Need a Real Plan
February 5, 2021
Here on the East End, we have a high percentage of vulnerable residents yet nearly no vaccine distribution outside of health care workers. We have an aging population and many essential workers who are hard-working minorities.
In the last three weeks I’ve been clicking and refreshing well into the wee hours of the morning on the New York State website with no luck in scheduling a vaccine. I check at 10 p.m., wake up at midnight, 3, and 5 a.m. No luck — but my health is being compromised by lack of sleep!
Then, on Wednesday, Cuomo announced a one-day “pop-up” vaccination site in Hampton Bays — for the same Wednesday. I received the notice from the state at 4 p.m., after the site was closed.
Today, I received an email about another one-day pop-up site, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. I saw the email five minutes after it landed in my inbox. Too late! When I went to click on a time (there were three supposedly available) and it told me someone else had gotten there before me and the other two time slots were gone. In five minutes all availability was gone.
This is insane. There should be no “one day” pop-up sites that you have to be online the exact minute they become available before they immediately close again.
Cuomo has failed us. He abruptly took distribution away from the county and state health departments that had been preparing for months to distribute the vaccine — a task they are designed to do, I may add. Why did he do this? (I can speculate that it has something to do with his overweening arrogance and narcissism.) All I know is that we need a real distribution plan or we will find ourselves in the midst of another surge with the new, faster spreading variants. We need a central site to sign up once that will hold our place for 24 hours at least and immediately inform us by email, text, or phone message so we have time to confirm the appointment. It’s a matter of life and death.
Forced to Wait
February 14, 2021
My parents are longtime residents of the Town of East Hampton and thus are in the senior citizen high-risk category for Covid-19, as are many of their friends residing on the East End. As of today, there is still a paucity of designated vaccination sites in the Hamptons. Most senior citizens are physically unable to drive 60 to 80 miles to obtain vaccinations, nor can they spend 24/7 on the phone trying to get appointments or stand on long lines endlessly. Point of reference, I live on the Jersey Shore, and it took me 340 telephone redials and subsequently one hour on hold to get through for a vaccine appointment at my doctor’s office. Once I got through, I was then number 17 in the cue and waited another 45 minutes. In addition, many seniors either have no access to the internet, nor do they have the tech knowledge to navigate appointment websites. As you know, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is still only vaccinating health care workers.
There is only one CVS location (in Manorville, N.Y.) offering the vaccine, but they are about an hour away from East Hampton. In addition, I happen to know that the CVS on Pantigo Road in East Hampton (Store #5063) has no intention of offering the vaccinations. This is inexcusable. In addition, only one Walgreens location in Bridgehampton is offering the vaccine, but of course there are never any appointments available.
Despite the fact that the Town of East Hampton finally opened a centrally-located designated vaccination site yesterday at the former Child Development Center of the Hamptons building in Wainscott, they reported that they had received a mere supply of 300 doses, which were designated for health care workers, teachers, firefighters, etc. (300 doses to cover an estimated 700 people). Why are doctors’ offices and urgent care clinics in the Hamptons not offering the vaccine? Why are private pharmacies there not offering the vaccine? What about mobile vaccination sites?
Further, once the supply is beefed up and eligibility widened, there are no instructions provided anywhere as to how residents can arrange appointments. I have been checking the local newspapers and websites daily, as well as the town and village websites of the Hamptons, and there remains little to no information. When will there be a website solely devoted to Covid vaccination information and appointments on the East End?
It is my understanding that the government officials in the Hamptons have written to Governor Cuomo and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone about the lack of vaccine allocation to the East End of Long Island, but there has been no further update and certainly if there are any, no updates have been made available for residents of the Hamptons. One notable exception is Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who has been in correspondence with me and has been quite compassionate and as informative as possible. The lack of vaccine allocation to rural communities includes the Town of East Hampton. I just read that even Christie Brinkley had to travel to Astoria, Queens, to receive her vaccination — she is fortunate to have the good health and resources to get back and forth.
The longer high-risk individuals, especially older residents, are forced to wait for the vaccine, the greater likelihood they will succumb to this virus. This is reckless and negligent. I want to be there to help my parents, but we are trying to stay safe by keeping separate; unless and until we receive our vaccinations, they must cope without me.
Unless and until there is an increase in designated vaccine sites on the East End, along with some semblance of a distribution plan, organized appointment system, and safe access for seniors — fear, confusion, isolation and a lack of desperately-needed hope and family support remain.
Life Imitates Art
February 12, 2021
I cannot dispute in the book review by Ana Daniel a dark, sad sense of the iconic photographer (and former Montauk resident) Richard Avedon, and especially his later work, as portrayed in “What Becomes a Legend Most,” the new biography by Philip Gefter. But Avedon was charming, fun to interview, and seemingly comfortable with himself back in 1993 while I was hosting radio broadcasts for Newsweek magazine as it published an extensive excerpt of his almost solely pictorial “An Autobiography.”
To the degree that so many associate Avedon with a version of him they know was played by Fred Astaire in the 1957 movie musical “Funny Face,” it may come as some surprise that Avedon much earlier had modeled himself on Astaire — as quoted in the Newsweek cover story: “The first time I saw Fred Astaire making love to Ginger Rogers with his feet, I thought, ‘I get it. That’s a man a person could be proud to be’,” Avedon has written. “I ran up the aisle of Radio City Music Hall kicking the seats, imitating him. Then, years later, Astaire ended up playing me in the movie ‘Funny Face.’ It’s all very strange. I’d learned how to be me by pretending to be him and then I had to teach him how to pretend to be me.”
