Looking for Sunny
February 1, 2021
To My Dear Fellow Villagers,
I write this letter to thank the so very many people who spent last Monday in a frantic and heartfelt search for my missing golden retriever puppy, Sunny. Friends, family, and wonderful strangers heard of her disappearance and, as far as I can tell, dropped what they were doing to gather at the beach and in the dunes to search. All day. For a puppy they had never met. It was the most heartwarming outpouring of simple human kindness I have ever experienced.
So many of my tears that day were tears of astonishment that so many people tried so hard to help me find my pup. When one member of the search party met another on the beach, they asked each other, “are you looking for Sunny too?”
Anna at Animal Control was incredibly sweet and caring and drove to Montauk because she got a report of a dog stranded on the ice. Later in the day, I met up with her at the beach and she disappeared into the dunes to continue her search.
As it turned out the cause of all this commotion, one Sunny Smith, was blissfully happy with the family who rescued the lost and frightened puppy. Of course, the family had no way to reach me, as I had changed her collar and neglected to put on her I.D. tag, I am ashamed to say. But social media did its positive thing, and several hours after posting Sunny’s picture on Instagram a match was made, and Saint Karin Bodington sent me a text saying that she had found her.
I wish I could thank each and every person who walked the beach, called her name, and scattered treats. Hopefully some of you will read this letter and know that I thank you with all my heart.
With much love and affection,
(a.k.a. Ferris Bueller)
February 8, 2021
Here are 10 proposed remedies to alleviate housing unaffordability in East Hampton:
Change the zoning code to allow for “tiny houses” that can be off-grid with no minimum footprint in special overlay districts where more density is allowed.
Further incentivize “accessory dwelling units” for apartments or “granny flats” with priority for long-term residents and seasonal work staff and laborers.
Increase taxes for second homes, and even bigger taxes for third homes, and include penalties for extended vacancies. Those taxes and fees can be paid into a housing trust.
Create a housing trust specifically to provide assistance to local first-time home buyers who qualify. I’ve heard rumors of efforts to change the commuity preservation fund to allow for this usage of funds: Let’s support it and vote for it.
Change zoning to allow for “co-housing” in which multiple family units can occupy a building or series of connected buildings like a row house, in special overlay districts. This should be incentivized in areas adjacent to hamlet centers.
“Junior housing” development, especially for younger renters and first-time home buyers, with priority for local residents. Criteria: living in the region for more than a certain amount of time, and age as a limiting factor.Limiting or eliminating short-term seasonal rentals. This one will be controversial, but I think it’s the issue most responsible for a lack of affordable rentals.
Tie maximum home occupancy of “unrelated adults” to house size. Only four are allowed as of now in any single-family dwelling.
Rent control. New York City has it, why can’t we?
Increase density in hamlet centers. We need to create “infill” housing and cap the rent that can be asked of them.
I’m not an expert, but many of these ideas are expressed in the larger community and have been implemented in other places. We need to take a good hard look at who we are as a town and who we need to be for a better future.
February 8, 2021
As an East Hampton Town resident and concerned citizen, I write today regarding the preservation of the Springs artists James Brooks and Charlotte Park’s historic property and building structures on East Hampton Town-owned land purchased in 2013 with funds set aside for restoration.
I learned recently that the one-year anniversary of the East Hampton Town Board’s stay of demolition to the Brooks-Park artist studios and residence buildings looms large in front of us, sooner than later.
This landmark status site and its future preservation needs our support to rally and contact the East Hampton Town Supervisor and board to save the art studios and living quarters of these renowned artists that worked along side abstract artists Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, John Little, and the like of that era in Springs.
The Brooks Park Heritage Project is in need of a refreshed effort to establish a new team of supporters so that this property can have an opportunity to shine as one of our town’s jewels in its heritage crown. The restoration initiative had received support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Arts Student League of New York, and Preservation Long Island, and New York State deemed this site eligible in November of 2017 for a listing on the National Registry of Historic Places. Marietta Gavaris of Springs, who has petitioned support for the B.P.H.P. restoration in the past, has now offered to take the reins to move this forward for East Hampton Town.
Our town enjoys many wonderful preserved entities like our beloved Pollock-Krasner House, the D’Amico Studio and Archive and the Art Barge, the Moran Studio, Duck Creek Farm, Second House in Montauk, the Historic Farm Museum on North Main, the newly built Dominy Work Shop, and many more. I believe it is important that we work with and ask our town board to allow these buildings to be shored up for future restoration, and not to demolish these important cultural artist studios and residence.
A few years ago, a website was created for the B.P.H.P. with the help of many supporters that you can view at brooks-park.org to learn more about the artists, their work, history and also watch a wonderful video of the artists themselves being interviewed in 1988 at the property.
Please write and ask our elected officials to have the vision to secure these structures on this property. If we can save them from demolition now for their future preservation, I think our town will be the better for it because we all know that once it is gone — it is gone. I think many will regret having lost a tremendous opportunity to add this jewel to East Hampton Town’s “artists in residence” historical community.
It’s the Oysters
February 1, 2021
I wasn’t going to write this letter because it questions the ideology of oyster farming.
I’ve been told I’m unqualified to ask questions. I’m self serving. It’s too late to think differently because there’s too much time, reputation, and money invested. Questions and answers cause embarrassment. So I’ve sat back and shut up, enjoying my semi-retirement this winter in Pennsylvania. However, an article in Bay Journal (Chesapeake Bay) by Matthew Gray of the University of Maryland jarred me into saying something.
He states oysters don’t filter 50 gallons of water per day per animal but only 3 to 12, and goes on to explain why. You might want to read it.
Oyster aquaculture proponents promise they are an environmental benefit because oysters will do things nothing else can, like clean 50 gallons of water each day. The gospel of oyster says they fix nitrogen, moderate toxic algae, improve fisheries and fishermen’s lives, don’t interfere with other uses, and other things, and all this at no cost. It sounds too good to be true. As it turns out, maybe it is.
