June 23, 2020
To The East Hampton Star:
This month, we commemorate the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, and another month of Gay Pride, in the midst of at least three incredibly serious worldwide crises. What can be the perspective within all this? What is most important? How do we move ahead from this? If we can avoid divisive single-issue behavior, we shall together overcome these current adversities. It happened before and will happen again — as the Civil Rights-era song reminds us: “Someday.”
I personally learned something very important over half a century ago in that popular gay bar late on Friday evening, June 27, 1969. When challenged, to have courage to be yourself, to be honest, and to fight for your rights, and the rights of your community. The police raid after midnight, and our reaction to it, became history. Most of what has been written is very accurate, although sometimes a bit revisionary. Being inside at the time of the raid, I felt the power and value of a suppressed community when we joined together in justified protest. My opinion is we were in rebellion that night, and definitely not rioting.
The 1969 Stonewall Rebellion was the culmination of a number of very important social events that took place in the 1960s. Postwar social dynamics had already challenged many important issues. Many courageous activists had already stepped forward to protest prevailing conditions such as:
• Civil Rights - Segregation, white supremacy, and racism
• Women’s rights and equality
• Religious discrimination
• Economic imbalances and abuse
• Pollution of the environment
• Unfair labor practices
• Sexual liberation
• Warmongering without justification
Within that atmosphere of turbulence, it was obviously time for the sexually nonconforming population to claim pride rather than shame, and to defend its right to exist, and to enjoy life peacefully, without harassment or physical harm. It was time to abandon the unspoken agreement of shame and criminality, and demand the full rights and respect of the society within which we live, contribute, and love.
The rebellion was not an afterthought, but the exact right time for the people traditionally subjected to shame and secrecy, and who risked physical and emotional attacks for generations. We experienced another deliberately humiliating, but finally intolerable, insult that night by the officially sanctioned New York City Police Department raid of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Today, a full 50 years after Stonewall, our society is again crying for compassion and fairness.
White supremacy is enjoying continued public and political support. Racial inequality and prejudice remain, often enforced by government actions. Women still are valued less, and abused with impunity.
The environment is in critical jeopardy. The economy is entirely out of balance, with extreme wealth held by an absurd minority. Corporations are running rampant over all forms of regulation, and are manipulating democracy itself.
We are in a lethal pandemic crisis, with an expensive medical-care system that doesn’t work properly and is not accessible to all.
Citizens are being murdered in the streets by law enforcement, with virtual impunity.
Racial integration remains a failed concept, not a practice, causing disproportionate members of our citizens to be incarcerated, permanently impoverished, injured, or dead.
Homophobia continues to cause criminal actions to victims worldwide.
Where do we go from here? Can we work together over the next 50 years and resolve some of this?
June 27, 2020
Please bring back Helen Rattray, or someone equally good at capturing the essence of a small experience. Packing up an attic box, lighting a holiday candle, or gazing at a backyard wild turkey cluster. By “equally,” I’m also referring to the concept of equality.
All three of your op-ed essays, however well-written, are now penned by three white men, each expressing a definite male slant on life. With so many workplaces scrambling to hire women and minorities in 2020, your choice seems limiting, and in my opinion, too analogous to three blind mice.
LYS A. MARIGOLD
Off His Roof
June 23, 2020
To The Star:
I am writing in support of Sophie French’s letter last week complaining about East Hampton Town falling behind the village in noise regulation. In fact, I would go further. I have spent the last two hours (it’s now 7 p.m.) listening to a neighbor using a very loud leaf blower to blow leaves off his roof. Yes, believe it or not, his roof.
I am a supporter of small businesses and understand that homeowners want to do projects, but the noise leaf blowers make is ridiculous. If it were up to me, leaf blowers would be banned. But at least impose a decibel maximum and give a year or two so all could comply. Help!
Filled With Zinc
June 28, 2020
I read with interest the letter sent by Carl Safina regarding the debate over the use of the bays for commercial oystering. I have tremendous respect for all our commercial fishermen, oyster growers, and farmers, as well for the amateur fisherman and oyster-grower farmer with whom I live.
I do take exception to his statement “no one needs oysters . . . oysters are purely recreational.” I will not go on.
I am shocked that Mr. Safina does not appreciate (or seem to know) that “one oyster a day keeps the doctor away.” Yes, oysters are filled with zinc. Zinc strengthens the thymus gland, which is responsible for keeping our immune system strong. I would say that puts oysters on top of my list of essential needs.
I hope that the debate can be resolved with dignity and to the benefit of all concerned.
PATRICIA ANHOLT HABR
Must Be Monitored
June 26, 2020
I read the letter in last week’s Star from Mr. Carl Safina about his opinion concerning oyster farming and the Suffolk County Aquaculture Lease Program (SCALP). Though Mr. Safina and I have disagreed before — I’m a commercial fisherman — I have to agree with nearly everything he wrote about oyster farming in our bays. However, I have a question and an observation.
As I sit here on my porch in Pennsylvania writing this letter I’m looking at a field of soybeans. The soybean is a legume and, like all legumes and clovers, a bacterium lives in their roots that fixes free nitrogen into the soil and other plants use this fixed nitrogen for their growth and rerelease it when they die back to the environment. My seventh-grade science teacher called that part of the nitrogen cycle.
