Has the Face
East Hampton Village
February 21, 2021
To the Editor:
In an engaging letter in your current issue, David Alpern quotes Richard Avedon at the age of 70 saying, “What do they say: You get the face you earned?” The saying as I know it is: “A man at 20 has the face he was born with; a man at 45 has the face that he has created for himself; and a man at 70 has the face he deserves.”
February 20, 2021
To the Editor,
Having relatives in East Hampton, I read the article in The East Hampton Star “Clare Watson: The artist as Alchemist” (Feb. 11). I am happy that Ms. Watson is producing such interesting things in her studio. I was not familiar that in 1917, the Russian formalist Viktor Shklovsky coined the term “defamiliarization,” meaning the artistic technique of presenting common things in a new or strange way in order to prompt people to take a new approach to promote new insights or even new discoveries.
I was amused when Ms. Watson said she would take individual gloves and stuff them with sawdust to make miniatured doll sculptures, “including occasionally erotic configurations.” That was humorous.
Ms. Watson said she has been exploring with boiling leather, [which] “causes it to shrink and resemble rawhide.” She also noted making “plaster casts of her own and other people’s body parts.” It is no secret that in Medieval times, wet rawhide was used in torture during warfare. Wet rawhide was tied around a male enemy’s testicles; as it shrank it would tighten and cause excruciating pain and even castration to the poor victim. It would obviously be vastly different from a plaster cast! Therefore, alchemical methods can be used for good or for ill. A few examples of good or productive alchemical uses for shrunken leather include: harnesses for livestock, aprons for blacksmithing, and even making drums or hide rugs. Everything has its time and purpose. It is up to the artisan to apply such skill appropriately.
JAMES A. MARPLES
February 19, 2021
Dear Star Editor:
First, let me thank you for your editorial “Rightful Development.” How welcome it is to see an article that recognizes the Shinnecock Indian Nation as a sovereign tribe.
Here’s a question I hope you can answer: When (and by whom) was it decided that Native Americans were not part of the United States and were not included in all the benefits and privileges that other Americans enjoy?
DIANE R. LEWIS
None to be Found
February 21, 2021
I am writing in regard to the lack of Covid-19 vaccines here in East Hampton. What seems to be the problem? A community that prides itself with regard to glorious beaches, high real estate taxes to operate our towns smoothly, and a myriad of charity balls for necessary causes, has failed its residents in obtaining the Covid-19 vaccine. There are many residents here who are over 65, some with underlying conditions, and there is no vaccine to be found.
Why have we been left out of the mix? What are our leaders doing to adjust for this problem? I keep calling around to physician offices, pharmacies, the mayor’s office, and check ny.gov/vaccine regularly, getting no information. Surely there are spaces to set up legitimate vaccine centers, like the clinic at the former Child Development Center of the Hamptons.
I leave messages, yet no one seems to have the answer to this problem nor how to fix it. If we can land a Rover on Mars, why are our residents in harm’s way? A vaccine distribution center is not exactly rocket science, and our officials are to blame, including Lee Zeldin, who has done virtually nothing to alleviate this problem, busying himself with trying to overturn a presidential election. If community leaders are not able to discharge their relevant duties, they should be voted out of office.
The Department of Buildings has a list of all homeowners and renters who should be notified to set up appointments. The Ross School was able to vaccinate its staff, while other teachers in the community and those at higher risk have been forfeited. What is going on? This is not okay.
February 16, 2021
To the Editor,
As a senior citizen in East Hampton, I have always written that this was the best place for us to live. Now I do not feel this way. We have not gotten any information as to when East Hampton will have the vaccine for seniors. They have established a place where we will go to receive it. When will that be? We have not left our house since March 2020. I am 93, and my husband is 95. What are our officials doing about this?
Little Free Food Pantry
February 21, 2021
The board of directors of the Neo-Political Cowgirls Dance Theater is thrilled to announce that the January Girls’ Little Free Food Pantry is now open for anyone to take what they need or to give what they can, 24/7, in the parking lot of the Senior Center and Human Resources property at 128 Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton. We are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit company that sees art as a verb and believes that arts and advocacy are two wings of the same bird.
Creativity can launch powerful movements for change and the Little Free Food Pantry is a work of community art that we are immensely proud of and we are so very thankful to those who inspired us in this fashion.
Our January Girls Members, girls and women of intergenerational ages who meet each Sunday in January for art, friendship, and powerful ally-ship, have helped to generate this act of kindness and will work to continue the oversight and care throughout the calendar year. We welcome anyone and everyone who may be hungry, who may happen to have an empty pantry at home, who may need a box of pasta on the way home from a late night of work, to come visit and choose what you need at the Little Free Food Pantry.
Because no one should go hungry and without means to tend to their hunger, this pantry is here for all. By the same token, anyone and everyone is invited to donate what they are able to this pantry, to share with our neighbors. We welcome volunteers of all ages to join us in the simple yet rewarding task of caring for the pantry. To support this endeavor or to volunteer, please contact Susan Stout, our education director, at [email protected] or visit npcowgirls.org to find out more. To see more about the Little Free Food Pantry national movement, visit littlefreepantry.org. Anyone can do this, and we are here to support anyone who may need support or have questions about spearheading their own community free pantry.