In our telephone conversation, Avedon expanded on his interest in older faces, including his. “They certainly have more written on them. . . . For example my own face. It was impossible for [the younger] me to do self-portraits that had any depth to them because my face in the mirror when I shaved had nothing to do with what I felt inside. It’s just getting into shape now that I’m 70. I’m beginning to look the way I feel. What do they say: You get the face you earned?”
The full conversation can be heard by searching at Archive.org for “Newsweek On Air 1993 Avedon.” The interview begins just before the 43-minute mark.
The ‘L’ Word
February 13, 2021
The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society last week announced, via Facebook post, that its board had appointed its first executive director. I wonder how their rank and file membership will feel about the fact that the person in question is male. Is the “L” word in the organization’s title just a sort of appendix, a useless organ that lacks a real function?
Among the new director’s qualifications, we are told, are the facts that his grandfather caddied at the Maidstone Club, and that another family member owned a luncheonette on Newtown Lane. True, he has had significant administrative experience in other Suffolk County towns and not-for-profits, but how hard would it have been to find a female candidate with at least as impressive a track record? I know at least one woman who sought the position and who, despite being equally qualified — well known, personable, and experienced — was not invited back for a second interview. She tells me that other female candidates met with the same treatment. Women founded this organization; they built it; they’ve always run it. That it should have a glass ceiling is an unwelcome surprise.
East Hampton Village
February 13, 2021
I was very disappointed to find out that the village board has decided to replace the Main Beach office with a parking app. My wife, Rose Lawler Kerin, has worked at Main Beach since she was 14. After 26 years of loyal service, she received a phone call from the beach manager to inform her that due to budget cuts the village would be eliminating the office completely and would not be rehiring her for her role as office manager, one she had held for 24 years. A new parking app would be replacing the three staff members of the office, one assistant beach manager, and also 10 traffic control officers.
My wife was never consulted about what the function of the office is. As we all battle in our daily lives trying to talk to someone at the bank only to be pointed toward the A.T.M. or trying to call someone only to be answered by a robot, the Main Beach office acted as a mini Village Hall at the weekend, facilitating those who are unable to get to Village Hall during Monday to Friday. It is extremely naive of the current administration to think that the sole function of the office is to count money and issue parking passes.
Deputy Mayor Chris Minardi had us all convinced last summer as we tuned into Newtown TV that he was bringing Main Beach back to its glory days. Beach parking increased from $400 to $500 for a season pass, a 25-percent increase, and the daily pass increased from $30 to $50, an increase of 66.66 percent. All 3,100 nonresident permits have been sold in record time, which would account for a $310,000 increase in revenue that the beaches have raised for the 2021 season already. I am so confused as to why the budget cuts were aimed at an integral part of operations at Main Beach after netting this additional $310,000 right off the bat.
It’s hard to imagine glory days at the beach without the beautiful Rose smiling at you from the office window.
Best of luck with the app,
Center of Interaction
February 15, 2021
I have spent most of the summers of my life at East Hampton Main Beach. I started there for my first job at age 14 and ended there at my last job at age 70. Three generations of my family have also worked there. I have had much personal investment in and love for Main Beach. Even though I finally left the beach two years ago, I still care very much about what happens there.
I recently learned that the new village administration has made a decision to “close the beach office” and eliminate the job of beach manager, Rose Lawler. She was given the reason that two of her office responsibilities were being outsourced. The first of these, parking lot management, was to be done by a computer app. The second, of processing resident seasonal beach permits, would be handled at Village Hall.
I’m not sure what “closing the office” really means. The beach office has always been a critical part of the entire beach operation. The parking passes and seasonal permits were only a fraction of the office functions. One important function is as a communication center. Calls came in and calls went out all day long. The office connects with Village Hall, police, fire, ambulances, etc. Radio communications with all the lifeguards at Main Beach, Georgica Beach, and Two Mile Hollow are also important. The office administers first aid on a daily basis and is equipped with automatic electronic defibrillators, or A.E.D.s.
Most important, the office is the center of interaction with the public. All day long, people come to the office for information, commentary, complaints, compliments, and just plain talk. It’s where the staff gets to interact with the beach patrons and vice versa. It’s humanization in a dehumanizing world. (The parking app is an example.)
Eighteen of my years working at Main Beach were as assistant beach manager and then beach manager. It’s where I first met Rose Lawler, although I knew her family well.
Like me, Rose had started at Main Beach at age 14 as a beach attendant. She worked her way to become the office manager. Rose loved her job and was damn good at it. She knew more about beach operations than anyone, including the seven different beach managers she worked under. Rose is a people person whose smiling face and engaging manner made her popular with the staff and beach patrons. Rose could be tough and was not intimidated by the occasional difficult characters.
Over my years of management, I worked with many great, dedicated, and competent people. Rose was the finest. I question why the mayor, board, and beach manager did not rehire her. She has proved herself during her 26 years of loyal service. They did rehire several managerial employees with far less experience. It doesn’t make sense to me.
I understand that the new mayor and board members feel that they are here to make changes — some fairly drastic. They have the right to choose employees who will facilitate their goals. The beach has run in rather a traditional way for over 100 years. It has been highly regarded over decades. In 2013, it was chosen “America’s Best Beach.” It is not the place to make many changes.
