To Its Fullest
January 25, 2021
To the Editor,
On Dec. 15, we lost our beloved Robert Devlin. Rob was a son, brother, uncle, father, grandfather, husband, and a friend to many. His generosity and sincerity knew no bounds, nor did his love and affection for his family. Rob cherished each and every day, whether he was building something new, fixing something old or broken, tending to his fish, gardening, or lending a helping hand.
He lived every day to its fullest, appreciating the beauty of Montauk and its people. Rob was accepting, inclusive, respectful, and appreciative of everyone he met, always willing to share his knowledge and time with anyone who asked. If I can carry on my life with half of his integrity and compassion I would be honored to try to do so. His memory will be forever cherished.
On behalf of myself and my family, we would like to thank the Montauk Fire Department and ambulance team, extended family and friends, and members of the community for the enormous amount of love, support, kind words, and shared memories during this painful time. Your cards, letters, flowers, thoughtful gifts, and homemade treats could not have been appreciated any more. We will forever cherish your kindness as we will forever cherish our memories of Rob — always.
The Telephone Itself
January 26, 2021
Bess Rattray’s opening line from this week’s “Shipwreck Rose” column was really funny and arresting: “Can we pause for a second to consider the fact that robots telephone us regularly to try to fleece us of our hard-earned cash? Robots. Robot thieves. How did we acclimate to this bizarre 21st-century normal?”
Not only is it weird that we have to deal with this sort of thing as a part of everyday life, but it occurred to me that the telephone itself has really fallen in status as a medium since I was a kid in the 1980s, when parents would install a second land line when their kids became teenagers, so central was the telephone to home life.
My own young kids have had to be taught how to use the telephone at fairly late ages compared to my generation. The idea that one should say “Hello . . . yes, speaking . . . okay, well, thanks for calling . . . goodbye,” and that sort of thing was completely new to them, much to my bemused surprise. These norms weren’t often modeled to them by us adults, since they’ve grown up in an era of email and text, when most actual phone calls seem to be the kind that come from robots, that we let go to voice mail, then shake our heads at as we listen back to something about car warranties or student loans that we don’t even have.
Another thought I had while reading Bess’s column was that, behind all of these annoying calls, there are actual people in actual call centers, often overseas, waiting for suckers to call them back or press 1 or whatever, and whose jobs it is to fleece them of cash, and as much cash as possible. If you want to understand how some of these scams work, and that they do work in some cases apparently, check out Jim Browning’s YouTube channel. He’s an I.T. specialist in the United Kingdom, doing the Lord’s work by tracking these organizations down, hacking into their systems, and ruining their operations whenever possible, either by just freaking them out, alerting the potential victims midscam, involving the authorities, or all of the above. It is mighty satisfying to witness some measure of justice meted out to these annoyers, thieves, and abusers of our communication networks.
I hope the good old telephone can regain the dignity it deserves after so many years of faithful service to humanity.
Our Tax Money
January 27, 2021
To the Editor:
In reference to the article “Village Board Discord,” Jan. 21: I am appalled that Mayor Larsen said that “The goal of the paid parking program is to raise revenue to fund the development of a centralized sewer system, which will help everyone who uses our downtown . . . [and] all the businesses.”
My husband and I have lived here for 41 years and have paid over 71 percent of our tax money to the Springs School District. We have never used the services of the school but understand that it is our citizens’ duty to educate our next generations.
Sorry, let the businesses and people living in the village that benefit from this system pay for it via their taxes. We have done our civic duty and they should do theirs.
SUSAN D. FRIEND
Prices on Everything
January 28, 2021
To the Editor,
Last week’s article entitled “East Hampton’s Downtown Parking Lots Free No More: $2 an Hour for All but East Hampton Village Residents” got my attention, and I quickly wrote a letter expressing my dismay. But my dismay only grows after reading this week’s article.
Why not just come out with it, Mayor Larsen? You want to make it very clear that town residents are not “The Entitled,” and either we pay to visit your precious village or, better yet, just stay the hell away!
I understand that you came into office by going after the N.Y.C. vote. You won, I got it. But to start putting prices on everything to make the village even more exclusive is not the way East Hampton works. Or, has worked, until now.
Do you soon plan on levying a charge to use Herrick Park? Tell us now, because we see what you’re doing.
Concoct a Report
January 29, 2021
The airporters (a.k.a., Alliance for the Destruction of the East Hampton Community) have paid an international development consulting firm to concoct a report on the economic impact of the airport in order to justify its existence — and advocate its expansion!
Upon analysis it is clear that, despite the obvious bias of the report and conflation of questionable data due to its constituents’ perspective, the impact arrived at is still just a paltry 1.5 percent of the economy of East Hampton and eastern Southampton Towns. (This is with a fair assumption that at least half of the “visitors” coming via the airport would surely come by other means if they had to.) One point five percent is the most they could come up with! What’s more, this negligible “impact” does not even factor in the decidedly negative economic and environmental impact of the airport on the health, safety, property values, rental opportunities, and peace of mind of the thousands of beleaguered Long Island residents who hate incessant aircraft overhead night and day, summer and winter, 30,000 operations annually, and no end in sight. Nor does it allow for the substantial economic benefits of alternative, environmentally friendly uses for the property.
It is no surprise that the executive director of the “alliance,” Erin King Sweeney, is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican politician and proponent of development and an attorney serving aviation interests for the past 20 years. And according to her website, her permanent residence is in North Carolina, not East Hampton.