Along with the N.P.C. board of directors, I wish to give a heartfelt thanks to the following people who helped to inspire and make this pantry possible: The January Girls members, Gabriele Raacke and Susan Stout, Bill Costello and his crew at Men At Work Construction, who donated time, materials, and labor to not make just one, but TWO pantries for us. Generosity like Bill’s is unparalleled, and absolutely imperative to helping make our community thrive. His skills, talent, and open heart made this process not only possible, but a true joy. Thank you to Michael Daly and the Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Fork for their partnership with January Girls and the L.F.F.P. inspiration.
Thank you to Penelope Rudder for her breathless excitement in helping us manifest our free pantry, and to Charline Spektor for her financial support for our donation overflow bins. Thank you to Kathee Burke Gonzalez and the East Hampton Town Board, along with Diane Patrizio and Nicole O’Donnell from the Senior Center, for all of their support and allowance in generously granting this permission. Many times, visions for new ideas are desperate for someone, anyone, to just say yes, and when that yes happens, this acts as the wings to something beautiful and exciting.
Through so many “yesses,” we all are part of this together, a table for us all to sit down to, if you will, in the form of a Little Free Food Pantry. Efforts like this are small but impactful in community-building, and the ripple effects reach far and wide in all directions. This Little Free Food Pantry is for all of us, and we are so excited to see what is possible through its presence.
Founder, Artistic Director
The Neo-Political Cowgirls
Jobs Do Matter
February 21, 2021
Over the past several weeks, I have been reading about the proposed changes the Incorporated Village of East Hampton is planning to implement regarding the management of parking within the business district and at the beaches. My understanding is that a new mobile parking “app” system will be installed enabling people to pay for parking with a credit card and a few swipes of their smartphones. While on the surface this seems harmless and efficient, there is, in my opinion, a significant downside: the loss of numerous seasonal jobs that benefit local East Hampton residents.
Last week, I heard the extremely unfortunate news that long time Main Beach Office Manager, Rose Lawler Kerin, had been terminated from her position with the Village of East Hampton. Rose had faithfully served as a seasonal beach employee for an astounding 26 summers! Rose began working for the Village of East Hampton at age 14 as a beach attendant and eventually worked her way up to a management position. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside Rose at Main Beach for seven summers, and I can say without a doubt, that she was one the most knowledgeable and dedicated employees to have graced the Main Beach Pavilion.
While the new parking app might eliminate the need for beach employees to issue beach-parking permits, I have the following questions: Who will be answering the beach patrons’ questions and providing them with information? Who will be answering the nonstop flurry of incoming telephone calls? Who will be ordering supplies and filing paperwork? Who will be notifying the lifeguards, police or E.M.S. when an emergency arises and patrons run to the office for help? As a former Main Beach employee, I can tell you firsthand that these were all tasks handled by Rose and the beach office staff.
Rose was quite often the one individual left to manage things when the beach manager was called away from the pavilion to handle an issue at the Sea Spray Cottages, run errands or mediate a dispute in the parking lot. The beach manager’s role requires that they have the ability to be mobile to handle the day- to-day operations. The Main Beach office is not just about managing parking. It is the hub of all beach operations and Rose was its experienced coordinator. Rose was truly the face of public relations for Main Beach.
Sadly, Rose was not the only one affected by the new village administration’s decision. It has been said that several other positions at the beach and nearly 10 traffic control officer positions are to be eliminated as well. If this is true, it is very disappointing. These were jobs held by locals, many of whom were high school or college students trying to earn money for their educations. This was certainly the case for me. If I am not mistaken, the majority of today’s East Hampton Village Police Department is comprised of local officers who started their careers working as seasonal T.C.O.s. I can think of many other successful local residents who once worked as seasonal village employees. These people continue to serve as the backbone of the overall East Hampton community, and make it a great place to live.
Although my life’s journey has led me from East Hampton to the rocky coast of Maine, I cannot help but think back on all those summers when I worked at Main Beach. To this day, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the chance to work for the Village of East Hampton. When I return home to visit friends and family, I make it a point to spend as much time in the village as I can. It really is a special place!
In closing, I would urge the current village administration to rethink their position on this matter. These seasonal jobs do matter and help strengthen the community. If this administration is truly striving to make the Village more inviting and supportive to its local, year-round residents, this is certainly not the way to go about it.
CHRISTOPHER M. RUSSELL
East Hampton Village
February 19, 2021
Dear East Hampton Star,
Recent developments really have me worried about the sustainability of our region into the future. While I sympathize with the need to have money coming in to make ends meet, I don’t think we should sacrifice our quality of life, let alone the sustainability of what makes life in our region unique. While I’m gratified that those of us who live in the village won’t be forced to pay for parking, I really do question the reason for bringing in this money — does the village really need more restaurants? We have Rowdy Hall, Sam’s, the Golden Pear, Babette’s, Cittanuova, Chinatown, and John Papas. I think we can also add Scoop Du Jour and Starbucks. What I miss are the days when we had a five-and-ten, Marley’s, Whimsy’s, Candles and Things, the File Box, East End Hardware (in addition to Village Hardware), a hunting and fishing shop, Long Island Sound (record store), Diamond’s furnishings, and a Bob’s Appliances right on Main Street.
