January 19, 2024
In response to “Vaping Among Teens Reaches Epidemic Levels” (Jan. 18):
It’s concerning that a vape store has opened in Montauk, especially given the increasing concerns about vaping among teens. The Montauk Village Vapes store is located in the Plaza sports complex in Montauk, tucked into the western corner of the complex.
I spoke with a neighbor and friend who has a 14-year-old daughter, and asked her why the parents of this small, year-round community in Montauk had not reached out to the town board’s Montauk representative regarding this.
I urge the community to reach out to your local town board or Montauk representative to inquire about the approval process for such businesses. They should be able to provide information on who granted permission for the vape store to open and the reasons behind it.
Why was this store allowed to open here in Montauk? Who okayed this?
Why has the community not voiced opposition? Truly baffling.
Speed’s and Marmador
January 22, 2024
Dear Mr. Editor,
Hope all is well at The Star. The left-wing staff that writes the editorial page made good in the Jan. 18 edition. They had two editorials that made common sense: “Buying Time by the Million” and “Better a Bioswale.”
The Montauk sand editorial is so true. How many times and how many millions of dollars does the taxpayer need to spend to save a small stretch of beach? Now, I’m sure the owners of said beach feel different and I can’t blame them. I would want help also. But sooner rather than later they need to retreat.
“Better a Bioswale” was good — I was thinking for years that a few large boulders on the green would do the job. In my travels I have seen many corner properties landscaped with boulders, and I am sure they do the job. The bioswale would work nicely as long as the trough is deep enough to stop said vehicles. That quagmire reminds me of the North Main Street train trestle.
Now a little fun. The article “Menu From the Marmador” brought back memories. There is more the newbies don’t know. The Marmador was run by Don and Judy King for as long as I can remember. It was a hangout for all ages. You could get a burger and a shake after the movie. Not sure of the hours, but they were late. However, Speed King had his own place right next to Number 1 Main Street, the all-brick corner building called “Speed’s.” Same fanfare booths and a soda-fountain bar. And for those who wanted a little more formal dinner, just down Newtown Lane from Speed’s, same side of the street, was Rem and Mils, run by a King brother of the other two, Remington and Mildred King, a nice, sit-down family restaurant where kids had to behave. I can remember my old man giving me a quick clip to the back of my head when I was acting up. So, as you may know, we had many places back in the day to get a bite to eat. We had a real community then. Never had to leave town.
Oh! By the way, you never answered my question from a previous letter: Are you a boater or a yachtsman? Best regards, as always.
Yours to command,
Boffo Box Office
January 20, 2024
To the Editor:
The “Guestwords” essay “Barbenheimer Redux” was a refreshingly depressing reminder that Hollywood’s attention is firmly on boffo box office. “Oppenheimer” was lacking in the critical history of the protagonist, as Bruce Buschel points out. I found “Barbie” unwatchable, and it’s hard to walk out of a movie on a United flight to Los Angeles, but I managed to toggle over to one of Denzel’s “Equalizer” movies to cope with my boredom.
Two of the best movies of 2023, which will not be in the Best Picture discussion on Tuesday night, are “The Teacher’s Lounge” and “Asteroid City.” But too few of us care because, well, there’s no portmanteau for two films that didn’t gross a couple of billion dollars.
January 19, 2024
I find adding insult to injury is ridiculous. First you must pay a provider to watch TV. If you want to watch a football game, which should be on a standard station, a surprise may come your way.
Last weekend there were numerous games shown on regular channels. Only one particular game required you to pay a subscription fee to view that game. This was a huge slap in the face to fans. It seems your hands will be going in your pocket, perhaps, in the future for all N.F.L. and maybe M.L.B. games.
Please don’t allow this. Stand up to these corporations that are rich enough and don’t need more profits.
In God and country,
January 22, 2024
We’ve all seen the flooding and destruction of our town’s coastal areas in the recent storm. Will that storm be the last? Can we rebuild and restore everything just the way it was? Not likely.
We don’t know, in fact, where and when extreme weather will hit us next. But the town’s climate resiliency plan should be front and center as we consider building and rebuilding for now and the foreseeable future. That’s why I was surprised and disappointed to hear that the zoning board of appeals had approved the application to construct an almost 5,000-square-foot house and garage on the narrowest section of a storm-vulnerable peninsula, Sammy’s Beach Road.
This road, a strip of land between Three Mile Harbor and Gardiner’s Bay, bordered by wetlands and dunes, was flooded in this last storm. The excavation and construction project approved by the Z.B.A. will result in damage to the already existing ecosystem on the site, where native plants and trees anchor the dunes, nourish the soil biome, and provide a bulwark against excessive rainfall, runoff, and powerfully destructive wind and waves.