The far greater community I am allied with supports the welfare of all of the people, our fast-eroding local habitat, and preservation of this dying planet.
Sent All Over
January 27, 2021
You hear all about vaccines being sent all over the country.
Well, there are 1.4 million citizens in Suffolk County and of those there must be 400,000 people who are of an age where the shot is critical. Yet not one possible outlet I called, chain drug stores, local drugstores, or local doctors could tell me when there would be availability.
Our local state representatives, county representa-tives, or, for that matter, anyone I called say that they have no idea when to expect the vaccine.
I wish there was someone to blame but no one wants to hear who I blame. It’s too late for blame.
January 29, 2021
The housing situation in East Hampton Town and much of the South Fork has finally become completely insane and untenable. Most of us know this, as an already unaffordable market consisting of nearly exclusively single-family houses has accelerated at light speed toward complete “No Vacancy” as a result of the pandemic, and has created a situation where lifelong locals (myself included) have found themselves unable to find housing at all. At the mercy of landlords’ whims, a hyperinflated market, and no alternatives, many now face the hard reality of leaving the region against their will.
Multiple interlaced crises are now coming to a head. Years of inaction on the affordable housing effort has rendered our community fractured, eroded, and degraded. We have lost a large community of working class families while we welcomed and sustained the more urbanized resort population at a cost that can’t be fully expressed without considering what this community is not — diverse in age, income, or race. What future does our town have when young people can’t stay to raise a family, where there is no community or sense of tradition because nearly everyone is new to town or just a part-timer? Will the East End ultimately become the most high-end summer camp for the rich in the world?
Affordable housing, in the form of developments, row houses, and the like that we are familiar with is just one piece of the puzzle. The offerings in the town are woefully inadequate, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We should look at concepts like “co-housing,” which is loosely similar to a co-op or housing association and in which people can own their homes and share amenities. We should consider changing zoning and minimum house size to allow “tiny houses,” and, of course, we need to strengthen support for accessory apartments on existing properties, which has been slow to take off. The key to all of this is a word that has been taboo in the Hamptons: density.
We need to shake the fear of building and living close together and create walkable communities adjacent to our hamlet centers. We need to dismiss the “suburban settlement pattern” of postwar ideology, in which most homes are built for one family on a lot with green grass, picket fence, and all that. We have to alter our perception of the American Dream (whatever that was). More must be done now: We have no time to lose.
February 1, 2021
Dear Editor David,
John Kennedy wrote “Profiles in Courage” because political courage was the quality that he most admired. He knew that some politicians bend to the will of the popular currents and do the wrong thing because the loudest constituents will applaud immediately. In the current time of our town, the popular action is to kowtow to the South Fork Wind Farm and its preferred route for its 138,000-volt power line and view the pesky residential community of Wainscott as an impediment to be flattened.
East Hampton Town Councilman Jeff Bragman, however, wins this town’s Profile in Courage Award because his insistence on good process and common sense has subjected him to criticise those who ride the Expedient Express and the small lights who parrot slogans rather than adhere to principle and facts.
While others would rush to implement an unprecedented infrastructure project regardless of the consequences to Wainscott, Jeff did not buckle to the prevailing political winds. He insisted that the right legal process be followed including completion of an environmental review before the town needlessly grants an easement for the project. He dared to say that money for the town was unduly influential in its decision making, safety, and that construction issues both onshore and offshore remained unanswered and alternatives remained unexplored.
For his courage, the town supervisor “rotated” Mr. Bragman off his role as liaison to the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee. To quote President Kennedy, Jeff “showed the real meaning of courage, and a real faith in democracy. More than a gathering of time-servers skilled only in predicting and following the tides of public sentiment.”
January 26, 2021
I am responding to last week’s letter to The Star from Larry Zombek regarding the proposed incorporation of the hamlet of Wainscott.
Mr. Zombek wrote, “I respect people who have an honest disagreement, but it is hard to respect someone in bed with a large corporation that wants to overtake our village. . . . Until proven otherwise, we should all take everything this group says as little more than Orsted propaganda because that is what it is.”
I personally respect people who do their homework rather than making baseless and insulting accusations. Mr. Zombek could easily have called me, his neighbor, and learned that Wainscott United has no relationship whatsoever with Orsted. Wainscott United is a group of longstanding Wainscott residents who have joined together over a common goal — to stop the incorporation of Wainscott — because we strongly believe that the incorporation of Wainscott will substantially increase our taxes and yet lead to a decreased quality of life in our hamlet.
My family has lived in Wainscott for more than a century. I have lived here since 1947 and attended the Wainscott School in the early 1950s. I have witnessed the transformation of Wainscott from a rural farming community to a suburban retreat. I have no need to be “in bed” with Orsted or with any other organization to know that the incorporation of Wainscott is a terrible idea — one that will result in far greater costs for its citizens while providing none of the promised “benefits.”
All those who wish to protect and preserve Wainscott will vote “No” on incorporation.
JONATHAN M. WAINWRIGHT
February 1, 2021
Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott continues its assault on truth. It consistently spews misinformation from the rooftops, in social media, direct mailings, and local media. So, let’s address a few of the issues C.P.W. raises in connection with the installation of the South Fork Wind underground cable. The facts can be found in the public documents of the New York State Public Service Commission Article VII proceedings.