I hate shopping online and would love to see an East Hampton Village that had more shops with affordable goods. And useful goods. This won’t happen unless the rents come way down so that such stores can weather the slow months of winter. I personally thought about opening a gaming store selling board games and rocket-propelled grenades, but between the initial outlay and knowing the local appetite, it would never fly unless I could get a decent low-rent space.
I also foresee other problems. I have long opposed the endless building that seems to be always going on out here. As we develop more and more, we lose our open space, which is already causing problems for wildlife, especially deer. We all know the problem — people overdevelop, forcing the deer to come into our yards looking for food. In my yard, they are eating things they should never be able to eat and the anti-feed spray my arborist claimed was foolproof has not stopped them at all. Even if I wanted to fence in my yard it would be difficult, as several large trees that I adore and are important to the local ecology would have to be removed.
The fact is that we are already overdeveloped in this region. I would actually like to see some lots restored in the same way the village did with the Mark R. Buick building. Many of you may be asking, “What Mark R. Buick building?” That’s because they leveled it, took out the foundation and pipes and it is now the open meadow across Pantigo from the East Hampton Post Office. The space would be even better used by letting it grow into a wild meadow full of wildflowers.
On his show “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver actually spent time on another reason to stop and even reverse the rampant overdevelopment of areas like ours. It tends to bring humans into contact with wildlife in such a way as to foster the incubation of new illnesses. Lyme disease, regardless of where you think it started, is a product of dogs being bitten by deer ticks carrying the proto-strain of the virus. They brought it into contact with humans and thus it passed from one to another. Pigs may have been involved, since potbellied pigs were having a surge in popularity as pets and a few farmers still keep pigs and hogs out here. It’s no Asian wet market, but it was only a matter of time before something like Lyme disease appeared.
And thanks to people not checking their dogs properly, the ticks have spread as far away as California and, with them, Lyme disease. The fragmentation in our area brings us into close contact not only with deer but raccoons, rats, mice, and birds. These creatures were always here but with their wild habitat vastly reduced many have become nuisances. Add to this the problem of feral cats, which can also help incubate these diseases. I make no secret that I advocate for removing all cats from the outdoors and those for which homes cannot be found, where they will be kept 100 percent indoors, should be euthanized. They don’t belong here and they kill millions of native songbirds every year. And for heaven’s sake, spay or neuter your cat if you have one!
I particularly want to protest the proposal to subdivide the Ossorio estate. That land is mostly wetlands or damp forest, which is crucial for many of our local salamanders, frogs, turtles, and birds, not to mention the deer and raccoons. It has always irked me that I live in a town so devoted to the Almighty Dollar that decisions are often made with money in mind and nothing else. I know that this is a nasty time with the effects of Covid on the economy but I also know that we are probably going to regret it if we build any further. Following money is how we got to this point in the first place.
But what do I know? I’m just an aging fool nostalgic for the old days who only cares about a few birds and butterflies.
Thanks for reading.
A Vital Step
February 22, 2021
The recent proposal by the East Hampton Town Energy Sustainability Committee that it declare a “climate emergency” encourages a vital step in the town’s efforts to address the causes of, and solutions to, climate disruption. We support the town’s making the Climate Emergency declaration.
The impacts of climate disruption have brought into sharp focus that everything depends on the proper functioning of nature’s life support systems. Nature’s life support systems in turn depend on a stable climate. Reversing climate chaos must be humanity’s top priority to sustain and advance planetary well-being.
Many decisions governments make have an impact on greenhouse gases, both in their own operations and those over which they have regulatory authority. It only makes sense that the top priority of government decisions should be the effect they have on our climate.
KRAE VAN SICKLE
Drawdown East End
Beach Vehicle Numbers
February 22. 2021
Your editorial about the Truck Beach lawsuit last week hit some good points.
The original trustee rights under the Dongan Patent include free passage along the beach. In colonial days before roads, beaches were undoubtedly used as transport corridors for wagons, driving cattle, and as access for fishing. Whether such rights were extinguished by the trustee deed to Benson, as in cases like the Georgica Association, is a legal and historical conundrum. But it is unlikely anybody in the 1640s contemplated 35,000-plus town permits for all-terrain internal-combustion vehicles, the approximate number at the decision.
Damage from vehicle traffic on the beach is profound. Beaches protect our community from storms and sea-level rise. We know that beach grass, the vegetation that anchors beaches and dunes, spreads from subsurface runners that can extend 25 feet from a visible clump, and are sensitive to vehicles. That’s why Fire Island National Seashore requires the few permitted vehicles to remain at least 25 feet from the beach grass line. We also know populations of nesting shorebirds have declined precipitously with vehicle and other human use.