What’s the plan? After demolishing the decades-old cottages and outbuildings now standing on the site (a combination of three original housing lots), the owner assured the Z.B.A. that they would install a modern septic system. That’s really the least one could do! When a resident at the Z.B.A. public hearing was pointing out flaws in the owners’ proposal, a board member asked, “What do you want them to do?”
My answer: Build sustainably. Disturb as little of the existing soil and native plant communities as possible. There are talented and knowledgeable architects and landscape designers who understand this fragile coastal environment. They can, if necessary, propose an attractive and functional alternative for that site in tune with, not fighting against, Mother Nature.
In the endless contest between human-built structures on the shoreline and the forces of nature, which one are you betting on?
January 20, 2024
To the Editor:
I am writing as a concerned senior citizen about the proposed senior center to be built on Abraham’s Path. With a $32-million price tag, this is an egregious and completely unnecessary spending of taxpayer dollars based on assumptions which don’t align with the true needs of seniors. I understand that under 1,000 residents, users, and community members were surveyed to assess priorities and needs for it.
In reading the Jan. 3 memo from the planning department, I was surprised to find items on the list that didn’t align at all with what I would want. It sounds and looks in renderings to be more like an events center and party venue than a senior center. I am curious as to how many seniors and users of the existing senior center were surveyed.
Nowhere did I see safety on the list, which is one of the key needs of a center such as this. It is approximately the same size as the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Annex that is under construction on Pantigo Place, the cost of which is estimated to be $38 million. How can the current estimated cost of the proposed senior Center be only $6 million lower than the cost to build a comprehensive emergency medical facility which contains expensive medical equipment and is subject to very strict building codes which drive up the cost? Bigger and more expensive isn’t always better!
Not as I Do
January 21, 2024
I strongly believe that the Town of East Hampton should continue to have a senior center to support the needs of the over-65 population. I am, however, vehemently opposed to actions taken by the town board in regard to the proposed new senior center, the net result of which is that at $32 million it will be one of the most expensive projects undertaken by the town in recent history and will saddle residents, including the seniors it seeks to serve, with the exorbitant cost for years to come. It is being pushed through at warp speed based on limited public input, misleading and questionable “facts,” and bypassing the reviews and approvals of the independent boards, including exempting it from zoning. As currently proposed, it will exceed total lot coverage and total building coverage by 80 percent and 38 percent, respectively. The magnitude of such variances necessitates a careful review because of the precedent it sets not to mention the perceived hypocrisy of “do as I say, not as I do.” The size, scope, and cost of a new senior center must be methodically and carefully evaluated before committing to such a massive price tag.
The planning department’s Jan. 3 memo, which concludes the senior center is exempt from town zoning based on the Monroe “balancing of public interests” test, contains many issues of both fact and logic. It states, “The town has already received robust community input.” Planning of the current senior center began two years ago and, during that time, there has been minimal community input. Between May and July of 2022, the town surveyed approximately 500 residents, users, community members, which is a statistically insignificant 1.8 percent of East Hampton’s 28,000 residents. To extrapolate from this small sample size an accurate understanding of the needs, priorities, and themes of seniors is questionable, as is the resulting exorbitantly priced building and characterizations of community input and support as “robust.” Public review and input have been limited and scheduled with minimal notice during the holidays, when attendance would be (and was) low, including one with only two residents in attendance. I would hope that before the town incurs such a large expenditure it would survey a greater percentage of residents and hold more community-input sessions where the public can speak and be heard.
The memo fails to quantify the projected number of over-65-year-olds and, instead, vaguely states it is “increasingly older” which is neither sufficient nor concrete enough to rely upon to determine demand which, in turn, will drive design and cost. How is it possible to conclude, in the absence of solid demographic projections from an expert in such matters, that a project of such magnitude is needed? And, what new data is driving the increase in cost from $10 million two years ago to $32 million today?
Even the variances have dramatically increased in the six months since the June 14, 2023, board report when, for example, total lot coverage variance projected was 34 percent (and today is 80 percent). Where is the data? It doesn’t seem possible that the number of seniors in our community is projected to triple from where it was a few years ago. That doesn’t make sense. Why, as part of the rationale for taking on this huge spending project, has the target demographic been expanded to include the 55-year-old population? To state, as the memo does, that the senior center will have a legitimate positive impact on local interests at “no cost” is simply not true. This is one of the most expensive projects in recent memory and hardly can be characterized as “no cost.”
The memo seeks to justify rushing the process by stating that evaluating alternative existing sites “may end up delaying the senior center without any benefit.” We cannot afford to rush this process, because of its exorbitant cost, egregious variances to building code, and lack of community input. The significant benefit of a measured, fact-based approach is that it engenders a sense of trust in the town board regarding the size, scope, and cost of the projects it pursues, the transparence and thoroughness of the process, and the commitment to abiding by the same rules and regulations of its citizens. I encourage the town board to slow down the senior center project process, conduct the diligence and research necessary, including broad input of the community, to properly assess and quantify need and demand. Then, work with the architect in developing the plan and securing the zoning and other board approvals so that it appropriately meets our needs for years to come. This is an important need in the community and should not be rushed.
