Most Valuable Feature
June 6, 2021
As a loyal weekly reader of The East Hampton Star, I can’t tell you how disappointed I have been in recent weeks as everything is opening up around town, including the movies, the Talkhouse, religious and cultural events, etc., to anxiously each week open the paper and search for your forever listings of all of the above — to search in vain as it is no longer included in the paper.
What has happened? How can you leave out one of the most valuable features of the paper and force us to use Google and other search apps to find out what is happening?
Hopefully it is only temporary as certainly, at a time when everyone is beginning to go out and do things, it is the time to lead and encourage others to enjoy the many activities in our area. I look forward to your reinitiating this information, which makes the paper so valuable, so we all know what’s happening this next week.
What He Needed
June 3, 2021
To the Editor,
My name is Lisa Goldsmith. I, along with my boyfriend, Todd Rubel, traveled to East Hampton via Hampton Jitney Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend. Todd’s bag was lost en route and with it, all of his attire for a wedding (he is a groomsman) this weekend.
With his only suit in his lost bag we frantically went to town to find him new clothing. J.Crew of East Hampton came to our rescue. Kerry Virga and Matt (one of their senior men’s stylists) heard our story as we were frantically shopping for clothing and really worked with us to not only find attractive clothing for Todd, but, quite frankly, they helped calm us down.
Matt worked closely with Todd to find suits in his style and even asked Todd if he would be open to seeing a different style that wasn’t on display in the store. Todd ended up with the suit Matt brought out. Both Kerry and Matt weren’t pushy, they just wanted to help and really knew their content in the store and also how to work with Todd’s style to make sure he wasn’t just getting clothing but rather loving the clothing he was trying on.
I am writing this as we prepare to go back to confirm Todd’s pants size — Kerry expedited another suit pant size for Todd to make sure he had exactly what he needed for this weekend. These two individuals went above and beyond what one would deem normal customer service. For anyone in need of great styling help, please head to J.Crew of East Hampton. I cannot thank this team enough for making something very stressful manageable.
Angels in the Snow
June 5, 2021
Reading Bess Rattray’s June 3 “Shipwreck Rose” column about the freedom she felt walking down the middle of a road, I was reminded of an evening decades ago in Manhattan. It was snowing heavily as I left my office on East 40th Street; a half foot of snow had already covered the sidewalk and the street itself. The city was eerily quiet, as often happens in such weather. It was about 10 p.m., and there were no cars in sight, just the silence of the night.
With this my inner child woke up; I slowly made my way into the middle of 40th Street and lay down in the snow. I stretched my arms out, wide open, and began moving them slowly up and down by my side — making an angel in the snow.
At some point I stopped and just lay there listening to the silence and looking up into the black night sky. Eventually my inner child faced reality, reminding me that I could not expect to stay there, that I would have to abandon my angel. At some point a car was certain to emerge. So I got up, dusted snow from my clothes, returned to the sidewalk and walked serenely down Park Avenue South, a smile on my face.
Yes, Bess, I understand.
The American Tour
June 4, 2021
To the Editor,
When I was young, my father would tell the story of the time that he went to hear Dylan Thomas speak at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1952. He reminisced that the auditorium was packed to standing room-only crowds. The event was to begin at 4 o’clock, but 4 o’clock came and went and there was no sign of Dylan Thomas. They waited for almost an hour as the audience mood shifted from anticipation to anger. Where was he?
A few moments passed and a beautiful young lady led a staggering man in a rumpled suit onstage. Seeing the serpentine stagger of the Welsh poet, the audience began to gasp and whisper: “He’s blind?” “I didn’t know he was blind!” “Dylan Thomas is blind?”
He was led into the spotlight, and he grasped his hands on either side of the podium, then pulled papers from his suit jacket and drew a deep breath, and out of him poured the words. The beautiful words that flowed like water — or whiskey, to be more apt. My father chuckled, saying, “It was in that moment the entire audience realized that he wasn’t blind — but he was blind drunk!”
It was on that American tour that Dylan Thomas drank himself to death at the White Horse Tavern. He exclaimed he had his “18th whiskey, that’s a record,” only to fall from the bar stool and expire later that night. “The dying of the light.”
My father loved poetry. He would work on his own poems, giving up in frustration. His profession was technical writer for the military. He had very high security clearances. It was only until the end of his life that he shared that he wrote the user manuals for the Minuteman missile system. This explained his long business trips out to the Dakotas in the 1950s and 1960s.