We fishermen have seen an enormous decline in the productivity of our bays culminating, most obviously, in the total collapse of the scallop fishery. The bay experienced brown tides a few years ago that have now developed into a rainbow of toxins annually. Nitrogen pollution, the boogeyman of the bays, never diminishes. Boaters complain they can’t sail where oyster cages float. The town is spending millions of dollars on a new oyster facility when one already exists. If oyster culture hasn’t delivered as promised, shouldn’t we ask why?
So I went to the internet, our present day library. I searched for environmental effects of oyster farming and the information I got was surprising.
There were the usual Nimby complaints, but also in-depth scientific research from credible sources like the Universities of Maryland and North Carolina and universities in Australia and a number of Asian nations, and some environmental groups.
They’ve found oysters in their millions adversely impact nutrient load for fish and animals. They change nitrogen in the water to ammonia, which is extremely toxic, which then decays back to free nitrogen. Pollution to poison to pollution through the nitrogen cycle. They actually seem to contribute to toxic algae and anaerobic bacterial blooms and anoxia. There are even more consequences.
I agree there are positive things to be said for oysters, but shouldn’t we know if the cons outweigh the pros? I promise you that question has never been asked by anyone with responsibility for our bays. It appears their answer to why the bay is so poor is the universal blame: climate change. Is it possible too many oysters are climate change?
A couple weeks ago, on the PBS radio show “Science Friday,” I was listening to an interview with a grad student from Stony Brook University who is studying scallops, particularly why there was such a total mortality the past couple of years.
He didn’t mention many of the theories already advanced or the easy out of nitrogen or high temperatures. He believes it’s a combination of many factors. Not over fishing, algae, no eel grass, starvation, predators, and certainly not just climate change. It’s everything. Scallops easily die when environmentally stressed; we just need to find which stress and eliminate it. Believe it or not, he’s developed a heart monitor for individual animals, and when they get a cardiac incident, it determines what environmental factor caused it. Eliminate the stress, save the scallops. I’ll be darned.
Our question should be that if it turns out to be caused by oysters, will we have the “heart” to save our bay?
Still at Risk
February 8, 2021
Emergency communications are something I happen to know a great deal about. With 37 years in law enforcement and concurrently serving as president of the five biggest police unions in New York State, I have dealt with more than my fair share communication issues and emergency management.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, flaws in the nation’s municipal communications system were detected, and federal funds were made available to assist states and municipal govern-ments in upgrading their systems. Sadly, East Hampton did not take advantage of those federal funds but rather kicked the can down the road. So bad has emergency communications become that in 2015 the Springs Fire Department erected an emergency communications tower on Springs Fire Department property. After the tower was built and complaints came from individuals connected to the East Hampton Democratic Committee, the zoning board of appeals revoked its building permit claiming the fire department did not receive site plan approval from the planning board and has held the fire department hostage ever since.
Rather than work to resolve the issue, the town board chose to seek alternative sites. In the Sept. 26, 2019, issue of The East Hampton Star, Supervisor Van Scoyoc stated, “We are committed to ensuring that we have the very best communications for emergency, and actually for cell service, because we also understand that Springs is underserved with cell carriers and that there are dead zones.”
Supervisor Van Scoyoc went on to say regarding the Springs Fire Department, the site plan for the Fort Pond Boulevard tower approval by the planning board, “the outcome of that is uncertain.”
So here we are in February 2021, 16 years later with the Springs Fire Department tower standing idle because with no approval and the residents of Springs and our first responders still at risk. Public safety is not a Republican or Democratic issue and has everything to do with whether or not the current administration can get the job done. At this point it is pretty clear they cannot and would much rather place political favor ahead of public safety.
East Hampton Town
February 8, 2021
To the Editor,
The East Hampton mayor just can’t get to social equality. It’s either against his values or what he believes is his political mandate.
We get that his constituency is the folks from N.Y.C., you know, the richies. But rather than try to treat us all with some respect, the mayor does his best to show that the richies not only have money (which, in this case, he ensures that they’ll keep), but more important, they’re the privileged. Yes, sir, special treatment required to show us who’s who. I refer to his latest iteration of parking fees for the villagers vs. parking fees for the townies.
After showing his cards with his first proposal (“East Hampton’s Downtown Parking Lots Free No More; $2 an Hour for All but East Hampton Village Residents”) and, justifyingly receiving plenty of pushback, he’s at it again. Now he’ll be charging those of us from the town after the second hour, but no charge for the privi-leged. I guess the village is entitled. How else will we all know that it is so exclusive?
So folks, if you’re off to see a movie, just remember that you too have been granted a special privilege. You get to pay for the infrastructure to enable more restaurants for people with enough money to pay for those restaurants. Probably enough money to pay for their own infrastructure, too.
Finally, the fact that Sag Harbor residents pay the same as everyone else says a lot about that village. And a lot about East Hampton Village, too.
Appeal This Decision
February 8, 2021
To the Editor,
The board of Citizens for Access Rights, its members and supporters, and pretty much everyone who doesn’t live on the waterfront, were sorely disappointed by the decision in the Appellate Division regarding the ownership of the ocean beaches on Napeague. Also, needless to say, we strongly disagree with the decision and are of the opinion that this decision missed pertinent points of law that were used in the preceding Supreme Court decision.
We at CfAR, its members and supporters, would like to see the town seek leave to appeal this decision to the New York State Court of Appeals, along with proceeding with the condemnation process of the beach in dispute.
Despite the recent court decision, many are heartened by the town supervisor’s reaction acknowledging that condemnation is the necessary next step in protecting public access to one of the town’s most precious resources.
A number of condemnation practitioners have explained that the cost of acquisition should not be as high as the numbers that have been cited by some of the Napeague homeowners. Since nothing can be built on the beach (it would be gone after the first big storm) and the beach’s not being allowed to count toward the lot area of the upland parcels, the value of the land being condemned is minimal.