• C.P.W. says electromagnetic fields are a health risk. Fact: aboveground E.M.F. will be about 98 percent below the maximum established by the New York State Public Service Commission.
• C.P.W. says water contamination is also a risk. Fact: The easement agreement requires South Fork Wind to meet all current and future state rules and regulations relating to water contamination. There is no risk to town residents from water contamination caused by South Fork Wind.
• C.P.W. says per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, is another risk. Fact: It is extremely unlikely South Fork Wind will encounter any contaminated soil or groundwater during construction. South Fork Wind must test in accordance with New York State guidelines for PFAS. If any test shows an excess of contaminants, South Fork Wind must demonstrate to the town that its construction activities will not materially affect water quality before it commences construction.
Many issues raised by C.P.W. do not stand up to scrutiny. Basically, C.P.W. is fearmongering and hoping that no one will fact check the claims it is making.
South Fork Wind will provide safe, renewable, and affordable energy to about 70,000 homes and businesses on the South Fork. Climate Change is here to stay. We must act now.
Win With Wind
January 26, 2021
My name is Stacey Colle and I live in Wainscott, Long Island. I am a strong proponent of green energy and environmental conservation. I recently led a community outreach program where I studied how our neighborhood could benefit from green energy sustainability, much like the communities of Earth Haven or Three Rivers. I drive a fully electric vehicle!
In your editorial on Dec. 10, you suggested that because I am an advocate of the Northern Atlantic right whale, I do not want the wind farm off Long Island. This is untrue. Our community will begin to build the wind farm off the coast of Montauk early next year. I began researching whales and wind farm noise, sure that someone had conducted some kind of research showing that wind farm construction noise, buried electromagnetic cables, and vibrational noise from turbines either does or does not negatively impact marine mammals and whales. These animals use echolocation to survive.
What I have found is a group of local politicians stumbling toward wind power faster than anyone can complete any marine mammal impact studies. I understand the urgency. At the same time we have to consider a critically endangered whale and other marine mammal and sea life. The Town of East Hampton has not been compelled to create environmental impact studies. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published a study in 2015 that confirms electromagnetic currents have a negative impact on marine wildlife. This is not okay. We do not get a do-over here.
I have asked the town to slow down and initiate some research especially since the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (360 or fewer) uses this area as a migrational corridor. It is a duty to protect those that cannot protect themselves, not an option.
What you wrote in your editorial is misleading. Your assumption that I am creating awareness about these whales to offset a cable being buried is pretty irresponsible given your voice in our community. Educating yourself and your local community would be a worthier endeavor.
I am getting my information on Northern Atlantic right whales from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, among other sources. Go to coastalstudies.org.
These folks are dedicated specialists studying Northern Atlantic right whales. I have compiled a plethora of other research which I can forward to you. Note: Whales are dying from human conflict (collisions with ships, nets, and fishing lines) not because of their diet. They are dying from human interference. See Center for Coastal Studies website above.
These are just a few articles: “The Winding Way of Whales & Wind Farms,” Whale and Dolphin Conservation USA; Public Comments Orsted 2020 IHA; “Whales: An Offshore Wind Issue,” Master Resource. I do not know what signs you saw. The picture is of a breeching right whale, not a humpback.
We especially need to demand research before we disturb their environment, as our community hunted them to near extinction. This magnificent creature needs our help now to slow down until the research is done. Technology of wind farms is rapidly changing. If we could improve our wind farm project to protect a species from extinction, wouldn’t we all want to do that?
Please connect with me; I would love to speak with you. Our town board and supervisor have never acknowledged the 563 people who have signed the petition to demand research.It has been viewed 115, 905 times and shared over 120 times. Below is the link to a national petition I created to gain awareness around this subject: change.org/SaveWhalesfromWindFarms.
STACEY NASCHKE COLLE
January 29, 2021
I think we can agree that Wainscott is a beautiful, bucolic hamlet serving as the entrance to East Hampton. The hamlet’s rich farmland soils rolling to the sea are a unique vista along the South Shore of Long Island.
I get so frustrated when some Wainscott residents are willing to put those views in danger. They want to split off from our town because they claim the town does not do anything for them. In the 1980s, big development applications slammed down like a tsunami before the planning board. The coastal farmland plains were being carved up like a giant checkerboard.
A new town board majority led by Judith Hope was voted in to save our historic character and fragile beauty. They declared a moratorium and reduced Wainscott’s development by 40 percent, mandated that any subdivision must preserve 70 percent of the best soils in New York State, and all building on prime soils should get architectural review board approval. The town board protected the south side of Montauk Highway from strip commercial zoning like up west. Clean drinking water has been sent from Northwest to Wainscott. The big developers and their lawsuits headed south.
Now some residents are voting for their own government to ask “volunteers” to be on a new planning board and town board in charge of their split hamlet. This will be so dangerous. I fear that big developers will be back. With just three volunteer votes, the “pit” could be rezoned to over 100 high-rise condominiums. Beachfront could be rezoned to resort motels. Much more traffic, another traffic light, and school will follow. Don’t believe it? Just ask Amagansett.
I was the planning board chairwoman during the 1980s fight to save our community. After we defeated their big, inappropriate developments, one developer said to me, “We will be back. There will be pressure from the city people for condos. I will be waiting.”
Toward a Vote
January 31, 2021
As Wainscott moves toward a vote to incorporate as a village like its surrounding neighbors, some opponents are resorting to fact-free charges that cannot go unanswered. While the claims are varied (and, frankly, wild in some cases), let me specifically address claims about police coverage costs, legal costs, and “exorbitant” taxes.