The pressure of writing top-secret military user manuals during the Cold War boxed him in from communicating with his family. With nightly pours from the bottle and spouting poetry, he was a one-man literary jug band. Rhythmic couplets whispered down a bottle of Canadian Club in perfect iambic pentameter. Whiskey and words; some nights one would drown out the other.
Until, silence. It was a poignant moment that when we buried him, my mother slipped a little bottle of Canadian Club in his pocket. A companion in life, a comfort offering in death. My father loved a quote from the movie “Arthur”: “Not all of us who drink are poets. Some of us drink because we are not.”
There’s something about writers and poets that speak to that certain place in my heart. You know that part — the part that reads something and is transported to a memory or a feeling, to a place of understanding and empathy for a character you would’ve never met in your own life.
I was thinking about characters and one that I had met a few years ago. Tim Feleppa was a high school friend of my husband, Andrew’s. Tim had fallen on hard times and was looking for a job. When I met Tim, he was disheveled and his red face was topped with a mop of dark curls. He looked like Dylan Thomas, rumpled, curls and all.
My partner told me that Tim had been down on his luck and living out of his car for the past three months and drinking a fifth of whiskey every day. I voiced concern, but I told Andy that I trusted his decisions. Yet, I wanted to know who would be around the house, so I invited Tim to dinner.
We had burgers from the grill and Tim sat in the chair in the corner of the living room kind of fidgeting to make some small talk. My husband told me that Tim had a brush with success as a musician in the band Mink Lungs. I tried to engage him to talk about music and he just wasn’t interested. I tried to bring up small talk about family, but again he wasn’t willing to share. So, I labeled these interactions as “The Mystery of Tim on his American Tour.”
Shortly after he began to work, he nervously approached me for any kind of canned goods or food that I might spare for him. “Sure,” I said. I would cook breakfast, with extra for Tim. Sandwiches, soup, and peanut butter cookies, and sometimes bags of groceries would be placed in Tim’s truck. Sometimes I would bake an extra casserole. His favorite was my 1970s recipe for tuna noodles with crushed Cheez-Its on top. That was the extent of my interaction with Tim — joking around, and then making sure he had the basics. Like the time that his sneakers fell apart on his feet. Andrew took him to town and bought him shoes.
Winter coats and socks were given to make sure he could get through, just get through. All of these interactions were punctuated with some kind of witty quip or joke from Tim that would make us all chuckle. Time to time, he would talk to Andrew about playing in front of crowds with his band and then just trail off with a joke.
I described Tim as an “affable mess.” Tim was just so very likable. I always saw him as a lost little boy. Not completely innocent — more Dickensian, like a character from “Oliver Twist,” one of Fagan’s light-fingered street urchin crew, with the look of a misbehaving cherub.
Last Monday, Tim didn’t show up for work. Andrew called me and sounded concerned. I suggested a wellness check, and Andrew contacted one of Tim’s brothers, Alex. It was shortly after that we learned that Tim had passed away over the weekend. I felt a certain kind of grief that I didn’t expect, as if I had lost a childhood friend.
I searched Tim’s Facebook profile to see when he had last posted, and I came across a link to his YouTube channel that contained his music. I began to listen and started to sob. He sang with a whiskey voice.
How could I have not known?
All that beautiful music. All that poetry washed over with whiskey and words. How heart-rending to care for someone and never know who they truly are, like whispers in an empty bottle. The agony of the almost. The Mystery of Tim on his American Tour.
In one of his songs, Tim sings:
“Annabelle, oh Annabelle,
take this floor and fly away.
Through the hissing trees up yonder, fly away, oh fly away.
The mountains are singing tantras so glorious,
Sapphire fields beyond,
Annabelle, oh Annabelle,
fly away . . .”
So Many Reasons
June 7, 2021
To the Editor,
Really? Really? Hampton Chutney has to go? I could not believe the news the rent is tripled! Hampton Chutney is so loved by our community, it’s iconic. You just don’t think about a place so loved by all of us, from Montauk to Southampton, could be so vulnerable.
