April 5, 2021
To the Editor:
“Ode to Spring,” Horace, “Odes,” Book 4, Number 7:
Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis
mutat terra vices et decrescentia ripas
flumina praetereunt. . . .
A translation for spring 2021:
The melted snows have fled the fields,
New grasses peek out, their strength returning.
The trees regain their leafy shields,
The bubbling streams start churning.
The deaths from the virus were in nobody’s plans.
But the seasons keep warning of change at each bend.
Soon our nymphs will again cavort on the sands.
We give thanks for vaccines and for every friend.
JOHN TEPPER MARLIN
Sensing a Threat
East Hampton Village
April 12, 2021
As a longtime resident of Main Street (66 years) in East Hampton Village, I have grown to love and enjoy the beauty of it and its welcoming nature. Recently I am sensing a threat to our village by the inns — Hedges, Maidstone, 1770 House, and the Mill House.
Expansion in the residential and historic district is a great concern. The Huntting Inn, already over building capacity, has proposed adding a swimming pool, many cabanas, and extension of the rear, and removing parking spaces.
The Maidstone has purchased property on Mill Hill Lane — for what purpose, we may ask? If outside dining is approved, the Hedges and the other inns will become a major noise concern for residents.
What can be done about these proposed threats to our village?
In the village comprehensive plan it is noted at the very beginning that this is a residential village, not dependent on the business community.
I became a member of the Village Preservation Society shortly after its beginning, because I was concerned for the village’s welfare. I continue to be.
April 11, 2021
Now that, thanks to Covid, Newtown Lane is inching toward civilization, it is a propitious time to capitalize on the trend and really make downtown East Hampton attractive and practical.
By inching toward civilization, I mean of course the positive trend for cafe tables on the sidewalk, as few as they may be at the moment.
What I ‘d like to propose is to transform part of Newtown Lane into a pedestrian mall, from Main Street to the entrance to the east parking lot. I can easily picture that whole area with fountains, shrubbery, attractive paths, benches, and, of course, many tables and chairs serviced by the establishments in place, where people could finally enjoy the great outdoors in a civilized manner, as is the case in so many parts of the U.S. and the world.
We can, of course, expect protest from the businesses, yet it is a fact that everywhere a pedestrian mall is established, as it has been recently in New York City, business improves for the simple reason that more people come to the area.
Hope this letter starts a positive discussion of the subject.
Through the Sky
April 5, 2021
On Easter Sunday, we took a ride as a family to the duck pond on David’s Lane. As usual, it was brimming with waterfowl and other different species of birds hovering over the pond and darting out of the trees to grab a snack. Grandparents held their little loved ones, and families gathered in groups, tossing food to the geese and mallards under the midafternoon sunshine.
Then the planes started to fly over. You could hear them coming from afar, a growling, thunderous sound growing louder as they approached and cut through the sky. Two separate twin-engine jets and what looked to be a prop plane all flew over the pond within 10 minutes — one of them came so close that I was able to get a detailed photograph as it flew over our heads and skimmed over the trees. The noise was deafening and disturbing, putting a damper on an otherwise beautiful day.
Like most of the families who live here in East Hampton either full or part time, we should be free from the noise and pollution brought by air travel. In my opinion, protecting the wildlife and tranquility of the pond is important. If this bothers some of you as well, feel free to join me in registering complaints at [email protected].
Please Close the Airport
April 5, 2021
To the Editor,
One of the most unfortunate things that continues to plague our great country is income inequality and wealth dispersion. Nowhere is that more on exhibit than in the Hamptons. The airport benefits a select few and negatively affects the masses. Environmental, social and governance, or E.S.G., investment is the wave of the future, and we have the opportunity to impact our environment today by voting to close East Hampton Airport.
Over the past 26 years of residence, and as a responsible taxpayer, the noise and pollution from the increased air traffic have become intolerable. For the good of the environment, the climate, and the overall peace and tranquility of our beautiful hamlet called East Hampton, please shut down the airport!
There are many opportunities for our town to benefit in an economic yet socially responsible manner. Whether using the site for an alternative energy facility, a vineyard, or providing a public golf course that accommodates those who cannot afford to join a private club or fly private are considerations worth pursuing. Thank you.
April 5, 2021
To the Editor,
My family and I have been patronizing Stuart’s Seafood Shop in Amagansett for as long as it’s been in business, 1955. We’ve been happy to pay the higher prices to support the East End fishing industry and local business.
We knew the business was for sale so we were heartened by the fact that the new owner has local ties and other businesses in the area. However on my first visit, today, April 5, I had a disappointing experience. It wasn’t horrible but still disappointing.
First of all, the space seemed very dingy and had dusty old Stuart’s products. The people working in the shop didn’t speak much English and had a hard time understanding the piece/size of tuna I was trying to buy. More annoying was that from the minute I got in the store they were really rushing me, which didn’t make sense since there was only one other customer.
