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Letters to the Editor for Feb. 22, 2024

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 16:03

The Brass Ring
February 18, 2024

My Dear East Hampton,

I moved here in 1989 at 48 years old and thought that I had been given the brass ring on a carousel. I was ecstatic that I could live somewhere and actually make a difference, so I spent 22 years as a member of the Springs Fire Department, seven years as a board member of the Artists Alliance of East Hampton, two years on the board of the Springs Improvement Society, nine years as the president of the board of the East End Special Players, and served for another two years on the arts and culture subcommittee for the comprehensive plan.

Every day I would drive to Main Beach or Amagansett to breathe in the ocean air and know how lucky I was to live in this beautiful town, so close to the ocean and bay.

Now, it is 34 years later, and I still feel the same. I still drive to Main Beach every day, go to John Papas for breakfast. But it is bittersweet because I must leave the town that has nourished and nurtured me in the most significant of ways, for I cannot find an affordable place to live.

I have applied for every affordable housing project in the town and have been told there is a six-to-eight-year wait. At 82 years old I don’t know if I have that long. I received a call from the assistant director of affordable housing who informed me that this town doesn’t have a program that would help me to find affordable housing and that if I have relatives somewhere that I should leave East Hampton.

Regretfully, I have decided to take her advice.

I can but hope that one day East Hampton Town will so appreciate folks who truly make a difference, and one day be able to accommodate them as the treasures that they are.



Everything I Had
East Hampton
February 19, 2024

To the Editor, 

On Friday, Feb. 9, I was heartlessly dismissed by the East Hampton Village ambulance department in a 15-minute meeting with the chief. At this meeting, there was no option for an appeal granted, and no option for a disciplinary suspicion in lieu of dismissal. I was completely blindsided by this meeting. My understanding is that I was dismissed due to my attempt at helping my friends fund-raise for their legal appeal over control of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association. Upon reflection, this may not have been at my best discretion, but I am a person who goes to great lengths to help those in my life that I care greatly for. These friends I reference are people who I have been friends with since I was 5 or 6 years old, They’re people who have stood by me in the toughest times. I feel that due to these simple facts, my slip is understandable.

For 20 years, I was a member of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association. For 20 years I made sacrifices in my life in order to serve my community. I’ve been to many of your readers’ houses in their time of need — maybe even your house — and I’ve offered comfort. For 20 years, I gave everything I had to the volunteer ambulance corps. I cooked meals for meetings, I laughed with my squad members, I went to work many times after staying up all night. 

I’ve run calls for the East Hampton Village ambulance for longer than some members have been alive. At the time I was suddenly dismissed, I was and had been for four years one of the top-responding members of the corps. I was running two night squads each week and often extended my squad hours voluntarily. Yet I was thrown to the curb and treated with such little respect. I am deeply hurt.

There are few things that have brought me the same level of joy as having had the privilege to serve my community for the past 20 years, and having done so with my friends at my side.




An Open Eyesore
February 13, 2024

Dear Editor,

When we came to Meeting House Lane about 40 years ago, it was a street of smaller houses, neighbors’ dogs visiting (there were few fences in those days), and the driveways were simple gravel, most with a grass strip in the middle.

Times have changed, and so has the street. The houses are bigger, usually fenced in behind gates for privacy — but also for protection from the ever-increasing deer population.

We live in a front house, and have shared a driveway with the two flag lots behind us for many years. Along the driveway were a cluster of beautiful old trees, some maple, some cherry, very tall and healthy, beautiful in spring blossoms, and gorgeous with the yellow foliage in the fall. They were at least 50 years old. Wild grass and flowers on the ground, and home for many birds and squirrels.

About five years ago, one of the flag lots changed owners, and they wanted their own driveway, but instead we agreed to widen the existing driveway to a double width from the street, and about 50 feet down, their own private driveway veered off, which they made pretty with grass clusters and shrubs.

The trees stayed on their about-15-foot-wide strip, by mutual consent, even though it was a legal right of way to the back property, which was set when the small lot was subdivided back in the 1960s.

Then, two weeks ago, the chain saws and a cherry picker arrived, early one morning. The house had recently been sold again, and the new owners had decided to get rid of the trees, I was told by the project manager, and build their own 120-foot-wide driveway, right next to the existing, double-width one.

I was told no permits were needed, they had a legal right to do so. May I add that these new owners had apparently not attempted to contact any of us neighbors who shared the driveway?

I called everyone I could think of. The town office, Highway Department, and Ordinance Department — who sent an agent who issued a stop-work order for 24 hours — Zoning Department, and finally a lawyer who confirmed that the owners had a legal right of access from the street by their own private 15-foot-wide strip of land — even though they could already access it from the existing double driveway.