As for Rose, I know she was deeply hurt by the decision to “eliminate the job.” This letter is not going to bring back her job. If, for no other purpose, it allows me to bring tribute to a loyal, competent village employee and a truly wonderful person. She will be missed by many.
Cough Up $2
February 14, 2021
To the Editor,
I’d like to register my concern over the proposed new parking plans. Most important to me is the proposed fee for parking in the Reutershan lot. It seems extremely unfair to allow village residents, but not town residents, free parking for the first two hours. I dare say that those residing in the village, by and large, are wealthier than those in the town, particularly Springs. It would be quite a burden for many (most?) Springs residents to cough up $2 every time they need to go to the restaurants, grocery, hardware, or drugstores (the majority of other shops being out of reach for many of us). I think it is a terrible idea!
Also, although I generally like diagonal parking, doing so on Newtown Lane will also present problems. Newtown Lane is already congested in the summer and will only be made worse when the number of spots is reduced. And then even more of us will be forced into the lot for which we will be required to pay.
Hopefully those who decide on these issues will come to their senses and be kinder to all East Hampton residents. I think it is fine to charge visiting people but not those of us who live in East Hampton, at least not for the initial two hours.
Charging the Most
February 13, 2021
To the Editor,
Mayor Larsen has really learned the lesson of disaster capitalism. His latest attempt to exploit the suffering caused by the pandemic is unsettling. To justify his discriminatory parking proposal, he drags out the economic pain caused by the pandemic to justify charging the most to people who suffered the most.
Here he is: “Under the new parking plan, said Mayor Jerry Larsen, East Hampton Town residents with town beach permits will be allowed two hours of free parking and the option to pay $2 for a third. The village plans to use the revenue from paid parking to pay for the construction of a sewer system, which would allow more restaurants to open in the village and help protect water quality. ‘To bring vitality back to the village, we need the sewer system, and this will help pay for it,’ Mr. Larsen said.” (The East Hampton Star, Feb. 11)
I get that the mayor was elected by the New York City vote, that his constituents want him to display their exclusivity boldly, but telling East Hampton Town residents that we must pay for the sewers, which will support new restaurants for the new exclusive East Hampton Village, is just too much!
And to make the display of privilege even more evident, he charges townies, but not richies! On whose back is he “allow[ing] more restaurants to open in the village and help protect water quality. ‘To bring vitality back to the village’ ”? Certainly not the people who will benefit and can afford it most!
A True Loss
February 14, 2021
Not to belabor a point, but it was a hellish year just past, in many ways. We adjusted and cooperated, much as we missed our loved ones not near. For those who lost family and friends to this terrible virus that brought the world to its knees, it was much harder. Oh, please don’t talk about knees. I digress, but I have a whole new respect for the “Game of Thrones” phrase “bend the knee.” Ouch. Anyway, may you all find peace for your loss, and may we be as empathetic as we can to share your grief. I want to remain positive for this new year, as is my nature, though I can gripe with the best of them. And swear like a longshoreman when I must bend that knee.
What truly took my breath away recently, was an obituary last week in your paper. When someone our age passes, it humbles you; it makes you pause. Pam Glennon was a top person, who I knew for many years since I moved out here permanently in the late 1980s. We go back to her husband’s family at Napeague Harbor circa the 1970s. Good times.
You don’t know Pam? I’ll bet you do, if you love flowers and horses, Christmas trees and veggies, and a kind word. Pony rides at Miss Amelia’s, that’s Pam and her daughter, Heather. You know those sidewalk planters in Amagansett? Pam planted those flowers. You might have seen her out there of a summer day, hat on, shoulders getting kissed pink by the sun, she quietly, happily intent on her work. Or the quaint veggie and fruit stand she and her husband, Darryl, operated, that turned into a Christmas wonderland, off the beaten path on Spring Close Highway. Darryl was always the talkative one; Pam made her soft-spoken suggestions. We watched their kids grow up, all of us parents of Amagansett School students. We later got to hang out with Pam’s son John William at Liars’, and realized though we thought we were still young ourselves, in the microcosm these local hamlets are, time marches on.
Then grandchildren appear. It saddens me that Pam won’t get more time to enjoy hers and her family. I would often ask my mother why miserable people live to ripe old ages and kind, loving souls are taken too soon? Mom would answer, “They are too good for the world, Nanci.” Maybe so. My heartfelt condolences to Darryl and John and Heather and the entire Glennon family. A true loss.
Pam was a local, and I don’t know if she went to Truck Beach. Probably not much, she was often working, while others were swimming and frolicking summers away. I think I only went there once, myself, but that’s me, preferring a secret bay beach after my kids were grown and I wasn’t on mom ocean duty at Indian Wells or Atlantic. Now, I hear, come summer, you can hardly park at either, and it’s a scene. If you like that, more power to you. You can certainly understand how locals love a beach they can gather on with their families after working their asses off all week.
That people built their giant castles on fragile cliffs on the ocean is a whole other topic and I won’t go into that. I just don’t believe anyone owns the beach. I hope this decision can be reconsidered for the right reasons and for good cohabitation going forward. I am not an official local, as I wasn’t born here. I adopted this town and have loved her since I was 16 years old. I came back full time to raise my kids here, where they spent every summer since birth, at their grandparents’ house at Napeague. I worked local jobs. I organized with locals to save our aquifer, and I ran for town trustee in 2011, and though I didn’t win, I’m dug in. In relationships and life, it helps to be able to read the room. We’ve all much to learn, if we keep listening. Good luck in the fight for local beach access.
