October 4, 2021
The Library staff really enjoyed reading Bess Rattray’s “The Shipwreck Rose: Lessons and Carrels” dated Sept. 23; her love of the library shines through. We have worked hard to transition the library into the great place that it is today. We will continue to make changes as they are needed.
Toward the end of her column she posed a question about why we need video game access in the Children’s Room. The Library has had computers in our Children’s Rooms for more than 20 years. With the opening of the children’s addition in 2014, the librarians researched a collection of programs and games to put on our new computers and iPads.
The devices in the Children’s Room are divided into four age groups with age-appropriate content and applications. A small number of the programs are entertainment based, and the majority are educational.
Many children use these computers when visiting the library. Some children use the computers while waiting for a program to start, some use them while their parents select books to take home, and others use the computers with their parents as a learning tool or just for fun. We understand the issues related to “gamers” getting addicted to video games. We look forward to working with parents to help them identify potential gaming issues and will provide resources on how to deal with them.
All the best,
East Hampton Library
October 4, 2021
Speaking of letters, I got a concerning one Friday from the board of trustees at LongHouse Reserve.
Many folks here may already know, LongHouse Reserve is one of the most treasured art and natural garden resources available to the public here in the Hamptons. The 16 acres of gardens and art are situated in East Hampton, but everyone is welcome to visit, according to reasonable rules of behavior, modest fees, and scheduling.
This wonderful amenity was the extraordinary gift of Jack Lenor Larsen, a true gentleman and textile artist, a world-class design expert and devotee of artistic and sustainable landscape design. Jack devoted his lifetime, especially his later years, to education and sharing his creative experience.
Jack left this mortal space last December, but entrusted his former residence and publicly shared gardens to permanent public benefit. Of course we expect changes when someone of such creative significance dies. My concern is that today I wonder what those changes might be.
The surprise letter I received simply announced the appointment of a new interim director “to lead LongHouse through our transition.”
The new interim director, (also referred to as “interim leader”) has credentials that seem very strong. No mention whatsoever was made concerning Matko Tomicic, the executive director, who served in that capacity for over two decades and maintained an excellent supportive relationship with Jack Lenor Larsen.
Over many years, Jack methodically transitioned the LongHouse Reserve to the public’s benefit. The executive staff and the long-established board always seemed to be on the same page as Jack, and is expected to continue his intended mission. I have noticed some board changes recently, but must hope those are simply the nature of nonprofit boards, changing a bit over time.
My 20-year appreciation of LongHouse Reserve has added to my life, and I have seen how it enhances the lives of many others. The children’s educational outreach programs are a valuable add-on asset to the students in the area’s financially stressed school systems.
Personally, I was unaware of any radical changes, or new directions needed, at this difficult time during the pandemic, just the sad but well-planed transition after Jack’s passing.
The pandemic has battered the financial support structure at LongHouse, similar to many other nonprofit organizations. Our community now has this generous gift and must continue to protect and support this treasure, in addition to the generous wealthy.
We must care for our beaches, the wildlife, farms, and open spaces that make the East End of Long Island so valuable — and we should care for the spiritual and artful landscapes and gardens that are also our heritage.
October 4, 2021
I’m so glad I live in a town that takes sustainability seriously and is acting on it. The first solar plus battery storage system is now being installed on the Parks Department roof. It will generate clean renewable power and also allow the town to sell excess power to the grid.
Wonderful too, is the Solarize East Hampton campaign, which offers discounts that make sense for residents and businesses. I am excited to see that this town council is making real moves towards their 100 percent renewable energy goal and I look forward to seeing more of their efforts and vision in making our beautiful town a beacon for renewable energy.
October 4, 2021
Four years ago, I had begun to believe that if we eliminate enough petroleum and gas in our own lives and that of our communities, replacing those fuels with electricity, we would be in a vastly better place to pump that electricity with wind, solar, hydropower, and other clean energies as they become more readily available.
Having had a home here for almost 40 years, I became a member of the town’s energy sustainability committee (now called energy and sustainability committee) in 2019. In the hope of expanding the renewable energy in our own electricity, the committee advised the town to start buying its energy directly — through what is called a C.C.A. (community choice aggregation). Later that fall, there was a second public hearing, and the town moved forward with enabling legislation. If all goes well (which means that LIPA has to step out of the way), East Hampton, on behalf of its 21,000-plus homes, will begin negotiating for 100 percent renewable energy so that the mix of electric energy each of our homes receives will have a greater mix of renewables.
As I replaced my 2004 car with a Tesla last summer, the energy committee advised the town to start replacing its own fleet with electric vehicles. The town agreed and now, as its petroleum-fueled cars need replacement (and equivalent vehicles are available), E.V.s are joining the town fleet, as are charging stations.
Also, last summer, my air-conditioning (installed originally in 2003) was failing. There was a leak, which my heating and cooling company couldn’t locate and the R22 refrigerant was being outlawed. I couldn’t continue to pump in a toxic refrigerant, either ethically or financially. I considered replacing the system with heat pumps. Can you imagine a piece of technology that sucks the cold air from the hot air in the summer and the hot air from the cold air in the winter? Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But that is what air-source heat pumps do, and they run on electricity, once again potentially eliminating the carbon footprint of home heating and cooling.
As I moved forward to replace my HVAC system with heat pumps, the energy and sustainability committee recommended that the town consider the same for its municipal buildings (Southampton recently installed them in its Town Hall). This will be voted on today. Watch for it. We are becoming the town of “yes”!
Vaccine why not
It’s only a shot
You think it will hurt
You might convert
If your mother dies
Tears in your eyes
If you get sick
Cause you didn’t get the prick
Are you still gonna stick
That rubbish you’re fed
That stays in your head
You will awake
In a hospital bed
With tubes in your mouth
Why not get the shot
Ya think it’s a plot
To make money it’s not
Ya don’t wear a mask
It’s a political task
It’s medical, dude
Don’t eat that food
That makes you not think
Your head’s in a kink
White bread and fried chicken
Get out of the sink
It won’t be a shock
If you go to the doc
It’s ok if you go
There’s one up the block
Already at Capacity
October 3, 2021
To the Editor,
It was good to see the Concerned Citizens of Montauk’s letter last week expressing a concern for the potential massive development at the end of East Lake Drive, a dead-end road.
However, their letter falls short in one regard. So I hereby call for what I, a 46-year resident of East Lake Drive, believe is necessary. I demand that the Town of East Hampton immediately enact a moratorium on all commercial building on East Lake Drive until the potential of each and every one of these properties is reviewed and studied as a whole along with the others.
In addition, since all of this traffic would be passing through two and a half miles of residential neighborhood twice, a thorough long term traffic study on East Lake Drive must be conducted by an independent major traffic study firm.
East Lake Drive is considered by those of us who live here and experience the dangerous conditions daily to already be at it’s maximum capacity. The roadway simply cannot handle any more.