Everyone I talked to agreed, though, that it seemed pretty ridiculous and totally superfluous.

So now we will soon have a triple-width driveway from the street. I had thought the town did not approve of this? It will be an open eyesore on our beautiful lane.

But what upsets me the most is the unexpected forever loss of the beautiful large trees, without any notification or forewarning. What happened to common courtesy?

And I think the birds and the squirrels will miss them, too.



Thanks to Fred
February 15, 2024

Dear David,

I am heartsick that our wonderful Assemblyman Fred Thiele is retiring from public service. I am also grateful to him for being such a wonderful exemplar of that rarest of birds — a true public servant. He has been an ally in protecting our precious environment that I have counted on. An editorial in these pages pointed to the Community Preservation Fund, but he has done so much more.

Thanks to Fred, Long Islanders may very well get more community control over our electric utility, LIPA. Fred has been the driving force behind setting the conditions to transition LIPA to a fully public utility, allowing LIPA to operate the grid itself under local control. This means LIPA will save between $50 and $80 million each year by no longer paying the middleman, PSEG-LI — money which could be used to ‘lower rates or mitigate future rate increases, upgrade grid infrastructure, invest in climate-friendly green initiatives, or support struggling residents and businesses,” according to a report on the plan.

Some other laws Fred has strongly supported: the Birds and Bees Protection Act (enacted) that will save pollinators, pets, and people from toxic and unnecessary neonicotinoid pesticides and the All Electric New Buildings Act (enacted) that will ensure that new construction will be safer and less polluting for children, families, and our environment.

The current bills he is supporting include the New York Home Energy Affordable Transition Act that will ensure that electric bills don’t exceed 6 percent of income. It will also ensure that ratepayers will no longer subsidize the building out of new, polluting, leaking gas infrastructure that will become obsolete as we make the necessary transition to energy that can save the future for our children.

If you care as much about our community as Fred does, please tell the governor and the leaders of the Senate and the Assembly to pass the bills he is currently sponsoring, including the N.Y. HEAT Act; the Climate Change Superfund Act (it makes polluters, not taxpayers, pay to repair the damages they are causing to our communities), and his bill A03384 to exempt innovative and alternative septic systems from sales and use taxes so homeowners can more easily afford to stop polluting our bays and ocean with human waste.

Fred has made such a difference to the East End, bringing real change that our community experiences every day. Let’s hope we will find another like him who can fill his shoes.



A Bit Sloppy
February 15, 2024

To the Editor,

The article on the Beckman Building in Montauk was clear enough, but I raised eyebrows over the phrase “painting herself the victim” that the reporter Christopher Gangemi chose to include referring to Dr. Molly Miosek. I didn’t know opinions of reporters belonged on the news pages.

Not sure how that phrase slipped past the copy editor but I winced.

Do we describe petitioners for outsize residences out here with similar phrases? Not really that I have seen.

Just a bit sloppy, guys, and insulting to this professional woman.

In disappointment,



Health of the Community
East Hampton
February 16, 2024


I am writing in support of the proposed senior center to be constructed on Abraham’s Path. I will state first that I am not qualified to comment on design or on cost, nor on questions coming from the planning board as to lead agency status. What I do see from reports on the proposed senior center is an attack motivated not just by the usual politics and concerns about design or cost, but an attack on the town board in its desire to address a legitimate problem.

There is need for a new senior center. As clergy in East Hampton Town for 42 years, I have known many men and women who have been served by the center and by supporting staff with social services. I know the building itself is limited in space — indeed cramped — and in need of replacement and expansion.

The center benefits not only those who use its services immediately but their extended families. The center is a benefit to the whole of our community. An investment in a new center contributes to the social health of the community. It is a wise investment and deserves our support.


Pastor Emeritus

Amagansett Presbyterian Church


Godsend to Parents
East Hampton
February 17, 2024

Dear David,

I read last week’s front-page article where residents came out against the proposed Project Most building, at the old Neighborhood House location on Three Mile Harbor Road. The article quoted a neighboring resident, “[I]t could add to noise, bring down property values, prevent people from enjoying their properties.” Kevin Scott, a nearby resident, called the redevelopment plan “racist and a land grab, with needs that were fabricated to serve an end of appropriation.” The Neighborhood House has been a children’s day care nursery, a local events space, and has hosted many kids programs over the years. We voted here, too! Will the sound of children playing be that intrusive? Project Most is a godsend to local working parents and has been for many years.

