Half Our Waking Hours
February 3, 2024
Longevity is based on activity. Technology has changed our world. But like so many things in life, it has its drawbacks. When it is used in excess, or at the wrong time, it can affect the way we think, socialize, communicate, and even our health. We spend half of our waking hours in front of a screen.
We were told that social media would connect us. It has had the opposite effect. Feelings of depression, loneliness, and “I am not good enough” have evolved, leading to a very large increase in suicide rates. I know of a doctor who actually prescribes “walks in the woods” or other nature therapy to heal all kinds of disorders. As we become more addicted to our devices, we become less involved in nature and its healing and longevity powers. I believe that my well-being and longevity (85 now) have come about through my association with nature. I am an Eagle Scout, a science teacher, and founding member and first president of the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society (1980). Mother Nature is the best healer.
“Take a Hike!”
Boater or Yachtsman
Bel Air, Md.
February 1, 2024
A few years after the war, through the late 1950s, my parents, Nanci and Bob Reutershan, usually spent a week or two each summer in a small cabin on Goose Island (now called Dayton’s Island). The island belonged to my father’s business partner, E.T. Dayton. Located near the entrance to Three Mile Harbor and just south of the “dreens” on the south side of Sammy’s Beach, the island was a haven for nesting shorebirds. On the small island’s north side were little-known but very productive clam beds.
On Friday, June 6, 1952, my parents had been on the island for a couple of days. In the midst of a clamming expedition that afternoon, my mother exclaimed, “Bob, I think it’s time!” A dash to the cabin, a motorboat ride across to the town dock, and a frenzied drive to Southampton quickly ensued. Just before 8 p.m. that evening I was born.
Growing up, Mother always said that the circumstances of my birth and its connection to the sea had gotten into my genes and largely shaped who I was and who I was to become.
In addition to a stay on Goose Island, every summer until I was 8 we rented a “camp” on Breeze Hill Road, on the beach just to the northeast of the inlet to the inner harbor. My earliest memories are from when I was about 3. Across the street lived the Plitt family and their son, Jeff, and a year later his sister, Michel. With children in short supply, Jeff and I were destined to become fast friends. One summer, perhaps in 1957, I was to lose my buddy for the entire summer as he had come down with a nasty case of polio. I still remember the stern warnings to stay away from his house to avoid being infected. I did, however, try to sneak in to see Jeff — without success!
Our harborside rentals ended in 1959. Attending different grade schools, Jeff and I lost touch until the fall of 1964 when I transferred to East Hampton Junior High. We quickly picked up where we had left off. I remember back then Jeff had three serious passions: boats, cars, and “cool.”
With a house on Three Mile Harbor, Jeff grew up on the water –- with boating and boats galore. His dad owned the Ford dealership, providing access to the most exotic street-legal cars of the day — a 427 AC Cobra, Mustang GT 350s and 500s, and more. And “cool” . . . Jeff was a serious arbiter of cool at East Hampton High. Always well dressed, Jeff introduced his own personal uniform to the students of E.H.H.S. Ironed Oxford button-down shirts worn outside of his pants, shined penny loafers without socks, and a collection of way-cool sweaters and sunglasses completed the kit. I and others did our best to keep up!
In the summer of 1965, I got my first boat, a 16-foot high-sided sharpie of local manufacture with a 9.5 h.p. Evinrude. Of course, Jeff already had a similar sharpie with a 10 h.p. outboard. For several years, we explored the harbor, the bay, and made several trips to Gardiner’s Island and the Old Fort. I will never forget Jeff’s 12-inch-long cast-iron practice “bomb” that had been scavenged from the fort and proudly displayed at Breeze Hill.
Every year, the “fleet” would arrive in Three Mile Harbor from Connecticut, dozens of sailboats massed for an annual race to and from the harbor. For a couple of glorious days, Jeff and I (as well as others) would ferry the yachtsmen to and from shore with our little sharpies. After a particularly remunerative evening I remember retreating to Jeff’s room behind the garage on Breeze Hill with piles and piles of coins and bills — maybe $30 or so all told. To enterprising young teenagers this was our first taste of “wealth beyond imagination”!
One memorable summer day, on our way out of the harbor into the bay, we espied a tangle of wood resembling what was left of a small but well-beaten wreck. Upon closer inspection, “Holy Cow!” It was the remains of a little, homemade, wooden seven-foot hydroplane — lacking its bow cover and in pretty rough shape. We were able to get it back to Breeze Hill, where it sat for some time on a couple of sawhorses awaiting the work that would bring it back to life. When “restored” it had a squared-off bow, gunnels tapering from the bow to perhaps a 12-inch-tall and two-inch-thick transom. The bottom was completely flat. I can’t remember which motor we put on it, but even two dopey young teens realized the danger involved. I only remember our taking it out once on a mirror-like morning off Breeze Hill. It was my first and only turn — blazing speed and little to no steering ability. Imagine the terror of riding down the slope of a huge roller coaster, blazing across the harbor, wondering if you were going to flip over and die!