First, residents of the new Wainscott village will still pay town taxes. So if the new village decides to continue to partner with the town for police service (as envisioned), we will still receive town police coverage (and the associated expenses for which we pay through taxes) just as we do now. It’s that straightforward. And quite common: That is how many other villages have done it for decades.
Second, our estimated costs for legal fees is twice the recommended level by budget experts with decades of experience with village budgets. Through another lens, we budgeted 50 percent more than the peak year incurred in the town and surrounding villages and, then on top of that, it assumed that that highest-expenditure year happens every single year for us. Beyond the work by the two independent municipal finance consulting firms, the Suffolk County Village Officers Association — which is made up of the mayors of the 32 villages in the county — attested that “this estimate is more than adequate and may in fact be an overestimate of the Villages’s likely legal expenses” (see their letter at wainscott.org/SCVOA). (You can also review pages 27 to 32 of wainscott.org/presentation.)
Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott has carried the fight against Orsted and the high-voltage cable it wants to snake for miles through Wainscott streets, in front of residential homes, after landing on our community beach, and C.P.W. will continue to cover the cost of challenges to this attack on our community. The legal budget for the village is sound and, if anything, well above (i.e., more than, not less than) what experts and peers believe will be the actual costs.
Finally, while the new village will, of course, require new taxes, the town tax will also decline as a result. The net increase is expected to be no more than $340 a year for the median single-family house in the village of Wainscott, based on the consultants’ conserva-tive approach to budgeting. That means many will pay less and some will pay some more (see page 44 of wainscott.org/presentation). It also means that taxes in Wainscott will continue to remain the lowest in East Hampton even after the new village is created (see page 47).
Some have tried to say that our numbers have changed but that is simply false. We started the public discussions at the conceptual level and discussed numbers from other villages, but we committed from the start to hire professionals to ensure we had a sound budget. Their report has been online for all to see on our website (wainscott.org/report and wainscott.org/presentation). In fact, in order to be belt-and-suspenders confident in the financial implications of incorporation, we hired not just one, but two independent municipal finance firms to advise us. (The budget numbers Wainscott United created and communicated recently at the Post Office were simply wrong: It had incorrect math, confused “incremental” expenses and portrayed them as “absolute” costs, forgot about revenue offsets for expenditures, then mixed up different line items from the standard village budget format, and, finally, conjured up their own fantasy budget estimate.)
Our work is public and available for all to inspect. Opponents have made claims, but haven’t backed them up with anything but fear-based rhetoric. However, they have recently moved to personally attack those of us who are fighting for our community — the surest sign they don’t have facts. That is both unfortunate and sad. (Some of the language and ideas expressed in their letters to you, David, that you decided to publish, are shocking. And, at a time where our nation needs more civil discourse, they are shameful.)
We look forward to Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc respecting the will of the people, and allowing an incorporation vote to move forward. Nearly a third of the registered voters in the proposed village (an astounding percent for an incorporation petition) have requested that opportunity as allowed by New York State law. We look forward to discussing the issues further (with even more facts and expertise, consistent with our approach to date) with our neighbors in that process, and we look forward to Wainscott’s rendering its judgment on the issue by voting. We will, of course, respect the verdict of the people, and remain committed to moving forward in a way that respects one another and treats neighbors like neighbors, not enemies.
Citizens for the
Preservation of Wainscott
The Star publishes all of the letters it receives that meet its standards, which are printed on the first letters page each week and online. The phrase “decided to publish” above reflects an apparent unfamiliarity with our policy. Ed.
February 1, 2021
To the Editor:
Property taxes, sales taxes, beach fees, landfill fees, all not enough? In a town reeling from the financial crush of the pandemic, charging for parking makes sense if the goal is to further hurt local businesses. Furthermore, once in place, they will only go up over time. Even the M.T.A. decided not to hike the subway fares in New York City because of the current climate.
East Hampton, like all of its neighbors, thrives on tourists; unprecedented parking fees will test how far you can push those tourists and their much-needed dollars.
Crossed the Line
February 1, 2021
There has recently been traffic in your Letters to the Editor section from opponents of the incorporation of Wainscott that has crossed the line from sarcasm and denigration to threats and voter intimidation. It is becoming, frankly, unhinged. The leaders of East Hampton, whether in the press or the government, should take immediate action to condemn and stop this behavior before it goes any further.
The bulk of the threats appear to come from or on behalf of an organization called Wainscott United; an ironic title for an organization that seeks to divide our community based on how many years your family has lived in Wainscott or whether one also has a home in New York City. Recent examples in their published letters to you include: “Blast your horns as you pass the homes of the C.P.W. who were saving Beach Lane,” self-absorbed “cidiots,” “court jester jackass,” “squash you like a bug,” “why is there no picketing in front of their homes,” “now we know [their names] (To be continued next week),” and “[we] know just who they are and where they say they live.”
Those sound more like vilification and intimidation than robust political debate, particularly as individuals’ names are called out. Their actions may even violate state and federal laws on voter intimidation, which specifically restrict dissemination of individuals’ names and addresses or “doxing” in an effort to vilify those individuals. One can understand there are strong passions on these issues: Some are fanatical about this issue because they have unfounded fears for Georgica Pond. Others have concerns about higher taxes and others just resent their neighbors who haven’t lived here as long as they have or year round. And a few are just bored and found some meaning in their lives by finally finding a cause for which to sacrifice everything.