Imagine living next to an operating behemoth of a commercial sand mine business in a residentially zoned neighborhood. That is what we have been fighting for years, to save our sole source aquifer. Now let me get into the area known as Freetown. Our neighborhood group, created in 2008, is called Freetown Neighborhood Advisory Committee. We live around the corner from the Neighborhood House. We did research and even thought, maybe from an archaeological historical point, we could stop the mine from digging and possibly polluting the drinking water. Suppose there were relics or even bones of the displaced Montauketts and freed slaves who lived here in this neighborhood, once? We were told, no, this land is grandfathered in, pre-existing, nonconforming, and that’s that.

Why call this project “racist”? Project Most caters to diversity. The kids are from all walks of local life, playing, studying, interacting together every day after school and in summer. The article quoted, “the only way to expand is to destroy our peaceful use of our homes.”

I wish your group had the same enthusiasm for fighting the sand mine expansion. We welcome new members. I understand your passion about the Indigenous peoples. I studied under a well-known Long Island anthropologist; her expertise was on the Montauketts. I don’t think this is what will help your case, if you have one. Not if the drinking water and Freetown history isn’t important enough to stop the sand mine expansion.

This is a town and neighborhood filled with children. Where should they go? Some letter complainers don’t even want them in the village at Herrick Park sports fields. They can’t skateboard in the village, so the town built a roller hockey rink and youth park, which has been successful for years. No one loves quiet as much as me, but I also love living in a community that provides for its children. They are the future, after all.

Thank you,



Hedges at Hedges
February 15, 2024

Dear Letters,

As East Hampton Village and Mayor Jerry struggle to find a solution to the Hedges Inn issue and the crashing cars entering its precious yard, here’s a “green” solution which might simply remedy the problem:

Hedges in front of Hedges.

Planting hedges and other beautiful plant life, and an artistic wood-carved, “Welcome to East Hampton Village” sign in the green, to the right of the pond and in front of the Hedges Inn, would be a wonderful sight for those passing the infamous curve and stopping those errant cars from going through. Perhaps adding a serenity-type garden, throw in a few koi fish, and what a beautiful addition to the village aesthetics.

Certainly, local artists, and possibly local nurseries, will lovingly contribute their creative ideas, and products, to make the green area a breathtaking sight to behold.

Thank you,



Polluted and Corrupted
East Hampton
February 18, 2024

To the Editor,

Elaine Jones’s letter last week is full of the usual misinformation we have come to expect from her newfound left-wing pals. She advises me to do a better job of fact checking, but it’s Elaine who needs such advice. If she had read my letter more carefully, she would see that I claimed that none of the Antifa and Black Lives Matter punks and thugs who rioted outside the White House for three days in August of 2020 had even been arrested. They injured dozens of Secret Service agents and police officers, overturned cars, and even set fire to the historic St. John’s Church in the process. I said nothing about the rioters from the rest of the country.

Elaine, if your contention that 14,000 people were arrested around the country is correct, it’s a very disheartening commentary on the state of our judicial system. There were thousands of riots in hundreds of American cities and towns in 2020. Thousands of police officers were injured and some murdered. Whole city blocks were torched, looted, and destroyed. Government buildings and whole sections of major cities were taken over by mobs. Drugs and mindless violence were the order of the day. It looked like Rome after the Visigoths had dropped by.

So if only 14,000 miscreants were arrested amid all this chaos, it’s a sign of how thoroughly the hundreds of Soros-funded attorneys general, district attorneys, and judges have polluted and corrupted our courts and law enforcement policies. By the way, Elaine, did your fact checking go so far as to determine how many of those 14,000 were prosecuted and imprisoned? Or were they arrested for the headline value, then released, as is now so common?

Elaine, I have some facts you really do need to check. I have lots of video and reports on what really happened on Jan. 6, 2021, and more coming to light every day thanks to Speaker Mike Johnson. I would be glad to share them with you at a time and place that suits your convenience.




Threat From Within
East Hampton
February 12, 2024

Dear David,

I find it appalling that in recent letters both the former chairman of the East Hampton Republican Committee and a former Republican candidate for town council have joined the throng of delusional Republicans who would whitewash the purpose and source of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, urging us to “go to the videotape.” Those of us who watched the reality of that day unfold are not deceived — it was the last gasp of a dying Trump presidency desperate to cling to power.

But these writers live in another reality that even Mr. Trump’s own lawyer disputes. This lawyer recently labeled January 6 as a “riot” that was both “shameful” and “criminal,” but dodged laying blame on Mr. Trump only by regurgitating the bogus claim that presidents should be entirely immune from criminal liability. Even more telling, the lead lawyers behind the fraudulent efforts to overturn the 2020 election each have either pleaded guilty to this scheme or have faced professional discipline. But the delusional are not deterred.