As we’ve been told, oysters in their millions will clean the bays of all nitrogen and we’ll have pristine waters, but no one has ever told us how they do it, or how they affect the aquatic nitrogen cycle, or the entire marine environment. Which brings me to my observation.
I’ve been a fisherman in our bays for 49 years and over time I’ve seen many changes, but in the past few years the changes have gotten dramatic, especially in the western parts of the Peconic-Gardiner’s system. There is very little to indicate the bottom of the food chain is thriving, or even surviving.
I’ve observed in the spring that fish migrate into the bays to eat and spawn, as is their nature, but as the summer wears on, fewer baby fish, bait, and other evidence of bottom, food-chain life is there. This results in a dead sea even to the total loss of a huge scallop harvest in 2019. I believe that’s evidence life is actually being starved.
The federal agency responsible for regulations and recommendations concerning shellfish aquaculture says nutrient load must be monitored.Neither SCALP nor anyone else has ever done it.
These questions need to be answered for all our good. Perhaps Mr. Safina can use his knowledge, position, and influence to begin to answer them.
June 28, 2020
Okay, just to be clear. This is not my fault. My niece and her husband (God bless them) wanted to do something nice for me for Father’s Day. They said they’d had a package sent and to let them know when it arrived. Drove in the driveway and there was the package from Snake River Farms. I picked it up and said, “Yikes (actually it was a little stronger than yikes), what did they send me?” I opened the package and on my third search through the 20-some-odd ice packs I found it. The package weighed 37.6 pounds and contained one 8-ounce steak. The packing slip said there were supposed to be four steaks, so I jokingly asked my wife, Fiona, “Do you think they’ll ship the other three separately?” They did!
The next day we got a package weighing a relatively eco-friendly 20 pounds, containing three more 8-ounce steaks. So, to recap, two packages weighing a combined 57.6 pounds contained exactly two pounds of steak. Just tell the Sierra Club to come and shoot me now!
Waiting for Us
June 24, 2020
Covid-19 heralds some good news for this Independence Day. We won’t be facing heavy traffic. And the scarcity of meat will keep our outdoor grills safe.
Folks who grill hamburgers and hot dogs face a nasty choice. The U.S. Meat and Poultry Hotline advises grilling at high temperature to avoid food poisoning by E. coli and salmonella bacteria. But the National Cancer Institute warns that high-temperature grilling of processed meats generates cancer-causing compounds.
Fortunately, we no longer need to choose between food poisoning and cancer!
A bunch of enterprising U.S. food processors have met this challenge head-on by developing a rich variety of convenient, healthful, delicious, plant-based veggie burgers, veggie dogs, and soy nuggets. These products don’t harbor nasty bugs or cancer-causing compounds. They are missing the cholesterol, saturated fats, drugs, hormones, and pesticides of their animal-based alternatives. And they are waiting for us in the frozen-food section of our favorite supermarket, along with nut-based ice creams and other dairy-free desserts.
On this Independence Day, let’s declare our independence from the meat industry, which exposes its workers to Covid infection. And let’s stay away from both the Covid and the barbecue bugs!
June 25, 2020
It was heartening to witness a degree of common sense when New York and a few other states decided to impose a quarantine of sorts on visitors from those southern and western states now showing serious Covid spikes. One has to ask though, how can this be monitored and enforced? I can’t envision roadblocks on I-95, and how does one follow up on those flying in?
This leads to the broader problem of the very real absence of a centralized and coordinated strategy from the federal government. Having lived abroad for a quarter of a century, I’ve watched in admiration at the effectiveness of those countries where we’ve lived, worked, and visited. Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Poland, Vietnam, and Germany have all done a good job flattening the curve. They all share a strong central government and a disciplined population who don’t hesitate to wear masks.
Here, where our 50 states cry out for a coordinated effort, our strategy seems more akin to “whack a mole,” where we go from one area to another as spikes develop. One envisions this going on well into the future — especially with the blase attitude regarding masks shown by many of our neighbors in this community and elsewhere.
Some Free Advice
June 29, 2020
Yes, there is a real problem with the way the town has been communicating about Covid-19, and I am not sure whether a consultant for any amount of money is a way to solve the problem.
Ever since early March, when the pandemic started, there has been an incredible lack of messaging from the town in regard to Covid-19. If you went to the town website, you would be directed to a Covid section that contained some minimally useful information. Much of what was there was a compilation of messages from various sources, and some of the statistics related to the Covid numbers. You could go to other sources, like the county and state, for information, but there were virtually no town-related communications about what it meant for East Hampton. Here’s some free advice about what we need.
First, there must be more communication, it must contain information that we all need to know, and it should be communicated in a manner that makes it feel like we are all in this together. Not exactly rocket science. Here’s an example of what would be very helpful. Do we all know where you can get tested out here? A friend needed a test last week and was told that he could have it done in East Hampton, on Pantigo Place. Well, as a matter of fact that testing facility closed about a week ago and there is now one in Montauk open on Tuesday and Thursday. Shouldn’t this information be readily available to everyone out here? The town site, as of today, contains no such information.