None of it justifies bullying that purposely targets private individuals with the intention of degrading or shaming them. It doesn’t meet Facebook’s community standards or those of East Hampton. For the sake of decency, these individuals should take a deep breath and reflect on their behavior.
The P.R. Firm
January 17, 2021
(Continued from last week.)
Last week I wrote to you about one of the many reasons that cause me to encourage my neighbors in Wainscott to vote against incorporation should it ever come to that.
Where things get interesting on the Citizens for the Protection of Wainscott’s 990 form is when you get to the expenses, which gets us back to the P.R. firm. Though the organization started the fiscal period in question with that nearly million-dollar pocketbook, by the end of the period what remained was $228,424. What happened to the $691,826?
It’s detailed in the 990 but that’s a lot of money spent to convince a few citizens in Wainscott to downgrade from the professional management of East Hampton Town to an incorporated village run by yet-to-be-named volunteers. (Anyone who has owned a co-op apartment in New York City knows where that sort of volunteerism can lead.) According to Wikipedia, the 2010 United States Census puts the population of the hamlet at 650. So, if I am getting this right, nearly $700,000 went out of the assets of the C.P.W. for the purposes of, among other efforts perhaps, to pursue legal goals and to educate us in Wainscott about the benefits of incorporation? That’s more than a thousand dollars a head, and makes me wonder about how any of these people would spend my tax dollars, and yours, should incorporation ever come to pass and these highly motivated people step up to run things for us.
Anyone who received the promotional mailings from the C.P.W. can see the folks they’ve recently hired (some new consultants of course) have projected what they claim is a “conservative pro-forma” cost budget for the first year of incorporation of Wainscott totaling out at $838,628. We are to believe that those who have just reported spending $691,826 in a few months in 2019 to convince us that incorporation is a good thing would run the entire village’s operations for just somewhere in the neighborhood of 21 percent more? Bwahahaha! Call me crazy but I’m not buying.
The 990 shows, among other entries, that $680,627 was spent on “Total Program service expenses,” with $307,734 specified as going to compensate Mercury Public Affairs for “advocacy consulting,” and $106,370 specified for compensating legal services by Greenberg Traurig of Albany.
Who or what is Mercury Public Affairs? A local P.R. and marketing outfit (there are many of them) engaged to convince our neighbors in our humble hamlet that incorporation isn’t just in the interests of the few but in those of the many? Turns out, according to its website, that Mercury is “a high-stakes public strategy firm. We provide results for the world’s most successful companies, leading advocacy groups, governments, political parties, NGOs, and prominent public and political figures,” with 22 offices, 190 experts, and 550 clients. My! My! Such a significant, global institution to take on the interests of the C.P.W. Are there no locals capable of convincing locals? Isn’t the point of incorporation to be more local? Why would, one wonders, the chair and directors of the C.P.W., if they are the ones who hired this outside group, want to engage such a high-powered Washington firm for this effort?
Among the capabilities Mercury touts on its site are “Advocacy Advertising, Crisis Management, Grassroots Coalition Building.” They’re very upfront about being “bipartisan,” and they are very loud about having contributed to the election of Republicans in Democratic states. And their advocacy advertising very smartly taps “into the triggers that motivate audiences.”
They are keen on having on staff “political insiders” like Mike McKeon, who was named by The New York Observer to “Albany’s Most Powerful List.” Very impressive. By the way, Jared Kushner owned The New York Observer until it shut down in 2016, and then he transferred his ownership into a family trust, through which his brother-in-law Joseph Meyer took over his former role as publisher and chairman in 2017, according to Observer Media’s own site.
To know more about Mike McKeon all one needs to do is read an editorial from December 2019, published right here in The East Hampton Star, where you, David, pointed out that the efforts and people behind the C.P.W. might indeed not be as locally rooted as the Wainscott Sewing Society. In fact, you mention that the spokesperson, at least at the time, for the C.P.W. was none other than Mike McKeon, whom you describe as “a longtime state and national lobbyist for a leading firm, who was director of communications for New York Gov. George Pataki. Among Mr. McKeon’s other political work was Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid and the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s 2006 bid for New York State attorney general.” I guess that’s an impressive if interesting series of clients, and then you go on to state: “And get this: Mr. McKeon and Mercury have been linked to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman jailed in connection with work he directed on behalf of Ukraine.” You rightly also state that, “This is not to suggest that there is a conspiracy of any kind behind Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott. But it is not as grassroots as the people behind it would like us to believe.”
My mother was fond of passing on her wisdom on how things really worked by reminding me frequently, “It’s not what you know in life, it’s whom you know.” And she’d caution me that you can tell someone’s character by the company she or he chooses to keep.
I suggest my neighbors in Wainscott watch their pockets and the value of their homes if and when they are asked to vote on incorporation — and I encourage them to oppose it in their own interests.
January 31, 2020
To the Editor,
This letter addresses The Star’s editorial dated Dec. 10, 2020, titled, “Wainscott Village: A Terrible Idea,” an editorial which has been circulated by opponents of the village. As a 30-plus-year resident of Wainscott, I found the editorial bewildering. I disagree with virtually every assertion it makes.