February 15, 2021
The climate-emergency declaration of the town’s energy sustainability committee, reported by The Star last week, is in line with what scientists, environmental groups, and informed citizens have been saying for years: We need to dramatically expand all climate mitigation efforts.
Many on the East End have noted the stark incongruity of various officials and committees not even mentioning our pollution-engine airport as the single most egregious carbon emitter (38 million metric tons annually), and soon the easiest to eliminate. Is it even thinkable that another facility polluting to that extent, selling almost a million gallons of aviation fuel (900,000 annually), responsible for a disastrous poisoning of our sole-source aquifer (now a Superfund cleanup site), providing negligible economic benefit, and serving only a small cohort of wealthy and irresponsible polluters would be ignored in serious environmental discussions?
Why bother with offshore wind and wonderful proposals if we won’t even stop the worst pollution in our own backyard?
East Hampton Village
February 14, 2021
Chris Walsh’s Feb. 11 article “Call for Climate Emergency Declaration” is a very successful document in raising East Hampton climate change awareness. The importance of educating the town to the existing climate change impacts on our coastal community is a giant step forward on the pathway to reaching the town’s 100 percent goal of eliminating fossil fuels for clean energy resources. Included in Chris’s article is a review of the Declaration’s growing national support, and most important the immediate positive comments from all five town board members. In addition, the reader also learns a climate emergency declaration will require an update to the town’s Climate Action Plan. Adopted in 2015, the climate plan states in its “Preamble” that this ‘CAP’ is not definitive . . . it is an educational tool to engage this coastal community’s climate awareness . . . and, to stir a sense of urgency.”
The next step on the pathway to the 100 percent goal is the East Hampton Town Board approval of a climate emergency declaration, which I strongly support.
Thank you, Chris, for your excellent reporting.
February 15, 2021
There has been gross misinformation swirling about from those who attempt to stop the export cable from landing at Beach Lane in Wainscott. Their claim is that “multiple other alternatives exist” and that they are somehow less impactful to the environment. These alternative landing spots extolled by the geologists paid for by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott are, in fact, significantly more disruptive to our town.
The fact is (and they know it) that six beach landings were formally evaluated in the Article VII alternatives analysis. One of the six included Atlantic Avenue Beach, which is claimed by C.P.W. to be less disruptive. Under this alternative, the cable would go up Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett to the railroad track, cross under the railroad track several times on its westerly journey and then go behind the East Hampton Middle School before it made its way to the substation at Cove Hollow. Let’s look at one metric of the proposed alternative: distance. The terrestrial distance of the Atlantic Avenue route is 5.2 miles. The distance to the substation from Wainscott Beach is 4.1 miles. And if you subtract the distance the cable will travel into East Hampton Town property, the total distance in Wainscott is 3.24 miles.
If this does not persuade you, please read the following from the reply briefs from the New York State Department of Public Service: “C.P.W.’s argument that the Applicant is statutorily obligated to consider its alternatives, and that C.P.W.’s alternatives are preferable from environmental and public safety standpoints, is not only a misapplication of the Public Service Law, but ignores the insurmountable deficiencies in C.P.W.’s proposed alternatives.” I think it’s important that you read that again: “insurmountable deficiencies in C.P.W.’s proposed alternatives.”
Moreover, the Amagansett route would add many months, as much as an additional year, to the construction period at a time when catastrophic climate change demands urgent action.
Here is the mission statement from the New York State Department of Public Service: “The primary mission of the New York State Department of Public Service is to ensure affordable, safe, secure, and reliable access to electric, gas, steam, telecommunications, and water services for New York State’s residential and business consumers, while protecting the natural environment.”
More Than 30
February 15, 2021
In your Feb. 3 editorial “Wainscott vs. World,” you make the assertion that a “small group of Wainscott property owners” is suing East Hampton Town over allowing an offshore wind farm cable to be laid along an underground route to join the electric grid some miles away. Actually, the plaintiffs number more than 30; only one house is on Beach Lane (a mail-ordered Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit); more plaintiffs are from north of the highway than south, and it is not only Wainscott, but also the Dune Alpin community just outside the Village of East Hampton (they have joined because their Wainscott neighbors have demonstrated through expert-led research that the 2.4-acre substation proposed to be built adjacent to their co-ops and houses is unnecessary).
Moreover, the number would have been much larger, but many residents were hesitant to join the lawsuit given the campaign of outing, doxing, and general intimidation that has been offered by those who have generated and been inflamed by the opposition to the Wainscott community. Indeed, one plaintiff actually felt compelled to withdraw because false and vicious attacks were made against him and his employer.
As you must know, this is a broad community action as evidenced by hundreds of signatories opposing the high-power cable route and an overwhelming vote of the town’s own appointed Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee.
To be sure, the forces of government, media, and activists that are allied against one tiny hamlet are formidable, but as Clarence Darrow once said, “At times I felt I stood alone in the world, and it is not a bad feeling.”