Second, as for the town website, it has to be more informative. It should contain up-to-date testing information, all the things we need to know about what we can and cannot do in stores, restaurants, bars, etc. It should contain links to all the information sources that are available, both publically and privately. And it should contain a section where you can post information, ask questions, and communicate in any other way that is helpful. Something like this could be constructed quite quickly and my guess is that here are plenty of people in this town who would be happy to give their time to do this.
We all know that Covid will be with us for a long while and it’s likely to continue to be a real roller-coaster ride. We all need to be properly informed, and I believe it is the obligation of the town to do this. And if there is not an embrace of this need by our elected town officials, no amount of consultant spending will give us what we need.
June 25, 2020
I am a year-round resident of Barnes Landing. The postal service to our neighborhood has been getting worse and worse. We often go for a day or longer without mail delivery. I find this particularly astonishing in light of the threats from Washington to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service. I would have thought the post office would be making a real effort to demonstrate its efficiency and dependability. Instead, it is shooting itself in the foot and we are not getting our mail. If its deal with Amazon is causing the problem, then the service needs to hire more people so that its primary function of delivering the U.S. mail can be accomplished! With so many people out of work due to Covid-19 this seems like a good time to be hiring.
Whatever the reason, the system is broken and needs to be addressed so that we can once again rely on the U.S. Postal Service.
Very truly yours,
June 26, 2020
I wonder if The Star is aware of the decline in reliable postal service from the East Hampton Post Office? Mail delivery is sporadic and no longer daily. Prescription medicines that were sent by Caremark on June 12 are still listed as “in transit.” Four or five packages ordered from Amazon were never delivered. Tracking information shows them arriving in East Hampton from a New Jersey Amazon facility, and being returned to that facility with no attempt to deliver locally.
Is the post office being defunded? Or, is this a local East Hampton issue?
June 25, 2020
To The Star:
For over a year now, I have wondered why the East Hampton Post Office is upset with the residents of Barnes Landing.
There are days that go by when no mail is delivered at all or our neighbors’ mail is put into my mailbox in error. This is not a problem that happens every now and then; it happens all the time. If we have a good day, we receive our mail around 6:30 p.m. I have called the post office many times to express my concerns with the service, and they give the same excuse: “We are short of carriers.”
They have also admitted to me that they do not service Barnes Landing six days a week, and that some days it could be a two-day gap in service. While I understand they are short-staffed, it is not my problem. If they are unable to provide adequate service, then they need a change in local management. Are we the only community experiencing this horrendous service?
Whatever happened to “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds?” I guess these words are true, except in Barnes Landing.
Barnes Landing Association
June 26, 2020
Dear Mr. Rattray,
The South Fork Wind project is facing some key decision points in the coming months, including action by the town board where a key transmission line would run, and progress on the siting of that transmission line overseen by the Public Service Commission, both in the face of determined hyper-local NIMBY opposition.
Those decisions need to be go-aheads for the South Fork project. We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and move to a healthier, safer world, as well as boosting our Covid-ravaged economy.
South Fork, which would power 70,000 Long Island homes, is part of an envisioned 9,000-megawatt offshore system to bring clean energy and economic development to Long Island.
We know we must move to clean energy to fight climate change, which is increasingly obvious in our local communities as well as worldwide. A record hot summer is predicted yet again this year. A move to renewable energy is not only our sole option, but enshrined into New York state law, which calls for a 100 percent clean energy electric grid by 2040. Offshore wind energy is a sensible, obvious solution to what ails us.
Very truly yours,
AMY K. POSNER
How Dare You
June 23, 2020
To the Editor:
East Hampton Supervisor Van Scoyoc: How many times did you promise that no drilling on Beach Lane would occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day? So how could you issue a permit to begin drilling on June 22 at 7 a.m.? Another deception of the public — the people who voted you into office — the people whom you are supposed to represent. Shame on you!
At a time of a pandemic, when children are home from school, people are working from home, and retired people are trying to find peace and tranquility on the beach, you had the audacity to issue a permit for drilling starting June 22, despite your previous promises not to do so. Why is it that everything you do for Deepwater is hidden from the public?
You have no regard for people’s emotional need for peace and calm during this particular summer. We walked down to the beach on the glorious first day of summer, and instead of peace and quiet, there was a huge drilling rig blocking access to the beach, emitting diesel fumes and huge noise. How dare you! Shame on you!
June 29, 2020
To the Editor,
I am a member of the steering committee of Win With Wind (winwithwind.org). Our mission is to produce fact-based information regarding the benefits of renewable offshore wind energy. It also means that sometimes we call out misinformation when we see it. And we continue to see a campaign of misinformation at the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott.
For example, on the C.P.W. website home page they claim that a “230,000-volt electric cable on Beach Lane” will somehow magically become a “460,000-volt” line and run “throughout Wainscott.”
First of all, the cable will be under Beach Lane, as the water mains are under our roads. And, second, the transmission line is 138 kV. Not 230, not 460. C.P.W. knows this. And, third, the cable is decidedly not throughout Wainscott. It will be a singular route, one underground path to the substation at Cove Hollow. And like the water mains that actually do run throughout Wainscott, you will never see the transmission cable.