Even after I got my fish and was looking around, they kept asking if I wanted anything else. I had to repeat several times that I was looking around. Eventually I was ready to pay, but had to explain that there was another guy paying so I didn’t want to get too close to him. The worker came out from behind to help rush me along and commented that the broccoli rabe I had selected had gone bad.
The topper was when I went to pay, I was told they had added a 4 percent premium for credit card sales. She said a lot of people have been getting mad. I asked where the owner was and was told, “He’s upstairs. Do you want to talk to him?” I said okay. She then paged him and sheepishly said maybe he was busy. This is so sad and breaks my heart.
April 11, 2021
The race is on for a Democratic supervisor for the town board. The voting takes place on June 2. Let’s be honest. The Democrats have dumped Jeff Bragman from his council position because he doesn’t toe the line on every project, decision, and vote! There shall be no dissension in the Democratic Party in East Hampton! And so Jeff Bragman is running for supervisor against Peter Van Scoyoc.
If Jeff’s voice is completely shut down maybe it will be your voice or vote that will be shut down. The East Hampton board is well beyond its “sell date.”
The community deserves new and honest leadership, goals, and energy. Jeff is a leader who questions, demands, and works strictly for the community’s needs, not the rich, the lawyers, and the Dems who know they are in tight. The time is now. Listen to Jeff speak at town meetings. He is the only member who is an attorney. Read his ideas and actions. You decide if he is the one.
Many of us have already decided he is!
April 12, 2021
Thank you (and Christopher Walsh) for your article last week covering the presentation on contamination in Wainscott’s drinking water supply. The documents put before us (from town officials) during the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting show a disturbing set of very unsettling facts.
Wainscott’s drinking water contains contaminants known generically as PFAS and includes two chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS that are often associated with airport firefighting foam. They are very harmful, even at low concentration levels. The substances are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down but accumulate in the body over time.
The Environmental Protection Agency associates the following adverse health effects with exposure to the contamination within Wainscott’s drinking water: developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants, cancer (e.g., testicular and kidney), liver effects (e.g., tissue damage), immune effects (e.g., antibody production and immunity), thyroid effects, and more.
Alarmed by national reports of PFAS contamination of drinking water near airports, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation sent an urgent questionnaire (of only 11 questions) to the town highlighting the risks to public health. It simply asked if fire-fighting foam had ever been used or stored at the airport site. The D.E.C. took the issue seriously enough to make it a legal requirement to return the questionnaire within 30 days.
The town did not return the questionnaire but claimed it passed it to the Village of East Hampton, which maintains the fire department training center and the fire truck garage on the airport site. Notably, the questionnaire only asked about use, not who was responsible.
The Star reported at least four foam usage incidents at the airport, including an aircraft fire, a fuel truck fire, and two mass casualty drills. Nonetheless, town officials declined to answer; instead, the town refused to comply with the D.E.C. and forwarded the questionnaire to the village. The town did not return the questionnaire to the D.E.C. for nine months despite being reminded by the D.E.C. of its legal obligation several times. Even then, the town failed to complete the form accurately, giving the impression that the foam (classified as hazardous waste in New York State) was only stored at the airport site and not used for training or during emergencies.
When the Suffolk County Department of Health Services wanted to test wells on the airport site, the town refused to describe the wells’ locations, knowing that the airport was the likely source of chemical contamination.
During that delay, residents were ingesting dangerous chemicals daily. Town residents were drinking, cooking, and bathing in the contaminated water.
At the Wainscott C.A.C. meeting, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby attacked the presentation, claiming it was just accusations meant to frighten, but never responded with facts. Astonishingly, Ms., Overby appeared more concerned with her own sensibilities, complaining, “I find it really hard to listen to this fearmongering,” than for the health of residents who were drinking the contaminated water.
By contrast, Jeff Bragman (who was recently replaced as the Wainscott liaison) recognized the threat’s seriousness and urged the town board to immediately provide in-home filtration systems while the town pursued the installation of public water mains. He described the pushback from Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, who, like Ms. Overby, appeared not to take the contamination seriously. Again, neither Supervisor Van Scoyoc nor Councilwoman Overby has explained (honestly) the town’s failure to protect town residents’ health and safety. When will the town decide what it will do to clean up the contaminated aquifer that we are all dependent on, so we can resume using our well water again, safely? Why are the residents of Wainscott paying the Suffolk County Water Authority for a safe water supply when the contamination was caused by entities affiliated with the town? Some residents paid staggering bills to connect to the system.