What is Randy Lerner thinking? I would think he would realize what a gem he has on the corner of his Square. People come to the Square because of Chutney. The customers visit the other shops before and after their delicious Chutney meals. Everyone goes there, young, old, middle, rich, famous, workers, I mean everyone. Not to mention all the jobs that are given to so many valuable citizens of our town. One day my friend Christine and I walked on the beach from Montauk to Amagansett — we just kept going. When we arrived in Amagansett we were barefoot and our pockets were empty. We were starving and went right to Chutney. Gary generously fed us without hesitation.
Chutney is the only place my granddaughter, who is allergic to wheat, can safely order anything she wants. There are so many reasons to love this place, to say nothing about how great the food is. Also, they fed us safely all year during the pandemic.
Oh please, Randy Lerner, open your eyes and your heart. We all thought you supported a place like Chutney. The Square is such a nice place and you have made it so lovely with all the beautiful plantings. Really, it’s just hard to believe that Chutney would be gone. What actually happened? Did Gucci call and say they would pay a fortune for the spot to sell $40 sandwiches?
It seems you have hurt them, making them feel unwanted. Well, sadly you are alone, because our community from Montauk to Southampton love them.
June 1, 2021
Unconscious capitalism is on full display in Amagansett. Of course, profits matter and change is inevitable, but ripping out the soul that makes your brick-and-mortar sing? Really? Wow. How sad and shortsighted.
Hampton Chutney is more than a line item on Mr. Lerner’s balance sheet; it’s a family-owned business with a 20-year history of bringing people together while serving healthy food at reasonable prices — 12 months of the year, an East End rarity! And by the way, it not only drives needed traffic to all the other stores, it cultivates a fun and positive vibe for the entire square, alongside Mandala Yoga.
It brings into question what the bigger picture is for a successful businessman and the owner of Amagansett Square. What, exactly, is the purpose of this square? Is there a vision, mission, and core values? Does tripling rent to force out a successful tenant with a loyal follow-ing align with those values? And how about considering the impact on the people of the community that it serves? Did the cost-benefit analysis account for all stakeholders, which include year-round patrons? The purpose appears to be unevolved, uninspired, and hollow enough to make a grown girl cry — to increase those digits left of the decimal at all costs. Rachmana litzlan; God help us all.
Conscious capitalism isn’t about being a do-gooder and sacrificing profits. It’s about leading with purpose, caring about how business is conducted, and considering the impact your business decisions have on people in your community – who happen to love Hampton Chutney Co.
Another Dumb Idea
June 6, 2021
If you want to see another dumb idea coming from the village mayor and the village board, get this. The village decided to build another small parking lot on the corner of Newtown and Osborne. This lot was barely used, as it seemed hidden and people did not want to walk from there to the village.
This is an unusual spot because it is a two-way street, heavily trafficked with school kids from the middle school and the high school going to and from school, with a beauty shop that has many of its elderly clients dropped off by persons who park their car in front (in the lane) and leave it there while they take their relatives into the shop.
The village has now given the right for the Tesla-branded E.V. charging station as a place for people to charge their cars in this lot. All of this is taking place about 10 feet from a railway crossing. One can just imagine cars waiting for a train to pass, children walking, horns blaring, and drivers trying to get onto or off Osborne with everyone in their way, and cars going in and out of the lot at the same time! Surely this is an accident waiting to happen. It would be nice to have a station for those who need it, but this seems like a bad choice!
June 7, 2021
I applauded your editorial on the new parking setup in the village. One aspect I don’t recall you mentioned was the long-term lot near the Y.M.C.A. RECenter.
As long as I can remember, a town resident could buy a sticker for a maximum two-week parking in the long-term lot. This is now been rescinded, and no longer will such a permit be available.
This puts some extra financial burden on people who live outside of walking distance from the train or the Jitney.
Even if one is a senior and takes the train back-and-forth to the city, that’s $30 then one has to spend, another $40 for a round-trip taxi, let’s say, to Springs, so now we have $70. In addition, if one has to pay $10 a day at the long-term lot for, say, four days, that’s another $40, so that’s $110. If one does this regularly, as many people do who work in the city, or need to go in for other purposes, it’s a big financial burden. I wrote to Mayor Larsen but got no response.
The permit supports sustainability. People will start driving to the city instead of paying $70 or $80 or $110 every time they go in for a few days.
Also, the lot behind the Amagansett Library used to have two-week parking; now the longest is 72 hours. I wrote the town board asking them to increase some slots to seven days and to restrict those to town residents only. I was told they would not consider it. Seems to me, as we pay such high taxes, there should be some consideration for taxpayers.