In good health,
January 20, 2024
To the Editor:
There was some excellent subtext in the quotes from our two newest board members in Chris Walsh’s article last week, “Town Board Wants to Have the Last Word.” Both were commenting on the plan to exempt the new senior center from the review process. “What do you think we may miss?” said Tom Flight. Ian Calder-Piedmonte said, “My instincts are [we] go through the other boards.”
The only instance I remember of this kind of break in the board’s dread conformity, in the post-Bragman era, was the outgoing Sylvia Overby speaking out against a fourth turkey season. Yay for free speech!
By the way, did I miss something? Where were all the accolades, homages, and expressions of gratitude to Peter Van Scoyoc as he exited public life?
For democracy in East Hampton,
January 22, 2024
To the Editor,
I have watched with despair as a raucous debate plays out over a new senior center being planned in East Hampton. I moved here three years ago from Sag Harbor, thinking I was leaving behind the poor planning and overbuilding that I watched sap some of the charm out of Sag in the years I lived there. Yes, downtown East Hampton looks like Rodeo Drive but the surrounding neighborhoods are quite livable and well designed.
Unfortunately, after reading several stories in The Star and then attending a meeting about a sprawling new senior center, I fear I’m watching the contagion of reckless planning as it makes its way toward East Hampton.
I fully support the need for a new senior center. Last week, I donated some jigsaw puzzles to the current center on Springs-Fireplace Road and saw a group of older residents huddled for a discussion group in a poorly heated room with peeling paint, rotting wood, and stained floors. They deserve better.
What they don’t deserve, what none of us deserve, is the plan being hatched by the East Hampton Town Board to rush through a giant 22,000-square-foot glass-domed building that could soon touch down like a spaceship on Abraham’s Path.
The total price tag of $32 million has climbed threefold since the original plans were drawn up for a new center. Not because new data arrived showing an explosion of demand that would justify the size and expense. Indeed, there seems to be very little data at all, both about daily use at the existing site or anticipated demand for the new site. Clearly, there is a need, but how big is it?
Even more concerning is the board’s decision to bypass the town’s usual planning process, environmental protocols, and architectural reviews. Nor has there been much opportunity for residents to learn more about the project and weigh in with their own views. After all, we’re the ones who will be footing the bill.
I hope the town can find a reasonable path toward building a new senior center — one that doesn’t cause endless delay but that does manage to follow the same rules required of everyone else.
That Was Then
January 22, 2024
Good-sense decisions and opinions are not always popular. Very brave of our planning department director to take a stand and say the unpopular-to-some word: retreat. The sand and any other suggestion in desperation isn’t going to cut it. The ocean and tide will rule. I understand you bought or built your castle on the sand and the view was gorgeous. That was then. Now this is the reality that needs immediate attention and smarts, not compassion, sorry. We’re all in this as a community. Things change. Move the condos and hotels. They don’t belong there, they used to be somewhere else, you know, that’s Montauk’s history with Mother Nature. Pumping money and sand is not the answer. We don’t build hard structures here, it’s not the Jersey Shore. And it’s not “the Town of No,” as is the buzzword of those not in the know. It’s science and it’s been proven that you can’t keep shoring up the beach with sand. Sand moves. Let the dunes alone. Move the hotels. It is the end of an era in many ways. Sorry for your troubles. This is bigger than you. It’s about safety, sense, and responsibility. Listen to the people who care about our community as a whole. We’re lucky we have it.
January 21, 2024
A little history of Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and the development of a new East Hampton senior center. “Planning” started well over a decade ago when she first came into office. Over the last decade, Kathee’s work sputtered along but went nowhere. Now, here we are looking at extravagant plans for a building that is unfit for [its] purpose.
We have been assured by the town that its aging population is growing. This is indisputable. However, most people age 60 to 79 do not define themselves as “elderly” or “senior” today. Certainly, Kathee doesn’t. The majority of aged baby boomers work full or part time like our town board members. When older adults aren’t working they are playing pickleball, sitting on corporate boards, golfing, traveling, volunteering, training in the arts, mentoring children, acting in regional theater, finishing college degrees, etc. They are not looking for a cheap lunch with sensory-impaired old people who are the majority of the senior center’s daily participants.
In fact, only 30 to 40 people consistently attend the senior center in East Hampton on a daily basis. I have known these same people for well over two decades. There are the occasional drop-ins.
The existing center is a disgrace by any stretch of the imagination. It’s amazing what the dedicated staff are able to pull off daily with so few resources and too many political interferences. The building has not been properly maintained over the last 10-plus years by Diane Patrizio, its director, or Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. If they can’t maintain a small building, how do they expect to manage and keep up with maintenance in and around a 22,000-square-foot megastructure? Where will they get the additional low-wage employees to do the menial work, no less the competitively higher-wage licensed professional staff that the Administration on Aging (federal) and the Office for the Aging (state) require?
