those who needed it. (What else is government for?) Couldn't make it go away but made it a whole lot better. 

    I don't agree with some of Biden's policies, but he has policies. He doesn't babble moronically. He passes important legislation. He deals with crisis. He went on the auto workers' picket line. Amazing. He went to Israel. He hugged Netanyahu. Ugh. Et cetera. He gets things done. More than was accomplished in the last 28 years. He knows history and knows that the future is based on knowing the past. 

    Yet, after the buffoonery and hot air of Trump we should be ecstatic with what Biden's done. We are on the way to mediocrity. A small step before greatness.

    Make America Mediocre Again, 

    Neil Hausig

Bacon and Tomatoes


    November 20, 2023

Dear David, 

    The citizens of America are not stupid people. Some may be brainwashed, some are stubborn, and many are stupid.

    In order to congratulate the Democrats on their victory lap let me advise them of their attack on us.

    Eggs are up 46.8 percent, my favorite potato chips up 32.54 percent, coffee up 37 percent, steak up 31 percent. No more bacon and tomato sandwiches to sit on the beach with, bacon up 26.2 percent. Home mortgages almost unbearable, up 42.9 percent, and -- not to make this letter really, really long -- last but not least, gas per one gallon, regular: in October 2020, $2.14; as of November 2023, $3.35, up 56.5 percent.

    Thank you to the Biden administration for the uptick. Watch Joe and associates ride bikes to save gas, but someone should explain to him that the amount of fuel used every weekend to fly wherever he vacations at is priced to the heavens.

    In God and country,

    Bea Derrico


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