Even if the cost of condemnation exceeds the modest estimates given by condemnation practitioners, there can be little doubt that the ability to access our beaches and open spaces during all seasons is worth spending the time, energy, and money required to preserve public access. Bonding is a good way of proceeding, especially with the current low interest rates. Another option to consider would be to pay for the condemnation by bringing assessed values of properties within a certain distance of the ocean more in line with their actual current values.
It is CfAR’s opinion that in this age of social distancing, to shrink the area for public enjoyment of water-related activities can only result in forcing more people into smaller areas while at the same time opening up large stretches of land to the few wealthy people who can afford oceanfront (or close to oceanfront) property.
It should also be noted that a couple of years ago, the majority of the current town board took many of the initial steps required in the condemnation proceeding (survey, etc.). CfAR recommends that the town apply for a stay of the Appellate Division Court decision while the appeal to the higher court is requested, and to restart its effort and commence condemnation immediately so that there is a chance that all public user groups can access the Napeague beaches during the summer of 2021.
With this court decision, the Wainscott village incorporation efforts to include ownership of the beaches and waterfront in the area within its village boundaries, and potential spin-off groups imitating either or both, public access to the ocean beach and bay beaches has never been in more jeopardy. We strongly urge all residents who use and enjoy any of the town’s beaches and who support public beach access to contact the East Hampton Town Board and the East Hampton Town Trustees and voice your support for public access to the town’s beaches and support their efforts to keep the ocean beaches on Napeague open to the public for all to enjoy.
Citizens for Access Rights
Do the ‘Preservation’
February 7, 2021
While listening in on the Wainscott citizens advisory committee meeting this past Saturday, many folks complained about our superb Highway Department having removed old, rotten, and potentially dangerous trees along Main Street Wainscott. The tree canopy along historic Main Street is spectacularly beautiful. We all love those old, well-established trees. However, when trees fall during storms or rot over time they become a threat to homes, autos, wires, and people’s safety.
I would suggest the group calling itself Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott spend some of their millions of dollars accumulated from donors on preserving Wainscott Main Street and buy new trees to replace those that were rotten and removed. If they can spend $300,000 on consultants like the Mercury Group, $700,000 on lawyers and litigation, and even more on advertising, perhaps they should actually do the “preservation” they claim to be for. Truth in advertising — or they should change the name of their organization to Citizens for the Litigation in Wainscott.
Preservation is a convenient word but should only be used to do just that.
DOREEN A. NIGGLES
February 7, 2021
To the Editor,
I love Wainscott. From Hedges Lane I can walk to the center of Wainscott: Post Office, Seafood Shop, Goldberg’s, etc., etc. I have just learned that those trying to incorporate Wainscott as a village have drawn lines to their advantage only. The east side of Hedges Lane is now out of the village, and my neighbors across the street are in the village? It means that if I want to take a walk on the Wainscott beach I can’t. I would have to drive all the way to Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett. That’s not even fair to the people of Amagansett.
If they want a fair vote they must include so many of us who live and work here. We cannot vote the way they set it up. It’s only for the weekenders and some full-time people mostly south of the Highway.
Wainscott is a diverse hamlet. It’s not a playground for the rich. As far as the wind farm, I think East Hampton Town can work it out for Wainscott. Finally, I don’t think any professionals are going to manage the new village, if this is an example of the way they do things.
About the Budget
February 8, 2021
Several questions have been asked about the budget for the new village of Wainscott that two well-known municipal finance advisory firms developed over nine months. A few neighbors said they were told by the opponents of incorporation that our budget is a “fictional financial projection.” Instead of a budget of $838,628 (with a net tax increase of – at most – $340 per year for a median single-family home), they suggest in a chart on their website it would be between $3 million and $5 million. We found no backup information for Wainscott United’s plan, so we do not know the assumptions or analysis that went into their wide-forecast range.
Let’s put aside for the moment that our budget was developed with significant research by well-known village finance experts with experience in New York State and Long Island (details are at: wainscott.org/report and wainscott.org/presentation). We heard our neighbors’ underlying concern, so we spent the last few months conducting additional analyses.
The upshot of that analysis is that we now have even more confidence that the planned budget of $838,628 for the new Village of Wainscott is more than is needed; much larger and far more complex villages spend less than that amount for similar services.
Based on our neighbors’ questions, we analyzed the budgets of all Suffolk County villages – from Amityville to Westhampton Beach. We needed to calculate the costs of the villages for similar services. By analyzing the 2019 actual expenses at a line-item level (236 cost codes) for each of the 32 villages, we could triple-check the research by the consultants and make sure that their forecasts were correct. As a reminder, the municipal finance consultants were explicitly asked to adopt a conservative budgeting approach for Wainscott: Overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues.
We first grouped the 32 villages into six groups, tiered by population. So, the largest villages that have at least 10,000 residents are in Group 1 (Lindenhurst, Patchogue, Babylon, Lake Grove, Amityville) . . . Wainscott would be in the fifth (i.e., the next-to-last) group along with villages like Asharoken, Belle Terre, Ocean Beach, Sagaponack, and Shoreham.
We then created pro forma budgets for all the 32 villages to create apples-to-apples comparisons. Since several services for Wainscott are provided by towns (and we would continue to pay taxes to East Hampton and Bridgehampton explicitly for them), we removed those line items from the villages that directly provide those services (e.g., police, fire, roadways). There are other services that Wainscott would not provide, but that other villages do. Those services go from sanitation departments to municipal marinas to ferry services to tennis camps and so on. So, we obviously removed those costs too. And, finally, we scaled the salary and benefit expenses for the number of full and part-time employees (e.g., some of these villages have 100+ employees).
We calculated the median of the village budgets/expenditures for those six groups: First: $1,581,392, second: $1,299,085, third: $738,433, fourth: $588,070, fifth: $586,200, and sixth: $599,343.
As I mentioned, Wainscott is in the fifth group. The table shows that its budget of $838,628 would be 43 percent higher than its group ($586,200). That gave us additional comfort.