Also on the C.P.W. website is the phrase “foreign-owned Deepwater Wind.” Are we now to be afraid of “foreign-owned”? This is a shameless fomenting of xenophobia by C.P.W., and it has no place here.
Win With Wind
June 27, 2020
To the Editor:
Before we can initiate any solutions to the global environmental crises, we need a commitment to the truth, not abject bows to wishful thinking, technophilia, or political ideology. The public dialogue about climate change at present has monopolized the public space and severely constricted the terms and topics of debate about solutions. Pop-up solutions like the Green New Deal function like a party pinata, where everyone gets a treat at no cost and no inconvenience. The latest manifestation is Project Drawdown, inspired by businessman Paul Hawken, with a broad but detailed set of “solutions” to climate change, and, most notably, to nothing else. But climate change is only one of many problems, and unless special precautions are taken when energy policy is formulated, climate “solutions” could well end up sidelining solutions to the other urgent problems (overpopulation and biodiversity loss) or even enhance their expanding impact on the earth’s systems and natural resources.
The rush to, at all costs, develop renewable energy is now blind to the implications of such massive development for the earth’s habitats and species, as the recent film “Planet of the Humans” made clear. The general public seems unaware that all resource extraction and applications rely themselves on energy and planetary availability of mineral and plant resources.
In contrast is the new project the Real Green New Deal, which comes to grips with the reality of the laws of physics and the consequences of biological disruption of ecosystems, the overconsumption and overdemand by the developed nations, and not least, the unsustainable overpopulation of the world, most apparent in Africa and the Middle East. The uncomfortable truths they present are those of global overshoot in consumption and population and the stark realization that a “drawdown” in energy consumption is only one part of the urgent changes in human behavior needed to save human civilization and society.
Here is part of the real Green New Deal manifesto, one that lays out the ecological imperative of de-growth and an equitable steady-state economy. Unlike the Project Drawdown list of solutions, only a handful of which have any application at the local level, the Real Green New Deal insists on making people face and accept the physical and biological limits that must be placed on all human endeavors. Thus it is not simply limiting the planet’s temperature or replacing fossil fuels with a purportedly enlightened energy policy. It means imposing limits throughout the economy and throughout our lives:
Climate change, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation — all are symptoms of one underlying problem: ecological overshoot. Too many people consuming and polluting too much, enabled by a one-off inheritance of abundant fossil energy. The laser focus on climate change neglects this systemic nature of the bigger problem. The only way to address the climate crisis is within the context of our overshoot crisis, which calls for a dramatic contraction of the human enterprise. The renewable energy technologies commonly put forth as solutions have enormous drawbacks and limitations, which at this point make them unsustainable and unviable from a basic implementation perspective. The question is whether we ourselves will manage the descent thoughtfully and humanely or nature will force it upon us more painfully.
Put simply, these are the problems and the challenges we must meet: overpopulation, ending U.S. empire, restoring democracy while shifting to new political systems that match the decentralized future we face, economic de-growth, and what aspects of modern life can be retained in an energy de-intensified world.
Contrast this with Project Drawdown, whose director Jonathan Foley said was “the biggest business opportunity in human history.” Is shoring up and expanding business what the planet needs? Why is economics still the sole measure of progress and human welfare? How do technophiles and pro-growth promoters reconcile their grandiose, resource-dependent plans for massive infrastructure development with climate change and the need to protect habitats, ecosystems, and biodiversity? Why are so many people forgetting the recent wildfires, floods, droughts, famine, and globalization of disease, pretending that they have no connection to the destruction of nature, overconsumption, and overpopulation? And what fuels the anger of those who attacked the film “Planet of the Humans” for exposing the hidden costs and ecological disasters intrinsically connected to widespread development of renewable energy?
June 29, 2020
Dear Mr. Rattray,
There is a growing body of evidence that environmental injustice toward African-Americans begins in the womb. Not only is the legacy of slavery and continuing institutional racism devastating black lives, but climate change is having a disproportionately harmful effect on them, even before birth.
Pregnant women exposed to the effects of higher temperatures and air pollution are more likely to have babies who are premature, underweight or stillborn, and African-American mothers and babies are more likely to be harmed by these factors than others, according to a vast new study that looked at 32 million U.S. births.
Black mothers are more likely to live near polluting industries and fossil fuel infrastructure, and in urban heat islands. Climate change is bringing heat waves, and more ozone and particulate pollution, which increase the rate of stillbirths and low birth weight babies.
Under these circumstances, the last thing Governor Andrew Cuomo should be supporting is the building of any new fossil fuel infrastructure in New York. That would include utility National Grid’s “plan B,” which would bring more methane fracked gas into the state by constructing pipeline facilities, and expanding liquefied natural gas and compressor stations. We need to save communities from having to live near polluting industry, not condemn future generations to lifelong harm.