February 15, 2021
In the annals of community politics, there probably has never been a more ironic title for an organization than Wainscott United. Robust political debate and challenging positions are welcome and necessary, but our neighbors in Wainscott United have forgotten that we all live together and will live together regardless of the outcome of a vote on incorporation.
The statements from Wainscott United are divisive, nasty, and mean-spirited. A sampler from your own Letter to the Editor submissions: “narcissistic entitlement,” “immoral,” “selfish,” “scheme,” and “a village they own.” The latter claim of inside dealing is particularly ridiculous as the proponents of incorporation will no more own the village for themselves than the proponents of Sagaponack [will] the Village of Sagaponack. Their divisiveness is not limited to print and unfortunately pervades meetings as well.
If the supporters of Wainscott United truly want a united Wainscott, they should start by being civil with those with whom they disagree.
February 15, 2021
In her letter to you last week, Gouri Edlich mounted a spirited defense of the budget prepared for Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott by the Novak Consulting Group. Despite its length, Ms. Edlich’s letter misses the reason why many who have reviewed that budget have expressed skepticism at the prediction that Wainscott taxpayers will suffer just a small bump in overall taxes if incorporation is voted in.
The Novak budget touted by Ms. Edlich is a top-down exercise, a mashup of “comparable” villages. It may describe some hypothetical five-square-mile village of fewer than 1,000 residents, but that’s beside the point. The relevant question is: Does it describe the Wainscott village that C. P. W. proposes to create? The answer is clearly and emphatically no.
Novak acknowledges that its “model represents a ‘base’ where the town continues to provide most services in order to leverage existing resources and staff.” With breathtaking understatement, it continues, “This approach will require some initial coordination, negotiation, and agreement but represents a cost-effective manner to achieve the multiple objectives of the community.”
What are those “multiple objectives”? We needn’t guess, for C.P.W. stated them in a June 22 message to would-be supporters. First, exercise all power to stop the cable landing on Beach Lane. Second, control growth in population, and particularly school-age population, through zoning to prevent multi-family housing. Third, reduce airport noise. Fourth, shape and restrict, through zoning, future uses by the town of its airport property. Fifth, address the proposal to subdivide and develop the sand pit. Sixth, protect Wainscott’s agricultural heritage and local farmers and preserve its bucolic characteristics through more responsive (than the Town’s) zoning. Seventh, enact more stringent energy conservation and green energy zoning codes. Eighth, remediate water contamination and underwrite the hookup of the 50 percent of the village not already on municipal water. Ninth, set and enforce lower speed limits and ameliorate dangerous traffic conditions.
None of these objectives can be achieved through services that C.P.W.’s budget naively assumes will be provided by the town at no additional cost to Wainscott’s taxpayers. These services will be 100 percent the fiscal responsibility of the village. But search as you might, you will not find a single line item or other provision in C.P.W.’s budget that pays for any of it. For example, there is no money provided to remediate water contamination or to pay for the remaining hookups to municipal water, and nothing is budgeted to provide for the additional law enforcement capacity that would be necessary to make Wainscott’s roads slower or safer.
It is, however, with respect to zoning, needed and promised, where the budget is most anemic. The amount budgeted for drafting a zoning code wouldn’t cover a plain-vanilla version, no less one as aggressively green as C.P.W. contemplates, and nothing is budgeted for defending that code against certain and well-funded challenges from developers, homeowners, and even the town itself. Nothing is provided to resist the proposed sand pit development; indeed, no commitment is made to the hamlet study, which is the principal bulwark of an alternative vision of the pit, and nothing is committed to revitalizing the commercial strip, which would seem a necessary part of keeping Wainscott from wandering far off the bucolic path. The only inference that can fairly be drawn from the budget itself is that the village would surrender to, rather than fight against overdevelopment.
In short, the C.P.W.-Novak Consulting Group budget is for a fictional low-tax village, not for a Wainscott village. If the new village tries to deliver on just a few of C.P.W.’s promises, the budget and the tax bills will be several orders of magnitude larger than C.P.W. has been advertising.
In reality, the model budget is for a Wainscott that is merely an instrument to oppose the cable landing. Yet, there is nothing in the budget to fund even that effort. If the village does no more than fight the cable, as it promises it will, expenses and taxes on village residents will be far greater than projected. If residents want to get a sense of how much greater, all they have to do is ask C.P.W. how much it has already spent on lawyers in its crusade against offshore wind.
JOHN H. HALL
February 15, 2021
To the Editor,
What could lie ahead for Wainscott if we say yes to incorporation? Is the Citizens of the Preservation of Wainscott budget realistic? Would it really provide us with more cost-effective services, tax control, and environmental protection? Could an all-volunteer government handle the complex development issues facing Wainscott? I was skeptical and started examining their plans. I found C.P.W.’s jerry-rigged approach to drawing the new boundaries of the proposed village of Wainscott as concocted and impractical as the consequences we’d all face if we believe their unlikely bare-bones budget.
The Wainscott Hamlet Study provides a plan on improving the haphazard character of the commercial district. This project is complex and requires expertise on many levels. The study also addresses the sand/gravel pit, a 70-plus acre area zoned for commercial and industrial development. With these two issues alone, C.P.W.’s budget is grossly inadequate.
Next, could a part-time volunteer government (mayor, trustees, planning, zoning) handle and expertly navigate the enormous task demanded of them? With limited resources, no architectural review board and a poorly visualized budget, the disparities in the real budgetary burdens would need to be addressed. We could easily become the next Mastic Beach.