But what gave us the greatest reassurance was that this conservatively developed budget was more comparable to much larger and more complex villages. For example, let’s look at the third group of villages (which includes Bellport, Greenport, Quogue, Westhampton Beach) which are two to three times the size of Wainscott. Our village’s budget is 12 percent more than that third group, where the median budget is $738,433 when comparing similar services and staffing levels. To me that indicated that the financial experts who developed the budget for our village padded the estimate of Wainscott’s expenses. If anything, we should be positively surprised: We will likely experience lower costs and, thus, taxes than forecast.
But playing devil’s advocate for a minute: Let’s say you believe Wainscott United’s assertion that the Village of Wainscott budget would cost many multiples of our developed estimate. At the very least, what our analysis shows is that it is highly unlikely that it would be $3 to $5 million. No group spends that much for similar services: Group 1 villages spend 90 percent more ($1.58 million) and Group 2 spend 54 percent more ($1.3 million). But is Wainscott like Amityville or Patchogue, each with more than 10,000 residents (Group 1-size villages)? Are we really similar to a Group 2-size village like Port Jefferson (population of 8,000) or even Southampton (3,300)? No.
Fact-based research, respect for your neighbors’ views, and calm deliberate listening matter to us. Indeed, we took your input seriously. We hired two independent expert firms to understand the economics in detail and publicly released their work (wainscott.org/presentation and wainscott.org/report). Several incorporation experts have said we have done more upfront work than any other incorporating village has done before a vote. And we have continued to conduct additional research to answer our neighbors’ questions in a fact-based way and, as well, look into many of the allegations Wainscott United has made. I commit that we will continue to research the underlying points and follow up with facts and expert input to better educate us all.
We have said several times previously that an opposition only makes our collective answers better. As you can see from the research above, it has. We have always strived for there to be a healthy debate on the merits and facts, not muddied with baseless assertions or even personal threats. Our community deserves a civil and calm discourse on a really important matter.
I hope the information above helps everyone; it certainly helped several of our neighbors who inquired and wanted to have a fact-based conversation. Continue to send me questions ([email protected]); we will do our best to reply to them with more facts.
Citizens for the
Preservation of Wainscott
February 7, 2021
The Citizens Who Proclaim they want to preserve Wainscott have shown us again and again what seems to be an extreme sense of narcissistic entitlement and astonishing class privilege, as they seem to attempt to acquire Wainscott as an extension of their property holdings. One sad example is the recently drawn boundaries limiting who can vote against/for incorporation in ways that wind up disenfranchising many of our neighbors. These voting rights exclusions pit neighbor against neighbor.
Some who live in the hamlet will be able to vote, while their neighbors who pay local Wainscott taxes and have lived here for years, right across the street, will be denied their democratic rights to decide their fate. And it is these neighbors of yours and mine who most deserve to vote as they stand to lose the most — for instance, free access to the beach that we have held in common and with great happiness for hundreds of years. Let’s come together as citizens of this hamlet and reject this immoral, undemocratic grab for power and demand that these self-serving, cynical tactics stop.
You’ll have the additional selfish satisfaction of saving yourself a lot of headaches in raised taxes that would foot the bill for multimillion-dollar legal challenges many proponents of incorporation seem determined to pursue no matter what. It’s an ignoble maneuver to shift the costs of wealthy individuals’ legal positions onto the entirety of the citizenry, and that should tell you something.
Remember what Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” If it should ever come to a vote, respect (if you can’t love) your neighbor as you do yourself, and reject the divisive village incorporation.
No Real Benefit
February 8, 2021
At the Feb. 6 meeting of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee a simple question was asked of the proponents for the incorporation of Wainscott: “What is the value of incorporation?”
How will Wainscott truly benefit from incorporation? Their answer? “We’ll get back to you.”
This is a troubling response. How are we supposed to trust a group that can’t readily answer this question? They have been lauding incorporation for months and months, have paid a public affairs company and financial analysts tens of thousands of dollars, and their response to this simple question is, “We’ll get back to you.”
I am reminded of Ted Kennedy when he was asked “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy didn’t have an answer to this softball question and his presidential campaign soon began to fade.
The truth is that incorporation has no real benefit for Wainscott. And Wainscott, by the way, is not a dumping ground for the town. In fact, East Hampton Town has been a great partner with our hamlet; just ask the farmers on Beach Lane and Sayre’s Path.
You can find out more about why incorporation is a bad idea at wainscottunited.org.
Repeated the Canard
February 8, 2021
I write this in my private capacity, and not as a representative of the town or the town planning board, which I chair.
Under the scheme to incorporate Wainscott proposed by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, every house north of Merchants Path, every house on Cobber Lane, every house on Georgica Woods Lane, every house on Daniel’s Hole Road, half the houses on South Breeze Drive, and half the houses on Hedges Lane are excluded. C.P.W. made this choice because it failed to comply with the clear, simple requirements of the New York State Village Law in its previous proposal to incorporate.
When C.P.W. premiered its new boundary at a Wainscott citizens advisory committee meeting a few months ago, and this outrage was immediately pointed out, C.P.W.’s representative, after a few minutes, suggested that the excluded properties could be “annexed” into the new village, as if C.P.W. were ordering a side of coleslaw. It is pretty obvious that C.P.W. has now figured out that its exclusion of at least 80 homeowners from the free use of the beach closest to their homes is deeply offensive to many people not only outside the proposed village boundary but, more important, inside.
So, at this past Saturday’s Wainscott citizens advisory committee meeting, C.P.W.’s representative repeated the canard of annexation in an effort to sideline the issue. But C.P.W. failed to mention the legal decathlon involved in annexation. The New York General Municipal Law requires a petition, the approval of all municipalities involved, and, if agreement cannot be reached, the appointment of a panel of referees and then oral argument before the Appellate Division, which can “make its own adjudication and determination, on the law and the facts, on all questions presented to the referees and substitute its judgment for that of any of the governing boards . . .” (G.M.L. Sec. 712.10). Does C.P.W. claim to know how the Appellate Division might rule on a proposed annexation?
I think incorporation is a bad idea, regard-less of the boundary proposed by C.P.W. But, as I know I made clear at the Wainscott C.A.C. meeting, I have no patience for C.P.W.’s slick obfuscations and its shameless and repeated brushing aside of the law in its zeal to incorporate.