I was a member of the first of three (!) advisory panels that Kathee convened over the years. It comprised very experienced and distinguished town professionals, including a former town supervisor. Of the three panels I was the only professional in the field of aging. It has been my profession and passion for over 50 years. I gave Kathee a plethora of material to educate her. At the end of our panel, Kathee took the road of least resistance. She did not then nor has she since educated herself on the needs of an aging community or the Administration on Aging’s mandate for state-authorized senior centers.
Over a decade later and two more advisory panels, Kathee hired a firm with absolutely no experience in designing any kind of building for aged men and women: R2Architecture. The design that Kathee is pushing hard to get through is clear evidence of R2’s ignorance in the field of geriatrics. Please go to their website, R2Architecture.com, to see the list of their clients’ businesses: “Casinos, Hotels, Corporate Headquarters, Sportsbooks, Performing Arts, Salons & Spas, and Sports/Entertainment.” You will see that they only design megastructures with private corporate funding. Their health care projects are enormous acute-care hospitals. No nursing homes. No age-related work at all. Moreover, they urge us to “Think Big. We Do.”
“Think Big. We Do” is very telling for their proposed project in East Hampton. It is a very bold statement on R2Architecture’s website advising potential clients that big, expensive, privately funded projects are all that they work on. Look it up! They have no experience designing publicly funded buildings or buildings for aging, sensory-impaired men and women. Their portfolio explains why their rendering for a building hidden away in the woods of Amagansett looks like a Las Vegas casino inside. Maybe the Montaukett or Shinnecock Indian Nations will buy the plans from the town board. At least we would recoup some of the money already wasted.
Moreover, if you’ve looked at the new site plan for the new center, you will notice that most existing center users will not be able to walk from their cars in a distant parking lot to the front door of the proposed center. Many participants are still independent drivers. Their average age is in the vicinity of 84 years. This design feature is a glaring oversight and there are so many others. So, add golf carts and even more staff to the ongoing cost of upkeep. Not to mention the astronomical annual costs charged in the Hamptons for seasonal landscape maintenance, which has never been a cost at the existing location.
Consider, too, the new senior center’s town-selected location. No one will see the center from Abraham’s Path. It will sit adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road tracks and Stony Hill Stables, where the smell of horse excrement is nauseating in warmer months. Moreover, the so-called “windmill design” that the architects tout as a “feature” can only be viewed from the sky. So hop into your private helicopter, take a good look at the roof if it ever gets built, sigh, and wonder where common sense exits in our town board. After you drive into the woods, look at the new building, and realize that at eye level the new center looks like an average, old-fashioned nursing home; nothing architecturally artful.
Len Bernard’s recent letter to the editor made a good point. He compared the development of publicly funded buildings to privately funded megamansion homes that now litter our once-charming rural towns. The problem with the comparison is that it compares apples and grapefruits. There is no comparison. Remember, the original budget for a new senior center was $8 million. Who authorized it to balloon by $24 million? Whoever was so horribly indecisive over the years should be held financially responsible for creating a decade-long delay in the development and inflationary costs. The only way to do that is to convert the expenditure from publicly funded (tax dollars) to privately funded. After all, the almost-completed Southampton Hospital’s new emergency medical center on Pantigo Road was all privately funded, as was the original health care center. This project was started well after the senior center. If the Democratic Party had started to raise funds for this project multiple boards ago, it would have been funded by now and it would have had an independent, professional board of directors overseeing the project, not inexperienced, unknowledgeable politicians. Moreover, it would have been held to account for zoning, architectural, building, and environmental regulations as any building project would be mandated to do.
Now that everything is suddenly in a big rush to activate the current plan, there is what smells like a very costly cover-up. To that end, the town board has rejected reviews by experienced, specialized boards in favor of giving the final decision to all new board members ill prepared or educated to make the decisions. This whole project has been a very costly debacle. They even want to invoke an archaic process called the Monroe balancing test. Is the board above the laws the rest of us must abide by? That should shout “cover-up” to anyone paying attention.
It is our right to vote in a democracy on these massive, financially burdensome public projects. In fact, given the size of the proposed building, it should house both a medical and social model of day care for persons with cognitive impairments and the frail elderly, the two population groups that are grossly underserved in our town. I vote for that! The new building incorporates none of these areas.
In fact, this whole debacle smells of kickbacks and malfeasance. What we need is cooperation from Suffolk County’s Attorney General and the New York State Attorney General’s Office to keep an eye on this board.
Finally, I have to congratulate the new board member Ian Calder-Piedmonte for abstaining from the board vote on this project since he was appointed, not elected, and is ignorant of its dark history.