A moratorium would give the needed time for these reviews and studies. I call on my friends and neighbors to accompany me in demanding the town immediately enact a commercial building moratorium on East Lake Drive. Will the Concerned Citizens of Montauk join with us?
Right now we have an opportunity available. To quote an old adage: “It’s too late to close the stable door once the horse has bolted.”
HARRY J. ELLIS
October 4, 2021
It is encouraging that the Town of East Hampton plans to continue its commitment to Montauk’s historical preservation with the acquisition of Montauk’s Carl Fisher House. Its leadership on the preservation and restoration of our community assets such as Fort Pond House and Second House has met with overwhelming community support and now the Fisher House will join that list, ensuring community use for generations to come. Congratulations, East Hampton Town Board, and thank you.
October 4, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray:
In an excellent article in this week’s Star, Christopher Walsh reports on one of the town’s proposed community preservation fund acquisitions under the headline, “Carl Fisher House Purchase Draws Praise.” In it, he summarizes the Sept. 23 town board hearing, including statements made by Dick White Jr. and Stephanie Krusa of the Montauk Historical Society; George Biondo, the lawyer representing the sellers, and David Freudenthal, board chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk. The article is a clear accounting of what was a very upbeat and positive hearing. It also provides a brief, but accurate, historical overview of the Fisher House. So we were a little disappointed by your editorial in the same issue, “What Now For Carl Fisher’s House?”
“Montauk is already overloaded with historic properties, some of which handle only a handful of visitors a year,” you say. Whether three historic buildings represent an “overload” is, I suppose, a matter of opinion. But one of them, the Lighthouse, which is run by the Montauk Historical Society, is the most popular tourist destination on the East End. Each year it welcomes around 100,000 visitors, thanks in large part to its much-loved museum and ambitious program of community events ranging from literary evenings to the Lighting of the Light.
It is true that Second House and Third House have enjoyed few visits in recent years. That is because both are closed to the public as they undergo extensive restoration. Second House, whose museum is also under the management of the Historical Society, has been painstakingly returned to its 1886 exterior appearance through a partnership with East Hampton Town. And we are working overtime to develop plans for a new, interactive museum, gardens and an orchard, and a broad spectrum of year-round educational programs and events. (By the way, even with its doors closed, we welcomed some 5,000 visitors onto our grounds this summer for craft fairs.)
You make a valid point that upkeep of a historical property would represent a cost to the town. But to illustrate, you list “five-figure expenses” that are “routinely” racked up at Fort Pond House, which have nothing to do with upkeep and everything to do with capital improvements: a security system, siding and roofing, handicapped accessibility. In other words, these are expenses that will not be incurred year after year. It is reasonable to assume that there would be similar, initial improvements needed at the Fisher House, but illogical to expect that these would be revisited annually. And it’s worth pointing out that the house is in very good condition, thanks to the stewardship of the Akins, who have owned it and lived in it since 1956. This was reflected in Drew Bennett’s recent Condition Assessment Report.
At the Montauk Historical Society, we recognize not only the historic importance of this magnificent house and grounds, we imagine it as a site that would serve the community, protect an essential aquifer, and provide a welcoming public space for education, research, and recreation. We would welcome the opportunity to partner with the town on this exciting project.
Montauk Historical Society
In Full Support
October 4, 2021
I am writing in response to the article “Neighbors of Planned Apartments Site Say Area Is Overburdened” by Jamie Bufalino published on Sept. 30. I live within a mile of this proposed site and am in full support of affordable housing throughout the East End of Long Island.
The Town of East Hampton is in crisis. The housing market is out of reach for those of us who do not earn millions of dollars a year. Our doctor’s offices, schools, hospitals, restaurants, firehouses, and retail stores are all struggling to hire and retain enough staff and volunteers to keep their doors open. Our working and middle class families are trying to stay afloat under the enormous weight of insecure housing.
In the absence of more affordable housing options, who will teach our children and take care of our elderly? Who will respond to emergencies? Who will be here to carry out the community’s legacies of farming, fishing, and art?
We are moving toward a town that is solely catered toward the wealthiest among us. We are moving toward a town with extreme inequality gaps. We are moving toward a town that puts profit before humanity. Is that where you want to live? Is that a community?
As a social worker in this town, I have seen firsthand the devastation caused by our lack of affordable housing: children riddled with anxiety, unsure if they will have a place to live next month, if they will have to change schools, if they will have to leave the only community they have ever known. The only reason I am able to afford to live and work in East Hampton is because my parents bought a house here decades ago. This was a time when a contractor and a teacher could afford to purchase a house on the East End. Now on a fixed income, my mother is barely making her monthly payments and may have to move.
I know people have numerous concerns related to housing developments, ranging from increased crime to environmental impact to traffic congestion. People with limited resources are not synonymous with crime. We are good neighbors, take care of our homes, and serve our communities. There are ways to create sustainable, low-impact community housing that will not negatively impact the environment. If more people worked closer to where they live, perhaps our roads would be less clogged.
The arguments and counterarguments are endless. We have been having this conversation for years. It is time for action. If you are interested in taking action, you can join YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) by emailing [email protected].
October 1, 2021
The housing project does not belong on Three Mile Harbor Road. Not because we are NIMBY, which we aren’t for your information, you’re confusing us with other locations where you’ll never see affordable housing out here. Many of us live in affordable housing, by the way. Quite diverse actually, but that isn’t the point.
Here’s why it’s a no-go: it’s already densely populated and all the affordable housing in East Hampton is within a two-mile radius. We have no open space. We do have a gigantic sandpit in our midst, though. Which brings me to my next reason, the aquifer. It cannot take anymore abuse. Let’s call it what it is and stop pussyfooting around. Not just “environmental advocates” think the aquifer is in jeopardy from over-mining. Science tells us, or rather shows us what happens when we allow such travesties to occur that are in our control.
Look to Sand Land, the mine in Noyac. This other mine has already polluted the groundwater. If that isn’t an ominous precedent, then I’ll eat my hat. Just to be clear, Sand Highway is the mine in our neighborhood. The very neighborhood where the proposed housing project is supposed to be. Around the corner and down the road a piece from Middle Highway. Not to be confused with Middle Line Highway in Noyac where the Sand Land mine exists. Got it? Close the mines. Save the town’s drinking water, save our town.
I agree with the eloquent letters saying no to the Three Mile Harbor location for housing. Why not put it at Pantigo? Or how about close the godforsaken airport and give us our peaceful skies back on weekends and use that land to build housing. Yeah, now the planes fly over the hood. Hey listen, we pick our battles. The sand mine has to go. And find another place that has more open space to build necessary housing. And while you’re at it, make it for locals. Many have been waiting years for affordable housing. It’s not a political football.