The supervisor may or may not find that C.P.W.’s petition is legally sufficient. But if the petition is not legally sufficient, and no election is held, it will only be as a result of C.P.W.’s failure, one more time, to do what the law requires.
Very truly yours,
February 8, 2021
I listened to the call last Friday hosted by East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and was struck by the number of people voicing concerns who seemed to be unfamiliar with the information that has been made available by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott. One of the frequently cited concerns relates to the proposed Wainscott Village budget. According to the Citizens’ projection, the budget would be approximately $840,000 per annum, considerably less than the $3 million to $5 million projection suggested by Wainscott United.
According to what I’ve read, the Citizens budget was carefully developed by two well-known and independent municipal finance firms after nine months of comparative study (a detailed report can be found on their website: wainscott.org/report). Conversely, Wainscott United has claimed that incorporation “should be rejected” because it is “based on . . . fictional financial projec-tions,” and yet their website simply shows a bar chart with no underlying assumptions or backup.
Perhaps some comfort can be taken by looking at Sagaponack, our closest Suffolk neighbor. Its financials reveal a comparable expense budget to that projected by the Citizens, which is predicated on a similar level of municipal service. Conversely, to find Suffolk villages with budgets of $3 million to $5 million, you’d have to look at Bellport, Greenport, or Saltaire.
Bellport’s 2019-20 budget is $4.478 million. It has its own Sanitation Department with garbage collection and street cleaning (12 employees and $1.1 million in expense), it operates its own ferry service (five captains, five deck hands, two cashiers, associated contractual expenses, and reserves for hull painting and refurbishment), it runs a children’s camp and tennis complex (two camp directors, 23 counselors, and 11 court attendants), and it has its own marina and dock (one dock master and nine dock guards). All told, more than 112 full and part-time employees, nowhere close to the projected needs for the village of Wainscott. Bellport’s budget excludes their own golf course, as it is budgeted for separately.
Greenport’s budget is $4.6 million. To make an apples-to-apples comparison with Wainscott, you would first have to strip out the $2 million Greenport spends on its own fire department (since Wainscott residents already pay Bridgehampton for this service). Second, Greenport spends $750,000 servicing their extensive downtown sidewalks. Wainscott has far fewer sidewalks. Third, they have a municipal marina (60 floating slips accommodating vessels up to 80 feet and a 640-foot standing pier able to accommodate vessels more than 220 feet), ice rink, and charming carousel in Mitchell Park. Finally, Greenport has 29 more employees, which serve a population six times greater than that of Wainscott.
Finally, Saltaire on Fire Island has a budget of $3.7 million. To make a comparison to Wainscott you’d need to eliminate: its fire department, health department, lifeguard depart-ment, library, entire maintenance department, municipal water depart-ment, let alone the costs of its marina and dock. As a result, Saltaire has 49 more full and part-time employees than is projected for Wainscott.
These three illustrations make it hard to imagine how a village of Wainscott’s budget could be in the range of the $3 million to $5 million forecast provided by Wainscott United, given that those villages are larger and pay for services that Wainscott will not. It would be helpful if Wainscott United could offer the same type of detailed information provided by the Citizens to explain their projections.
Each of us should familiarize ourselves with the information that’s been made available, both by the Citizens and Wainscott United, to clarify the confusion expressed in last Friday’s call. It’s important that there be a vote so all our voices can be heard. Hopefully the decision will be based on the merits of the respective arguments, rather than on the fear that exists in those not yet familiar with the facts.
Thank you for this opportunity to express my view.
Sagaponack Village’s 2020-21 budget was just over $1 million. Ed.
Democracy in Action
February 8, 2021
Seeing that a third of all registered voters signed a petition to create the village of Wainscott was wonderful. Beyond the absolute number and high percent of the population, it was heartening to see from the public petition the cross-section of neighbors who believe this is the right thing to do. What stood out for me the most was:
Eight of the eight members of the town-appointed Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee who live in the village signed. These are citizens who work so hard on behalf of our community (many for decades) and were appointed by the town supervisor himself because they are respected leaders. These are our neighbors who have the greatest perspective on the benefits of incorporating. (I applaud the ninth member, Chairwoman Carolyn Logan Gluck, who has remained impartial and abstained from any position on the matter. She has moderated the W.C.A.C. meetings like a pro. Way to go, Carolyn!)
A wide range of community members signed the petition: The defining characteristic of the signers was their diversity – North and South of the highway; modest homes and not-so modest homes; old and young; year-round and seasonal; neighbors who are concerned about traffic, airport noise, water contamination, over-development, industrialization of the community starting with the South Fork Wind Farm export cable. The opposition’s ad hominem and personal attacks are small-minded and counter-productive to good faith debate.
The energy to create a democratically elected representative government: Many petitions struggle to gather signatures in the first place, but the organizers did it in a few weeks during a pandemic. We can take great comfort that so many neighbors ventured out to sign the petition in a socially distanced way during these times (let alone over the busy holidays).
The outpouring of interest in signing the petition — otherwise getting involved — reflects the greater civic-mindedness of our community. Ever since Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott was founded and better connected our community, attendance at the W.C.A.C. meetings the first Saturday of the month have skyrocketed. Multiple W.C.A.C. chairs have remarked at the ‘standing-room only’ meetings and more than 100 community members joining. Also, if you look at the Suffolk County voter rolls you can see that 253 new voters have registered since Jan. 1, 2019, increasing the number of voters by 60 percent, to 673. Incredible.
Willingness to be informed: I have been impressed with the petition signer’s ability to be educated voters. They sought out and requested information, clarified their questions (e.g., like this has no impact on the school district) and saw through the misinformation opposition has on their website. Without any shame spread false rumors (like taxes will skyrocket – not true just look at the report; Community Preservation Funds will no longer be available to us – not true, just look at the town laws that explicitly say it is for villages). They are the ones promoting lack of unity (e.g., litmus test of how long you have been here, personal threats against community organizers, name-calling, shameful and uncontrolled yelling on last Saturday’s W.C.A.C. video).