My father fought in World War II and my grandfather fought in World War I, both in the effort to save Europe (and perhaps more) from autocratic fascists. Yet our nation now faces an acute threat from within, with one of the major political parties refusing to accept election defeats. Coupled with this is the rise within the ranks of that party of the acceptance of authoritarian rule, not only abroad in its embrace of Mr. Putin (and other dictators) but here at home in its embrace of the admittedly fascist stance of Mr. Trump, who would suspend the United States Constitution so that he might impose his will on its citizenry. It is also apparent that a second Trump administration would abandon the NATO alliance that operates to guarantee the security that U.S. forces fought for in Europe, as well as our security here at home.

It is shameful that the delusional ranks of the Republican Party would spit on the graves of those who fought and died to preserve the ideal of democracy, and who have no compunction in turning their backs on our constitutional democracy. Not only is this shameful, but it also should not be forgiven by voters.




American Fascism
East Hampton
February 16, 2024


Alexei Navalny was murdered in a Russian prison this morning. He was the leading opposition to the Putin government, calling out corruption and criminality. Putin locked him away and finally killed him.

In a strange, unhinged response to the news, Fox at 8 a.m. pondered the state of Joe Biden. Was he awake yet? What would he say? What was he waiting for? They acknowledged Putin’s role in killing Navalny but avoided any commentary on the love and support Putin has received from many Republicans. Republicans remined silent on the killing, waiting for direction from Trump.

Fascism in America is about the power relationship between the strong and the weak. It’s about adulation for dictators like Putin and Xi and disrespect for any and everyone who is weaker, poorer, darker, and unable to defend themselves.

So. Certain politicians will give billions to Israel, who doesn’t need the aid, and nothing to Ukraine, who is desperate for it. Almost silent on the Israeli destruction of Gaza because Palestinians don’t count. Hard line against Ukraine’s funds because they admire and adore Putin. See Tuberville, Trump, and Johnson.

What saves the world from fascism is the blind spot of self-indulgence to the point of inebriation of the fascist mentality. This drunken obsession with themselves leaves them exposed and vulnerable to actions which are not in their best interest.

In the Russia–Ukraine struggle the threat to Eastern European nations and to NATO is a major threat to the United States. Furthermore, we violate treaties and alliances that have guaranteed our safety for 75 years and will create a level of mistrust and eventual disconnect with our allies. In 1994 we entered into a nonproliferation treaty with Ukraine which guaranteed its sovereignty in exchange for giving up its nuclear arsenal. We are currently in violation of that treaty. Almost 100 million people died in World War I and World War II.

In the Israel–Gaza conflict the entire world watches and sees us support a lunatic killer (Netanyahu) without exerting influence on Israel. We reward Israel’s brutality by giving it more money. Who’s more deviant, us or the Israeli government?

Yet, the worst of all is the border. We batter and abuse immigrants who are desperate and in misery and we provide no relief to the American people who are unprepared and not necessarily willing to deal with this influx of people. Fascism always includes beating on outside people but does the same to the local population. When the Senate dropped the border bill it told the American people to screw off. Vote for me and I promise to screw you over. Or vote for me and Jesus will save you (because I don’t want to).

So, we have always struggled between democracy and fascism. Democracy being slow and inefficient and fascism being fast and effective until it isn’t. In the end fascism becomes normalized and the population adjusts to the loss of freedom and the abuse. In our current universe fascism is front and center. Our problem is that we deny those pieces of our nation and our history that are substantially undemocratic. We proudly wear the badge of incompetence. All noise and little substance. Was Trump really the president for four years?



Right-Wing Censorship
Sag Harbor
January 17, 2024

Dear All,

I’ve sniffed an awful lot of calumny in the brisk East End air recently. I’d like to clarify a few things about my dismissal as Santa and the ensuing brouhaha. 

First, I went to the American Jewish Committee talk at the synagogue in good faith, specifically invited, and I was completely hoodwinked. Rather than a talk addressing the “tough questions” facing Israel, it was a Likud propaganda session with indisputable falsehoods that included racist anti-Arab tropes. I never once spoke out of turn and only made some participants uncomfortable because I knew more than the speakers and challenged their lies. As I said in the WCBS interview: I regret nothing I said, I only regret that I attended. If the reader is serious about the very real challenges that we Americans face in the Middle East, take the time to listen to the talk I gave a month earlier called “Palestine/Israel: What Gives?” Then listen to the A.J.C. diatribe. You can ask the synagogue for a copy of the video. It will be clear that one talk views all sides sympathetically, honors deeply held narratives, and puts forth pathways to peace. The other talk is a series of talking points to deflect criticism of the extremist, right-wing Netanyahu government. Presented at the very moment that American bombs were killing thousands of innocent children in Gaza, the second talk was a disgrace.