Common-sense management of beach vehicle numbers would go a long way to reducing damage. It could preclude more taxpayer legal expense and a taxpayer-funded purchase of waterfront four-wheel-drive parking.
Warm wishes in this Covid winter,
Little to Gain
February 22, 2021
Sometimes, before someone hires me to bring a lawsuit for them, I quote Ambrose Bierce’s definition of litigation: “A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.” The town and homeowners associations should tread accordingly, especially the town. Both sides have a lot to lose and little to gain from the suit over truck beach: the expense, the bad precedent, and the expense. Did I mention the expense? Only the lawyers are winning here.
Find a good mediator and find common ground. And I urge the town board, especially, with their duty of public trust, to figure this out and stop wasting our money on lawyers. You folks aren’t acting like this is your money being spent on lawyers and huge risks to our beaches. Spend the money on training more lifeguards for the Stretch, where we lose lives annually. You’re not acting accountable.
In Montauk Harbor
February 21, 2021
To the Editor:
Do we really need an industrial offshore windmill operations and maintenance facility in Montauk Harbor?
The proposed facility is at the northern end of East Lake Drive at the Inlet Marina, and includes the construction of a 6,600-square-foot equipment storage building, a 1,000-square-foot office building, a stationary crane of unknown size, three docks for crew transfer and other vessels, storage containers, bulkheads, and pilings, including a dolphin piling for mooring large vessels.
Do we really need or want to change the character and visual aesthetics of Montauk Harbor with an unsightly crane, an enormous steel building, oil storage tanks, industrial yard, crew transfer vessels, operations and maintenance vessels?
East Lake Drive is a three-mile-long, winding, two-lane, dead-end road that is dangerous under the best of conditions. It winds through a residential neighborhood and numerous wetlands. On any given day you will see people walking, jogging, bicycling, pushing baby strollers all along the roadway. Every truck that delivers equipment, materials, fuel, oils, lubricants, crew members, etc., to the proposed facility will have to drive the entire three miles, then return back along the same roadway. Speeding and careless driving is already a serious safety issue here.
The subject property, Inlet Marina, is zoned for Waterfront Business. This zone designation does not provide for industrial use, does not include the use as a transfer station or the use as a ferry terminal. Currently existing on this property is a marina, a fuel dock, a fish pack-out station, residences, a restaurant, parking, and a building for retail use. It appears that this property already has its allowed two uses, per zoning regulations.
One has to ask why this is necessary in Montauk when an ideal facility for this type of industrial operation already exists in Quonset Point, R.I.? Quonset Point is closer to the proposed windmill farm, it is less than 10 miles from Interstate Route 95, and it is adjacent to a major airport. Look it up on Google Earth. If the whole idea of building these windmills is to eliminate carbon emissions and burning less fossil fuel, then Quonset Point is a no-brainer. Why is this even being considered here in Montauk?
Some will argue that this facility will bring jobs into Montauk. As a business owner I will attest that I, and a lot of other local businesses, have plenty of jobs to offer, but unfortunately there is a limited work force due to the lack of housing. Anyone who has ever seen the trade parade on weekdays coming into the Hamptons from western Long Island knows this is a fact.
The East Hampton Town Board needs to pause and listen to its citizens for a change, rather than rule by decree. The residents of Wainscott are seeking to incorporate, as well as a group in Montauk who are currently investigating doing the same. These people believe they are not being heard or represented by the town board. This is a sad testament as to East Hampton Town leadership.
Privilege to Serve
February 21, 2021
I wish to publicly thank the members of the East Hampton Democratic Committee who participated in the nominating convention last week so that I may seek to retain my seat on the East Hampton Town Board. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this community, and I am grateful to the Committee for the trust they have placed in me, and for their on-going outreach to our residents.
If we want the Town of East Hampton to remain a beautiful, healthy, and extraordinary place to live, work and raise a family, a place where all of us share in the responsibility of caring for our community, then we need responsive town leaders that work with and for the people.
The Democratic committee put forth an impressive slate of candidates for the 2021 election. The entire slate — including Peter Van Scoyoc for supervisor and Cate Rogers and myself for town board — are proven leaders who are responsive to the needs of our community. Although Nov. 2 seems a long way off, I look forward to hitting the virtual campaign trail with my Democratic colleagues under the party’s mantle: Leadership that Unites.
Candidate for town board
Called to Act
February 22, 2021
I would like to thank the members of the East Hampton Democratic Committee for nominating me as one of their two candidates for town board. I look forward to introducing myself to the community as well. I have been involved in our community since I moved here 20 years ago with my family, advocating for the protection of our natural resources, first as a member of the town’s zoning board of appeals for nine years, including seven as vice chairwoman. In more recent years I have advocated for climate change solutions here in our coastal community as a climate leader and mentor with the Climate Reality Project.
I have been politically active as well. I have been door-knocking and phone-banking on local, state, and national level Democratic campaigns and organizing for the committee for many years, which led to my tenure as chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee, because democracy depends on citizen participation. We are at our best when taking collective actions and helping each other.