Democracy at work locally is incredible.
February 8, 2021
Those who Zoomed into the Feb. 6 meeting of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee were, no doubt, startled to hear from Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott’s Alex Edlich that all the recent talk about denying free beach access to those who have not been included in the territory of the new village was really much ado about nothing. Edlich said that he — he didn’t report his wife’s views — favored free Wainscott beach access for all East Hampton residents. He said that it was just C.P.W.’s consultants who suggested otherwise by including beach fees in the village budget as a plug number, an offset to the beach maintenance expense in the budget. All could be fixed by the village’s merely leaving maintenance to the town — the town that is regularly accused of neglecting Wainscott, treating it shabbily, and ignoring, belittling and lying to its residents. That’s simply incredible.
But more fundamentally, Edlich’s blaming the consultants and saying the village could leave the beach maintenance to the town really doesn’t fix anything. The village, if formed, will have absolute legal control over access to the beach. It could at the outset, or whenever it needs the revenue and doesn’t want to increase taxes, impose beach user fees on those who are not village residents and even on village residents who cannot easily get to the beach without driving. Reference to the recent kerfuffle over parking fees in the East Hampton Village should make that clear enough.
There is also plenty of evidence to support the conclusion that Edlich’s comments were, at best, disingenuous. Beach control is what C.P.W. and incorporation are all about. Beach management is the second largest budget item and the only discretionary governmental function that is not left to the town. C.P.W.’s budget, which it regularly extols as the gold standard, states: “The model assumes that the Village would manage [Wainscott’s two] beaches, and the associated parking lots, in-house rather than relying on the town. Managing these functions in-house would not only allow the Village greater control over how the beaches are maintained but would allow it to collect revenues from parking fees”
This “assumption” obviously reflects a mandate to the consultants, not something they dreamed up to make the budget work. Ongoing beach management is budgeted at $142,966, which is 17 percent of the ongoing expense budget, and projected parking fees constitute more than 15 percent of non-tax revenues. These are not after thoughts to balance the budget.
No one should be fooled by Edlich’s disavowal. The C.P.W. insiders who expect to fill the volunteer posts in the new village government are going to maintain their beaches, exercise control over access, and charge at least any nonresident who wants to try to find a parking spot a hefty fee to do so. What this episode has done is to show the lengths to which C.P.W. will go to get what it wants — a village they own.
JOHN H. HALL
February 2, 2021
In response to the petition signed by nearly a third of the registered voters in Wainscott to incorporate as a village, a counter group named Wainscott United has arisen to ally itself with the town supervisor to try to beat back the effort. A key claim of Wainscott United is that the proponents of incorporation, such as Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, have a one-issue agenda: To prevent a high-power (138,000-volt) electric transmission cable from the offshore wind farm from being run through a residential neighborhood and beach (when multiple other alternatives exist).
Putting aside that the drive for incorporating Wainscott can be traced back decades (1994) due to the town board’s indifference (at best) toward Wainscott (poor treatment, at its worst), some of the core founders of Wainscott United should be mindful of the adage that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
As far as I can tell, at least two of the key players behind Wainscott United have homes on Georgica Pond and put their money behind their (appropriate) love of the pond. They support Friends of Georgica Pond and fund research on the pond. They have also contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the supervisor and the trustees, who have positions on Georgica Pond that align with their own interests.
They are the classic one-issue voters, and they, for whatever reason, see incorporation as a threat to their homes situated on some of the most beautiful real estate in the world. They say that incorporation will raise taxes, but conceded at one of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meetings last year that they would be against incorporation even if taxes were flat. Let’s face it, the biggest reason they oppose incorporation and want to keep the status quo is Georgica Pond.
So next time those in the Wainscott community read some wild accusation that seems too crazy to believe, you can make sense of it all by remembering that the real cause for some in Wainscott United is their home on Georgica Pond.
Freedom of Speech
February 5, 2021
To the Editor,
Now that our nation’s truest “enemy of the people” (D.J.T.) is no longer our federal government’s president, I’d like to contrast Donald J. Trump’s labeling newspapers, the rest of “the press,” and other modern media “the enemy of the people,” with what a better, wiser president (T.J.) said about newspapers of his era: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without (The East Hampton Star,) or (The East Hampton Star) without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter” — Thomas Jefferson.
(Of course, Thomas Jefferson did not actually name “The East Hampton Star” in the letter he wrote to fellow statesman Edward Carrington in 1787; Jefferson merely referred to “newspapers” in general. However, considering The Star’s admirable policy of publishing virtually every letter to the editor it receives — thereby using its First Amendment freedom of the press in support of its readers’ freedom of speech — I’m confident that Thomas Jefferson would have been proud to place a Presidential Medal of Freedom around editor David Rattray’s neck.)
Capitol and After
February 8, 2021
Hope all is well at The Star. As stated in the past, I am an independent voter. Let’s take a look at the Capitol uproar on Jan. 6 and do a little rambling. Of course you folks blame then-President Trump. Was it really his fault or the media? I mean you people have pounded him since before he went into office all this negative press and constant bashing had to take a toll sooner or later. Even in your own paper, your editorial people attacked the president almost on a weekly basis. How much can the public take before a fuse pops as it did on Jan. 6? I mean the barricades are still in place and the National Guard. Trump’s speech was going on while the crowd was going over the barricade!
As written in your paper, you now have a new scapegoat, Lee Zeldin. Who will you/the left go after next?
And of course our new president has signed over 40 executive orders, according to the media. I don’t see the unity there, as he is not seeking any approval from the other side, do you? It seems to me it’s all about control and the left wing agenda.
You people took down Parler just because you didn’t like what the folks were saying! Now going after Trump supporters and employees and putting them on a blacklist. It’s very dangerous to suppress people. Even the author of “remove Newsmax” in your letters to the editor has some twisted agenda in mind. Why would you suppress a news channel? We know why: They report what you don’t want us to hear. Now that’s the liberal left showing their cards.