Joe, I liked your earlier letters about real issues the town is facing. They were smart and relatable. This arrow slinging at Councilwoman Overby and LTV is a dead end. Concentrate on what matters, our community, sensible affordable housing locations, beach access, and saving our aquifer and the water we all drink. And yes to a Zoom debate. Of course. Why not? The people need to call in or write in questions. We don’t just want to see signs. We want to see you. On the telly is just fine.
Needs a Park
October 2, 2021
To the Editor,
Our sign and American flag were stolen Monday evening, Sept. 27. Enemies of a park think they might shut us down but that theft hardened our resolve. No housing will be built on 286-290 Three Mile Harbor Road.
We now understand this land is a strategic Montaukett Indian location where those human beings lived, hunted in harmony with nature for eons.
The Montauk Indians were erased, all their land “legally” taken by East Hampton government by 1910. There are scant local examples of their history today. Put a Montaukett Indian on the town seal — respect, repent.
This site on Three Mile Harbor Road is the last open space of size that will ever be available to the local inhabitants. Part of it is a deer corridor, the herd’s path to Tan Bark Creek wetlands to forage and to move on to denser woodlands.
Our hamlet needs a nature park, a place where people can observe wildlife unmolested, studied, for the benefit of future generations. Trails can be established to restrict human trampling of fauna, perhaps a small children’s park and learning center can be built close to the road.
The Native Americans are gone but we can save the last vestige of their lives.
I suggested to the East Hampton supervisor a cell tower be considered on the easternmost, highest elevation (65 feet above sea level) of 286-290 Three Mile Harbor Road. We all have lousy or no cell service. The town should talk to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or hire a company to create a cell-service plan for the town and implement a strategy. Public safety is at stake. Using community preservation money for cell-service improvement will help everyone across the board in East Hampton.
New and Independent
October 4, 2021
The local elections are just weeks away. I agree with those who feel that the candidates should state their views on the town’s urgent issues so that voters can understand their positions. I am a lifelong resident of East Hampton, a Democrat, and a candidate for town board. I have been endorsed by the Independence Party. The local democratic committee endorsed an incumbent, running for a third four-year term. I think this is too long and has led to stagnancy, but voters will decide. The committee also endorsed their own chairwoman as their second candidate, which seemed highly inappropriate, if not unethical. So, I was compelled to run my own campaign.
I want to briefly touch on a few important issues, with the hope that voters will also tune into LTV and watch the forthcoming debates to better get a sense of my opinions and positions. I summarize my views on the airport in a campaign ad in your newspaper (this issue). You will see that I support a temporary closure, new legislation, and a reopened airport that no longer allows helicopters, jets, or commercial flights.
I support pursuing a community preservation fund purchase of Montauk Airport if the current owner is willing. The protection of our open space, natural resources, and the environment are paramount, and I will continue to do all that is possible (as I have done over the past seven and a half years as chairman of the town’s zoning board of appeals) to protect and augment our natural woodlands, wetlands, and beaches. Continued purchases (using C.P.F. money) are key to maintaining a healthy environment and the natural beauty and rural character that we all treasure.
Affordable housing is necessary, but should be addressed in an environmentally and aesthetically respectful way using “green” energy-efficient technology. The purchase of existing houses and the renovation of existing structures should also be considered to conserve our open space. Fast tracking mediocre modular units on pristine woodlands that detract from the rural character of our neighborhoods is not acceptable. We have incredible talent here on the East End, and local architects should be involved. I have a master’s degree in architecture and 30 years of professional work experience managing projects. With that comes a valuable network of architects, designers, builders, and landscape architects who should all be a part of this important effort.
Cell towers have been an obvious problem for years, and no extensive studies are needed to tell us that. Camp Blue Bay should have been aggressively pursued from the beginning, and not the Crandall-Norfolk woodlands. Once again, the rural character of our neighborhoods and our quality of life depend on protecting as much open and recreational space as we can.
I would promote community involvement and publicly display a transparent comprehensive analysis of all available sites. I would discuss the pros and cons of each selected site, so that the public can be a part of the process. The Springs Fire House and others should have code compliant towers for emergency services communications. Cell coverage can and must be properly handled townwide without delay.
I support solar and wind energy. This is the future, and we must embrace technology intelligently. It is a shame that only now has the town installed solar panels on one of our town buildings. This could have been initiated years ago without numerous consultants. It is not rocket science. I support adoption of the “Stretch Energy Code” initiatives and possible tax credits to promote electric vehicles, shuttle buses, charging stations, more safe bike and pedestrian paths, and efforts to restrict and minimize large truck deliveries that diminish our quality of life. I support the Dark Skies initiative as well.
I support efforts of condemnation to allow for citizens’ townwide beach access, and for beach access points that are not going to damage our dunes and duneland ecosystems. Out-of-town visitors should not have beach-driving permits. The key here is our local fishermen, not simply joy-riding on the beach.
The decisions on the future of the airport and the senior citizens center should be held off until after Jan. 1. It will be up to a new town board to work on these two issues, and this newly elected board should make the key decisions. Kathee Burke-Gonzalez has been in office for eight years, and we just now have a senior center site.
We should not be hiring just any engineering or architecture firm to design what should be a model eco-friendly and beautiful civic building. The town’s courthouse was literally built backward on the site! This is what happens when professional oversight is lacking. Our civic architecture should be something of which we can be proud. I support having a local architectural competition; and not simply hiring an engineering firm that has systematically done engineering for the town for decades, and that produced a less-than-mediocre plan a couple of years ago.
I hope that the new 2022 town board will be congenial, focused, and hard-working. If you watch the Z.B.A. work sessions on LTV, you will see that, as chairman, I ask all board members to speak individually as long as they wish, with no interruptions — none. I speak last. We make our decisions; and if we disagree, we respect one another’s decisions and move on to the next. I hope to bring this level of civility and respect to the town board. I will certainly share with the public the reasoning behind my voting on important resolutions. The public deserves this information.
It has been my pleasure to campaign for the trust of East Hampton voters in the upcoming election on Nov. 2. I aspire to bring a new and independent voice to the town board. I want to contribute my lifelong knowledge of our town, 30 years of professional experience in planning, zoning, architecture, and project management to plan and implement our near and long-term goals that will allow for a hometown that future generations can be proud of.
Candidate for East Hampton Town Board
October 3, 2021
East Hampton planning continually misses the point and does more to hurt the community than help!
East Hampton needs an economic development policy and a better sustainable infrastructure that will support the creation of high-paying jobs.
Building high density housing does little other than create a class of people that depend on the government to provide housing in a community they cannot afford to live in.
Past town boards throughout the years have done an excellent job of creating an anti-business climate, failing to invest in septic, transportation, and communications infrastructure. These failures, combined with upzoning of residential property and aggressive land preservation, an influx of N.Y.C. and out-of-town second-home owners with extremely high incomes and wealth, contributed to home value increases beyond the reach of local families.