Those of us who watched the events unfold in real time know the truth. Mr. Bragman understood the gravity of the situation and fought to protect Wainscott residents’ health in every way possible. He publicly stated that waiting for public water was not enough and spoke out strongly that urgent action was required. Unfortunately, Mr. Bragman was confronted with a town board that cared more for the airport and for Deepwater Wind’s plans to construct its transmission infrastructure through the middle of the contamination. Jeff Bragman, Thank you!
April 12, 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 March 4, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc rejected the petition authored by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott to incorporate a 4.4-square mile portion of Wainscott. New York Village Law 2-208 requires that “If no proceeding be instituted to review such decision within thirty days after such filing of the original copy thereof, the decision shall be final and conclusive.” That deadline passed last week, and no proceeding was instituted, thus ending C.P.W.’s second incorporation effort.
But rather than fade away and allow the hamlet to heal, it seems that C.P.W. is hell-bent on dragging Wainscott through another round of divisiveness. In an email to supporters that it published on Sunday, C.P.W. ignored the myriad significant failures of its petition and launched yet another partisan attack with the false claim that the “Supervisor manufactured minor technical issues.” C.P.W. promises a new petition later this year. It seems quite clear that C.P.W. knows the supervisor’s decision was correct and that a challenge to it would have failed in court.
It is a shame that C.P.W. continues to manufacture a controversy and promises to resume its selfish, narrow-minded agenda, with a dose of politics added. But C.P.W.’s latest, highly public failure has made it clear to those of us who call Wainscott home that regardless of how much C.P.W. tweaks its petition’s language or trims its village’s boundaries, incorporation remains a bad idea. No amount of C.P.W.’s deceptive emails can change that.
Very truly yours,
April 13, 2021
They saved lives, kept us from future sickness, hardship, and the fears that go along with a pandemic. There was no mandate to set up our own vaccination center, but our East Hampton Town Board did it. The requirements to set up a site like the one on Stephen Hand’s Path, for Covid-19, are indeed overwhelming. Location, timing, emergency service people, equipment (some of it very hard to come by), and scheduling are all certainly an uphill battle. Yet they did it. Each of the two days that I was there, both Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilman David Lys were on hand, smiling, happy, working, and proud. They saw that everything ran smoothly, behind the scenes and for the lines and lines of nervous people.
It has been a month and I am still astonished. I would like to know, because it would be a great story, just what type of hoops they had to jump through to successfully accomplish the vaccination of so many thousands of their residents. I’d love to know who was the first to think of doing this. What a great story lurks behind the scenes. By the way, residents come across so many hurdles getting their own projects approved. Well I can tell you, the board, itself, has every one of those hurdles, and additional ones besides, to overcome, themselves, just to accomplish anything they do.
No mandate says, “You as a town board have to provide a vaccination center for your residents,” and, in fact, most towns did not. Yet, we had a lifesaving need, and this board saw to it that their people had what they needed. Thank you, each and every one of the people who gave their time and expertise to accomplish this.
Under the Shadow
April 12, 2021
To the Editor,
Rationalizing is a mental coping mechanism unique to humans. To not believe “it could be a lot worse” or there isn’t “a silver lining” in the midst of a crisis is an emotionally draining existence. Without it, people lose hope and will. They give in and up in the face of fear, tragedy, or a grave diagnosis. Animals, on the other hand, lack the ability to rationalize. If the starving lion is too weak to take down the swifter and stronger wildebeest, he finds a shady cover to lie down under and die. Kerflop. There is no rationalization in the animal kingdom to compensate for bad luck or missed opportunities, just survival of the fittest. Instinct over reason saves the mighty beast. They fight until the end.
So, when told a deadly virus was spreading faster than a samurai’s waist on a diet of Twinkies and milkshakes, deadly enough to surely wipe out the entire human race and, in order to save humanity, we humans had to shut ourselves indoors without toilet paper, it was greeted as if we were told the Bundt cake went up in flames, but the house didn’t burn down. We rallied and kept our sights on the whipped caramel, buttercream frosting hardening in the stainless-steel mixing bowl, clinging to the beaters in velvet cascades of gooey sienna, and waited for the smoke to clear. Hip! Hip! Hooray!
I didn’t look at the past year anything like that. When the gravity of the situation finally sank in, and the lockdowns were extended, I greeted it like a lioness in heat snarling at horny males trying to mount me without my consent. I was full of suppressed rage and indignity. It had to be a mistake, a miscalculation of epic proportions. How did one not know such a killing machine existed? Where did it come from? Who let it out? Why weren’t we, the most prosperous, scientifically and medically sophisticated country in the world, prepared and ready for a contagion and-or germ warfare of this ferocity predicted to occur in science fiction movies and novels decades ago?