It’s going to be a very interesting term with Biden in the White House — an empty suit with his pull strings to who knows where. I’ll share a quote with you from the Concord hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson “by the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.”
And a final note, I’ll run my leaf blower when I want to!
Yours to command,
JEFFREY R. PLITT
Stroke of a Pen
February 8, 2021
There is still money not spent from the last stimulus. Biden has promised with or without the G.O.P. he will pass the $1.9 trillion new stimulus. Just some more unity.
With his stroke of a pen, he let go 11,000 jobs. With the stroke of a pen, he intends to pass minimum wage to $15. I understand it’s tough to survive on the now wage, but how can the employer afford to pay the uptake? You will see more people unemployed, businesses closing, because they can’t afford the $15 wage. Is something better than nothing?
Whoever is relaying into the president’s earpiece, rescinding the previous president’s ban on everything. “I’m punishing the previous administration. I’m undoing everything, even if it was good for the country.” Besides punishment this is straight out of the school of Marxism. With a stroke of a pen, immigration will be open borders. Catch and release will return.
The second impeachment for President Trump starts today, not that Congress is working on Covid, immigration, stimulus, etc. No, impeachment is of utmost importance.
If witnesses are called, let’s show Maxine Waters, Schumer, and even Pelosi remark, “Put them up for impeachment.” Censure Greene, but keep Swallwell on committee with no investigation for his friendship with a Chinese spy. Schiff for lying he has 100 percent proof regarding Russia and Trump. There’s plenty more, but do as I say not as I do.
In God and Country,
We Push Back
February 7, 2021
America has developed to where it is today by many principles. Capitalism is one of the principles that our country has been built on. In other words, if you are willing to work hard and take risks, you have a good chance of being rewarded. Such was the case of Mike Lindell, the founder of My Pillow. Having reached success in his business, he spoke freely about a number of conservative principles and, more recently, he has challenged the results of the last election with evidence. If you have not seen his video “Absolute Truth” on his website, check it out, particularly the forensic proof he has. Under the Constitution, he has exercised his right of free speech, and now he is being punished. The net result has been that Big Tech has cut out his access to social media for both him and his company for speaking out. On top of that, many major retailers have stopped selling his products. Is anyone paying attention?
Why is it that violations of our Constitution are now selectively tolerated? Where and when does it stop? This not right! We do not live in a dictatorship like Venezuela, Cuba, or Russia. We live in the U.S.A., where this type of behavior is not tolerated and is against the law. The Democrats are eager to drag the U.S.A. into a quasi-dictatorship and making wholesale changes because they are now in power with little checks and balances, one of the many key attributes of our republic.
When are they coming for us? President Biden and others in his administration love pointing their finger at us on TV and saying, “We are coming for you.” Whether it is more Covid restrictions, increasing our taxes, or taking our guns away.
Speaking of that, I would like President Biden to try to remove all the guns in Chicago, Baltimore, L.A., and N.Y.C. and see how far he gets and see the impact on the murder rate there. It does not take a mental giant to figure out what the results will be.
Finally, President Biden must deliver on his key message of unity and eliminate “hate” in this country and stop this ridiculous assault on common sense and trying to destroy the many good things that President Trump did.
Everyone, you must wake up. This is just the beginning, and it will get much worse unless we push back. Not only are President Biden and his administration working hard toward “the great reset” and “build back better,” but other nations in Europe are on this same bandwagon. It will fail here once America wakes up to see its liberties being taken away. It is not about Democrats and Republicans, it is about keeping our freedom.
January 30, 2021
To the Editor,
Zeldin is so out of line — and has been from the beginning. In the summer of 2016 he was quoted as saying something to the effect of, “Oh, no. No Russians interfering in the election. That’s a no-no.” But then he went on to subsequently continue to support fully Trump and help him with his re-election and now this total infamia — the insurrection of Jan. 6. Please, people, get him out of office and bring him to justice for the love of democracy!
February 6, 2021
It’s called hypocrisy, that is, professing to have moral beliefs or standards to which one’s own behavior does not conform. Why am I writing about hypocrisy?
Remember back in 2018 and 2019, when Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was first elected to Congress? Not long thereafter, our congressman, Lee Zeldin, went on a high-profile tear into Ms. Omar, accusing her of harboring “anti-Semitic hate” and making controversial remarks, which Mr. Zeldin lambasted as anti-Semitic. His rants went on, accusing her of “poisoning” the congressional Black-Jewish caucus by denouncing white supremacy. This culminated in efforts to have Representative Omar censured and, when that failed, promoted legislation that would have prohibited anti-Semitic conduct only to oppose that bill because it didn’t go far enough by not identifying Representative Omar. When Representative Omar was appointed to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight, he ranted that it was “crazy to watch what the House Democrats are empowering/elevating.”
Fast-forward to 2020, as the G.O.P. House caucus welcomed Marjorie Taylor Greene as a newly elected member from rural Georgia. Ms. Greene has avowed allegiance to the fringe group known as QAnon, denounced as fake news the crash on 9/11 of the hijacked airliner into the Pentagon (incredulously asking if anyone saw a plane), labeled the school shootings in the Sandy Hook and Parkland schools as “staged,” and advocated violence against political opponents, including the assassination of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And, just recently, Ms. Greene blamed the California wildfires on “Jewish space lasers.”
You would think that just blaming Jews for the wildfires would have been enough to incur the wrath of the thin-skinned Mr. Zeldin. The Republican Jewish Coalition has denounced Ms. Greene’s statements and her underlying beliefs. But not Mr. Zeldin.
Because Ms. Greene enjoys the full-throated blessing of Donald Trump, Mr. Zeldin, one of Mr. Trump’s most wide-eyed sycophants, remained silent as Ms. Greene’s unhinged views made a mockery of everything for which the pre-Trump G.O.P. stood. And in voting that she should retain her committee posts, he still thinks her deadly views are not disqualifying. You can be certain that if Representative Omar had voiced the looney theories that Ms. Greene has espoused, Mr. Zeldin would want her head on a stake — and would say so.