Who will absorb the direct impact of the budget gap? Do the math. Our taxes would increase as the budget became more realistic.
Take a look at C.P.W.’s vague, poorly produced budget for yourself. Their budget is disingenuous and does not support their promises or goals. How could anyone be expected to make a positive judgment about this plan and budget or for that matter even take them seriously?
As a coastal community vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and our existing challenges both known and unknown, it is imperative we have the support of professional performance and realistic budgeting that East Hampton Town can provide.
For me the choice is clear. Staying a hamlet and continuing to work with East Hampton Town’s strict zoning laws, their expertise, and diverse resources will and has served Wainscott well. Vote “no” on incorporation.
Postscript: Esperanza Leon, a resident of Wainscott, is a board member on the East Hampton Town Architectural Review Board.
February 15, 2021
Last week, two letters to the editor used data to debunk Wainscott United’s often-repeated charge that the estimated budget of the new village of Wainscott was a “fictional financial forecast.” Today, I wanted to share some additional facts to evaluate their assertions about the village’s legal budget. (We are unable to find their data or analysis related to the overall village budget or legal expenses.)
To recap: The first letter last week showed that Wainscott United’s one-sentence forecast that the new village budget would total $3 million to $5 million (rather than the $840,000 that multiple experts developed) is inaccurate. The letter showed that a budget of that size would be similar to Villages of Bellport ($4.5 million), Greenport ($4.6 million), or Saltaire ($3.7 million). But those villages’ budgets include expensive services that the village of Wainscott would either not provide (e.g., sanitation departments, garbage collection, ferry service, ice rink, kids’ camp, tennis club, municipal marinas) or that are already provided by other municipalities (e.g., fire, police) and, thus, would not be in the village’s direct budget of $840,000.
The second letter examined the actual expenditures of all 32 villages in Suffolk County to show that villages two to three times the size of Wainscott spent 11 percent less than the proposed village of Wainscott budget on an apples-to-apples basis.
I will now focus on one particular line budget item: Legal spend. Several neighbors have asked me about it, as it has been a particular focus of incorporation opponents. As a reminder, in the face of their unsubstantiated assertions and in order to give comfort to our neighbors, the experts who developed the village of Wainscott finances budgeted $139,906. As those experts said in their report (wainscott.org/report) that reserve is multiples of what will likely actually be needed. (That excess was also confirmed by the Suffolk County Village Officials Association, which represents the 32 villages in the county. See their letter at wainscott.org/SCVOA.)
Over the last month we researched the actual legal spend for all 32 villages in Suffolk County, including the Wainscott United’s purported “budget peer” villages. Here is what we found: Bellport spent $62,220 on legal expenses in 2019-2020, Greenport, $95,578, and Saltaire, $119,157. So, what does that show? It demonstrates that each of those villages – whose overall budgets are four to five times larger than the proposed village of Wainscott – spend less than the village of Wainscott reserved.
Also remember most legal expenditures of villages are because of police departments, fire departments, and large numbers of employees (none of which the village of Wainscott would have in its direct budget). That explains why the Village of Sagaponack — which does not have any of those services just like the planned village of Wainscott — spent $26,061 for legal services in 2020. Again, the village of Wainscott reserved much more for legal spend — $139,906 — due to the conservative approach to budgeting adopted by the two independent municipal finance consulting firms who developed the financial model.
Another way to look at the numbers is what percent does legal spend make up of their total budget? It shows that the conservative approach to developing the budget for Wainscott reserved nearly 17 percent of its total budget for legal expenses ($139,906 divided by $838,628). How does that compare with those three other villages? In Bellport, legal expenses comprised 1.4 percent of its total budget; Greenport spent 2.2 percent, and Saltaire had 3.2 percent. The Wainscott budget is padded that much: The proposed legal budget is 5 to 10 times the share allocated by Wainscott United’s peer villages. That is consistent with the broader data set: When you look at all 32 Suffolk County villages, the village of Wainscott reserved nine times the median village, which spent 1.85 percent of its budget on legal.
Wainscott United has shifted its attention, starting to raise a new issue. They now claim that Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott will seek to shift its legal spend relating to the cable to the village. That is a red herring, since by the time the village is established, most issues around the cable will be resolved. Moreover, a village cannot spend money other than for authorized purposes for village business. Additionally, any spending by village leaders will be in accordance with applicable law and subject to the will of the voters (through village elections).
Thank you to the various community members for continuing to ask questions through [email protected]. I hope this was helpful. Our attention remains steadfast: To advocate for a government that represents the interests of the residents of Wainscott and to provide facts; these issues are too important to do otherwise.
Citizens for the
Preservation of Wainscott
February 15, 2021
Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott consistently states that since alternative routes for landing the South Fork Wind cable were not considered, the Public Service Commission must reject the project.
This statement is false; Deepwater-Orsted did consider alternatives. Public Service Law Sec. 122 requires that an applicant include in its Article VII application a description of any reasonable alternate location. It does not require an investigation of all possible alternatives. Deepwater-Orsted initially considered a North Shore route and a South Shore route. After determining that the South Shore route was preferable, it considered seven different locations as potential landing sites. After careful consideration, all but two were eliminated for various reasons. The remaining two, Beach Lane and Hither Hills, were thoroughly evaluated, and Beach Lane was selected because it will have minimal impact on the environment, non-residential structures, and historic properties. C.P.W. consistently mischaracterizes the impacts and viability of Atlantic Avenue and Hither Hills routes.