This past year has greatly impacted all of us. We face many challenges to our community and after issuing many calls to action, I am called to act now. I commit myself to working 100 percent for a sustainable and equitable future for our community. We do have the solutions to our challenges, they exist, and I know that working together we can make them a reality. I will bring all I have to the table; you can depend on that. Over the months ahead I hope to earn your vote.
A Team Player
February 21, 2021
To the Editor:
When Councilwoman Cathy Burke Gonzalez called me to nominate
her at East Hampton’s Democratic nominating convention, I immediately said “absolutely, and thank you for the privilege.” After all, I have known Cathy and her family for over 25 years, and while I have at times had some questions of nuances and political correctness, I never found myself on the other side of any position, method, and/or vote that she took. This was true when she was the president, vice president, and member for nine years of the Springs School Board, and was also true in her capacity of East Hampton Town Board Councilwoman, since 2014.
Because our primary was so filled with candidates, and time became so limited, our Zoom convention had to proceed with “no speeches, please.” Just as well, since Cathy really did not require one. There are few of our public servants who are better known, ever-present, and totally involved in virtually every issue, in keeping East Hampton Town among the most well-managed, progressive, and responsive communities in not only the county and state but in the nation as well.
Always a team player, Cathy, at our Democratic primary, along with our other Cathy (Kate Rogers), was handily nominated as candidates for town board for the next four years. How lucky can we be, to have experience, selflessness, dedication, intelligence, and after all that, double it! Cathy Burke Gonzalez, thanks for all that you have done and continue to do for our town. Cathy (Kate)Rogers, may you bring to our town board what you have brought to our East Hampton Democratic Party, your integrity, intelligence, transparency, leadership, and total commitment.
Peter Van Scoyoc? You’ve got the team, coach, your leadership speaks for itself. Well done. (Doing).
LARRY S. SMITH
Appreciated His Candor
February 22, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray:
Our democracy is rooted in representation by elected officials who serve we the people. Citizens must be heard — and not just at election time. Informed policymaking necessitates public input and honest and vigorous discussion.
This week, the local Democratic Party announced it would not support the re-election of Jeff Bragman to the Town Board. It is disappointing that the committee places unanimity above enlightened debate.
Mr. Bragman has brought a valuable perspective and experience as a lawyer with a background in zoning and planning, environmental compliance, and land preservation, as well as a willingness to examine all aspects of an issue. The community has benefited from his opening up the board’s deliberations, oftentimes putting himself at odds with other board members. While we haven’t always agreed, I have appreciated his candor, research, responsiveness to residents, leadership. and commitment to transparency and public input.
The town faces several complex challenges. If our community is to remain resilient far into the future, it will require representatives with a variety of relevant expertise and backgrounds, and at least one, with an independent voice, who probes and challenges to arrive at better solutions.
Many thanks to Jeff Bragman for his service. Now it’s our duty to insist on transparency and more opportunities for public engagement.
A Different Opinion
February 21, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray,
Just saw the article about Jeff Bragman not being endorsed by the Democratic Party of East Hampton. It is upsetting to see the same divisiveness going on in national politics winding its way into our local politics, and within the same party!
Whatever the inside story is makes no difference to us on the outside. Jeff Bragman has been a thoughtful and determined board member in his desire to get to the bottom of many issues facing the board. In some of the board meetings I watched on LTV, I often saw open animosity any time Mr. Bragman had a different opinion on a subject. Was it really his reluctance to approve the Beach Lane landing of the windmill lines that set this rejection in motion? Mr. Bragman was doing his job. If he had questions and concerns it was his duty to voice them.
I was always in favor of the wind turbines, yet I wanted to hear what concerns there might be that I might not have been aware of. Just as Bernie Sanders knew not to split up the Democratic vote for the presidential election, I feel it is unwise to split it up here in East Hampton, and that is exactly what will happen, I am sorry to say.
A Person of Courage
February 19, 2021
To the Editor:
I was distressed to read in The Star that, apparently, the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee has decided not to endorse East Hampton Town Councilman Jeff Bragman for a second four-year term. As quoted in The Star article, Jeff said, “I do not have the support of the Democratic Committee. This is sometimes the price we have to pay for speaking out”. If true, it is a sad state of affairs that when independent voices rather than party-line adherence is most needed, the party line wins.
I have gotten to know Jeff over his first term as town board liaison to the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, first when I was co-chair and now as a member. Jeff always gave us a fact-based report of the town initiatives that may impact our hamlet, while never divulging confidential discussions held with his co-council members. As a trained attorney, he held to the highest standards of fact, confidence, and balance.
At times, the Wainscott community agreed with the town’s position on issues, and at times it had differences with these positions. But Jeff always kept a balance in his communication to us of presenting the town’s initiatives and rationale, and in his communication back to the town board of presenting our hamlet’s position. He never pushed us to adopt a position. It just appears to me as a private citizen of Wainscott that Jeff is being singled out due to his need to be objective, to present the holistic picture — often alone on the town board, and at times, based on open board meetings I have attended, without the deserved respect of the town board for these positions.