I was outraged by the lack of consistent messaging, left hopeless by the daily Covid ticker on the screen tracking the deaths worldwide, felt helpless to comfort and shelter lonely, terrified family members and ashamed to give in to the fear. I resented the pressure to conform to a science based on speculative models and data without conclusive evidence from government sources and agencies who let the virus in under their noses and who added insult to injury that we were responsible for its spread and, ultimately, the death of thousands. Quite a burden of responsibility for a population who heretofore couldn’t tell the difference between an N95 mask and face diaper or that our lives would be dependent on the number of feet we spaced ourselves from each other.
I wanted answers and accountability. I wanted those who were suffering and starving to be able to go back to work and make a living, an infected person free to make their own medical therapy decisions, experimental or not; children able to return to the classroom to learn, moms back to work, public basketball hoops and tennis nets reinstalled, police tape stripped from playgrounds and replaced with the shrills of childlike excitement. I longed to hear church bells ring again and traffic to get stuck in. I wanted the truth, not platitudes. Yet, all I hear is: “Not yet.”
So, true to my species, I rationalize the greatest threat to my own humanity just to stay sane and hopeful that this hideous period in history too shall pass. I’m grateful for what my family has been spared; no one’s life was taken by the virus or even sickened by it. But neither has anyone I love or know been given a catastrophic diagnosis, suffered a serious injury, or lost their job this past year, either. When can I be grateful for those things again without paying homage to the mighty virus?
Still, after a year, any milestone we achieve against the virus is tempered with threats of variants and risky behavior that used to be normal behavior. One media source spouts doom and gloom, the other source contradicts and questions the science. Is the future of my overall happiness based on the weaponization of a virus measured by clicks on social media? Will I live permanently under the shadow of a virus through no fault of my own? Should I shoot microbes into my body and synthetically rewire my DNA, offering no guarantee except to make other people feel safer when not a single thing changes for me and my freedom? Is it enough now we are allowed to wander, but with strict restrictions and oversight against our own free will and the threat of even more government control hanging over us?
Not for me. I am in for the long fight. I’m starving for the life I had before the virus, for better or worse, and I’m not going to give up fighting to get it back until I can’t. I want revenge on whoever let this virus out, murdering millions of souls, that destroyed cities, hopes, and dreams. The collateral damage from the virus mitigation has been colossal. I can rationalize the carnage away or I can put pressure on those in power for answers like a lioness guarding her cubs from a pack of tooth-bearing, laughing hyenas. This joke played on humanity needs to end. I am woman. Hear me roar. Lest we ever forget, we are free even when the enemy lurks.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin
April 6, 2021
Get rid of the bullshit filibuster and give more power to the people. Also: term limits!
April 9, 2021
Senator Mitch McConnell has just said that business like Coca-Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball were “quite stupid to jump in the middle of a highly controversial issue.”
But what could have been more supremely and infinitely stupid than McConnell’s own vote to acquit former President Trump of the impeachment charge that he incited the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol — right before McConnell castigated Donald Trump with the following extremely damning accusations:
“President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. . . . There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. . . . His unconscionable behavior did not end when the violence began. . . . A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name.”
Imagery of a World
April 11, 2021
“If it’s all beautiful you can’t believe it. Things aren’t that way” is a quote from Ernest Hemmingway, which crashes our imagery of a world that is simple and uncomplicated.
On Easter Sunday, we ate scallops for lunch. When you buy scallops in America they never come in the shell and the coral is never included. My granddaughter had never seen the coral or the shell that gives the scallops a unique and beautiful sense of life. So we talked about how scallops communicate and the idea that just because you don’t hear or understand something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
The essential conundrum in America is that ignorance, not knowledge, provides security and texture and a little knowledge is sufficient to dismiss humility.
So when we talk about socialism or communism or religion we attempt to talk in absolutes where none exist. There is no purity in the great schemes of life. Everything is bastardized, nuanced for a better word. How does the Vatican exist when “the kingdom of heaven is in all of us” is one of the few things that Jesus is known to have actually said? Or the Soviet Union in the face of the gulags or U.S. idealism in the face of slavery and its racist core spirit. We replace knowledge and study with sound bites that allow us to feel proud and not be intimidated by our ignorance and shallowness.
To remain dumb we are obligated to normalize the abnormal. For example. The new Georgia voting law is hotly debated, but the real debate is about the normalization of lying about the election. The basis of the law is a gross fabrication and in a world that doesn’t praise stupidity it would have never happened. It’s not what’s in the law that is the existential problem. It’s the basis for passing the law.
Scallops don’t have this problem. Existentially, their trial is to stay alive. Do they give a rat that their shells and coral are chucked in the garbage by certain groups of barbarians? Is there any honor in death? Pride in feeding the hungry masses? Repulsion at how little they are appreciated? Horror about much they cost in the market?
We won’t ever know because we only hear the noise that reverberates in our tiny brains.