Past town boards and their planners have failed in basic economic and land planning 101. Continuing the failed policies of the past may make people feel good but fails to address and avoids any attempt to solve the difficult problems East Hampton faces. In short, once again, just another failed town board implementing failed planning!
East Hampton has to create sustainable infrastructure to support businesses that will create high-paying jobs.
Regardless if you are local or a second-home owner, if you are Democrat, Republican, voted for Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump, or Biden. No one cares, because national politics have nothing to do with local issues. One has only to drive on Montauk Highway, try to make a cellphone call, read about another brown tide, or hear of another local family that has sold out and moved to the Carolinas to see how really badly the East Hampton board has epically failed.
East Hampton Town Republican Committee
September 26, 2021
Steven Olken, the LTV chairman, mentioned a variety of people and their, plus his, issues, in his recent letter to The East Hampton Star newspaper. While it was not an easy letter to read and understand and could have used some editing, I will try to break it down for those who care about what is really going on. It is one of those you-had-to-be-there kind of things. However, I was.
Apparently Joe Karpinski, a Republican councilman candidate, touched Olken’s nerve by mentioning that LTV, the recipient of town funds to conduct the town board’s endless East Hampton Town government Zoom meetings, might be able to confirm the whereabouts of council member Sylvia Overby last winter as it relates to her professional responsibilities as a town board member. This is done easily by confirming where her computer was when she joined the town board meetings, by looking at the computer’s IP number.
However, instead of matter of factly telling Joe Karpinski that they would not reveal that information, Olken has become highly defensive of the LTV employees and of the town liaison to LTV, Jeffrey Bragman. We all know that Bragman is in a war of words with Supervisor Van Scoyoc and that he is running against both the supervisor and Ken Walles for the supervisor position on Nov. 2.
Then we get to Olken’s paragraph on Ken Walles, the Republican candidate for supervisor. Here Olken reveals what he believes is Walles’s personal medical information to the readers of The Star’s letters section. He says that because Ken Walles is not vaccinated he may not enter the LTV Studios.
Olken’s disclosing anyone’s medical information and especially that of a candidate in a political race with his own LTV town liaison is a reprehensible act worthy of blame and censure at the very least. Why would anyone do that in times such as these? Is our medical information not our own information to be kept private? Ken Walles has repeatedly stated that he is not in favor of the Zoom meeting. In fact Ken Walles and the other Republican candidates believe that putting technology between the voters and their paid elected officials is good for only the present town board. The voters are the losers here.
I have one thing to add. I was with Ken Walles on June 9 at LTV for a tour and a discussion about doing a show. We met with Michael Clark, who was very professional and helpful. However, there was a woman named Ellen Watson present at the desk when we walked in. She rushed to get my driver’s license and vaccine card. I handed both over before thinking about why or if I should. She or LTV did not need to know my personal medical information on June 9 when you could walk into Town Hall without a mask. She did not tell me she was making copies of all my information until after the deed was done. Ken went through the same process with Ellen. What is to become of my personal information? Will it appear in a letter to The Star? I think it is time to take the politics out of LTV.
Put the public back in public television.
CAPT. JULIE EVANS
Vote for Peter
September 30, 2021
In everyone’s life there is a journey to which they have been called. Peter Van Scoyoc’s life has been focused and centered on public service. As our supervisor during Covid, he understood and valued science, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for us all. His strong leadership, motivation, empathy, and analytical skills, shared with a personal balance of the needs of our community, have built a legacy of excellence that should continue for the protection of East Hampton Town. For these reasons I ask that you join me and vote for Peter on Nov. 2. A vote for Peter is a vote for our future.
October 2, 2021
To the Editor,
Oct. 5 marks nine years ago I became the first-ever recipient of the Amagansett Fire Department E.M.S. Person of the Year Award. I actually didn’t get to know this honor for a few more weeks, as I actually missed our annual dinner since I was away getting married. Oddly enough, it’s the one time I can remember everyone at the department keeping silent about something. Even when I was contacted by Taylor Vecsey on my honeymoon to ask a few questions she made sure not to even bring it up.
When I returned home, I was made aware and awarded my plaque. I was in my infancy as captain of the ambulance squad and was honored to receive that award, though I never felt like it was mine alone. It was a testament to all my fellow volunteers, and to those who put me in that position to succeed as a captain and emergency medical technician.
In general, I wish we did a better job of instilling in our youth the spirit of volunteerism. We have many departments out here that have juniors’ programs, a great way to get involved in our community. Learn some skills, teamwork, and what others do to actually make a living out here. There’s more than one way to navigate one’s life. It might set you up on a career path that you weren’t looking for. Go get yourself some hometown pride, volunteer and get involved in our community.
To my wife, Ja Cie Kocham, thanks for moving 138 feet. Happy anniversary.
Mr. Karpinski is a Republican and Conservative Party candidate for East Hampton Town Board. Ed.
A Problem Solver
October 2, 2021
I have known Cate Rogers for several years and vividly recall the first time we met — Cate was a guest speaker at a meeting. At the end of the evening, I introduced myself to her and told her that her dynamic enthusiasm and energy were exceptionally motivating and inspirational. I sensed that evening that Cate Rogers possessed a natural gift for leadership.
Cate Rogers is a problem solver. Over the years she has more than proved herself to be a passionate and strong leader for various environmental efforts. Cate’s approach to problem solving entails doing due diligence and research. She studies the issues before her and has consistently offered viable solutions as evidenced by her nine years as a member of the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. As a board member, Cate diligently advocated for and worked to protect our town’s environment, adhering to our town’s zoning codes to achieve the best possible planning outcome for our community and the applicant.
Cate Rogers is indefatigable; she is an amazing “engine” that never ceases. She undertakes projects with skill and completes her goals. Cate is a fervent advocate for the impacts of climate change and how it is affecting our coastal community and the world. Three years ago she encouraged me to attend former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project training in Los Angeles. Cate had become a mentor and guided a group of new attendees to become leaders. The training was attended by 2,200 concerned people. It was a phenomenal experience and provided me with yet another view of Cate Rogers: She was an informed and qualified mentor.
As an elected member of the town board, Cate Rogers will offer her in-depth knowledge and expertise of our town’s environmental needs with effective solutions and avail herself of the public’s concerns with thoughtful consideration. Cate Rogers is not only a good friend whose work ethic I respect and admire, but she also has a great sense of humor and laughter — two very important qualities in a human being especially when there’s work to be done that requires heavy lifting.
On Election Day, I hope you will join me and cast your vote for a uniquely qualified woman who is dedicated to East Hampton’s environment and the people who live here.
On Nov. 2, please vote for Cate Rogers for East Hampton Town Board.
The Larger Landscape
October 3, 2021
To the Editor,
It’s that time of year when the leaves change color, and there’s a chill in the air — it also the time to vote. In this climate of change, we are so used to the polarization of, Covid, abortion rights, and the local politics, airport, affordable housing, cell towers, and wind power. Everyone has their opinions and interests at stake on these issues, and how it will effect them personally. It is, “not in my backyard,” and not looking at the larger landscape.