Second, Ellen Dioguardi, the president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, has consistently lied about the reasons for my dismissal, confabulating post facto excuses. There was no instruction that Santa was a “secret.” Indeed, by late November folks were greeting me with “Hey, Santa” on Main Street. Word gets around. The only reason I redid (not ‘digitally altered’) the Santa announcement on Facebook was because the chamber’s own showed Santa snuggling into the bosom of a grown woman. Not very traditional. Meanwhile, the Santa in East Hampton Village rode into town in an armored vehicle. Given the state of the world, I prefer the traditional sleigh. 

There was never any discussion of bringing “current world events” into Santa’s chats with the kids. I had a brief lighthearted chat with Dede O’Connell, when I picked up the red suit, about diverse Santa styles, along the lines of whether to ask if they’ve been good or bad (I don’t do Grand Inquisitor). My own now-grown kids told me that Santa was scary. I wanted to make sure I was as nonthreatening as possible. In my wildest imagination I wouldn’t have brought up current events with a 4-year-old. As noted in the CNN opinion piece, I loved playing Santa and was a natural. Which is exactly why Ms. Dioguardi hired me in the first place. 

The only reason I was fired was as a consequence of a coordinated email campaign by a right-wing group from the synagogue who were unhappy with my challenging the Likud narrative. The story is about canceling people for political beliefs and especially those who challenge unbridled American support of the extremist, racist Netanyahu government. Two days after I was canceled, the president of my alma mater, Penn, was forced out because she was not sufficiently pro-Israeli. This is an epidemic resembling the McCarthy period: We must resist right-wing censorship of progressive views on the Middle East. It is only through thoughtful, informed discussion that our nation will ever find its way to peaceful solutions.

I am proudly pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. I get grief from both sides for saying so. I am also perhaps the only American civilian who has worked in all of Libya, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. I am painfully aware how racist narratives demonize the Other, making it easier to kill their innocents. Twenty years ago, in the buildup to the disastrous Iraqi invasion, I challenged Judith Miller at the library when she inflamed my Sag Harbor neighbors, and I challenged those at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons who said we needed to attack Iraq “to get back for 9/11.” I saw with my own eyes the horrors unleashed in Libya and Iraq by the casual ease with which Americans wreak war on Arabs. 

Fifty years of racist demonization must end. The planet has no time for our wars.

P.S.: I’d like to point out that I contacted The East Hampton Star twice, after the Gaza invasion and before the synagogue kerfuffle, to offer my thoughts on the unfolding tragedy in the Middle East. I did not get the dignity of a response. Instead, I get this gossipy article with that unflattering photo. Bravo! Next time, let’s talk substance.

Correction: The talks at Bay Street Theater had nothing to do with “the Israel conflict.” The first was about religious minorities in the Arab world, with a focus on Jewish Arabs. The second was a discussion on gender and gender minorities in the Arab world. It’s not always about Israel. 




My Senior Voice
February 16, 2024

To the Editor:

Every week I read the letters from readers objecting to the new senior center.

And every week I think, “Look at all these people writing letters expressing dismay at the horrible design and even more horrible cost of this stupid senior center. Surely the board will listen to the voters, come to their senses, and withdraw this dumb idea.” But no. Every week I read of new machinations to get this thing built. So, okay. I’m adding my senior voice to the senior chorus. I am in my 70s. I don’t like this design. I won’t use this building. And I am mad as hell that I have to pay for it. And, yes, I vote here. And even though I am old, my memory is still sharp enough to remember all of you board members on Election Day. So there.



Like County Road 39
East Hampton
February 19, 2024

Dear Mr. Editor,

I hope all is well at The Star. I can see by the content of the last couple of issues we have the same itch to scratch: the new senior center. Now, I don’t begrudge the seniors for wanting or needing a new center. After all, they have been working out of the old Cottage Inn, which has to be from the 1930s or early ‘40s, but $32-million worth of chrome is a little over the top and not really in sync with East End architecture. Let’s take a look.

We obviously have an overzealous architect. This design reminds me of something out of “Star Wars.” I can really see this structure orbiting the Earth. The shiny panels reflecting light and maybe a couple of thrusters pushing it about. My take would be a campus setting with maybe several buildings with an East Hampton cottage or colonial layout, something that would reflect buildings from the past. Now, I can’t find fault with the architects; they are looking to make the cover of some periodical. I can find fault with the town board. There has to be a solid reason as to why they want to be the lead agency and circumvent our planning and building process. The “Monroe analysis” doesn’t cut it — zoning standards are public interest — why circumvent them?

The planning board already disagrees with the traffic study that obviously the town board approves of. That all makes me nervous, as I would love to see the traffic study for the Section 8 apartments on Three Mile Harbor Road and the big renovation by Project Most. Looks like Three Mile Harbor Road is going to turn into another County Road 39! Have you traveled Three Mile Harbor Road lately? Even in the off-season it is, at times, unbearable.