Jeff’s parents were close friends with Jeff’s “Uncle” Nelson C. Osborne, who also had a house on Three Mile Harbor and ran the local bank. Jeff’s Uncle Nelson had one of the prettiest power cruisers in the harbor. On several occasions, Jeff was granted permission, and at least once I was invited, to spend the night aboard. “No, no, bub, this weren’t no working scow.” This was the real thing. A fabulous cabin cruiser — dazzling brightwork — and set up for a king (at least to my inexperienced eyes!). It didn’t get much better and oh — the bragging rights were huge!
Growing up, Jeff had a favorite and multipurpose exclamation: “The sound of power!” A truer powerboat aficionado there was none. It was probably on one of these storied overnight stays on Uncle Nelson’s cruiser that Jeff confided to me, “Chris, there is nothing like the sound and smell and feel of a powerful boat plowing through the water. Nothing. When I am older, I’m going to get myself a beautiful power cruiser — just like this one.”
Less than a decade later, Jeff attained his first cruiser - a beautiful 30-foot Owen — “Shadom.” By then, I had moved away and had become a New York weekender. However, during their college years in the 1970s, my sister and late brother-in-law, Cindy and David Marshall, had become close friends with Jeff. They, too, were avid power cruisers. Jeff was in their wedding party, and for many years they shared lots and lots of boating adventures throughout the waters off the East End.
More so than me, Jeff’s focus on powerboats and the waters from the harbor to Newport and beyond bore an intensity not seen in most. Jeff was and is a true cruiser. Power — never sail.
Looking back to the beginning, and up to today, it is clear the genesis of his repeated query, “Are you a boater or are you a yachtsman?”
And the solution to Jeff’s question resides in his own answer to this, his “near-Zen koan.”
The Beer Barn
February 2, 2024
Hope all is well at The Star. Thank you for the evasive answer to my question. You threw me off with the “Zen koan” referral, but upon researching the matter it was clear. I will look for Cerberus in the spring and check on the “progress” of the varnish student. After all, it is just a ribbing.
So the “brewery” has popped up its ugly head again. We all knew it would, because developers and our local pro-development government just won’t quit. Like that nail in a tire. Let’s review. So now we have a new name, Toilsome Farm Restaurant and Brewery. I wonder how much it cost for some pinhead to come up with that? Of course we have more farms now than 150 years ago! To come up with a comparison to the Laundry from years ago is fair, but, if you remember, there were cars parked up and down the street in its heyday. No big deal, it was across from the lumber yard and could use parking from the railroad station. However, the Laundry was 3,000 square feet and the beer barn is 9,700 square feet! But, alas, the patio would not be used in cooler months. That’s a bullshit statement. As I travel around, all outside seating is used year round. You get a nice day in winter, 50 to 60 degrees on a weekend, and those chairs will pop up like gnats on the waterfront.
The properties will merge into a 5.8-acre parcel? That’s big. Then, of course, we have the attorney’s open-ended “we don’t want to box ourselves into that,” so that leaves the door open for wholesale activity which will result in truck traffic.
Sherrill Dayton has his thinking cap on. His concerns are very real: residential neighbors, traffic, hours of operation. Also, what about uses, private parties and weddings? Wow! I can see that 300-plus people for a wedding party. Traffic is another valid concern. Toilsome Lane is more than a bypass to the village, it’s the gateway to Long Lane and Cedar Street and all points east and north. With out-of-control building, traffic can only become worse. The engineering firm has already stated “43 trips per hour,” that’s almost another car per minute.
I wish Mr. Dayton and Mr. Aaron an outcome that is best for them and the neighborhood. They need to be vigilant, as approvals around here seem to appear with no rhyme or reason. I can reflect on my own disappointments, which are the loss of Truck Beach and the Section 8 housing off Three Mile Harbor Road. Large-scale projects like these are a new thing to the East End and you have to wonder who really has the knowledge to deal with them.
You will be happy to know I have a new tag line:
America and Americans first,
A Movie Town
February 5, 2024
To the Editor,
With two movies still to come, I write to salute our East Hampton Library and its 2024 Winter International Film Festival that’s been showing on Sundays at 2 p.m.
I like that librarians choose the movies and not algorithms. Though we are silent, I appreciate the shared experience. I like, too, the challenge of foreign films — the possibility of love or . . . well, some other feeling.
East Hampton is a movie town and I thank our library for carrying the banner.