Only One Goal
June 29, 2020
Information is knowledge. Many of our neighbors and the community of the Springs have no knowledge of the application before the Town of East Hampton Planning Board by New Cingular W/ireless/AT&T (AT&T) for a 50-foot-high, five-story cell tower at St. Peter’s Chapel located at 465 Old Stone Highway, East Hampton.
Time is of the essence. The public hearing date will close on July 6, 2020, I am asking you, please, to let your voice be heard if this matter is of importance to you.First and foremost, please know I am not opposed to cellphone technology. I have had a long career in the information technology sector. Technology, when used appropriately, is for the greater good.
What I am opposed to is the moral judgment of those responsible persons of St. Peter’s Chapel, the zoning board, and the planning board of East Hampton, in consideration of such a major decision that will affect the life/lives of me, my family, the congregants of St. Peter’s Chapel, and the Springs community at large.
St. Peter’s Chapel, the Springs affiliate of St. Luke’s Church in East Hampton Village, has only one goal, to receive a minimum monthly check in the amount $3,000 for the lifetime of the AT&T cell tower, at minimum for 50 years. There is no other reason for their support of a cell tower. This was highlighted at the Zoning Board public hearing, when two or more representatives of St. Peter’s Chapel stated they needed the money to support more programs for the community, as St. Luke’s Church states the chapel must be “self-sustaining.” Is there no other way for the chapel to fund-raise annually? I think there are many opportunities, which may require more effort.
The zoning board has approved not one, two, or three, but four variances for such a proposal. They include a natural resources special permit variance, pyramid law variance, wetlands variance, and a fall zone variance.
Fall zones are legal boundaries to protect and serve the lives and safety of those in their proximity.
This latter variance compromises the life/lives and safety of me, my family, and the congregants of St. Peter’s Chapel, as we are all within the immediate fall zone. This is no way to live in our residential zoning district. The other three variances approved affect everything this community stands for – wildlife preservation, flooding protection, noise pollution, dark-sky ordinances, and our bucolic Springs.
The renderings of this tower submitted to both the zoning and planning boards of East Hampton by AT&T, are truly a deceptive misrepresentation of the size of such a proposed “campanile,” the likes of San Marco Piazza in Venice, Italy. For this reason alone, this application should be vacated. Imagine, such a 50-foot tower for the next 50-plus years visible from every direction adjacent to St. Peter’s Chapel, built in 1881.
Additionally, such a proposed AT&T cell tower is limited in reach (maximum range is one to two miles), has limited use (AT&T-only subscribers), and is not connected to the Town of East Hampton emergency communications system (ambulance, fire, and police).
Eric Schantz of the East Hampton Town Planning Department is quoted in The East Hampton Star on April 9, 2020, and I paraphrase, “In the near term the town should hire a consultant that has radio-frequency engineering capability to determine whether or not there truly is a gap in coverage.” Long range, he recommended that a consultant review the town’s wireless master plan, to streamline it with federal law while preserving the community’s goals with respect to property values, safety, open spaces, and scenic areas. “You can’t have a code section that’s 20 years old for something like wireless service,” he said.
So why now? Why on this insignificant stretch of Old Stone Highway, one to two miles, is it urgently required to have cell service that benefits only a few, very few indeed.
Access for construction: AT&T thinks, wrongly, that their access will be the private driveway (our property) that abuts the church. Only this past week did the Planning Department realize that access for such construction of this five-story, 50-foot-high campanile would be from the chapel property, which will require the removal of many trees. Therefore, the exposure of such a 50-foot tower will be, even more so, prominent from all directions. Additionally, the removal of trees is the main reason AT&T cited as the reasons for not selecting other more suitable sites for such a cell tower.
This proposed application is a win-lose strategy. The focus is on achieving immediate goals for the few (money for the chapel) with little or no regard for the lives/safety of the congregants of the chapel, the neighbors, or the community at large.
The town gives more consideration to the piping plovers (which I so appreciate), than they appear to [for] for the human lives of those who live and pay taxes to support the community.
Anyone interested in voicing their opinion as public record can send an email to:
In the Fall Zone
June 29, 2020
During this period of chaos, uncertainty, disease, death, and violence, we are all scared about what lies ahead. The Covid pandemic is terrifying, but, thankfully for the residents of East Hampton, our local leadership has been proactive. That is what leaders do. They spring into action, issuing guidelines designed to keep our community safe.
We bought our house 25 years ago. We are full-time residents as of this year. We vote here and pay taxes here. We support the neighborhood associations and the local police and fire departments. We rely on our local government to act in the best interest of its residents. In October of 2019, the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals granted four variances for a proposed 50-foot cell tower at St. Peters Chapel, including a variance to disregard the fall zone provision enacted to protect the safety of abutting properties, and the parishioners.
We live in the house in the fall zone directly behind St. Peter’s Chapel. The petitioner, N.C.W./A.T.&T., has already shown blatant disregard for the abutting property owners during the Covid crisis by trespassing on our property to rush through nonessential boring testing on the chapel site, scaring us, our neighbors, and violating our rights as taxpayers and homeowners. We quickly found that despite contacting code enforcement, the East Hampton police, and documenting the incident photographically, there was no enforcement provided.