We need to follow checks and balances. Let the planning board do its thing.

Best regards.

America and Americans first,



Not Safe
February 19, 2024

To the Editor,

The recent proposal for a much-needed upgrade for an East Hampton senior center presented by Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez has many concerns for the health and safety of our seniors.

The massive, large-scale, 22,000-square-foot facility that is larger than Madison Square Garden’s ground floor does not meet the special-permit and site-plan standards of our nationally respected zoning code. The 80-percent clearing proposed would need large variances from the zoning board. However, the town board wants to prevent the appointed zoning board members from making any decisions that they do not agree with. This is a first power grab ever from a town board and is very disturbing because it exceeds our zoning — a very dangerous precedent in our town. In addition, the proposal’s 80-percent clearing would disturb a federally endangered species on site that would result in a large fine for the town to pay.

The current proposal is not safe. There is no designated emergency turnaround for fire trucks, the recreational trail stops in a dead end away from any entrance, and a large parking lot has a walkway right in the middle of the parking spaces and is located at the farthest tip of the site away from the entrance, so it would be like trying to dash across the middle of the village parking lot on a diagonal.

For the $32 million our taxpayers are expected to pony up, the developers with no experience building senior centers have not shown the critical-distance scale on their site plan or the compass-direction points for greatest solar energy. In addition, as someone who just spent a month in hospitals with a broken pelvis, the last design you want for seniors is the long hallways representing the fins on a reclining windmill that you can only appreciate if you are a senior pilot. Speaking of that, the huge, reclining windmill senior center is located directly under a flight path. The exterior reflective stainless-steel shingles encompassing the building are not allowed in our comprehensive plan.

Supervisor Burke-Gonzalez, who has been working on building a new senior center, is aware of the enormous price of the proposal because she announced to her board and the public that we are going to expect “sticker shock.” Kathy knows there are legitimate concerns. So let the planning board be the lead agency and follow State Environmental Quality Review Act law to present alternatives. I hope the board will support you using the regular process.




Critical Habitat
East Hampton
February 19, 2024

Dear Reader,

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service regulates endangered species, including the northern long-eared bat. The Federal Endangered Species Act provides that land necessary for the survival of an endangered species should be designated as “critical habitat.”

Regarding the 5.672 forested acres in Amagansett which the town board wants to clear for the huge design of its proposed new senior center, the board has submitted not one, but two of the required Full Environmental Assessment Forms, the first dated Nov. 17, 2023, and the second, a rewritten version, dated Jan. 4.

According to page 12 of both forms, the federally endangered northern long-eared bat is a “predominant wildlife species” at the site. Yet, in both forms, on page 12, the town stated this: “United States Fish and Wildlife has approved tree clearing activities within the window of Dec. 1 - Feb. 28.” The official signer of both forms evidently relied on the flawed “Plants and Animals” report (cited below) from their engineers, the L.K. McLean people.

A separate two-page form submitted on July 24, 2023, by the town’s engineers, the L.K. McLean firm again, to the Long Island Field Office of the United States Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, states, “Based upon your standing analysis” — again, the “Plants and Animals” report, see below — “the proposed project is not reasonably certain to cause incidental take of the northern long-eared bat.” Thus another official determination which relied on flawed East Hampton Town documentation. 

Okay, so let’s suss this out: According to a study of the project signed over by town engineers, L.K. McLean, to the town board, their page headed “Plants and Animals” states, the engineers “walked the site with a town environmental analyst in June, 2022,” and just below on that page is this statement by L.K. McLean: “U.S.F.W.S. issued a Letter of Concurrence to the town stating, ‘The clearing of trees within this window (Dec.1 – Feb. 1) results in no reasonable certainty of take of habitat for the northern long-eared bats.’ “

Here’s the thing: The engineer’s June 2022 walkabout with the “town environmental analyst” occurred five months before the bat was declared endangered, and seven months before the final date of endangered status. The town engineer’s “Plants and Animals” statement was the outdated “standing analysis” evidently relied upon by the Long Island Fish and Wildlife Service people when they authorized clearing. By the way, that authorization requires the town to “check regularly from July 27, 2023, to ensure that listed species information for the proposed project is current. Should additional information on listed [endangered] species or critical habitat become available, this determination may be reconsidered.”

Environmental litigation, much?



What Seniors Want
East Hampton
February 12, 2024

Dear David,

I read with great interest Joan Baum’s letter concerning the proposed senior center. Having worked as a qualitative market researcher for close to 40 years, I would be more than happy to donate my time to moderate focus groups, in order to understand what seniors themselves want — essential learning that should have been gained before one cent was spent on this project.