NANCY R. PEPPARD
Rare Media Treasure
January 18, 2024
Iowa just proved itself to be better named the State of Denial. Outrageous falsehoods have become the coin of the realm there, and now the MAGA Circus heads to New Hampshire. Political lies abound, and flourish in most media.
National media is once again granting near-unlimited coverage of this internecine dogfight between MAGA hopefuls. It saturates print, the airwaves, and the internet.
This overexposure gives an assumption of credibility to the liars and fools that are hell-bent on destroying our democracy. Ideology has replaced fact.
Meanwhile, here in our own cherished historic community, collectively known as “the Hamptons,” we still have access to quality news, thanks to the long-surviving East Hampton Star.
We get to read about a wide variety of real things, of real interest and concern to us all. Political, commercial, social, artistic, environmental, medical, and academic issues are some of the topics that are reported upon with a fair and honest respect for the facts, and a balance of opinion. We are blessed to have this rare media treasure, in a world where media is being deliberately corrupted by economic treachery.
Unfortunately, most other honest and independent news sources have been decimated by economic stress or failure, and ultimately consumed through cunning mergers and acquisitions. Corporate consolidation of the power of the press allows it to have been remodeled by far less ethical and locally relevant interests.
Powerful media organizations are more focused on their politics and profits, and offer themselves available to cash-rich narrow political purposes.
Fake news is effective and typically scurrilous and shocking, and easily grabs attention. It is basic advertising strategy to say something shocking so often that eventually it will be believed. Ambitious, unprincipled political hacks get easy media access equivalent to free advertising that bores itself into the minds of the gullible public.
This runaway abuse of public media enabled the original wannabe MAGA dictator to gain the presidency. Will we citizen voters be so blind, gullible, ignorant, corrupt, venal, and venial (take your choice) to let this happen again? The second time around, if allowed, will successfully destroy our democracy.
We pray not! And thank you for The Star. Please keep the lights on.
Move the Buildings
January 20, 2024
We are living in an age of climate change, which brings with it sea level rise and more severe storms. Years ago, the Montauk ocean dune was damaged by the construction of motels which were too close to the ocean. Every year, storms come by and erode the beach. Millions of dollars have already been spent to try to remedy this — every time a storm washes away the beach, more sandbags and more tons of sand are placed on the beach. And, of course, they are washed away by subsequent storms.
Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Even more so when millions of dollars are involved each time. It’s past time to restore sanity and move the buildings back out of the way.
JUDITH S. WEIS
Left It Vulnerable
January 22, 2024
Ditch Plain Beach, one of the East Coast’s most iconic destinations and a key engine of economic activity in Montauk, has been severely compromised by the spate of recent storms and urgent action is required. The last three storms have left it vulnerable and both immediate recovery measures and building its longer-term resilience are necessary. A set of six implementable actions for Ditch have already been outlined in the Coastal Assessment Resiliency Plan adopted by East Hampton town in 2022 including beach nourishment, bluff stabilization, code changes and infrastructure adaptation.
We are calling on our local, county and state elected officials to take action now. Governor Kathy Hochul’s support for emergency coastal rehabilitation assistance is encouraging and we have advocated for this to include support for Ditch Plain. In addition, the Army Corps of Engineer’s projects to the east and west of Ditch, the recently completed work at Montauk Lighthouse, and the pumping of 450,000 cubic yards of sand on the downtown beaches, provides the opportunity for Ditch to be considered as a “betterment project,” as they did recently for the 17 properties east of Montauk downtown. And East Hampton town, which we applaud for its lobbying efforts with the Army Corps and various legislators, can explore mobilizing separately to replenish the beach, as it has done in the past for Ditch and other the town beaches.
Our partners in government must urgently look at all options to get more sand on our beaches than presently planned through the Army Corps Project, and that sand must include areas not covered by the project, like Ditch.
Concerned Citizens of Montauk has been advocating for the Fire Island to Montauk Point beach sand replenishment project since 2013 and appreciates East Hampton town for their tireless commitment to ensuring the timely realization of this project for downtown Montauk. Though we recognize that sand nourishment is not a permanent fix, it will buy us the precious time we need to do the hard work required for implementation of the comprehensive coastal resiliency planning for Montauk as outlined in the town’s coastal plan. Those measures include zoning code changes, infrastructure adaptation, beach nourishment, public education and funding. As an example, the recent $600,000 state grant awarded to East Hampton town for sustainable coastal community planning in Montauk is a major win made possible by CARP, and C.C.O.M. plans to continue our partnership with East Hampton and other community groups to advance this work.
C.C.O.M. urges all parties and our community to work together to better understand our coastal environment and the choices required to ensure we jointly build a more resilient community for generations to come. C.C.O.M. is always dedicated to informing our community and recommending productive and impactful ways to protect our fragile environment.