The proposal submitted to the zoning board and planning board contained deliberately misleading photographic mock-ups of the height of the campanile. We and other neighbors “attended” the June 3 planning board virtual zoom open meeting specifically to share our concerns. The format was extremely challenging, as the technology to stream the meeting as promised was not working. This is a critically important issue for our community. The town might have considered rescheduling the meeting until we really could have a proper open meeting with working technology. That said, many spoke against. Not one person, not the chapel nor a representative spoke in favor. Only the commercial petitioner, N.C.W./A.T.&T., spoke in favor. Since the meeting, there is an active petition on Change.org against the construction of this five-story structure, which as of today’s date has 362 signatures.
N.C.W./A.T.&T. is one cellular provider that is purely interested in profit. They have found a willing partner in St. Peter’s Chapel. They have a base of operations to erect their unsightly 50-foot tower-campanile and the chapel profits at $3,000 per month for allowing them to erect the tower. N.C.W./A.T.&T. has ruled out other planning board suggested sites largely based on A.T.&T.’s assessment that many trees will need to be cleared on those sites, deeming the sites unacceptable.
No documents have been provided to indicate how N.C.W./A.T.&T. will access the St. Peter’s property without tearing down trees. We live with a clear view of the proposed campanile site, and we see no way to construct it without significant clearing, making this site as unsuitable as others for the very same reasons. Remember, this tower will not in any way benefit emergency responders. This is just a vague promise of better service on one carrier. The rest is murky and undefined.
What do we as neighbors and residents gain from this? It is a lose-lose for our Springs community. At our house, we maintain a landline for emergency reasons. We also enable Wi-Fi calling on our cellphones, which I recommend for everyone. That will give you the coverage on your cellphone that you need, without putting our community in jeopardy.
We request that the Town of East Hampton lead this process by hiring an independent consultant who could consider all the factors (including environmental harm, noise, and light pollution) and then make recommendations. This would put the town back in the leadership role, able to create the most advantageous plan to benefit our residents. That is how we have made it thus far during the pandemic. Our local leadership has done a solid job. I am imploring our leadership to take a step back and come up with a comprehensive plan created to serve the needs of our community.
Rushed to Help
June 29, 2020
There isn’t a person alive who can justify what happened in Minneapolis. Justice will prevail. What took place afterward is an aberration beyond comprehension. It was not a demonstration, it was arson and looting, murder, and shootings carried out by felons. The attacks on police threaten the safety of all. The F.B.I. statistics contradict the falsehoods portrayed by the media. A noble profession that is to help and protect society. Not a mention of David Dorn or David Patrick Underwood, or countless others. Why?
How many would try to walk in those shoes? This is an example, thoughts from inside, what every officer may experience, even in our area or some rural section, where assistance is 20 miles away, or even none.
According to O.E. Wilson, the most hazardous police interaction causing their death is responding to domestic incidents and random vehicle stops. The greatest deterrent to crime is fear of apprehension and severe penalty. Lax laws, recently passed, eliminated that. Not what TV or the movies portray. So if one digests the following it may help an understanding of the stress that starts when they leave home for duty. The families never know if they will come back home. It requires that they wear bulletproof vests for safety. The media reports, “cops in riot gear”! It is protective gear for the missiles thrown at them, and the police are not there to riot. They have pulled mangled people from car wrecks, lied to those who are dying by telling them they will recover, holding their hands, and watching them pass away.
Have held dying babies, bought food for mentally ill and some who have not eaten in a while, and at times at scenes do not eat themselves for long periods. Have been assaulted and almost stabbed, fought with those who may be trying to shoot them.They have been attacked by women while arresting their husbands for severely beating them, performed CPR while knowing it was futile, just to make families feel better, as they try. Gone to homes in the middle of the night to notify them that a loved one had been killed in some manner. Witness the screams and devastation.
Many have torn down doors, fought in drug houses, chased fugitives across busy highways and through the woods. Been involved in car crashes and within a hair of squeezing the trigger, when the person came to their senses, and dropped the weapon. They walked into angry crowds alone, and rushed to help an injured or fallen officer.
Removed bad people to jail, given some breaks and even prayed for people they do not know. They had to be forceful at times and disliked the thought. Many have been to some dark places after horrible scenes. There is no way to prepare them for what they will witness and have to do.
They all have missed Christmas and holidays as they patrolled to protect all those things that are exhausting and proven to shorten life expectancy. Even after years of routine duties, a situation arises that they have to immediately have the sense of near superhuman response and the unexpected, life-threatening danger they have been thrust into. Their job consists of not only what they do but what they may have to do in a split second, within the time frame of their end of watch. They ask for little, except some respect and courtesy.
They know the risk they take every moment, so let them do their job without being assaulted or killed. Real life, as it exists. Can you dare walk in their shoes and see how brave and principled the greater majority really are? Find out by speaking with those who have been there. Be prepared to watch recruitments vanish. Seasoned veterans who mentor the new with their knowledge are leaving in droves. God help this country when there are none.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
Smoke and Mirrors
June 28, 2020
I have read and reread Mr. Vilar’s letter of June 25 several times. It is astonishing that Mr. Vilar, with as he puts it deep-policing experience, seems to suggest that the exemplary actions of the thousands of police who, in their day-to-day work actually do protect those whom they serve, somehow work to excuse the conduct of those police who with wanton depravity murder those they have the sworn duty to protect.