As I stated, today of all times, when the country is looking for elected officials who do not fall into party lines but instead have the courage to speak independently in favor of their constituency, the Democratic Committee not welcoming this is distressing, to say the least.
The Wainscott C.A.C. will continue to represent the views of its community as objectively as it has over the past decades. Our attendance, which surpasses all other C.A.C.s, is a testament to the work we have accomplished in that regard. And we will continue to work collegially with the town as we are charged to and are happy to do. But I for one toast Jeff Bragman as a person of courage and hope that Jeff continues in some fashion to help the community. As Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Not Yours to Take
February 22, 2021
Sad news arrived on my phone: It appears a group has formed to hurt our community by having Wainscott incorporate and thus break off from the Town of East Hampton.
This movement to break off, and at the same time restrict beach access to other town residents, is just wrong. We are a community that is best served working together, not by an attitude that I’m not playing and taking the ball home. The ball is not yours to take — the beach is a community property that East Hampton Town residents have paid for, for generations. This outright grab that leaves residents out in the cold can’t be defended on any level.
The spirit of working together as a nation and a community to solve problems and concerns should be our guiding light. Beach Lane is a special spot for all residents in our town. I pray that this measure is swiftly rejected and the beach remains a place that welcomes all of us who love all the beauty it provides its welcomed visitors. Don’t let special interests that neglect the spirit of true community win this one. Our community deserves better.
JOHN THOMAS GRAHAM
Complete Data Set
February 22, 2021
Last week, my letter to the editor demonstrated with actual fiscal spend data that the legal budget for a new Village of Wainscott was 9 percent to 108 percent more than the amount spent in fiscal year 2019-20 by three Suffolk County villages to which the opponents of incorporation implicitly point. Moreover, those villages are two to three times the size of Wainscott.
We subsequently finished building a complete data set that covers the last decade of actual spend by all 32 Suffolk County villages (FY2010-2011 to FY2019-2020). Our recently completed analysis of that longitudinal data set further confirms that the $130,000 the two independent experts reserved for Wainscott legal expenditures is excessive. That is no surprise: We asked them to follow a conservative budgeting approach (i.e., overestimate expenses, underestimate revenues.
As I did in my letter two weeks ago in the analysis of the overall village budgets, I grouped the 32 villages into 6, based on population, to create peers. I then calculated the average of their actual spend over the last decade. Group 1 (the largest) villages spent on average $101,230 on legal annually; Group 2 spent $162,580; Group 3 spent $89,985; Group 4 spent $104,706; Group 5 spent $56,388; and Group 6 (the smallest) spent $74,522. (Wainscott would be in the next-to-last, Group 5.)
The $130,000 budgeted for legal expenses by the Village of Wainscott is two-and-a-third times the average of its Group 5 peers ($56,388) — villages like Asharoken, Belle Terre, Ocean Beach, Sagaponack, and Shoreham; and 28 percent more than the $101,230 that the largest (Group 1) villages in Suffolk County spent on average annually over the last decade. Amityville, Babylon, Lake Grove, Lindenhurst, Patchogue, and Port Jefferson have on average 13,000 residents, more than 10 times Wainscott; and within 25 percent of the average spend of Group 2 villages, which are five times larger. (Please note that the Village of Southampton, given its large size and extensive scope of services, drags up the average of this group as it spends about twice the five other villages. Those five others spent $119,731 on average annually, which means the Wainscott reserve is 8 percent more than those much larger villages.)
Now also remember that most legal expenditures of villages are due to police departments, fire departments, and having a large number of employees. The Village of Wainscott would not have any of those in its direct budget, while most of the other Suffolk County villages do. An apples-to-apples comparison that removed legal costs associated with those services from the 32 other villages would make the Village of Wainscott’s excessive reserve level even starker. (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.) Facts matter.
Thank you to the various community members for continuing to ask questions through [email protected]. 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 22, 2021
The idea for incorporating Wainscott as a village was conceived by Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott as a trump card to kill the South Fork Wind Farm project. Notwithstanding its oft-repeated claim that it believes in climate change and supports wind energy, the group’s plan was to give zero weight to climate concerns. Its village was, from the outset, designed to reject any conclusion by the town and the town trustees that Beach Lane was the best place to land the cable. The proposed village would ignore the results of the Article VII proceeding before the Public Service Commission if it favored the Beach Lane route over possible alternatives. C.P.W.’s village would unapologetically stand in the way of the town’s realizing the benefits of clean wind energy supported by the vast majority of East Hampton residents.
The incorporation effort, animated by grievance as it was, wrapped itself in slogans of liberty and freedom from the town’s oppression. It even called town officials liars. It promised to stop the cable and also to make Wainscott bucolic again. But the budget, once released, failed to provide the resources necessary to deliver on the promises, to do any of the things required to control future development in Wainscott. It was to be a village in name only, an instrumentality simply to say no to the cable. But even the exercise of that veto was not funded.
In a letter to the Star last week, Gouri Edlich, C.P.W.’s president, explained that there would be no need for the village to fund the cable opposition because that fight would be over by the time the village was formed. If Ms. Edlich is taken at her word, then all that appears to be left is the sense of grievance that animated the committee from the start.