Live on TV
February 4, 2024
To the Editor,
Thank you, Perry Duryea III, for “Standing Up” for our Democracy. I’m beginning to wonder how many more Republicans really believe that Jan. 6, 2021, was not an attempt to overthrow our government. I also worked for your father when he ran for governor in 1978. He was a good man who worked for all his people whether they were Democrat or Republican.
I read the letter of a Lynne Scanlon also, and I would like her to know that I don’t need to watch a bunch of videos supported by a bunch of Donald Trump supporters. I watched the entire event from beginning to end on live TV on Jan. 6, 2021, and those people were violent and defecated in the halls of our Capitol and should all be in jail along with Donald Trump. I heard Donald Trump tell those people in a statement many hours later, after all the fighting, to go home and that “we love you.”
February 3, 2024
To the Editor,
As the unnamed person who made the presentation about the real events of Jan. 6, 2021, last weekend, I feel obligated to respond to The Star’s thoroughly false and scurrilous editorial on the event. Long on venom and vitriol and almost entirely ad hominem, the editorial does not even attempt to refute any of the contentions or facts in the two films I showed, which consist mostly of actual video of the events of that day, much of it from police body cams and C-Span. Video hidden from the public by Pelosi and her bureaucrat banditti, even from attorneys representing those arrested, until Republicans took back the House in 2022.
Instead, the editorial spews all the current left-wing jargon about insurrection, danger to our democracy, fascist extremism, the whole porta-potty of radical leftist bile and nonsense. It somehow even manages to cram the word “racist” into the mix. Speaking of insurrection, guess how many of the 1,500 or more persons arrested have actually been charged with the crime of insurrection, a serious matter often accompanied by a charge of treason? That’s right, zero. And let’s remember the summer of 2020, preceding Jan. 6, when there were real insurrections galore, “mostly peaceful” according to the media. The three-day August riot opposite the north side of the White House injured dozens of Secret Service agents and police, and set the 1820 Church of St. John on fire. The president’s family had to be taken to the White House bomb shelter, an event that last took place during the War of 1812. Almost no arrests, and no prosecutions. The media clucked their approval.
I went to the Stop the Steal Rally because I believed, and still believe, that the 2020 election was stolen on a massive scale. I made the presentation last week because I wanted to speak for the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands like me who were at the speech at the Washington Monument, not at the Capitol, which is over a mile away. I was there for four hours, and that huge crowd was entirely peaceful the whole time, even festive, in spite of the cold, blustery weather. Media coverage of those hundreds of thousands was, and still is, almost nonexistent.
Their coverage of the Capitol events has been, and still is, ridiculously, childishly, biased. Jan. 6 was worse than 9/11? Worse than Pearl Harbor? Absurd. Insultingly stupid. The Star editorial was equally biased, equally ridiculous. It could have been vastly improved if you had actually sent someone to cover the event. As Warner Wolf used to say, “Let’s go to the videotape.”
Threat to Democracy
February 4, 2024
To the Editor,
I would like to thank Mr. Perry Duryea III for his recent timely and insightful letter on Trump’s threat to American democracy.
If the Republican sheep in Congress are serious about Making America Great Again, their first act should be to publicly denounce the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, a twice-impeached, quadruple-indicted individual who has been found guilty of sexual assault and character defamation in two civil cases.
While president, Trump publicly praised American Nazis and Klan members who chanted, “The Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Va. Trump referred to these marchers as “very fine people.” Recently, Trump has stated that he will seek retribution on his political opponents and will create a dictatorship if elected. While claiming to be a “law and order” candidate, he continues to perpetuate the “Big Lie” that he won the last election and that the MAGA mob were peaceful Capitol tourists.
It is obvious that Trump is a neofascist who seeks to destroy the democracy that Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison created and that has served us well for the past 240 years. He has already destroyed the party of Lincoln. It has been replaced by a cult of obsequious cronies who lack courage and independent thinking.
The 2024 presidential and congressional election will determine if the democratic will of the people will continue to thrive in our great nation.
Don’t let Trump use democracy to create a dictatorship. That is exactly what Hitler did in Germany.
Fails The Smell Test
February 5, 2024
Remember when Nick LaLota launched his congressional campaign and promised to represent all of his constituents? Well, last week he failed that test miserably and was less than candid in explaining the betrayal of his constituents.
Last week, the House passed by a wide margin the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act. The provisions of the bill pertaining to us in LaLota’s district are meaningful. The bill would renew and expand the Child Tax Credit, adding additional support for working families and help pull many out of poverty. It would reinstate many business deductions rescinded during the Trump administration, which will aid small businesses and is designed to promote economic growth.
The bill passed overwhelmingly, 357 to 70. LaLota voted no. So much for caring for many of his constituents.