I have no illusion that policing is anything but a very difficult, and often life-threatening, job. But whether it is chokeholds that repeatedly kill civilians, shooting suspects fatally as they sit in their car or in the back as they flee police, shooting at a distance suspects wielding a knife, or just plain shooting unarmed citizens, these depraved actions by bad cops in no way are excused by the actions of the thousands of good cops. No attempt to reform policing through training or other similar actions has stemmed the carnage wrought by these thugs. In fact, it has worsened. And as has been the chant for years: Enough is enough.
Now, let’s be clear: Mr. Vilar is the head of the East Hampton G.O.P. So, when he bemoans the fact that politicians “do not understand the burdens of society caused by inadequate education, economic opportunities, and poverty,” Mr. Vilar should look in the mirror, for it is his party that has made sure that the knee of economic repression has for decades been firmly on the necks of the disadvantaged, ensuring that they do not threaten the well-being of the haves.
Indeed, it has been the G.O.P. that has enacted regulations that would keep disadvantaged kids in underperforming schools, with ever diminishing budgets. It has been the G.O.P. that has tirelessly striven to deprive those who cannot afford it of health care. It has been the G.O.P. that enacted policies that have cut to the bone programs that would help those below the poverty level to provide food for their families. It has been the G.O.P. that has led the charge against higher minimum wages. And it is the G.O.P. that has, time and again, tried to emasculate social safety-net programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Yet, Mr. Vilar is blind to this.
As you have read in his letters here, as the head of the local G.O.P. committee, Mr. Vilar champions his congressional crony, our congressman, Lee Zeldin, who has worked as hard as any to keep a knee on the neck of the disadvantaged among us.
What is even more shameful has been Mr. Vilar’s entreaties to those who oppose these, and other G.O.P. actions, to embrace the East Hampton G.O.P. committee and discover the benevolence that can be found there. But his letters evince an unwavering devotion to G.O.P. policies designed to further disadvantage the disadvantaged. Indeed, as Kyle Vorpahl noted in his interview with The Star, this professed “benevolence” is just smoke and mirrors.
So, the answer to Mr. Vilar’s superficial invitations should be a resounding no — both as to embracing the local G.O.P. and at the ballot box.
Relied on Slavery
June 27, 2020
Dear East Hampton Star,
In this time of constant bad news, it’s nice to see a bit of progress, even if it is small. In this case, it’s the decision made by the Mississippi Legislature to finally remove the “Confederate flag” symbol from the state flag. You might wonder why I put Confederate flag in quotes. The reason is that the proper name for this symbol is actually the Battle Flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee. For much of the Civil War, the Confederates were not a single army but a group of small, private armies, borne out of the same kinds of militias that had been the basis of the resistance during the Revolution. The leaders tended to be rich men, mostly plantation owners, who could afford to finance their own private armies, and each had its own battle flag. General Lee had actually been in the U.S. Army and it was his military experience that eventually led to his becoming the acknowledged commander of the united Confederate Army.
Here’s the interesting thing about General Lee. He was, first and foremost, a man of honor. When he and the South were defeated, he surrendered with humility and grace. This doesn’t mean he should be excused for fighting for an inhumane cause, but it does put a new angle on his battle flag. In fact, when he surrendered he declared that his battle flag should be destroyed and stricken from the historical record. He also declared that it should never be duplicated or used again, and that to do so should be considered an act of treason against the United States of America, punishable — in his mind — by death by firing squad. So General Lee, the man who this symbol is named for, actually renounced it and wanted it consigned to the rubbish heap of history.
For this reason alone, it should have been declared an illegal symbol by Congress. The reason it did is the same reason we still have groups like the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that such groups, as well as their symbols, are protected under the First Amendment, specifically as freedom of speech. While I agree that the people must be free to express their feelings, I don’t believe that this doesn’t have limits. It’s one thing to speak out against the government. It’s quite another to threaten an entire demographic with genocide in the way that the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, and white supremacists do. These groups have proven that they are not above violent action, whether physical or psychological. The problem with declaring them illegal, according to most scholars, is that such action could be used as an excuse to ban scientific ideas like Darwinism (which remains under attack by the religious right wing in many places).
The removal of the Confederate symbol from the Mississippi State flag might be a sign of progress. However, as several people have stated, just because a symbol goes away, that doesn’t mean that the sentiment behind it is gone. There were those of us who thought that much of the racism in this country had been thwarted and diverted from African-Americans to Arabs and Muslims. The election of President Obama woke the sleeping demon, so much so that the man who seemed to personify it the most wound up becoming the next president of the United States! The current Black Lives Matter movement has become necessary. I wish it weren’t, since, like #Metoo, it has the capacity to harm those who might otherwise support the cause.
For the record, I’m a Darwinist. I support the Black Lives Matter movement. My philosophy has always been to judge people individually and by their actions, not by the color of their skin or flavor of religious belief. As a species, we face a lot of very real threats —the Covid virus and global warming to name just two. And, oddly, it’s the same people who have the bigoted and racist idea that only one skin color deserves to rule the planet who also deny that these problems exist.