Gunshots and Birds
January 17, 2024
To the Editor,
In the past couple of weekends, I have been awakened by multiple gunshots and I am reminded that bird-hunting season is underway. Per the Cornell Ornithology Lab, three billion breeding adults have been lost in the last 50 years. That is 30 percent of the bird population. Why are we hunting birds? And why are we doing it in an area that is no longer rural?
Too Many Humans
January 20, 2024
To the Editor,
How to save our planet: Depopulate. Depopulate, depopulate. Respect, respect, respect.
We are the dominant species here on Earth. We put ourselves on a pedestal above the rest. Maybe we’re not as smart as we think. We take for granted that science and technology have been handed down through the generations and have grown intensely in the past 500 years, giving us total reign over this planet.
But imagine if you were the last group of humans on Earth being dropped in the middle of a jungle stripped of all knowledge and possessions. Suddenly you’re on even terms with Mother Nature and the animal kingdom, as we were 10,000 years ago. I wonder how long you would survive? And if you did, how long would it take to learn how to speak again, write again, or build a rocket that escapes Earth’s gravity and journeys on to other planets? Science and technology are the difference between us and the animal kingdom. We are all biological units connected to the same tree of life, whether it be the eagle’s eye, the bloodhound’s nose, or the frontal lobe of a human. We have traced our origin of species all the way back to a bacterium, 3.8 billion years ago.
To save the world we must change our way of thinking. If I were president I would start a Respect the Earth campaign. Common sense is all that is needed. Although no politician or religion has ever considered it,
First and foremost, we must decrease our population. In 1800 we hit our first billion, which would be fine and dandy, but since then due to the Industrial Revolution it has run amok like the plague to a staggering eight billion with no end in sight! It’s what’s known in scientific terms as overpopulation of a species, causing an imbalance of nature. If we could get this one thing under control we could single-handedly save the planet!
The next thing to consider is to teach our children to respect nature right down to the ground they walk on. We should teach children that killing for fun is sinful. If you teach them hunting or fishing skills, do not glorify your kill, instead respect the animal, say a prayer for the prey we must eat, and don’t waste any of your bounty. Teaching children to pick up after themselves is next to godliness; littering is disrespectful to all who encounter it. If we teach them to respect the Earth they will not throw their candy wrappers on the ground and when they grow up they’ll understand the importance of zero tolerance for littering.
We can still use technology to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. That’s all good, too, but that alone won’t solve the problem. The real problem is there are just too many people on Earth, and if we don’t fix it we may soon have a sixth world extinction on our hands. It would be the first one caused by a single species, us, yes, us, we the smart ones are too dumb to realize what we’re doing!
Here’s a list of some benefits we might enjoy if we could cut our population in half.
Hunger and starvation would all but disappear as there would be an abundance of food for everyone. There would be no need to cut down more rain forest as we would already have an overabundance of farms. We can begin to take down fences and allow nature’s creatures to be free once again. Houses would be easier to obtain as there would be an abundance of them, as well, there would be no need to cut trees for lumber, no new developments would have to be put in, saving even more forests, and we could start a reforestation program to replenish what we have taken, giving it back to the animals and wildlife that we took it from, not only for them but also for us, because that’s the balance of nature, the pinnacle of perfection. Giving more life-giving oxygen back to the atmosphere. There would be less likelihood of wars, as there would be an abundance of land, food, and water. Pollution would be a thing of the past,
There would be less need for manufacturing such things as cars, boats, washing machines, refrigerators, air-conditioners, skateboards, bicycles . . . the list goes on and on. We could cut our carbon footprint in half just by cutting our population in half.
All we have to do is stop having so many babies. We could set a standard. One child per couple would be a good rule of thumb. Those not wanting children would be a bonus, same-sex marriages would be another bonus. After about 100 years or so we would reach our goal of cutting our population in half, at which point we would reap the bountiful benefits of a clean and balanced earth.
If we don’t figure something out soon, the consequences will be dire. Global warming will get worse, wars will continue, famine and starvation will be the norm, deforestation and all types of pollution would continue. It’s so ironic. We would be responsible not only for our own demise, but the extinction of all life on Earth. So, Mr. President, and possibly Greta Thunberg, if you’re listening, please teach the children around the world to depopulate and respect the ground they walk on.
January 20, 2024
To the Editor:
Brian Lester is, by town board meeting agenda, the “special prosecutor” again under Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and the yearly continued resolution. Did the town actually file any declarations that he may be involved with yet from the town resolution passed in September? What interesting areas to be looking over. Engineer, appraisers. Does it matter? Not in Mayberry, I mean the town of East Hampton.
January 22, 2024
To the Editor:
On Friday, Jan. 19, the S&P Index and the Dow Jones reached new heights. It may be surprising to some that a career politician like President Biden could lead such a surge.
It is true that markets did well under Trump and Obama. There is a difference, though. Both Obama and Biden took the helm during crises and needed to get the country back on its feet.