His explanation for voting against the bill: It did not include a provision that would have raised the SALT deduction (for state property taxes and mortgage interest). One could applaud him for this — it was a campaign issue for him — if his excuse held water. The catch: LaLota had already introduced the standalone SALT Marriage Penalty Elimination Act (which would address the basis for his opposition to the tax bill), which is to receive House attention this coming week. In the face of his SALT legislation receiving House attention, it would appear that ulterior motives were behind his vote against the tax-relief bill.
Now the smell test, and I’m not making this up. The 88-year-old Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley (who received no raised eyebrows from the G.O.P. when he sought re-election in 2022 at the age of 87), announced his opposition the tax-relief bill because passage “would [make] Joe Biden look good.” Now, as The Star just recently reported, Mr. LaLota recently announced his endorsement of Mr. Trump in 2024. So, it seems that, yet again, Mr. LaLota has put his quest for personal political gain ahead of the interests of his constituents.
Mothers and fathers for whom the reinstated Child Tax Credit will provide an economic lifeline, and for those small businesses for whom survival will be made a bit easier by the passage of the tax-relief bill, don’t thank Mr. LaLota. He cares more about his political future than he does for you.
On a larger scale, it should be appalling to everyone that to the G.O.P. clinging to power is more important than governing. Until that picture changes, they do not deserve our vote. Remember this in November.
No One Asked
February 4, 2024
To the Editor:
Nowhere in the articles and letters about the costs of the proposed East Hampton senior center was there emphasis on what should be the main consideration: what seniors themselves want because it’s what they need or enjoy. As estimated by the number of registrants who show up regularly for lunch and activities, my sense is that some folks who attend are not interested in or even knowledgeable about many of the big-buck items of the proposed state-of-the art, $31-million-dollar design. They come because of the fabulous food — kudos to the chef and staff — and because they want to be (or their families, doctors, and friends say they ought to be) with others, even if their participation is merely sitting at a table, listening to chat. Some regulars, however, look forward to various center activities — bingo, cardio-fitness exercises, pre-lunch games. Or just being there, often courtesy of local transportation.
Yes, the center looks worn — what would it cost to have a paint job now? — but it’s the spirit of the place, more communal, reportedly, than at other centers, that most matters. Indeed, that spirit translates to local businesses that contribute decorations and design both outside and at each table.
During the off-season, numbers are down. Many seniors who can afford Florida go: The center is hardly restricted to the so-called halt, lame, or indigent. The question of use is critical, as is a detailed review of every item in the proposed budget. For whom would a new center be built? How many current members would be around when it was finished? Probably none — which gets to the heart of the problem: What, when, why?
Yes, the Suffolk County elderly constitute the fastest growing population in the state, but that fact doesn’t translate into a need for a big-bauble, seven-acre facility. Oohs and ahs over a sexy, shiny new object make for nice P.R. and big contracts. But how many current participants were freely asked what they wanted? Not to check off someone else’s prepared choices but to say simply what they like or what they may miss or what might be improved in our lifetimes? I wasn’t.
Concrete and Steel
February 5, 2024
As someone who will turn 70 years old next week, I’ve been reading about the new senior center with great interest. I don’t wish to second-guess the design or cost issues since there has been sufficient time spent by board members and the various town departments in vetting out these components in the building, for which I have no knowledge. I am shocked there is no discussion on the building’s carbon footprint and its impact on climate change.
The carbon footprint or the life-cycle analysis of a building is divided into three phases, construction, operations, and demolition. I was pleased to read there is a goal, the building is to be net-zero, [and] solar panels on site will offset the electricity consumed by the building, but this won’t have the same impact on reducing the building’s carbon footprint, since the offshore wind farm will be producing renewable energy for East Hampton’s grid. However, I applaud the goal of net-zero and installation of solar panels since more renewable energy produced could possibly push excess renewable electricity farther west, having a greater impact outside our own community.
The town board should investigate what other mitigation efforts should be made in the operations phase of the building besides using solar panels. The Common Carbon Metric was developed by climate-change organizations such as the United Nations, the World Resources Institute, and many others. This methodology should be studied now, while in the design stage.
The construction phase of a building includes the measurement of all the embodied energy in the materials, the energy to do the construction, transportation of materials, and a pro-rata carbon footprint of every subcontractor and material supplier used on the project. An example of this methodology can be found in my peer-reviewed paper published in the American Institute of Physics, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. The paper memorializes the first time the carbon footprint in the construction phase was measured and certified carbon-neutral by a third party.
The materials selected for this building, namely concrete and steel, stainless steel, have the highest carbon footprint compared to any other building materials. It’s possible the use of these materials may negate any perceived good solar panels may bring. What is abundantly clear, after all these years planning for the senior center, [is that] supposedly vigorous environmental studies have failed to identify one of the single most important factors impacting our coastlines, mitigating sea level rise.