As is my habit, I seem to have gotten a bit off track, but then again (say it with me), it’s all connected. I’ll close with the reminder that this country’s ugly secret is that it was founded on an economy that relied on slavery. Without slaves working the sugar plantations (as well as cotton), there would have been no rum to trade, itself an illegal commodity. It was only because of the trade in rum that the United States, after the Revolution, was able to compete on the world market as it existed at the time. And it’s a well-known fact that the very first two presidents of the United States, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both owned slaves. Jefferson is an interesting example, since he owned slaves but actually fell in love with one of them and probably took her as a mistress. And she was a fabulous cook!
I guess my final point is that there are a lot of us of the Caucasian persuasion who really do wish things had been different. We want to look at others and see the person, not the skin color or religion. When we hear talk of reparations, we wonder what would that mean? How do you make amends for millions of people systematically kidnapped from their homes only to risk death en route to a warehouse on the other side of the ocean where they were then sold to people who treated them like cattle to be bought and sold over and over. How do you reconcile families ripped apart in this process? How do you pay for the suffering caused by brutal and low-intelligence overseers given to tyrannical behavior and torture? We already fought one war over slavery. The Civil Rights Movement has seen enough violence to be considered a second war over skin color. The Black Lives Matter movement is the latest battle in that war, with casualties like George Floyd.
To finish, I want to point out that Mississippi is the last state to have the Confederate flag as part of its state flag. The choice to remove that symbol marks a huge step forward. I know this leaves a huge empty space on the flag. If asked, I would actually have a few good suggestions for what to put there. Chief among them would be an okra leaf, pod, and flower. The okra (or ngombo) plant came to the New World with slaves and it is one of the most important vegetables in local cuisine. Likewise, if they want something that doesn’t call attention to slavery at all, fill the field in true heraldic style with a crawdad, a catfish, and an alligator, three iconic symbols of Mississippi (and Southern) life. In any event, there is so much to choose from. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do.
As always, thanks for reading.
June 29, 2020
Five months after Covid-19 was first diagnosed in the U.S. and 125,000 deaths later, the Trump administration still has no comprehensive strategy, other than to foist all responsibility on states and governors. Not content with simply offloading the responsibility, the president willfully creates obstacles to dealing with the pandemic by mocking the advice of his own handpicked White House task force.
Sneeringly dismissive of wearing a mask, Trump has framed this incredibly simple way to stem the virus’s spread as a sign of weakness, and as a referendum on himself, claiming in a Wall Street Journal interview that some people wear masks “to signal disapproval of him.” It’s hardly surprising, then, that fan boy Lee Zeldin chose not to wear a mask at Trump’s recent Tulsa rally despite standing shoulder-to-shoulder with over 6,000 people in an enclosed arena.
Coming from a district that has already witnessed the devastating consequences of the virus when it is spreading exponentially, Zeldin’s choice to not wear a mask shows an alarming lack of common sense, a shocking indifference to the sacrifices made by health-care workers, and a callous disregard for every resident of Congressional District 1. It also reveals blind allegiance to a dangerous president who has repeatedly put his own interests far above those of this country.
In November, we must vote Trump and Zeldin out of office.
June 29, 2020
To The Star:
We are shut down four months because our family in France got hit in February. Covid-19, the economy, Black Lives Matter protests, and the chaos of our government raise the pressure beyond livable. Almost every day something new rolls out, and we feel the tension rise another level. Isolation, uncertainty, anger, and intense craziness lead only to despair. As each day blends into the next, we lose track of where we are. We spend hours on the phone trying to figure out when we had similar feelings, if ever, and how we dealt with them. Underneath there is the knowledge that we can get through anything. Lots of people in the world have experienced much worse and survived and thrived. Living in East Hampton in a house with a pool is hardly the end of the world. We are certainly spoiled, but it doesn’t mean that our feelings aren’t real.
How does one live in America and not lose your mind? The feeling of isolation is amplified by the noise. The mindless drivel that is so obviously mindless drivel parroted by 20 percent of the country, 60 million brain-dead people whose unmasked faces threaten the rest of us and don’t see it as a problem. Because the Constitution enumerated their freedoms, and besides Jesus thinks it’s okay. The freedom to be stupid might be in the Ten Commandments. But accessory to murder is a violation of our laws.
The virus, and it is a real virus, runs parallel to the viral form of fascism that Trump has perpetuated on the country. It is not his racism, nor his stupidity, nor even his lack of interest in human beings that threaten our world, but his intent on destroying all of our democratic institutions that protect and keep at bay the fascist tendencies that lie beneath the surface of our national ethos.
While he wreaks havoc on our essential freedoms and strips away the firewalls that protect our democracy from rape and pillage, he propagates an ideology of violent debasement against anything that stands in opposition. Supported by a base of people who find the simplicity of fascism so much easier to grasp than the complications of democracy.
So, in the insane world spawned by a lapse of consciousness and self-respect, we find ourselves absurdly infected, economically battered, and spiritually broken.
Time to drain the swamp. In real time.