The village has become a zombie. But the work ahead for Wainscott is not for zombies or for part-time volunteers, no matter how earnest they are. The issues facing Wainscott will require substantial resources, money and expertise available only through close and effective cooperation with the town. A village conceived in grievance and nourished by spite is the antithesis of what the circumstances require. Wainscott and its citizens advisory committee need to work with the town, not fight with the town. It’s time to get on with that work.
JOHN H. HALL
Share the Beach
February 22, 2021
I strongly disagree with the proposed incorporation of Wainscott.
One of the most satisfying privileges we have as East Hampton residents is access to the beach. Beach Lane is my local beach where I find beauty and community year round. I do not think it’s fair that a few can draw lines and secede while the majority has no say in the matter.
My hope is this does not go through and Wainscott remains part of East Hampton Town and we continue to share the beach.
February 22, 2021
I write this in my private capacity, and not as a representative of the town or the town planning board, which I chair.
Toward the end of the most recent meeting of the Wainscott citizens advisory committee, during a discussion about the folly of incorporation, a member of the Wainscott committee asked what would become of the citizens advisory committee if Wainscott were incorporated. It’s an interesting question that I hope will never need to be answered. But it did set me thinking about what I see as the bankruptcy of one of the main arguments raised by the proponents of incorporation: That Wainscott is a stepchild of the town. That Wainscott is treated as an afterthought. A doormat. A place to pass through without a thought. A forgotten hamlet. The town’s dumping ground.
These phrases come to my mind easily because during the eight years that I was co-chair of the Wainscott citizens advisory committee, ending around 2000 when I was appointed to the town planning board, I wrote many letters to the town board expressing this point of view. And I meant every word of those letters. Then. However, in the 20 or so years since I left the committee, it has been led by a succession of co-chairpeople who have been better and more capable than I, and the Wainscott citizens advisory committee has enjoyed a membership that, year after year, has been increasingly active and more deeply involved in the hamlet’s affairs.
The result has been, over the past 20 years, successive town boards focusing to a far greater degree on the hamlet, and being far more responsive to both the short-term and the long-term needs of Wainscott. Whether the issue is the preservation of the rural character of Wainscott through land purchases, or a carefully considered Hamlet Study, or a quick and significant response to a crisis in the hamlet’s drinking water, I think that it is accurate to say that the treatment which Wainscott receives from the town board is considerably more meaningful than was the case 20 years ago. This is due, in no small measure, to the intelligent activism of the Wainscott citizens advisory committee and the incredible individuals who have served, and continue to serve, as co-chairpeople since I left.
Over and over again, I have heard proponents of incorporation claim that a village will provide “more responsive” government. Yet, when pressed, they can point to absolutely no aspect of local governance that they believe a village would perform better or more efficiently than the town. Indeed, the only issue that really animates supporters of incorporation is their desire to prevent the electrical cable from traveling beneath Beach Lane. Everything else is a sideshow. And trying to stop an electrical cable is not a good reason for Wainscott to incorporate.
I am always prideful when I hear the Wainscott citizens advisory committee described as the “gold standard” among the citizens advisory committees. It would be an awful waste to trade in the years of credibility that the Wainscott citizens advisory committee has developed working collaboratively with the town for a single-issue village.
Very truly yours,
February 15, 2021
Not too long ago, the chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee wrote the following in a letter to The Star: “What about our local elected Democrats and the East Hampton Democratic Committee — where do they stand? Do they stand with the radicals in New York City and the national Democratic Party?”
Given that 43 Republican senators decided to not hold President Trump accountable for an attack that resulted in our Capitol’s being sacked, some 130 police officers injured, and three civilians and a police officer killed, I would turn the chairman’s questions back at him.
What is the position of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee regarding the culpability of Mr. Trump in those deaths and injuries? Please explain the position of the committee regarding the failure of Mr. Trump to respond to the calls from members of his own party to call off the mob that was seeking to murder the vice-president and the speaker of the House. Does the committee accept that Joe Biden is the legitimate, lawfully elected president of the United States?
No person seeking public office at any level on the Republican line in the Town of East Hampton is deserving of a single vote until the members of the Republican committee inform the people of East Hampton where they stand on these questions.
February 22, 2021
Some Americans still cling to an unfortunate relic of the colonial agricultural era. Special status was claimed by the original planter class, also known as the Southern aristocracy, and some folks still demand it. These remnants of aristocracy remain poisonous to our democracy today.
Some folks still think they are better than everyone else, giving them license to manipulate the law to preserve their imagined supremacy. Land and business ownership, race, male chauvinism, and economic class often granted special privileges, and some still think so to this day.
The permissive outcome of the recent presidential impeachment, together with widespread aberrant behavior by some law enforcement zealots, shows that this class-based power concept remains pervasive throughout our nation.