A Teeth-on-Fire Rush
February 5, 2024
Reading the letters opposed to the $32-million-dollar cost of a new center. The architect answered a question of heating and cooling. Her answer, that only a small portion would be heated, defies the law of physics, in that heat rises. I don’t think we need an expensive, Las Vegas-type casino entrance nor a stainless-steel-shingled windmill design that can only be seen from the sky.
Why the monstrous parking lot, not close to the door? Why the teeth-on-fire rush to start clearing a seven-acre lot? A functional center is needed to adequately tend to the needs of an aging senior population. Is there no room to build on the current site? Yet no mention of the tax burden on the town residents? Take a step back. The design doesn’t fit, period! Restaurants that serve a larger patronage have kitchens that are not that large.
February 2, 2024
As a 77-year-old male, I appreciate that demographic trends mean that East Hampton needs to do more for its growing population of seniors.
But the proposed center has morphed into a Frankenstein, hideous both in design and expense. In an area of (still largely) graceful old homes in a restrained shingled style, we have a garish child of the current architectural establishment which thinks that a condescending wink at local architectural history (e.g., the ghastly aluminum shingles) will be enough to shield the project from the closer scrutiny which reveals a project more suitable to a Las Vegas hotel or events center than a place for seniors to gather.
What I suspect seniors would want is a more modest — dare I say homey? — structure, perhaps in the shape of a “U” with a large common room with three fireplaces and six comfortable seating areas at the bottom of the “U,” with a kitchen and dining room in one wing, facility rooms in the other, and offices on the floor above. All clad in cedar shingles, natch.
A vastly reduced and more modest structure in keeping with local architecture would leave some resources left over for additional senior housing, and still, I suspect, come in well below the current estimated cost.
May I implore the new supervisor to make a graceful exit from what started out as a good idea, but underwent some dreadful bureaucratic transformation? Please.
JAN DE WILDE
What’s Not to Like?
February 5, 2024
I have to wonder who’s behind the full-page ad in last week’s Star, criticizing the proposal for a new town senior center. The building has high ceilings! A large lobby! It’s as big as a superstore! Has inadequate setbacks, not enough parking, will displace too many trees, etc.
Well-founded questions have been raised about process and land use, but all the stages of the senior center proposal and design have been open to public comment for years. The design firms have produced a model sustainable, attractive, useful public building that will serve East Hampton’s growing senior population. The planned parking has solar canopies and a permeable ground surface, the number of trees replanted will far exceed the number taken down for construction, and the building is rated at net-zero energy use. What’s not to like? The center’s kitchen will provide a permanent home for the Meals on Wheels program and will offer nutritious meals on site and in grab-and-go packs. Anyone who’s cared for homebound or ailing relatives (or themselves when they’re ill) will appreciate how helpful pre-prepared healthy meals can be. And as one local advocate proposed, I would welcome public tours and cooking classes in the new center to show us how to de-carbonize our homes using modern electric appliances.
A recent Star article reported on comments at a public hearing. One speaker objected that we did not know how many seniors lived in East Hampton. Really? Do the census and other community surveys not show that seniors are already a majority in East Hampton Village and Amagansett, and are the fastest growing segment of the population? The speaker also brought up a truly pernicious “us versus them” argument, suggesting that young families would lose if seniors gain, presumably in a zero-sum game of budgeting. If we follow this speaker’s “logic,” we should say that people with no children should not pay taxes for schools, people who don’t use libraries should not support them, people who don’t go to the beach shouldn’t have to pay for lifeguards, and on and on.
Underneath the smoke and fury, I sense a truly dispiriting attitude among many, like the ad writers, who are coming out against the plans for the new center. I hear them saying that seniors don’t deserve nice things. They’re old, they can’t see, they’re half gaga; why build something gracious and environmentally friendly with meadows and walking paths outside, with light-filled spaces for exercise and social services when these geezers won’t be with us that much longer? Opponents don’t seem to be advocating as vigorously for updating the town building code or criticizing unsustainable building design and clear-cutting when it comes to the sprawling American farmhouse-style mansions or oversize glass boxes replacing beach cottages and springing up in woodlots throughout our town. Why is that?
The message seems to be, as far as replacing the old, crowded senior center is concerned, “Who will rid me of these meddlesome old folks?”
February 1, 2024
To the Editor:
It is obvious from the letters column that there is mounting concern across the political spectrum about the direction that the current supervisor has taken with her senior center project.
If you want to be informed on this matter I urge you to request a copy of the 2014 Senior Services Committee report. You also might listen to Arthur Malman’s LTV interview with me on the senior population demographics coming out of the 2010 Census. The 2020 Census shows a much larger East Hampton population of roughly 28,000 with 22 percent over 65.
I disagree with the notion that we need new studies, gerontologists, etc., to progress on this topic. We do need better political leadership and more executive competence.