Perhaps, regarding markets, it doesn’t make any difference who the president is.
But it does make a difference in a crisis.
Too Long Overdue
January 19, 2024
To the Editor,
What a national disgrace that the U.S. Department of Justice (INjustice?) took more than 600 days (May 22, 2022, to January 18, 2024) to produce a 600-page (only one page per day?!) report on the failures of almost 400 law-enforcement so-called “first responders” who responded only in their physical presence, but not in necessary lifesaving action, to save any of the 19 fourth-grade children’s (or their two teachers’) lives inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, way back on May 22.
This too-long-overdue (600 days) 600-page report ironically faults police officers for acting with “no urgency” while waiting too long (77 minutes) to finally confront and kill the mass-murderer gunman. Where’s the “urgency” in waiting 600 days, D.O.J.?!
January 21, 2024
Over the last few months, a disturbing pattern of bullying, rhetorical abuse, racial and ethnic slurring, and bullying has developed and continues to play itself out by the group East End Jews for Israel toward those who disagree with their views.
As reported in The Star (Nov. 16, 2023, “Long Wharf Becomes Wartime Flashpoint”), protesters for several weeks from East End for Ceasefire had gathered at Long Wharf in Sag Harbor calling for an end to the hostilities in Gaza. They were met by organizers and others of a counter-protest group called East End Jews, co-founded by David Saxe and Mitchell Agoos. The article mentions that the ceasefire group was disrupted by a few people with Israeli flags standing one foot away screaming “murderers” in their faces and following them up and down the street. As they attempted to recite the names of the Palestinians children killed by Israel bombs, one of the ceasefire groups came over and told them they were “idiots.”
Other sharp words were exchanged, with one of the counter-protesters slurring a ceasefire activist and calling him a “ghetto Jew.”
“You’re sounding like an antisemite,” responded the pro-ceasefire man.
Agoos, one of the organizers of the counter-protest, is quoted in the article as saying that the ceasefire group has a “warped view of the issue. . . . We don’t feel they properly present the issues that need to be presented.” He has further stated in The Star that Israel must destroy Hamas. “Israel has no choice but to carry out its plan to destroy Hamas. There’s just two ways of looking at it. Actually, for me, there’s only one way. These animals and barbarians have to be finished off. It’s a Hamas thing.”
In a Nov. 17 letter to The Star by Jonathan Wallace, we learn that not only were Saxe and Agoos aware of the Sag Harbor rally — they planned it.
Wallace identified East End Jews as the counter-group that bullied him and the pro-ceasefire group.
In a Nov. 20 letter to The Star signed by Larry Zimmerman, no mention is made of East End Jews for Israel but he does offer thanks to Mayor Jerry Larsen and Police Chief Jeff Erickson for their help and cooperation in making the Nov. 5 Rally in the Park for Israel and For Peace possible. “Were it not for these people, my partner, Mitch Agoos, and I could never have pulled it off.”
Agoos definitely and possibly Saxe and Zimmerman were part of the bullying group in Sag Harbor and definitely Agoos and Zimmerman, by his admission, were organizers of the Herrick Park pro-Israel rally. Saxe, as a co-founder, presumably was another organizer of the Herrick Park rally. It’s a fair assumption to make that all three were involved in organizing both events.
Clergy, local politicians, the police, and the people who attended the Herrick Park rally went to a rally organized by people who acted like bullies and who used hate-filled slurs and speech toward fellow Jews in the previous week’s Sag Harbor ceasefire rally.
Would this sort of speech, racial and ethnic slurring, and intimidation be tolerated if any other group — Muslims, gays, feminists, trans, Christians, Latinos, African Americans, Palestinians, Israelis, whoever, etc. — were directing it at Jews, or any other group for that matter?
Of course not — it’s unacceptable and cannot be condoned.
Are Agoos, Saxe, and Zimmerman now willing to condemn their actions at the Sag Harbor rally? They, at the very least, owe Wallace, the ceasefire activist, an apology for their words and behavior toward him. They owe us all an apology for their deception, hypocrisy and attempts to squelch out our free speech rights. Until they do, they’ve lost any high moral ground they would like to claim.
And what of the clergy and local politicians who attended and spoke at the Herrick Park rally? Even assuming it was for a good cause (it was) and assuming [those[ who spoke and attended didn’t know the Sag Harbor connection by the organizers (a fair assumption), should they have done their homework and been more aware of who and what they were participating in and lending their support and names to?
Would they still have participated if they were fully aware of the organizers’ previous actions and hate-filled speech?
Are they willing to now say that?
Are they willing to give us the assurance that they’ll do their homework so it won’t happen again?
As far as Saxe and Agoos are concerned, they remain clueless as to how they hurt the cause of democracy and free speech — two of the pillars of our country that has enabled Jews (including Saxe and Agoos) and others to prosper and flourish.