So Many Experts
February 19, 2024

To the Editor,

Isn’t it fascinating that we have so many expert assessments of all the proposed projects being considered by our town. I don’t mean the consultants and professionals whose life work it is to study and evaluate our various undertakings. I’m referring to the bevy of ordinary citizens whose knowledge of all these endeavors’ mechanics and workings, to judge by the certainty of their opinions, is so vast and profound.

Obviously, that is nowhere near to being true. Most people have only a superficial familiarity with the fundamental intricacies of any given project or plan or program that may be floated for consideration by the town. That’s normal. We have our own busy lives to live and we may concentrate in one particular field from which we make our living. Yet the authority with which most people freely express their opinions is as though they are omniscient and infallible.

How could that be? Someone who has never been near a design desk suddenly is questioning the advice of architects who have spent years studying the craft and many more years honing it. The person whose only exposure to geology is collecting heart-shape rocks on the beach is certain they know better than the Ph.D. in marine geology who’s been assessing coastal areas for all of their lives. The landscape ecologist who has been eating and breathing natural environments is set straight about his public project plan by people who’ve just learned that there is such a profession as a landscape geologist.

It is a paradox that is rampant. It seems that the low-informed or the misguided have the strongest opinions about everything. Having strong opinions and expressing them is a good thing if they’re informed. It’s also okay to admit you don’t know enough about an issue.

Socrates is known to have said, “I am better off than he is for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have the advantage.”



A Garbage Hill
East Hampton
February 16, 2024

To the Editor,

Overpopulation. That’s our real problem. Sure, we can try and save the planet by going solar and driving electric cars, etc., and of course we need to do all those things, but it’s not going to be enough.

Since the time of the Industrial Revolution our society has become so complicated and dysfunctional that we have lost our way. Politics has failed us, there’s so much corruption involved and all we care about is how much money we can stuff in our pockets! We raped the planet and brought her to her knees. When I think of the song “America the Beautiful,” it reminds me of the Indian people who lived here before us and how they respected the land and animals, taking only what they needed, living in balance with nature, and how America really was beautiful. But then the greedy, capitalistic, selfish white man came along and destroyed their 20,000-year-old culture. We called them savages, we killed as many of them as we could, took the rest prisoners, stuck them in a hellhole, and forced upon them our culture and religion. Took their land, cut it up into little parcels, put up fences to keep nature out, and in a few hundred years have transformed America the beautiful into a garbage hill, polluting her from sea to shining sea.

Let us never forget the true American Indian, and the respect they had for the land and animals they lived with. Perhaps it would be a lesson well learned. If we want to save the planet and hence ourselves, here’s what we should do: depopulate our species, move away from religion, use science as a guide.

Teach our children to respect the Earth and all its inhabitants, whether it be a human, a buffalo, or a clam.



We Welcome You
East Hampton
February 19, 2024

Dear David,

Let me once again invite Messrs. Saxe and Agoos to our LTV show, “Real Talk — People Making a Difference in the Hamptons.” We welcome you both to an open and free dialogue to discuss any and all of the issues you’ve indicated a desire to talk about in your Feb. 12 Letters to the Editor concerning the Middle East.

We have an open date on Friday, March 29, at noon.

Just confirm that you’re available then and we’re set. Email me at [email protected] to confirm.

Looking forward to getting it on with you both on LTV!




Curses, Accusations
February 16, 2024

To the Editor:

David Saxe and Mitchell Agoos, in their letter to The Star last week, claim that their pro-Israel group has never “harassed and bullied” the pro-cease-fire demonstrators who come out Sundays at 3 in Sag Harbor. “Mr. Vrettos,” the letter writer they are answering so indignantly, “wasn’t there.”

Ha. As the two gentlemen well know, I am there every week, with the cease-fire supporters. As I already mentioned in The Star, I think it was one of these gentlemen who amusingly called me a “demented ghetto Jew.” At least once a demonstration, the Israel-right-or-wrong folks send a contingent of two or three people across the street, who attempt to shout over us or provoke us with curses and accusations; one woman tried to blast music from her cellphone, but then discovered cellphones aren’t very loud. Sometimes they have younger supporters who are tougher than them, such as the man who was filming with his phone a foot from my face, and narrated: “This is the biggest Jew hater of all.” Needless to say, no one had ever called me (bar mitzvah boy from Beth Elohim) that before. Anyway, get your story straight: Which is it, ghetto Jew, or antisemite? Sheesh.

The statement that they never bullied or harassed us may be technically correct, because they (except for the tough guy) aren’t very good at it. If they were a soccer team, you could say they have plenty of heart, but are a bit prone to an own goal (my one sports metaphor again).