There are well-run senior centers all over the United States. In 2014, I visited two in similar communities to East Hampton in Colorado and one in Connecticut. A successful senior center concentrates on providing services specific to the needs of its community. The building is constructed around the required services. For the last decade, East Hampton has lagged behind other communities.
The major political problem besides effective leadership has been the intense and irrelevant partisan politics that surrounds every town board election which makes it difficult to make progress on any issue let alone such an important one.
In a wealthy community like East Hampton, the prospect of controlling Town Hall and thus both its patronage and contracts puts decision making and candidate selection in the hands of special interests better known as political bosses. So a Boss Tweed who picks the candidates has much more say about what sort of senior center is built then any planning department. It is not surprising that a 32-million-dollar monument short on services is the result.
Some of us have tried every way we could to get around this structural obstacle. One achievement was getting a hospital annex here. Larry Cantwell pushed that through the political system. That is the leadership needed. He listened to reasonable arguments and acted using his insider knowledge.
Neither Peter Van Scoyoc nor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez listened to anything but the suggestions of Boss Tweed. I know that may seem harsh, but do you really think 32-million-dollar contracts are handed out by the tooth fairy?
Therefore, I wholeheartedly support the scrutiny that will come from putting the supervisor’s project through the town planning process. Let her justify her project. There may even be improvements.
Here are some parting thoughts. A senior center and a hospital annex require a permanently active senior population. Without senior housing, seniors past a certain age will sell their valuable homes and leave. Neither the annex nor the center will do well. There are no plans here for attractive downsized senior housing.
Consequently, East Hampton is moving rapidly toward the Provincetown syndrome. Both locals and seniors leave. The remaining inhabitants are only there during the summer. The community ceases to exist.
Is that the future we want?
Relying on Florida
February 5, 2024
Looking over last week’s eye-catching, full-page Star ad, “The Most Expensive Town Project Ever,” I was moved to make some observations of my own.
Discussion of a new senior center started in 2014. Since then, the process has been open and transparent. Anyone can review the history on the town’s website. East Hampton’s paper of record has thoroughly covered every step of the process. Town board work sessions are open to the public, and we all have the opportunity to comment during the open comments section. The idea that there has been insufficient opportunity for public input grossly distorts this history.
As for the ad’s assertions about the center’s energy “inefficiency,” although, as the ad prominently states, the building has 20-foot ceilings, the proposed center is a net-zero project. According to the Department of Energy, “a zero energy building produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements.”
The ad correctly observes that there are no rooftop solar panels, but neglects to tell us that solar arrays are located in the parking lot, serving the dual purpose of generating electricity and limiting the heat island effect of unshaded parking, a wise decision for a lot largely serving the elderly. Conveniently, the ad also fails to mention the highly efficient geothermal heating system.
The ad informs us that there will be over-clearing and inadequate revegetation. According to the latest site plans, all removed trees will be replaced with native, keystone species. There will be a net gain in native trees: 42 removed, 15 left standing, and 80 planted. In addition to native, in-kind tree replacement, turfgrass spaces will be limited and native grassland meadows planted. More than half the property will remain either undisturbed or planted with native shrubs, trees, grasses, and wildflowers (ehamptonny.gov/DocumentCenter, 1/23/24)!
As for size, the building will be about 1,000 square feet larger than the East Hampton Recenter, a far more familiar comparison than the ad’s vague and scary “bigger than a ‘super store.’ “
I’d like to think seniors can have nice things, that open, light-filled spaces are not just for the wealthy, that if nature must be harmed in building, then we replace in kind and end up with more keystone trees than we started with, plus native meadows, all good for the natural health of the environment and the psychological well-being of the center’s visitors, a worthwhile investment with dividends to come.
According to the Planning Department’s recent well-documented presentation, the 60-plus population in East Hampton has grown 44 percent since 2000. Contrary to the ad’s confident claim that “many seniors winter or retire elsewhere,” I don’t think relying on Florida to handle our elderly population growth is an acceptable plan, or even a plan at all.
This ad is a hit piece, grossly exaggerating or distorting its case. Sadly, it is all too symptomatic of a sickness in our current political “discourse.” It relies on half-truths and outright misinformation to generate fear and resentment.
There is certainly room for debate about a project as large and central to our future as this one, but I find the ad’s scaremongering both distasteful and insulting.
February 4, 2024
To the Editor,
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The window is rapidly closing for our new supervisor, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, to impress us that times have really changed, to shape a new political era, and differentiate a town board with two new members from the machinery of recent years.
As I have said before, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez always seemed to me to have the intelligence, personality, and political skills to do a much better job than her predecessor. Of course, to do so she would also have to declare some independence from the unelected guy in the background, whom I will henceforth enjoy referring to as “Voldemort.”
Sadly, her continued championing of an inexplicable boondoggle, the new senior center, appears to be a political own goal. (Aside from a few really trite baseball phrases, that was my only sports reference.)