The editorial’s last sentence argues that East Hampton Town’s “safe embrace” would supposedly better protect Wainscott’s charm, farmlands, and other environmental attributes. This is a surprising assertion, which is at odds with the town’s dismal decades-long record of ignoring the steady degradation of Georgica Pond and the costly and damaging pollution emanating from industrial sites in Wainscott, a record sadly punctuated by the town’s recent approval of the route for the Orsted high voltage cable along protected farmland and through residential neighborhoods.
For over 300 years the citizens of Wainscott have protected much of their farmland, the beaches, and open water, maintaining the charm and environmental values, which your editorial praises.
To learn of just one example (among many), I urge your readers to view the excellent film “The Field on Beach Lane” on the website of the Peconic Land Trust about the preservation of one farm field in Wainscott, one of a series of such land preservation projects that have had critical support from many private citizens of Wainscott. This field is one of at least four such protected sites adjoining the proposed route of the Orsted cable through Wainscott.
It is clear to me that the citizens of Wainscott will continue to be caring, determined, and excellent stewards of our open spaces and environmental heritage. That is why I support the village of Wainscott.
A Losing Battle
February 1, 2021
I write this in my private capacity, and not as a representative of the town or the town planning board, which I chair.
On Friday, Supervisor Van Scoyoc will conduct a public hearing as part of his obligation to determine the legal sufficiency of the petition by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott that seeks to incorporate the hamlet of Wainscott into a village.
If the supervisor determines that C.P.W.’s petition complies with the New York State Village Law, an election will be scheduled, and you can be sure that C.P.W. will spend tens of thousands of dollars to try to persuade Wainscott voters to incorporate. If, on the other hand, the supervisor determines that C.P.W. has not presented a valid petition, you can be sure that C.P.W. will spend tens of thousands of dollars to sue the supervisor, regardless of how clear it may be that C.P.W. has, for a second time, failed to meet the simple and decidedly nontechnical requirements necessary to present a valid petition under the village law.
The town board and the town trustees have voted, with a single dissent, to approve the Beach Lane cable landing. C.P.W. has vowed to use its million-dollar bankroll to litigate against the town. Yet, one need only to have heard the desperate and hollow tone of C.P.W.’s presentations before the town board or the devastating analysis of the town trustees’ attorney or the unanimous comments of the town trustees to know that C.P.W.’s dream of stopping the cable landing is doomed to failure. But C.P.W. is blinded by an unrelenting desire to fight, whether to deny the invalidity of its petition or to persuade Wainscott of the falsehood that incorporation will prevent the electrical cable from landing at Beach Lane.
Wainscott voters should be under no illusions. If Wainscott is incorporated the one thing of which we can be certain is ever-increasing taxes to pay for more litigation to fight a losing battle that most Wainscott taxpayers either do not support or about which they do not care. But that won’t matter to C.P.W., because C.P.W. cannot admit it has lost and has no hope of preventing the Beach Lane cable landing. And we all know the damage that can be done, whether to a nation or to a community, when a loser cannot admit that its battle has been lost.
Very truly yours,
January 30, 2021
While reading in your pages that Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc will be running for re-election on a platform of “environmental causes, affordable housing, and renewable energy and sustainability,” I was hard pressed not to laugh out loud. There appears to be no time limit on the willingness and ability of do-nothing Democrats, Van Scoyoc, Burke-Gonzalez (also a candidate for re-election claiming to be a champion of children, seniors, and working people), Overby, and Lys, to make the same promises they have been making for years while achieving little or nothing.
Three years after the 2018 campaign for the board seat vacated by Van Scoyoc, two years after the last townwide election, what has been accomplished with respect to the same problems then confronting the town, upon which Van Scoyoc and Burke-Gonzalez will now campaign, again, for the nth time?
The upgrade of the emergency communications system, already overdue three years ago, is still not in operation. There is still no evaluation of what it will take to assure clean water and, of course, no plan to get there. With only a handful of units of affordable housing built or in the works since the adoption of the town’s master plan (was it 15 or 16 years ago now?), we are still on a course to achieve the publicly adopted goal of 1,300 units in, say, a couple of hundred years.
There is still absolutely no plan as to how to meet the declared renewable energy goal, only the pretense that Deepwater Wind will do so, with back-patting all around. Is there yet a viable plan for a new seniors center? Are seniors any less at risk? Have the people who grew up here, some of whose families have lived in East Hampton for generations, [become] any more welcome in their own hometown? Do they have any greater housing, employment, or retirement opportunities? Is this board, constantly violating the Open Meetings Law with illegal discussions in executive session, “transparent” or even occasionally honest with the public?
As to Deepwater, it is timely to be reminded of Van Scoyoc’s faithlessness and lawlessness. I was in the room at the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee when Van Scoyoc finally abandoned his preposterous claim that Deepwater would not make its application to the Public Service Commission without first obtaining necessary easements and approvals from the town. Which of course they did. That day, he promised the assembled C.A.C. and residents of Wainscott that the town would not grant any easements or approvals to Deepwater unless and until the New York State Public Service Commission had concluded its environmental review and issued its approval.
Van Scoyoc has, of course, broken his worthless word. A few days ago, he and the other three faithless Democrats went ahead and approved the agreement with Deepwater. They did so without environmental review compliance on the grounds that none is legally necessary for an action, their approval, that requires a Public Service Commission “certificate of environmental compatibility and public need.” I agree with that. The town’s action does require a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need. However, none has yet been issued, as the Public Service Commission process has not concluded. The clear state policy is that environmental compliance must precede government action. What doesn’t Supervisor Van Scoyoc understand about the meaning of the word “required”?
