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Supervisor at Fault in Concert Debacle

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 19:47


How dumb can you be? Southampton Town officials had stars in their eyes when they granted permission for a giant pop concert held in Bridgehampton on Saturday, attended by an estimated 3,000 guests. Now, a short video of concertgoers massed in front of the stage has more than 7 million views on social media, the world is aghast at what entitled people are doing in “the Hamptons,” and the show Southampton allowed is under investigation by the New York State Health Department for apparent violations of Covid-19 rules.

On paper, the performance by the D.J. pair known as the Chainsmokers might have seemed to meet Covid-19 restrictions: Attendees would come by car, stay in their parking spots, and not mingle. But, had town officials stopped for a moment to consider human nature, they might have grasped that a youthful crowd at a concert is hardly likely to remain inside what has been described as a car “cubicle” and that putting thousands of people together for any purpose during the pandemic is reckless and risky in the extreme. The fact that this was a charity benefit is irrelevant.

Photographs and video make it clear that, as the night wore on, there was nothing anyone could do to keep everyone apart. Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, noted that in a V.I.P. area, there was “no pretense of a vehicle, and generally not adhering to social distancing guidance.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, as everyone from here to Timbuktu knows by now, played drums with his own band as one of the opening acts. He has defended himself by stating that he did not even see a V.I.P. zone during his set, and that when he found out about it, he was furious. Well, it’s a slippery slope, Supervisor: Town leaders should set the example, not rip off their masks to gather together with bandmates, at least figuratively, in the first place.

Mr. Schneiderman has said that Southampton Town will cite the event’s organizers for permit violations. That is not enough. A career politician, Mr. Schneiderman would carry much of the blame for allowing this to happen on his watch, even if he had not actually been unwise enough to perform at the big show. But he was an actual participant, and his involvement is evidence of a lack of the common sense and good judgment the people need in an elected leader. To restore confidence in Southampton Town government’s commitment to fighting the pandemic, Mr. Schneiderman must immediately resign.

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