We have elected a town board to carry out and enforce decisions, with input from the citizens of East Hampton. The problem with democracy is that it cannot satisfy everyone. It is a thankless job for our elected officials and at times messy. Each hamlet has its special needs and concerns.
In local and national politics, we elect leaders that we hope will carry out the policies that will improve our quality of life. This takes integrity, hard work, honesty, and commitment, and I think Peter and Kathee have proven that. Cate also has been busy devoting herself to local politics, and on the national stage of climate change.
There has to be accountability and trust for things to move forward. The needs of each hamlet are unique. It should not be Montauk vs. East Hampton, Wainscott vs. East Hampton, or any other hamlet vs. East Hampton. We each should be supportive of all our citizens, so we can be stronger together.
The town board is not the enemy. In addition, we are facing existential challenges that require all of us working together to solve. Let us unite for that purpose.
October 2, 2021
Many people might remember signing on my petition “One Weekend Day a Week Free of Hunting” on behalf of dog walkers, joggers, hikers, children, and wildlife to enjoy nature peacefully without gun noise a couple of years ago. I spoke with hundreds of people, from my friends and acquaintances to people on the street, and collected over 700 signatures in person. It was time-consuming, hard work, but I felt like it was my mission to help the community. I was proud of myself but of course I couldn’t have done it without my friends’ love and support.
Despite the fact that I submitted the spectacular number of signatures from concerned taxpayers, especially when only a handful of people hunt, the town board members did nothing. Only Councilman Jeff Bragman paid attention to our complaints, and he understood our concerns and tried to help us. For the ﬁrst time, I felt my voice was being heard.
If you have attended one of those long town board work sessions, I’m sure everyone would see how fair and brilliant Jeff Bragman is for all. He is not there to please us so he can keep his seat, but he is there to listen, and tries to ﬁnd a solution for all.
I’m a registered Democrat in East Hampton, and it was very upsetting when the committee didn’t endorse Jeff to get re-elected. But I was relieved that he didn’t give up, and decided to run for supervisor. So I happily helped him to get on the ballot for the primary race by collecting signatures on his petition. I didn’t mind standing holding my clipboard on the streets in the freezing February mornings, because it was really important for him to win. Disappointingly, he did not, but the difference was only 209 votes, and Jeff was smart to have prepared to run as an Independence candidate as well.
When I was collecting signatures for him, I was surprised how many people who thought they were registered Dems were actually either blank or independent. They were sad that they couldn’t sign or vote at the primary, but this time, those people were able to sign for Jeff under Independence. It was refreshing to know even some Republicans showed their respect for Jeff, and learned that Jeff has many bipartisan supporters.
I understand it’s a hard job to please everyone, and I’m sure the incumbent members are nice people as friends, but I hope everyone can get open-minded, and realize that Jeff Bragman will be a great supervisor for all.
I truly believe that there is no future for wildlife and the environment without Jeff’s compassion and brilliant lawyer’s mind in this town. Please help Jeff help you. I hope you’ll vote for Jeff Bragman for East Hampton Town supervisor. Thank you.
Love and light,
Air Traffic Holiday
October 4, 2021
The Star and many others have urged town board members to clearly state their conclusions on the future of the airport before Election Day. It is a fair request, and I intend to respond in a timely way.
It has always been important to me that the town board fully engage the public before making decisions. I believe that we do best when we “lead by listening,” viewing public participation as the bedrock, not a roadblock, of thoughtful decision making.
Very soon, we will hear a recap of public comments made so far in the airport re-envisioning process. The town board needs to consider them before making final decisions. Nonetheless, I think some thoughts are appropriate now.
In 1933 in the midst of a catastrophic depression, President Franklin Roosevelt responded to a massive bank failure crisis sparked by panic. He declared a bank holiday to calm fears. It also afforded time to structure an orderly reopening of the banking system. It is a good example for the town.
We need an air traffic holiday. At this point we certainly know that aircraft impacts have frightened and angered our friends and neighbors; many have lost the quiet enjoyment of their own homes. Aircraft noise and other impacts have led to desperate calls for action.
We know that a temporary airport closure is required to regain local control. A longer air traffic holiday of at least an entire year should be imposed. During that time, all jet, helicopter, and seaplane flights could be prohibited. Private prop planes could continue airport use. As a first priority, residents and others deserve immediate relief.
The air traffic holiday would give us breathing room to realistically evaluate impacts. We could see if a quieter airport really affects our economy. We could also monitor impacts on Montauk and consider the significance of the privately owned Montauk Airport.
An air traffic holiday is not a permanent solution. The presence of small plane activity is not a given. The question of the airport’s future cannot be decided by looking at the past.
The decision requires a clear-eyed recognition that we face a difficult future, with urgent concerns about energy and our environment. The protection of a vital aquifer beneath the airport is particularly critical. A thoughtful balance of the long-term costs and benefits for all residents, airport users and opponents alike, is required.
For the moment, no alternative can be taken off the table, including permanent closure. An air traffic holiday will help us evaluate impacts based on facts not fears. It should be the first step forward on a path to a final decision.
East Hampton Town Councilman
Return on Investment
October 2, 2021
As you know, My family and I had lived in Montauk for over 45 years and now live in the Springs.
Bette and I had been at the forefront in the fight against the incorporation of Montauk, the landing of the Cross Sound Ferry in Montauk, and numerous other threats to our hamlet over the years, including the beach geotube debacle of recent vintage. Montauk is no longer the Montauk we knew, loved, and fought for. “Keeping Montauk, Montauk” is a goal long failed.
Montauk, for better or worse, is now an exploding tourist destination, significantly owned by mega-dollar financial corporations, whose only interest is the return on investment. Check out ownership of our motels, restaurants, prime real estate, etc. Montauk now is where Las Vegas was in the 1960s.
For gambling and its associated enterprises to truly take over, all that is needed is a new incorporation effort. How best to do that? Divide and conquer. Make the town the enemy.
Tom, my friend, is this really what you want? Is this what we worked for, these many years? Take a step back and look at the big picture, the Town of East Hampton and its councilmen and women, still know that Montauk is the jewel in the town’s crown and part of the family that is East Hampton. Peter Van Scoyoc has roots in Montauk longer than most of us and loves it no less.
The cooperation of the town and hamlet of Montauk is vital if we are to maintain any controls of the explosive expansion of this already beleaguered “last great place.” Our strength lies in our unity. The first mayor of Montauk would not be Marshall Prado or my late buddy John Pfund but would be some chief financial officer from some bank, conglomerate, or chain of pawnshops. (See Atlantic City and its “world-class” beaches.)