There is still a brief amount of time to turn this around. “Vote for the lesser evil” is otherwise not much of an enduring platform.
For democracy in East Hampton,
February 4, 2024
Glad to see that Messrs. Saxe and Agoos responded (Letters to the Editor, Feb. 1, “Survival at Stake”) to my article (Letters to the Editor, Jan. 25, “Disturbing Pattern”) and reporting by The Star concerning the bullying tactics of East End Jews for Israel (the group they founded) toward those who disagree with their views.
Their disturbing pattern of bullying, bigotry, venom, and rhetorical abuse continues, however, in their letter against their fellow Jews and toward Palestinians. They believe that “the Israel military operation should continue full tilt until Hamas is rooted out,” simplistically suggesting that “Hamas could end the military operation by surrendering and releasing the hostages.” Israel’s survival is at stake. “Antisemitism has roared back.”
Whose survival is at stake? Palestinians or Israel? It’s both — the two people’s well-being and survival are intertwined inexorably. Much of the “roaring antisemitism” they decry has developed from the very violence they advocate and want to continue.
It’s no surprise whose survival they’re concerned about. They end their letter by saying: “For those of you who are Jews and who regularly rally on Sunday to their anti-Israel drumbeat, we think you are no better than the quislings of the past.” Quislings (for those not sure what it means) is defined in the dictionary as traitors — Nazi collaborators.
I’m not a lawyer but that sort of rhetorical abuse seems to be getting into the realm of libel.
Perhaps The Star should review its policy of printing letters that are libelous?
For the record and contrary to their claim, I do not belong to nor agree with all the points of the East End cease-fire group Saxe and Agoos disagree with so vehemently. My viewpoint or position on Israel and the Gaza war is totally irrelevant for the sake of this dialogue. Nor did I in my letter write, nor do I believe, that there is a “conspiracy afoot” (by Saxe or Agoos, or anyone else) to deprive me and my merry band of cease-fireniks (as they put it) of our First Amendment rights. Again guys — remember, I’m not a member.
I could name a few bands — merry (Robin Hood would be one) and otherwise — that I do identify with, but that, too, is irrelevant for the sake of this dialogue. What I did call East End Jews for Israel out for was their pattern of bullying, rhetorical abuse, racial and ethnic slurring. I stand by that — I didn’t witness it personally — I wrote from what was reported in the articles by The Star. The pattern continues.
What to say about Saxe and Agoos admonishing the cease-fire group for not reading aloud the names of the Israeli babies who were kidnapped and the names of the Israeli hostages?
I would personally agree that that would be a humane and important symbolic gesture to include in anyone’s protest. I would also agree with the cease-fire group’s decision to read from some Palestinian literature expressing the pain and suffering they’re going through. Both are profound human concerns — transcending any political differences we might have.
But again — that’s not the point. In our democracy, people have a basic right to protest in the way they choose and say what they want to say during the protest. I don’t believe Saxe and Agoos would want to be told how and what to say in their protests. Nor should they be telling groups they might disagree with what they should or should not say in their protests.
That was my major complaint for the Herrick Park Israel for Peace event that made it so unfair and dangerous to our democracy. It was one-sided and did not allow for the free expression of other groups with other, valid viewpoints. That made for a distorted experience, unfair to the entire East Hampton community and audience who attended who were not made aware of what was going on.
The event was organized by two individuals who resort to calling those who disagree with them Nazi collaborators. Are the politicians and clergy who participated in the Herrick Park event aware of this? Are they willing to step up and acknowledge that now? Don’t be shy — so far the silence has been deafening.
The only ray of hope that one could glean from Saxe and Agoos’s letter is that a few from their group reached out to the cease-fire group and tried to engage in a discussion during one of their protests. They offered to debate on local television but there were no takers.
I don’t know what the circumstances were or why they refused, but let me make an offer.
Barbara Layton and I have just started a new show on LTV called “Real Talk — People Making a Difference in the Hamptons.” Barbara is the former owner of Babette’s Restaurant in East Hampton for 26 years and is presently the head of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce.
We would be interested in having that beginning debate on the show and invite you to accept our invitation to be on. We’ll reach out to the cease-fire group and have a spokesperson or two from their group on with you. We could do two half-hour segments and have both of you on — one per segment. This must and will be a civil debate and discussion that is respectful to all participants.
Debate and argue vigorously, but there will be absolutely no room for the type of rhetoric that you use in your letters. I personally and vigorously resent your characterization of me and others as quislings. There will be no room for such abuse on the show.
The need for a good dialogue on the subject outweighs any of your tedious and childish personal attacks. This all may prove to be too challenging for you both. Are you up to it?
Surprise me and get in touch to set the show up. My email address is [email protected].
Hope to hear from you soon and we’ll set up a date and time that would work into everyone’s schedule.