We Democrats, who criticize Republicans fiercely for putting party loyalty above principle, need to look a long, hard look in the mirror. Hypocrisy betrays the public trust.
February 1, 2021
A community is in crisis when a segment of the community can no longer afford to reside in the town they have lived in for, in some cases, generations.
In the 1980s the implementation of the comprehensive plan zoned Springs as a primarily residential community with no sizable commercial zoning while failing to recognize that more homes equate to more children, which in turn directly increases the budget of the Springs School District. Fast-forward to where we are today, the Springs School taxes are the highest in town, oppressive, and further squeezing local residents as they struggle to cobble enough income to support their families.
The failure to create economic development areas that generate employment opportunities with sustainable living wages is now apparent. After countless hours of community input and paying sizable sums of money, the politically connected planners and town board have turned a blind eye to the Springs School tax problem.
This town board, as in the 1980s, has spent countless hours and taxpayer dollars to embrace planning practices that have snappy phrases but have little regard for the creation of economic opportunities that create living wages that enable our local families to thrive rather than move away. The town board has failed to show empathy for the struggles of our young families and senior citizens.
If you want to make a difference to move East Hampton forward for all its residents instead of the chosen, we want you to come join us to help make the town government responsible and responsive. If you are interested in a better East Hampton, regardless of your political party affiliation, contact me at 631-324-0528 and screen for the open positions.
East Hampton Town
January 17, 2021
To the Editor,
When campaigning, many politicians use the phrase, “I will fight for you!” I would much prefer if elected officials would work for us using their education, training, experience, intelligence, creativity, and negotiating skills to come up with good ideas and then find a way to arrive at the compromises that will get things done. Fighting, like war, should be a last resort.
And it’s not just politics. Most of my professional career was as a member of the faculty at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. U.S.C. is nationally and internationally recognized for its academic excellence and its many research contributions. The university treated me well and made it possible for me to retire comfortably. And what is U.S.C.’s motto? “Fight On!” This from a world-famous academic institution. Does everything have to be about fighting?
Slide to Socialism
February 1, 2021
I am concerned. There is so much going on with the new administration and the pandemic that I feel compelled to say something. All my life I have stood on the foundation of common sense and truth and, of course, these two principles are woven throughout our Constitution. What I would like to do in this letter is touch on just some important areas of concern.
Regarding the pandemic, there is something strange going on. New powers being taken by foreign leaders and the governors of our states, which defy common sense, are very concerning not only here but abroad.
Efforts by the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom, at a minimum, to start to control us and take away our basic freedoms are happening. Just the other day there was a National Terrorism Advisory Bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security about our government’s concern regarding internal terrorism and what we can do about it. You must read it to let it sink in as to how our government wants to control us. Among other things, at the conclusion it states: “If You See Something, Say Something. Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or call 911.” Well, I have one for the government: Just look at Oregon and Washington State and see the terrorist activities antifa is are doing and do something about it!
Across the pond, look at what the U.K. government is trying to do. They are proposing a new law that would allow under-18-year-olds to be covert human intelligence sources against their parents. This is facing strong opposition, but you should get the idea where governments are headed. Anyone who is aware of what happened in Germany in the early 1930s, as Hitler rose to power by controlling people, incorporating fear through propaganda, should see the similarities as to what is starting to happen in the free world.
Nancy Sinatra is the latest celebrity saying that she will never forgive Trump voters. Well I voted for Trump, and I am offended by the her statement and others’. I don’t know if these anti-Trump people fully understand what they have done and what the liberals now controlling America are in the process of doing to ruin America.
The initial executive orders by President Biden, statements the Democrats have made to go to universal mail-in voting, and a study to determine if the Supreme Court needs to be changed are just a few examples that send chills down my back. Their efforts, as well as big tech to eliminate free speech, and Democratic congressmen and senators who are trying to undermine conservatives in Congress is going beyond the pale. I just hope the liberals or Democrats who read this paper come to realize sooner rather than later the damage they have started in motion and make an effort as Americans to try and put a stop to the slide to socialism and honor our Constitution rather than subvert it.
The Democrats’ trying to impeach Donald Trump has to be one of the dumbest moves they are making. If this is an example of what President Biden is calling unity then God help us. What I have stated above is just the beginning. Those reading this should do their own research and understand what liberties you may lose by not paying attention to what the new administration is starting to do. Truth and common sense should be our guidelines.
January 30, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I am truly frightened by the demand on the part of several area lawyers for the immediate tar-and-feathering of our elected congressman, Lee Zeldin. While I appreciate how deeply unhappy they are that their anointed standard-bearer, Nancy Goroff, scientist, lost in November, this continuing effort to have Mr. Zeldin’s election nullified, by hook or by crook, reminds me of what sore losers many of their comrades were and continue to be in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016.
To define Mr. Zeldin’s failure to kowtow to their collective desire to have him volubly speak out against the former president and his supposed instigation of an armed insurrection on Jan. 6, or better yet, to pack his bags and leave because they say he should, borders on harassment. But to say their allegations are sufficient for filing charges that Mr. Zeldin violated “the most fundamental ethics rules, including participating in frivolous litigation, making false statements regarding the presidential election, and committing, arguably, a criminal act that reflects on his trustworthiness . . .” reminds me of the in-public denunciations that were the hallmark of Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China.