The airport dilemma is a no-win situation for everyone and “not in my backyard” is the rallying cry of both sides. The Montauk Airport is private with a minimum of F.A.A. control. How about, “Sorry guys, no helicopters in our private airport”?
Then, close the East Hampton Airport and create, instead, the largest wind and/or solar installation on the East Coast. Any idea how much renewable energy we can generate? That’s the kind of expansion that is a win-win for us all and generations to come.
Another scenario? The town buys the Montauk airport, closes it down as well, sells the development rights to a monster Ferris wheel, i.e.: London, etc., roller coaster — whatever placates the powers to be, or just keeps it as open space like it’s supposed to.
“Keep the Dock, the Dock,” that’s our new Alamo. Let’s not “circle the firing squad.”
LARRY S. SMITH
Transfer the Noise
October 4, 2021
There is a phenomenon in politics that has been portrayed in dystopian novels. It has been practiced with great success in real-world autocratic regimes, and in recent years it has played out in our national politics. Unfortunately, it has trickled down into our local politics as well. It has wormed its way into the rhetoric involving the East Hampton Airport.
The tactic consists of repeating a certain “fact” over and over again, despite its having been debunked as not true, multiple times in clear, unequivocal terms.
The narrative that’s making the rounds through email, citizens advisory committee meetings, fliers, and the word-of-mouth rumor mill is that the town board will close East Hampton Airport, or severely curtail its operations, and consequently transfer the noise nightmare that homeowners in proximity to East Hampton Airport have suffered to the second-class citizens of Montauk via its small private airport.
Peter Van Scoyoc and each of the other members of the town board have repeatedly said that a solution to the airport issue must include assurances that Montauk Airport will not be the repository of diverted flights. The supervisor stated this in emphatic, unambiguous language at the last Montauk C.A.C. meeting. He has said it during the town board work session in which the town’s hired consultants presented the first part of a diversion study. He has stated pretty much any time he has spoken publicly about this issue.
At a September town board session, his exact words were, “We don’t want to simply displace a problem we already have in some other area of our town. This is something we’ve taken a great deal of interest in.”
At the September Montauk C.A.C. meeting, he answered a direct question about whether he would allow East Hampton Airport to close if it meant that flights would divert to Montauk Airport. His point-blank response was that he would not, and he further accentuated that that has been his position throughout this process and will continue to be so.
None of this has mattered to those who continue, even after the supervisor’s public statements to the contrary, to push the storyline that the town board disrespects Montauk and will close East Hampton Airport despite shifting its noise problems to Montauk.
More frustrating is that this fabrication continues to make headway among a sizable Montauk contingency.
An Actionable Plan
October 1, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray:
On the never-ending airport debate, Barry Raebeck makes an interesting suggestion: Let’s use community preservation fund dollars to buy the Montauk airport, close it and convert it to parkland. The location is terrific, and perhaps more notable as a practical matter, that would eliminate the greatest concern at our end of town regarding closing the East Hampton airport.
Aside from that, the debate has become an impasse, with letter writers saying essentially the same things, over and over, with no one really listening (other than to laugh at the nonsense). We have elected officials whose job is to take it all in, weigh the considerations as best they can, and then make a determination. Let them do their job.
Close the airport, maintain the status quo, or modify operations at the airport to the better — three choices, with the last being the least workable. There will always be people opposed to any continued operation of the airport, and they have their reasons (some valid, some probably a bit overstated, and some entirely crap). There will always be people determined to keep it open and operating unchanged, and a lot of them (not all) have a vested commercial interest (which, by the way, isn’t inherently disqualifying or illegitimate) that others don’t share.
The town board should make its decision only when it has thoroughly vetted the options. However, the town should not close the airport (if that is the determination) unless and until it has approved a comprehensive, actionable plan (which it has not) for what to do with that land and how to ameliorate any unintended consequences of closing the airport (for example, by pursuing the purchase of the Montauk airport, as suggested by Dr. Raebeck in his thoughtful letter). To close the airport in the absence of such a plan would be a shortsighted disservice to the people of this town. It would likely foreclose any number of worthwhile (and perhaps complementary) options that would benefit the town into the future. I am confident that the town board is duly diligent and deliberative on the matter and suggest we should respect the process a bit longer and employ patience.
Two items of note: First, converting the airport to a private facility is a nifty-sounding idea that, as a practical matter, will never happen. It’s what some would call a red herring, as it isn’t really a practical option but rather offered up either disingenuously and in bad faith, or ill-informed, or both.
Once the airport closes, the idea that the people determined to keep it closed would ever give up is absurd. They will hire lawyers — maybe Mr. Bragman, whose law practice website brags about his many successes at just this sort of thing — and tie up any effort to reopen the facility as an airport (or for that matter, to redevelop it for affordable housing, a light industrial park, or really anything other than parkland) in perpetual red tape. That facility will never, ever be a private airport — not in my lifetime or my children’s lifetimes — if it closes. It will lie fallow, a very expensive, undeveloped, and underutilized East Hampton asset, which is what some prefer.
Second, a letter writer from Orient questioned why the concerns of Montauk should weigh more heavily than those of Southold, Southampton, or Riverhead. The answer is very simple, as The Star knows all too well, Montauk is a hamlet within the Town of East Hampton, unlike any of those other communities. Our elected officials owe a duty to all of the citizens and communities of this town and owe no duty to anyone else. In the deliberations by the town board, those other towns and communities and their concerns, valid or not, should not carry weight comparable to those of Montauk or Amagansett or Springs or Wainscott or East Hampton Village or anywhere else in this town.
Not One Penny
October 4, 2021
As I was channel surfing between commercials yesterday on Fox News, up popped the East Hampton Alliance falsehoods of the devastation to the local economy, environment, and community. Expensive consultant reports have debunked them all, starting with the economy — almost nonexistent, not one penny goes to the public benefit or town coffers.
The environment? The airport and their planes are the polluters of the air we breathe and a threat to the drinking water in the sole-source aquifer. That is the omnipresent threat we want eliminated.
The community? Well I never knew East Hampton was an island. They alone are the cause of the disruption of daily living noise and danger to us and whatever else their flying pollution machines present. So add the affected communities far and wide that number in the thousands. They have the chutzpah to demand we let them continue to place us in harm’s way? Well, I guess they assume if they keep spewing untruths enough times, the public will believe it.
Why hide in the shadows? Stand up and show your faces and Pinocchio protrusions.
A Better Balance
September 27, 2021
In keeping with your call to “Speak Out Now” in the Star’s Editorial of Sept. 23, I’d like to continue on to offer additional thoughts regarding the topic of overdevelopment I raised in my last letter to you “Preserve and Pre-empt.” In particular, here I’d like to speak up directly about some concrete things I believe the town can — and should — do to address the surge of residential development activity.