C.P.W. stands alone in pushing for Atlantic Avenue and Hither Hills routes. These routes are not preferred by South Fork Wind, nor by the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation, Transportation, State, Public Service, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the East Hampton Town Board and the Trustees (both of which represent the interests of the general public), Long Island Power Authority, Win With Wind, Montauk United, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, or the Group for the East End.
The record shows that C.P.W.’s Atlantic Avenue route is not a viable route and would negatively affect the reliability of the electric system. The trustees, after reviewing its environmental impact, rejected it. C.P.W. claims the trustees did not do adequate due diligence. The record shows otherwise. C.P.W. does not address how Deepwater-Orsted could obtain the required property rights from at least 59 private property owners. C.P.W. failed to address constructability issues including the 23-kilovolt overhead double-circuit transmission line and the South Fork electric cable crossing of the L.I.R.R. tracks four times. C.P.W.’s own evidence establishes that the Atlantic Avenue route would have greater environmental impact than the Beach Lane route. C.P.W.’s claim that the Atlantic Avenue route has fewer impacts to wetlands than Beach Lane was disproved by its own testimony.
C.P.W.’s claims about emergency response and fire safety hazards on Beach Lane are misleading. Deepwater-Orsted has agreed to act in compliance with applicable regulations while maintaining access to Beach Lane for pedestrians, vehicles, and emergency responders. The record is replete with many such examples of mischaracterization by C.P.W.
I agree with the conclusion of the South Fork Wind reply brief: “C.P.W., Mr. Kinsella and Long Island Commercial Fishing Association’s briefs in opposition of the Joint Proposal rely on baseless claims, bald statements that have no factual basis in the record, mischaracterizations of the record, and in more than a few instances, claims that are patently false and contrary to the record.”
JEREMIAH T. MULLIGAN
February 13, 2021
The way the incorporators of Wainscott talk about how neglected our hamlet is I expect to see rusting Chevys abandoned along Main Street with tumbleweed, aimless and feral, rolling down Beach Lane. They repeat again that East Hampton Town has been “indifferent” to Wainscott and that our hamlet has received “poor treatment.” What are they talking about?
The bucolic nature of Wainscott — the Wainscott you see today — was made possible because of forward-thinking governing and sizable investments from East Hampton Town. You can find a long list of preserved Wainscott properties on the Town website: ehamptonny.gov/175/Wainscott.
And let’s talk about the swift action the town took to provide clean water to the hamlet and to share the burden of that expense across the town. We are fortunate.
Wainscott didn’t get to be the wonderful hamlet it is today without considerable help and attention from the Town of East Hampton. Its future is going to depend upon a continuation of that support.
Never a Given
February 15, 2021
To the Editor,
Democracy is never a given. Jan. 6 proved that. A wrathful president unable to accept he lost an election, an angry mob stoked by bogus claims of a stolen election, a subservient caucus of Republicans willing to do the bidding of a corrupt president. On that day they all came together in a violent clash that almost derailed our democracy.
Fortunately, the will of the people prevailed — for now. But Trump has said his political movement “has only just begun.” Already we see what that means: punishing Republicans who dared to speak the truth and acknowledged that Trump lost the election and that he incited the insurrection, and rewarding those, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who traffic in absurd conspiracy theories and seek to demonize those on the other side of the political divide.
In the coming months, each of us will have to decide if we are willing to stand up for our democracy, to support and protect it by paying attention, by calling out lies, by working to roll back voter suppression laws, by voting for candidates who will uphold their oath to the Constitution, by remembering that our congressional representative, Lee Zeldin, voted to overturn the results of a free and fair election.
Because if there’s one thing history has shown us, it’s that a failed coup often precedes a successful one.
A Heartbeat Away
February 3, 2021
To the Editor,
“After the chaos of the last four years.” (Editorial, Jan. 28.) It never seems to occur to those who invoke those or similar words that much of that chaos came from the constant, four-year attempt to delegitimize a president who was loathed by everyone in the media and Washington, D.C., from day one. Self-awareness isn’t their strong suit.
There may be a historical significance to Vice President Harris (I don’t chill writing that about any politician). But it isn’t necessarily the one you seem to embrace. We have someone who was so unpopular in her own party, her campaign didn’t gather enough support to make it to the first primary. Now she stands a heartbeat away from the presidency. Yes, historical.
It may well be that her inability to find much support was less about her lack of defining principles and more to do with her unhesitating willingness to play the victim. She has never been quite able to explain how a highly successful woman of color, the daughter of two highly successful immigrants of color, and the wife of a privileged white male is a victim of unrelenting racism here in racist America. That was always a bit of a turn-off.
I hope that for those of you who lost faith in our nation, given the “chaos of the last four years,” we can rebuild and move forward. Given the tone of the avalanche of executive orders issued so far, it may well be a forlorn hope.
In the Mirror
February 11, 2021
Does today’s Republican Party deserve you? Many of our parents voted for Republican candidates, like Eisenhower. They may have preferred Nixon over Kennedy, and maybe even Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson. The support the Republican Party found then was a promise of security against foreign foes but more important the promise of security at home. A Republican vote was a vote for success, and that resonated among our parents, many of whom owned small businesses or looked for financial success in the jobs they had.