Privileges of supremacy established during the original plantation era continued, and led to the secession and the Civil War. Despite a Confederate defeat in battle, these ugly privileges continued with impunity through Reconstruction, and established the Jim Crow laws — enforcing legal segregation right up to the Civil Rights Act. Still refusing to accept change, some folks remain convinced of their privilege, as demonstrated by some recent views still voiced publicly concerning corruption, civil rights, police behaviors, education, property ownership, and employment.
The gross failure of the United States Senate to accept its responsibility to convict the former president of the United States of America was obviously supported by a multitude of fanatics disrespectful of honest democracy and still in the thrall of supremacy. The minority leader of the Senate clearly and deliberately acknowledged the responsibility of the former president, who had committed high crimes and misdemeanors and other heinous acts. Those charges were clearly proven during the second impeachment trial. But Mitch McConnell fabricated a feeble technical reason that allowed him to deny a guilty verdict, thus allowing that heinous presidential lethal behavior to go unpunished.
This demonstrates the death grip that this poisonous class-structure mind-set still has upon us politically. Mitch McConnell turned away from the Constitution to support his large following instead.
Self-proclaimed supremacists continue to hold prejudiced political and cultural views, with no apparent regard to the proven facts and consequent fatalities. A powerful class structure-ism remains that effectively supersedes even the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as the honest, fair, and just application of the rule of law.
We are in big trouble with this situation. I pray we do not see another version of secession and civil war. The ugliness of racial, gender, and class-based attitudes held by a minority population must not be allowed to dominate the lives of the majority population and must come to a stop. We cannot, as a democracy, as an ethical nation, allow such a travesty to happen again.
Only Honored 44
February 20, 2021
To the Editor,
Our Feb. 2021 Presidents Day theoretically honored all of our presidents from our first, George Washington, through our current 46th, Joe Biden.
I personally only honored 44 men because I only honored Grover Cleveland once, as our 22nd (and not also as our 24th) president, and my conscience would not allow me to honor our 45th, Donald Trump, since he has personally dishonored the results of our November election, the Electoral College, his oath of office, our Constitution, Congress, and our Capitol!
Nation of Misers
February 15, 2021
The Biden administration has proposed including a $15 minimum-wage piece to the Covid-19 relief bill. Almost all of the Democrats are on board, and none of the Republicans, to support this proposal. Conceptually it is a statement about one of our most distressing human problems. It defines us as a nation of misers, cheapskates, greed-mongers, penny-pinchers, and reprobates. Different from every other industrialized country in the world. We are by far the richest and by even further the cheapest.
The minimum wage is the lowest amount of hourly pay that separates employers from criminality, abusive business practices, and robbery. It is the standard by which nations measure their economic humanity, or lack of. It is always compared to market wages, living wages, and slave wages. It is the lowest common denominator of remuneration in a world where free markets are always manipulated. The minimum wage is the government’s response, or in our case lack of response, to this manipulation.
The current minimum wage is $2 an hour less (in real terms) than in 1968 — 53 years of us moving backward. Ass backward, because we are a government of cheapskate asses. We make Ebenezer Scrooge look like a philanthropist.
One could trace this penury back to slavery, where we paid no wages at all, but $7.25 an hour is less than slave wages when room and board and some clothes are included. There are arguments of course. We can and will debate anything and everything that might improve people’s lives. There will always be a reason not to raise the minimum wage. Yet while every one of them will be fallacious, we will find them acceptable. It is the kind of mental gymnastics that allows people to believe that the election was stolen or that Trump didn’t really say what he said on national TV. It is a kind of mental illness that derives from excessive greed.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a “living wage” calculator showing the differences between a living wage, the states’ minimum wages, and poverty levels. In some places it reached almost $30 an hour. Nowhere in the U.S. did $7.25 approach a living wage; $7.25 an hour translates to about $15,000 a year before taxes. Doubling it gets to $30,000. Wow. Crazy. Generosity galore.
In Boston, for example, the living wage is $20.20 and the minimum wage is $12.75. For a single adult, about $15,000 a year short of what’s necessary to live decently. Imagine living in East Hampton on $30K. The lowest rent plus utilities would be at least $30K. Forget food, insurance, transportation, clothes, vacations, etc.
Conceptually, a $15 minimum wage has its detractors. The primary argument is that it’s not the right time and that some jobs will be lost, except that it’s never the right time. Has never been the right time. Additionally, there will certainly be some job loss, which will be offset over a relatively short period of time by increased demand that will follow wage increases. Free markets, if they exist, work that way. In the U.S., the markets are always manipulated so that wages remain as low as possible for as long as possible. Correcting this market malfunction is one of the primary roles that government is supposed to play. Yet it doesn’t seem able to pull this trigger, and errs, always, against workers’ interests.
Perhaps the problem is our dislike for low-wage earners. A kind of visceral revulsion that sees them as working lepers. Perhaps we need to protect the lowest rung in our society to remind people that there is someone they are superior to — whatever the psychological mishmash that we fabricate to justify our behavior.
Alternatively, starting the process that takes people out of poverty, improves their living conditions, makes them healthier, is what the American dream is all about. There is an objective measure to our quality of life. We aren’t better off because someone is below us on the economic ladder.