The accelerating pace and expanding scope of building taking place is adding too much density and intensity of use to our town, often destroying neighbors’ right to peaceful enjoyment of their own property, undoing the cherished vistas and sense of place in our hamlets and neighborhoods, excavating or putting at risk mass quantities of natural resources, and bringing to a breaking point our infrastructure, affordability and quality of life.
In particular, the extraordinary deluge we have seen over the last five years in speculative building activity as well as an overall trend to max out parcels relative to current East Hampton building code is extremely damaging and should be regarded by all as unsustainable. For the most part, these spec developers and builders, and the real estate brokerages that collaborate closely with them, care not about East Hampton or all its residents; they focus only on filling in every last inch of the allowable coverage ratios and extracting every last dollar possible for themselves.
It is time to do everything we can to ensure better balance among individual homeowner interests, overall community needs, and our environmental and natural resources imperatives. Words and actions are required now if we are to pre-empt the looming destruction of the beauty, uniqueness, natural resources, livability and rural character of our town overall. Those elements — and not an individual’s so-called right to build 8 bedrooms and 11-1/2 bathrooms on half an acre — are the foundation of and truly sustain the value of our properties and our quality of life here.
Some people see the surge in population and development activity and the straining of town resources as just a sudden pandemic-related one-off bubble. But indeed, this wave has been building for nearly a decade. Between 2012 and 2019, the number of building permits issued annually in East Hampton Town (excluding the village) rose nearly 80 percent to 1,750 from 990, and the number of certificates of occupancy, or C.O.s, just about tripled to 2,300 from 750.
And we know that the number of permits and C.O.s doesn’t tell the whole story. I don’t have access to the data of everything that has been built, rebuilt, or expanded across the town. However, as a proxy, I looked just at sales of houses across East Hampton in the last three years (as tracked on Zillow, which is not a complete record), and I counted over 200 houses sized between 4,000 and 12,000 or so square feet. Of those, nearly 80 sales were houses of 5,000 to 12,267 square feet built or expanded in the last decade. And of those, 55 to 60 of them appear to have been constructed just since 2018, with most of those looking like they were the product of speculative construction activity. Currently there are at least 107 properties for sale across East Hampton sized between 4,000 and 12,000 square feet, with many of those listed as “new construction.”
Meanwhile, many real estate transactions and much of the development activity take place outside of the public line of sight. Currently, half of all recorded deed transfers reported out here hide the actual identity of one or both counterparties behind anonymous L.L.C.s. Looking back at The Star’s archives, just a decade ago, that “mystery” portion accounted for only 15 to 20 percent of deed transfers. In addition, as I understand it, our current code allows for a significant number of building permit applications for new development or material redevelopment to proceed without public notice or public hearings and without the benefit of assessment from our planning, architectural review, or zoning boards.
Except perhaps for those who live cosseted in a privilege-bubble of private jets, self-contained compounds and armies of staff, pretty much everyone else here sees what’s going on with development, and many people can foresee the consequences. Yet, so far, the town board and members of the other key boards, departments and committees have remained mostly silent on the topic of overdevelopment in our hamlets.
A few months ago in local primary season, I noticed that during the four debates for supervisor and town board members, though there was discussion about the need for affordable housing, moderators posed not a single question to the candidates about overdevelopment, even though this issue is pretty much central to just about everything else that happens here. And for the most part, though individually, some of us talk amongst ourselves, and the comments sections on local social media posts seethe with frustration about what is happening, more broadly, public engagement and citizen activity regarding the topic of development has remained mostly dormant.
But now is the time to start saying the hard parts out loud; I think it is urgent we begin a serious, comprehensive, and transparent public discussion about how to deal with searing levels of development and its irrevocable impact on quality of life, critical infrastructure and the safety and well-being of residents and visitors in East Hampton. In particular, this seems like the time for the building code to be rethought and revised in favor of a better balance between individual ownership rights and broader stewardship responsibilities by leaning towards greater restraint and more moderate proportions.
In this dialogue, I think we need to put a lot of things on the table, including:
1.the East Hampton town dimensional building code (including allowable gross floor area, height, setbacks, building coverage, total lot coverage and clearing ratios) in order to ensure that some sense of open space and breathing room can be maintained in our neighborhoods;
2.the entirety of the building permit application, review, approval, oversight, enforcement processes to design and implement clearer, more robust and transparent guidelines;
3.the mandates, responsibilities, resourcing and coordination of the various boards and departments that are a part of development oversight, including the planning board, the planning Department, the Natural Resources Department, the architectural review board and our zoning board of appeals to ensure that their expertise has maximum impact;
4.the potential for expanded use of “overlay” districts and other zoning measures for unique or fragile or otherwise overdeveloped or overdeveloping neighborhoods;
5.the ways to track, oversee, and regulate speculative development activity more effectively;
6.the development and implementation of a real time, publicly accessible database that tracks all the crucial data points and trends about building activity;
7.the implementation of a moratorium on some forms of development while the necessary analysis is being done and any amendments are formulated and voted upon.
So yes, I just said it: I uttered the dreaded “M word” — moratorium.
I am well aware that moratoriums should be temporary in nature and must be clearly tied to the accomplishment of an end goal to be legally viable as well as viewed not as capricious overreach but as an appropriate step for the good of the community. And I know how much criticism will likely rain down on the idea.
But how can this not be viewed as an appropriate time for a temporary pause to be put in place? A moratorium for the most aggressive types of not-yet-started construction for a clearly defined period of time now seems to be in the best interest of our community overall. It is a proportional and rational response to the current mindset of excess and to the pressing quality of life, environmental and safety concerns we now face.
When the town supervisor was presented a few weeks ago with a request from the Amagansett citizens advisory committee to address overdevelopment with a formal review, possible changes to the building code and a moratorium, he demurred, saying that he just doesn’t hear people complaining about development or house size like he does about other things such as airport noise and cellular service. He also noted that changes to the code were attempted in East Hampton a few years ago, but that initiative received a lot of opposition and failed, so it is unclear to him what the path forward would look like this time around.
That response was not inconsistent with what many politicians would say. But it is certainly not consistent with “the kind of visionary leadership that East Hampton really needs now,” as you wrote in that “Speak Out Now” editorial. I do not think that our board members look at everything only through a narrow political lens, but instead I believe they can be analytical and intuitive enough to diagnose and try to solve problems, and to understand that what might seem like separate and distinct issues, such as crushing airport noise and lousy cell service and unbearable traffic, vexing labor shortages for our local businesses and unacceptable lack of affordable housing, really are all intertwined and tie back in large part to unchecked overdevelopment.
The other day, I was looking for some data from a decade ago, and while I was scanning through some pages in East Hampton Star archives, I stumbled upon this paragraph in an article from the Sept. 29, 2011 issue. Quoting the then-candidate for the East Hampton board on his leadership style: “Back to the talk of the campaign and the position he hopes to win in November, Mr. Van Scoyoc counted his time as an appointed member of the planning and zoning board as an asset. ‘I have a lot of experience sitting and listening to people’s proposals and ideas and weighing them against the needs of the community’ he said. If the current administration ‘took the ideas and presented them in a way that people could explore them, they could find out exactly what the support is on any particular issue.’ Mr. Van Scoyoc said.”