Free speech for them seems to mean free speech only for them, their thoughts and beliefs.
Saxe and Agoos continue with their simplistic, failed revenge rhetoric in response to The Star’s Jan. 11 “Guestwords” column, “Bad Chemistry” by Jeff Gewert.
They are “simply bedazzled by the offering of pablum” in the Gewert column, “take the opportunity to disabuse the [Star’s] readership of some of the more flaccid assertions put forward by the writer,” and muse over what “funny stuff” Gewert is smoking as he offers his ideas.
This sort of tedious, childish rhetoric has become a pattern for the two and is a dismissive tool used, as it often is, by people who have little of substance or counterarguments to offer.
Gewert’s article is the opposite in tone and substance, nuance, and moral complexity to Saxe and Agoos’s Jan. 18 response in The Star.
As a non-Jew, Gewert grapples with a relativity new Jewish friend to understand and discuss the Jewish perspective at a time of such volatility.
As Gewert recalls: “We proceeded to share our views. She talked about the Jewish perspective as she saw it and I shared what I learned from my research. We had somewhat opposing views, yet through respect, tolerance, and open minds, we both came away with more insight on the subject. . . . Why can’t the warring parties and their supporters find the wisdom, strength, and courage to do the same?”
“Why can’t we?” is the $64,000 question for Saxe and Agoos. A response from them would be greatly welcomed.
The country is rife with enough incivility and crudeness by many toward their fellow citizens and human beings. East Hampton should not be one of those places where it’s condoned in public forums — the great majority of us who live and work here would agree, I’m sure. Whatever ails democracy can be made better by more democracy and allowing for the free speech that fosters and protects it.
Kudos to The Star for printing the stories and letters and offering a forum where the truth can come out and flourish. That’s exactly what an independent press should be all about.
Show some leadership, gentlemen.
Stop the bullying! There’s no monolithic American Jewish or Israeli opinion over any issue — including the tragic war in Gaza.
Let’s have a full-blown, civil discussion of different views on the war that truly respects the free speech rights of us all.
How about another take in Herrick Park?
This time around, how about calling the gathering “A Rally in the Park for Israelis and Palestinians — A Peace for All Humanity?”
For free speech and democracy in East Hampton (borrowing Jonathan Wallace’s excellent phrase).
January 22, 2024
The expression that culture is like jam, the less you have the more you spread it. Or ignorance can be bliss. Or a little knowledge goes nowhere. Or not knowing what you don’t know leads to chaos.
So, Bill Maher had on Gavin Newsom, who left him left him deflated and awed by the breadth of his understanding of California.
So, when his guests Ari Melber and Andrew Sullivan got into a discussion of affirmative action, Maher disappeared from the scene. His one misguided comment about the derivation of “woke” was accepted as snarky criticism. Even though he had no idea that “woke” is more than 140 years old and was used in the Black community as a signal to be aware that “whitey” was coming and to be careful.
Then the issue of affirmative action arose, and Melber made a statistical case for the slow pace of women and minorities advancing to the highest levels in the business world. He never said that A.A. was the answer to the problem of discrimination that has existed since 1789 on both institutional and personnel levels. He simply explained how progress is often illusory.
Sullivan made the case that discriminating against white people by moving away from the standards of competition and ability based hiring was unfair and not democratic. Which makes the assumption that fair competition and ability were ingrained in our system. And that discrimination by color, race, gender etc. is against the law.
The constitutional legal argument is phantasmagorical. If it were true we wouldn’t have needed all the civil rights legislation and the problem wouldn’t exist.
His second point is that we need to live in the present. Progress has been substantial and the system is working. He isn’t denying history just saying “forget it”. A strange idea from a gay man who witnessed 550 new anti-LGBTQ laws introduced in 2023 and 80 of them enacted. (More than 240 similar laws in the first three weeks of 2024 have been introduced.)
In 1961 John F. Kennedy introduced an affirmative action law demanding that colleges and universities include color and race in their student acceptance criteria. Then in 1965 Lyndon Johnson included government contract jobs in the A.A. protocol (approximately 10 percent of the U.S. budget or about 3 percent of GDP).
Denial of history is culpability. If discrimination is systemic and the governors of the system deny that reality than the problem is unresolvable. That the government who exists to uphold the constitution has to write a bill obligating itself to enforce the laws as written in the constitution is clearly absurd.
Racism is analogous to feeding a child and giving it one additional food every year so by the time the child is ten its diet includes protein along with starch and sugar. We are doing our best.
Reality really sucks. AA helped some students and businesses. It changed the culture a little. It had absolutely no affect on white students and white owned businesses vying for government contracts. It was a miniscule idea to solve an enormous problem. Yet it was too much.
E Pluribus Unum’s real interpretation is “throw the dog a bone” or “never give a sucker an even break.” We do love W.C. Fields?