Times have crumbled these tenets, and the very foundation, of the G.O.P. Long ago, it abandoned cooperating with congressional Democrats to further the well being of all Americans. While the G.O.P. pays lip service to the notion of fiscal restraint, it really has become a pretext to block Democratic programs, regardless of their merit. The G.O.P. has used that excuse in its effort to block the universal health care promised by the Affordable Care Act, and then in its manifold efforts to cripple, if not kill, the A.C.A. (and deprive millions of Americans, many of them Republican voters, of health care). But it saw no such fiscal concern as the G.O.P. Congress allowed the Trump administration to increase the deficit by more than $8 trillion, or 40 percent.
But its fiscal hypocrisy is not why you should question whether the G.O.P. deserves you. The face of today’s G.O.P. would be unrecognizable to our parents, and it ought to repulse you. The loathsome racism and anti-Semitism of the unrepentant Marjorie Taylor Greene won her a standing ovation during a closed G.O.P. House meeting. Matt Gaetz, the Florida congressman, traveled to Wyoming to denounce efforts by Liz Cheney to heal the division within the party. Newly- elected Congresswoman Mary Miller of Illinois wrapped herself in the trappings of Hitler in a speech to her followers. Senator Josh Hawley fomented the Jan. 6 mob by raising his fist in defiance of the Constitution to support the lies that Trump’s 2020 “victory” was stolen by unfounded election fraud. Even our congressman, Lee Zeldin, travels in the company of white supremacists like the Oath Keepers, whose members were seen in the assault on the Capitol as rioters terrorized our Congress, and unabashedly lays no blame at the feet of Donald Trump for inciting that rebellion. And, he has embraced anti-Semites, like Seb Gorka and Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, in his unprincipled quest for power. But, the worst of its sins has been its abject failure to tell Americans the truth — and its cardinal example of lying has killed more than 450,000 Americans.
So, tomorrow morning when you look yourself in the mirror, ask yourself if this G.O.P. is worthy of your support.
February 12, 2021
I just finished watching the entire Senate trial, and I am exhausted, reliving the horrific events, and moved by the stunning, thorough, and exhaustive presentation of the House Managers led by Jamie Raskin of Maryland. The question-and-answer session was riveting and the closing arguments inspiring. The only problem is that the Senate Republicans did not show the courage and integrity that the moment required. They were called on in a time of destiny and they failed our country miserably, which makes the guilty votes of the seven Republicans even more remarkable.
As a retired teacher of 41 years, I was thinking of the moment when this sad episode would be included in history books and reminded of Mr. Slattery, who made every moment of American history come alive for me as a student at East Hampton High School. How he would have acted out the scene and held us in thrall to deliver the line of how the senators rejected partisan politics and stood together to repudiate the tyrant Trump. Instead we had a politically expedient and pathetic tally of “not guilty,” followed by the paltry performance by Mitch McConnell, pontificating on the crimes of Trump but granting him a pass.
SUE ELLEN O’CONNOR
February 12, 2021
The Republican senators who voted to acquit Trump of the impeachment charge will never earn a place in volume two of “Profiles in Courage”; however, they have all earned a short biographical sketch in the soon-to-be-published “Spineless Toads in Contemporary Politics.” The political cowardice exhibited by these RWOGs (Republicans Without Genitals) will go down in American history as a constitutional disgrace.
One can only misquote the great Mel Brooks when we say: May Trump’s schwartz be with you — at least for the next four years.
February 11, 2021
President Trump’s disgraceful incitement of violence at the Capitol was clearly impeachable, but I am afraid that his defense lawyers might disingenuously cite as his defense the Constitution’s Article 2, Section 3, in the following:
“The president shall have the power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.” And might they also have the gall to claim that Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 boldly states that “he shall have power . . . to . . . by . . . advice . . . appoint . . . public . . . ministers . . . appointments . . . such inferior officers. . . .”?!
February 14, 2021
After the impeachment vote, 43 Republican senators trudged down to the bowels of the Senate building to the communal cleansing baths. Thirty-eight of them went through the normal slime-removal process using high powered acid-based hoses to remove the slime from their most recent debasement. They knew it would take hours of slime removal, but they had sold their souls to the devil and slime removal is part of the deal. Hawley, Cruz, Paul, and Graham went to a special chamber that required even stronger hoses and infrared rays to pierce the encrusted slime that was running through their bloodstreams. Their process could take as long as a week because blood and soul transfusions are long and painful. McConnell doesn’t bother with the showers because he is beyond cleansing and has no future aspirations.
When McConnell and his 38 co-conspirators gathered in the drying-out room, beet-red steaming masses of flatulence and contrition, they thanked Jesus for cleansing their souls and broke out the Dom Perignon. They had prevailed, and the public would soon forget the indignities that they had perpetrated.
McConnell convinced them that by trashing Trump in his closing speech and blaming him for the riots, he could gain enough political capital to support the fallacious logic of his acquittal vote. “You are all idiots,” Mitch told us. “Even though I refused to hold the hearings while Trump was in office and pushed it back until he was gone, I’m not responsible for our out of office acquittal rationale.” Anyone want to buy a bridge?
It is fairly obvious to the American people that the rich and powerful are judged by a different set of rules and laws from the rest of us. We need to keep in mind that we are not all the same, and that their interests and concerns have absolutely nothing to do with ours.