It’s called hypocrisy, but honestly, that word does not even come close to describing accurately the danger posed by Mr. Zeldin’s amoral aspirations to power at any cost to the country. Voters in the First Congressional District who supported Mr. Zeldin should think seriously as to whether he deserves their future support.
Follow the Money
February 8, 2021
To the Editor:
I just knew that those opposing the much-needed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief aid proposal would cite as their reason for doing so the belief (that I don’t recall hearing from them in the last four years) that we need to be “fiscally responsible” and not add to our national debt and federal budget deficit.
It is one thing to say that we “can’t afford” to bankrupt our nation over expensive items like the Green New Deal and Medicare for all, but it is very different when we are having a national crisis such as this pandemic and when most of our citizens (Democrats and Republicans) are truly hurting and struggling financially. Even many upper-middle-class Americans are struggling to pay their bills. This is not the time for the privileged few to coldheartedly preach fiscal responsibility to the rest of us.
If you want to find out the real reason why these sanctimonious senators and congresspeople are saying that the proposal is “too generous,” then do what is called follow the money trail, and find out who their biggest, richest, and most powerful and influential campaign donors and contributors are. Then find out how the donors want the legislators to vote on this and other proposals. You will then learn why the legislators are taking this particular stance. The big donors pressure them to vote in favor of what is in the donors’ best economic and financial self-interest, not what is best for the American people as a whole.
Because, as my dad always said to me, “Stewie, the piper must be paid.”
STEWART B. EPSTEIN
New York City
February 8, 2021
To the Editor,
Come on, America! Come on! All of us! Us. Let’s give the man a break. The feared, dreaded Chinese dominance, ascendancy on our 46th president may not be as influential as so many are asserting. His very recent pronouncements reveal a tone of accommodation, outreach commensurate with the quintessence of a crucial “not so long ago” Chinese political happening.
In April 1971, table tennis teams from around the globe traveled to Nagoya, Japan for the World Table Tennis Championship. American player Glenn Cowan somehow found himself boarding the Chinese team’s shuttle bus. Since than, the two sides cannot agree on whether it happened by accident or by invitation. Nevertheless, Chinese player Zhuang Zedong approached Cowan, and they exchanged pleasantries through an interpreter. Cowan left the bus with a silk-screened print of the Huangshan mountains.
The next day, Cowan sent Zhuang a T-shirt inscribed with “Let It Be,” a reference to the Beatles’ song of the same name.
Following their exchange, the government of the People’s Republic of China invited the American table tennis team to visit China after the tournament ended. The American team promptly accepted. American acceptance took the world by surprise. Enter the star contenders, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon teaming up with Mao Zedong, forming the epic history-making troika, initiating, inaugurating the veering, consequential “Ping-Pong diplomacy.” Observe, coincidentally or fortuitously, this year is the 50th anniversary.
Several figurative definitions of Ping-Pong behavior: An intense of figuratively bouncing something, someone, back and forth. Ping-Pong of recurring nervous activities that affect muscle tone on one side, and brain discharge on the other. A back-and-forth, or volatile fluctuation, of anything.
In February 2020 former Vice President Joe Biden, answering a reporter’s question, said he had not spoken to his son Hunter about his overseas business. “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas dealings.” Ping!
On Jan. 20, in his inaugural address, President Biden invoked what “We as Americans love — the truth. There is truth, and there are lies. Lies told for power and profit, and each one of us has a duty, and responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders. Leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth, and defeat the lies.” Pong!
Let us raise the glasses.
EDWARD A. WAGSCHAL
Seven Million More
February 7, 2021
This is a quick primer on understanding Democratic electoral logic. For doubters of the election a simple question: How many two-cent stamps are in a dozen? If you answered anything except 12 go home and read the annotated comics of Karl Marx. For the rest of you, please see the following.
Election realities, not hypothetical or imagined but calculated using real numbers.
Our electoral graphic states that there are approximately 240 million eligible voters in the U.S. If Trump got 72 million votes he actually received in real numbers 30 percent of the vote. Translation: 70 percent of the electorate did not vote for him. Furthermore: The states won by Donald Trump accounted for 139 million Americans, while the states won by Joe Biden accounted for 193 million.
Furthermore in the U.S. Senate, states represented by Democrats account for 40 million more people than those represented by Republicans. Finally, Biden got seven million more votes than Trump. Considering Bush’s victory margin in 2001, Biden’s margin is 70,000 times greater. A bloody steal.
Somewhere hidden away in our Constitution or some other early documents is the concept that the essence of a democracy is majority rule. Based on this principle, the 2020 election was a landslide. A stone-cold massacre. When 70 percent of the electorate didn’t vote for you it means you got your butt kicked.
Yet, a few hundred thousand well-placed votes would have changed the outcome. The numbers would remain the same, indicating a massacre, but the winner would be different? That’s the definition of stealing an election.
What to do? Rethinking the Electoral College or our two-party system are ideas often bandied about. Fairness, democracy, and majority rule need to be explored. Who is or isn’t allowed to vote is up for discussion. Most important is a decision of whether or not we believe in the system.
Clearly, we have issues to address, but electoral fraud is not one of them. The data indicates an overwhelming victory for the Dems. The data also reflects that objections to the data are so absurd that they have absolutely no basis in reality. So much so that people supporting electoral fraud fall into two categories: those who are trying to manipulate the system with the criminal intent to overthrow it and those who are so profoundly gullible and stupid that their voting competence needs to be reviewed (see: literacy testing as a means to voting).
What is most frightening is our refusal to recognize the data and our willingness to legitimize the idiocy. We are so intellectually challenged that legitimacy comes simply from statement and repetition. The Covid-19 disaster and the collapsed economy threatened the stability of the country as never before, yet 72 million people ignored those two issues. Fortunately, only 30 percent of the electorate disregarded those factors, but what can be done with them? What would Stalin or Hitler or Jim Jones have done with these people?
The Constitution is a pain in the butt.