So, let’s get back to all that. I hope many of the residents of East Hampton will find their voices, and that we and the board will start proposing and shaping ideas and weighing solutions on this crucial issue.
Behind the Wheel
October 2, 2021
To the Editor,
Are any East Hamptoners bothered that their county led the whole State of New York (all 62 counties) in “car crash” (motor vehicle) fatalities in 2020? Or that 85 percent of Suffolk’s 27,308 police-reported vehicular accidents were caused by human-related factors such as speeding, texting, cellphoning, and aggressive, distracted, or drunk driving, etc.? Although you could also attribute those 85 percent of accidents to one particular car “part” — the “nut” behind the wheel!
One of the 2020 “accidents” killed 27-year-old Jonathan Flores-Maldonado of Westhampton, because Jordan Randolph was drunk and going 130 miles per hour when he crashed into his innocent victim’s car. Mr. Randolph had only been free to drive because some combination of state legislators, police, district attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and parole boards had somehow enabled him to not be locked up inside a prison cell despite three prior driving-while-intoxicated convictions! Why those fellow human beings show more compassion and sympathy for lawbreakers (and their families) than for law-abiders (and their families) is beyond my understanding.
Drivers who demonstrate their unwillingness to obey lifesaving traffic laws need to be locked up before they kill. Do any East Hamptoners disagree with this?
Begged to Differ
October 4, 2021
President Biden makes claim that no one told him to keep troops in Afghanistan, what a Pinocchio this statement is. Biden’s nose should grow 10 inches at the rate of his lies. The top three military leaders contradicted him in front of Congress this past week.
Because of his leadership and stubbornness, 13 Americans heroes died. This was a tragic cost of Biden lying again. We have all read about the events in Kabul. We are all aware of what truly happened, and yet this demented president goes on TV and swears Al Qaeda was no longer in Afghanistan and declared the withdrawal a complete success. Keep in mind his commanders begged to differ.
A quote from Milley, “the enemy is in charge,” this coming from a general who made phone calls to China telling them he would warn them if Trump planed to attack China, this man should be tried for treason.
Biden has repeated his denial in reference to being told to leave troops there, but adds this, “No one said that to me that I can recall” to leave troops in Afghanistan. Memory lapse or dementia.
Please pray for Lt. Col. Stuart Schiller he knew what his was doing when he spoke out against the leadership following the devastating suicide bombing in Kabul, the botched Afghan withdrawal this has landed him in military lockup The lt. Col wanted to resign, but the Marines want to make an example of him. He spoke out put his pension on the line, while many thinking the same remained quiet. He now remains in solitary waiting for his kangaroo court to begin.
In God and country,
Greatest Scam Ever
October 3, 2021
Because we are loath to explore our history and learn from our mistakes, we’ve missed, perhaps, the most interesting scam that has ever been perpetrated on the American people. The relevance of this failure to observe and analyze is the root of Biden’s $3.5-trillion Rebuild America proposal.
It should be noted that the $3.5 trillion and the $1-trillion infrastructure bill are so ridiculously off base that they barely merit discussion. Our slippage into a third world country mirrors almost every other third world country. Despite our enormous wealth, our infrastructure, education system, social welfare system, transportation system, and wealth distribution system are all on a negative trajectory; $4.5 trillion would barely scratch the surface of what is necessary to get the country back on track.
After the Spanish flu epidemic, followed by the depression, and then World War II, the U.S. was in dire economic straits. F.D.R.’s New Deal including the G.I. Bill of Rights brought the country back to its feet and developed our middle class. Individual taxes and corporate taxes were extremely high, yet the country prospered on the backs of working-class Americans. The American model was based on hard work and compensation rather than on investment and exploitation of workers. We were free from the devastation of World War II and benefited, without needing to rebuild, from our support for the rest of the world.
The primary opposition to the development of the middle class were Republican politicians who hated F.D.R.’s New Deal. They did their best to prevent its enactment and then worked tirelessly to tear it apart. In 1980, with the election of Reagan and the formulation of trickle-down economics from the Chicago-based economic team, Republicans instituted a system that would redistribute wealth from working and middle class Americans into the hands of corporations and the wealthiest 5 percent of the population. Forty years later, more than 75 percent of the population has seen its level of living decline despite substantial growth in gross domestic product.
The economic scam perpetrated by Reagan and the Republican Party was an enormous success. Convincing the American people that they were better off with the nation’s wealth in the hands of the most responsible somehow worked. Replacing wealth with debt, i.e., credit cards, was too easy.
It is a mistake to think that trickle-down was anything other than a criminal scam to redistribute enormous sums of wealth. It was not a miscalculation or bad policy decision; it was theft, robbery, rape with extreme violence.
In 1980 the top corporate tax rate was 46 percent, individual rate was 78 percent. Today it’s less than half. If tax cuts were even remotely viable for economic growth, why are 75 percent of Americans worse off today than in 1980?
Since 1980 G.D.P. has increased by four times. Virtually none of it accrued to the bottom 75 percent. Forty years of uncollected taxes that would have massively improved our way of life.
Spending is only critical when it’s directed to the majority of the population. Budgetary concerns are systemically false because they favor wealthy people and corporations. Where does the money go is the only valid budgetary question.
Biden’s $3.5-trillion investment plan costs $350 billion annually. Where do we find $350 billion in the budget? National Security including defense, C.I.A., F.B.I., Homeland Security, etc., has cost approximately $24 trillion since 2001. It took 10 years to kill bin Laden. Clearly, the competence, efficacy, and useless expenditures by the leaders of our national security apparatus is absurd.
Eisenhower railed against the military-industrial complex. We paid no attention. If 10 percent of the national security budget was pure waste and another 10 percent was absolutely unnecessary spending, we could save $240 billion and not have to raise taxes — without risk.
If health care, as it is, without universal care, reworked drug purchases, and the problem of malpractice insurance, we could save another $100 billion.
If the Trump tax cuts were rescinded we could save another $200 billion.
If our churches paid taxes on their real estate holdings, not their incomes, add another $100 billion.
So, money is not and has never been the problem. Raising taxes is as fraudulent as budget austerity. If 80 percent of our bridges and tunnels are defective, and Trump gave away almost $2 trillion in taxes, there’s nothing more to say.
The federal budget is $7 trillion. Five percent is $350 billion. No one on the planet believes that we can’t find enough money for the infrastructure bill and Biden’s Build Back Better.
So, we return to the greatest scam ever perpetrated on the American people. This small group controls the government, the courts, and our major corporations. Biden woke up one morning and said enough of this bullshit. Will the American people ever see the light. If old blind Joe can see it why can’t we?