For democracy and civility in East Hampton,



Cutting an Access
February 18, 2024

To the Editor,

In a Newsday article the other week, Jon Tarbet alluded to a possible solution. He suggested cutting an access space into the geocube structure so we can get to the beach. Thanks, Jon. You were told to remove it in 2019. Thanks for the excrement-against-the-wall suggestion in 2024. In 2019 your thoughts were of how First Coastal was against opening the access at road’s end. Now it’s okay? Argument of convenience rules the day again.

But I guess you’ll say anything while continuing to hold the access hostage to get what you think your client deserves. I know we deserve our rights restored “immediately” and may all enforcement agencies be permitted to finally issue all appropriate penalties and violations accordingly.

Still here,



Spitting Is Illegal
February 19, 2024

Dear David,

As per Customs and Border Patrol, C.B.O.’s San Diego sector apprehended 269 Chinese nationals who crossed illegally on Feb. 14. More than 20,000 Chinese nationals have now been encountered by C.B.P. in 2024 so far.

Biden’s lenient border policies, aided by corrupt nongovernmental agencies, have enabled this invasion. Our police in every state are being attacked. In New York, we can thank Soros and his money for making sure his people, e.g., the district attorney Alvin Bragg, get elected. Bragg doesn’t believe in jail time. Bragg ignores crime.

What has happened to the ex-number-one city? Someone shot or stabbed in the subway? It’s okay.

New York City has rules. Spitting’s illegal, but pot, guns, killing, stabbing, plus robbing, stealing, raping, assaulting — all these are okay. All of this comes from our elected officials.

We have illegal immigrants beating up police officers, knocking down citizens for the sole purpose of stealing their personal belongings.

Do you think we are safe? We can thank Joe Biden and his administration for open borders and not vetting anyone. He alone allowed scum into America, while he enjoys vacations in the best of places, with tons of security. Is this his administration or is Barack Obama using his third term behind the scenes?

In God and country,



Our Worst Presidents
East Hampton
February 19, 2024

To the Editor,

Some Republican senators like to joke that Trump was tougher on Russia than Biden. They point out that Russia invaded the Ukraine under Biden, not Trump.

This is like saying that Buchanan, who preceded Lincoln and did nothing to prevent or prepare for war, was greater than Lincoln, who had to fight it.

Buchanan is acknowledged as one of our worst presidents but not as bad as the one historians — conservative and liberal alike — rate the worst ever: the convicted sexual predator Trump.

Demagogues don’t stop — they are stopped.



Was It All a Joke?
Saint Petersburg, Fla.
February 19, 2024

Dear Editor,

The American culture shift to extremism on both sides exists because American culture is dead. If you identify as an American, you’re a nationalist. If you identify as an American globalist, you are a socialist. If you question the results of the 2020 presidential election, you are a criminal. If you don’t, you believe election interference is entirely the result of Russian interference. You are a true, blue patriot.

But after decades of trying to eliminate racial inequality and discrimination against minorities, the wind has shifted and the current administration decided that the color of our complexions and our sexual orientation and proclivities do matter, above all, after all.

Whites, Jews, Asians, and straight people are defined as generational colonists, white supremacists, and racists and penalized by newly enacted discriminatory, institutional practices called Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and social-construct definition, opposition, and suppression.

On the other hand, American citizens and noncitizens of any shade other than pale, and anyone who uses pronouns to identify their sex instead of their biological reproductive organs at birth, and anyone who supports government intervention over parental rights of a minor’s psychological welfare, and anyone who agrees the use of educators to teach elementary and middle school-age children the basic fundamentals of anal sex is as essential to a child’s education as basic math, and those who agree all children should be taught the color of one’s skin determines who is evil and who is not, and those who believe men can nurse babies and those who believe the millions of undocumented foreigners illegally entering the country are entitled to automatic amnesty and social welfare assistance even American veterans don’t receive, who are overwhelming cities already in crisis, and are innocent refugees fleeing from religious, economic, and political persecution and are not imported tax slaves in a quest for one-party control and power, all those Americans and non-Americans above have been elevated to a new statutory, protected, privileged status regulated by federal laws and entitled to priority in hiring practices and opportunities, barrier-free testing, and automatic acceptance into higher education institutions, given the right to protest without the threat of incarceration, and receive absolution from statutory persecution for breaking laws, over and above the cultural extremists who thought America was safe from authoritarianism.

In this season of Lent, I ask your readers to consider one thing, realizing a fair number of them are far too intellectual to have faith in a higher power. But just suppose there is a God, and he told you, he’d chosen you because of your enlightened superiority and virtue, to be hung out on a cross to die and to take it like a trooper, to save ordinary people from their sinful stupidity, in the promise of eternal life, would you carry the cross of your beliefs or would you tell God, it was all just a joke? The Devil made you do it.


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