February 4, 2024
When David Brooks was questioned on the “NewsHour” about the air strikes in the Middle East, he referenced an article by Hal Brands in “Foreign Affairs” that explained that in the 1930s there were three conflicts simultaneously in action. Japan in China, Germany in Europe. and Italy in Africa. When they came together it led to World War II.
When Bill Maher asked New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu if he would vote for Trump, he fumbled and finally said he would. Based on policies.
Brooks studies history and understands how often it repeats itself. Sununu lives in a modern-day vacuum and has little or no sense of historical cause and effect. He lives in the present, devoid of any contextual reference.
In politics, what happens today doesn’t necessarily show up in the short term. Policies and actions have long-term effects and are often realized years or even decades later.
For example, when Trump visited Netanyahu and moved the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, he signaled complete support for the prime minister and zero support for the Palestinians. No two-state solution, no control on settlements, no future short of war. The Hamas attack and Netanyahu’s response are both a function of Trump’s changing policies. Add to that our withdrawal from the Iran deal and we have a potential tinder keg in the region.
Trump also broke our relationship with NATO while he praised Putin to a sycophantic level. He fought with Ukraine and praised dictators everywhere. Putin waited a bit and attacked Ukraine. Draw the line.
Trump also broke the East Asia economic treaty to compete with China. Then he lost a trade war with China signaling our weakness to China. China began saber rattling with Taiwan and threatening war.
Russia / Ukraine, Israel / Gaza, China / Taiwan — the dots all connect in the same place. The fruits (rotten) of his presidency are stinking up the joint.
In the 1930s, we were in isolationist mode and dealing with the Depression. We were a power but not a leader. Sixty million people died in World War II. Today we are both a power and a leader. All of our actions are interconnected. Leadership requires vision and ingenuity. It’s not the noise we make but the actions we take. Not funding Ukraine, attacking Iran, allowing the destruction of Gaza have potential long-term consequences that threaten our future. Petty political maneuverings can’t take precedence over major world issues. We don’t live in a vacuum. We no longer can believe that ignorance is bliss,
Three Blind Mice
February 4, 2024
To the Editor,
Three wiseman or three blind mice? Together they purchase a home one of the three wives says should be condemned. Buyer beware, always. A price too high, they will now pay the extra tax. No occupancy that has yet been granted and water rising above the broken wall. A questionable building permit issued with a name of an individual who never asked for it. Questions not yet answered with more that remain. I love living in this town. Tales not yet scribed and the reality that would make one think it’s stranger than fiction.
Don’t Impeach Joe
February 5, 2024
“I’ve done all I can do to fix the border.” You sure did, you removed by a stroke of a pen all policies that worked, then adopted others, e.g., catch and release, which made matters worse.
From his first day in office, Joe Biden tore down and reversed the policies of his predecessor that were truly working. Biden swore during his campaign not another foot of the wall would be built. He and his administration terminated project construction contracts.
It’s an election year, therefore U-turns are being made. Biden has cleared the way for a new border-wall construction. In another campaign pledge, Biden vowed to end domestic oil drilling on federal land. Biden undid during his first few days in office with a slew of climate-focused executive orders; however, with high energy prices taking a toll on the economy, Biden reversed course in April 2022.
A plea to the G.O.P. Don’t impeach Joe Biden because then we get do-nothing, cackling Kamala Harris. This woman is in charge of the border? Huh, what has she done? P.S. Would someone explain to Joe Biden his son died of cancer, which is very sad. Beau did not come home in a flag-draped coffin. He truly needs to stop with that story.
In God and country,
February 4, 2024
To the Editor,
Ahh, the liberal hypocrisy. Let’s prepare for World War III — four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, zero new wars in the world. Here we are under the supreme drooler Biden getting attacked and losing American servicemen and women under his non-leadership. We are now bombing Iraq and Syria, the Houthis, who are a shit band of ragtag sand dwellers, are bombing our warships. We have spent billions of dollars defending wars that would not have happened under Trump. Our police are getting attacked by scumbag illegals.
The economy sucks, and New York City streets are a war zone. And we are a joke to the world with a president who can’t complete a full sentence. Yet the morons who live here and post weekly in this liberal rag, The East Hampton Star, still live rent free in Donald Trump’s head. The number-one fool who falls in that category is the last of the three stooges, Neil Hausig, who is still posting from his nursing-home bed. Donald is deeply embedded in Neil’s brain; how do you sleep at night like that, Neil?
In strength, there will be peace. America is weak under these woke liberal Democrat policies. Where are the people who posted weekly that under Donald Trump’s presidency, we would be starting World War III? And where are we now under three years of Joe Biden ? What an F-ing joke these last three years have been. In strength, there is peace; we saw that under Trump’s presidency.
God Bless America.