Mr. Zeldin’s right to exercise free speech is sacrosanct under the United States Constitution. Based on what I have read in this week’s East Hampton Star, I am hard pressed to conclude that these “protesters,” who doubtless cloak themselves in protecting our greater good, are engaged in anything other than a witch hunt as classically defined. Talk about a frivolous suit.
JAMES R. WELDON
January 28, 2021
Democrats should be able to say, “Biden won.” Surprisingly, I do agree. To verify this statement Democrats have an obligation to investigate accusations of voter fraud and to take steps to prevent fraud in the future.
The United States cannot provide for, nor can we find employment for, all the world’s underprivileged. Therefore, with few exceptions we should legally admit only those who will be most helpful to our country. Unrestricted immigration will negatively impact all Americans.
I have the right and the obligation to protect my family and property. The Supreme Court has affirmed that the Second Amendment gives me the right to bear arms. Our fine police force cannot respond quickly enough if there is already an intruder in the house. The family must be the first and last line of its own defense.
February 1, 2021
Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech. My opinion may not agree with the many anti. The new President Nancy Pelosi seems to be abusing her power, going to the head of the military and making her demands. Too far, Nancy. Politicizing the National Guard. Too far, Nancy. Someone advise her she’s not in charge.
Unity, where is it? Sitting at a desk signing, up to date, 25 executive orders, taking no questions, and doing nothing else. This includes getting nothing done except firing 10,000 people from their jobs on the pipeline. The borders are not closed, wide open for all, with no testing for Covid. Imagine, the Pentagon, Democrats, or president tried to inoculate the planners, detainees, enemy combatants from 9/11. President Biden did campaign on closing Gitmo. No concrete plans have come forward.
I saw a picture yesterday of two people climbing to the top of a wind turbine that stopped working because the oil leaked out of it. Imagine: Turbines need fossil fuel.
Unity. Will President Biden come to tell the House of Representatives to stop, please stop. the anti-unity bashing of the Republicans, conservatives, etc.? Let’s do our best in Congress to get things done. That is the very best for all parties.
In God and country,
January 29, 2021
Disgraced ex-President Donald Trump deserves impeachment, but the 50-Republicans Senate is unlikely to convict him with the required 67 votes, thereby failing to disqualify him from running for re-election in 2024. Why doesn’t Congress employ both 18 U.S. Code 2384 (seditious conspiracy) and the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Section 3, against him for his incitement of the attack on the Capitol?
U.S. Code 2384 states that persons who conspire by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States shall each be imprisoned 20 years.
The Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Section 3, states that “no person shall hold any office who, having previously taken an oath as an officer of the United States to support the Constitution of the United States shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
I’m not a lawyer (nor have I ever played one on TV), but wouldn’t utilizing these two articles of law more likely succeed than would a convictionless impeachment?
Let’s Forget It
January 27, 2021
In this time of religious derangement perhaps the best analogy to impeaching Trump is the church behavior toward clergy who committed criminal acts. When clergy had sex with under-age boys and girls (no one was too young), they were never punished in civil courts. They were scolded (maybe) and transferred to another parish where they could continue the same behavior. Nothing was too perverse or degenerate for the church to forgive. They were considered beyond or above the law.
Trump’s criminal behavior on Jan. 6 is analogous to how the abusive clergy were treated. Even though he instigated his followers, in full view of the country, 45 Republican senators voted not to have an impeachment trial. “Send him away and let’s forget it.” “Free pastor Donald!” Like most conservative Christian institutions, they believe in the divine power of the presidency. Or screw the children, or is it the democracy?
The remarkably fast reset of the Republican Party from being appalled by his election fraud campaign and the Jan. 6 insurrection to “He’s our man and we will always stand with him,” comes as no surprise. The spineless immoral piggery that has characterized Republicans for three decades had taken only a one-week hiatus. There is nothing he can do that will turn them against him. Essentially, they are [Trump]. The normalization of perversion and degeneracy.
After the Mueller report was scammed and witnesses weren’t permitted in the last impeachment trial (trials without witnesses are like hockey games without pucks), the newest equivocation is that you can’t try a president once he leaves office no matter what he did. Nor can the congressmen who supported his efforts be tried because he no longer really exists. Consequently there’s no need to exonerate anyone because no one did anything wrong (except for the five dead bodies). Limited liability is why insurance companies don’t pay for hurricane wind damages. “Bullshit!” is the scream from the gallery that is heard all over the world. But, the real lesson from this disaster is threefold:
For the American people, having faith in government is really dumb. Being eternally screwed is a fact of life.
For the Trump supporters and the rioters, who didn’t get presidential pardons, “So long, suckers.” You bought the made-up election fraud story, put your butts on the line, and were left out to dry. In prison. You were fodder for his fantasies. You didn’t measure up to the Manaforts and the Stones.
The bottom line for our clergy is that they will continue to violate young kids because they know that they won’t be punished. They are told that it may be inappropriate but that it’s okay. Trump and his 138 Republican supporters will also continue to support insurrection and fabricate stories about our election process. They don’t believe that anything will happen to them and up to now they are right. Look at the actions of the 45 senators and listen to Ted Cruz talk about impeaching past presidents and it is easy to understand that they are the essence of degenerate cowards and will never change.
Coming full circle in support of the rioters and standing united as the party of white supremacy, white dishonesty, and white trash. Perverse and degenerate like the pedophile clergymen and fully embracing their remarkable lack of courage.