Perhaps you can report on this issue.
Enforce New Law?
June 2, 2021
Many of us welcomed the new law prohibiting the use of gas or diesel leaf blowers in East Hampton Town from May 20 to Sept. 20 of every year. Our quality of life will no doubt be improved by the reduction in obnoxious noise.
The next question to which inquiring minds want an answer is, “How is the town going to effectively enforce this new law?” Experience in the last two weeks suggests that landscaping contractors are either not aware of the new law, or are willing to take their chances by ignoring it. What is the mechanism whereby landscaping contractors can be held accountable and promptly fined for violations of this new law?
Clearly, compliance will not happen without accountability — and without effective enforcement the new law will be meaningless.
Roar and Howl
June 6, 2021
Perhaps The Star will bring attention to the plague of what car and driver qualify as “The Loudest Cars Ever Tested From Every Segment” (Feb. 20). With these cars, the manufacturers deliberately pander to drivers who want to roar and howl when they accelerate, who leave a half-mile rip of sound across the night.
I have written twice to The Star about this. I have pointed out that the way these cars and trucks are driven breaks speeding laws, laws against noise pollution, and laws against disturbing the peace. It is deliberate: Many cars are modified to increase the decibels.
Stories have run in New York City media about homeowners with their windows open or trying to sit outside who are “terrorized” and “tormented” by these vicious drivers. And who complain that the police do nothing. I sent both letters to East Hampton Police Chief Michael Sarlo, who talks much about community policing. Nothing done. Need to shake things up.
I asked, urged, begged the East Hampton police to bring some protection to those who live within a quarter- mile of the corner of Stephen Hand’s Path and Route 114, where in all directions from the light — but especially on Route 114 — there are straight stretches where these pitiful macho-seekers gun it.
All it would take is a few weeks of monitoring the corner, just as the police (occasionally) monitor streets for speeding. The word would get around that if you ride through East Hampton like desperados who used to shoot up Old West towns, you will get a ticket. Police should be aware of illegal modifications of cars.
As I pointed out, there is legislation in the works to force the police to deal with this, and big fines for illegal modifications of cars.
Those East Hampton residents who don’t reside near a corner made hellish by these pathetic little thrill-seekers might consider that violations like this test our civility. If our desire for reasonable quiet is thrown in our faces, and nothing is done there, that is a message.
It is that our standards of minimal civility for our town are old and out. There will be a new culture of pseudo-tough defiance of norms for peace, consideration, co-existence. And then incivility will not be on the road only. (Through the pandemic, I observed young men treating the mask requirement as a joke.)
I hope that The Star, in its classic journalistic fashion, can be the public conscience that finally goads politicians and police to act. A reporter at the corner of Stephen Hand’s Path and Route 114 with a decibel meter ($20, or professional grade, $40) could create some buzz about the noise pollution rodeo. Might take a few stories and editorials.
My family doesn’t like to keep our windows shut all summer and sit outside only to listen to the drivers roar out that this is East Hampton no more.
June 1, 2021
To the Editor:
We used to entertain our friends by explaining that our mailing address has a Sag Harbor ZIP code but is actually in the Town of East Hampton, the Wainscott School District, the Sag Harbor Fire District, and that our address on Merchants Path had a corresponding address on Slough Highway and a different previous number on Merchants Path, and oh, that there is another Merchants Path two miles south of us in Sagaponack that was previously part of East Hampton.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
Our home, on the Merchants Path that is opposite Swamp Road, is just under a half-mile northwest of the E1 turning point for the Echo Route for helicopter traffic to and from East Hampton Airport and just under a mile east of the N3 turning point for the November Route. The ironic consequence is that the helicopter “noise abatement routes” have concentrated nearly all of the helicopter traffic just slightly above our heads. I understand that the objective was to route these flights over the least-populated areas, but I also imagine you can appreciate how we feel like collateral damage from that well-meaning effort.
For the first 10 years we lived here, the noise from the occasional helicopter was an easy tradeoff for the privilege of living in one of the least-populated areas on the East End. During the last 10 years, the noise from these helicopters has steadily increased to the point that it is unbearable. Whatever statistics planenoise.com has recorded cannot possibly measure the impact on my neighborhood.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I tried to register complaints each time a helicopter has interrupted our “domestic tranquillity,” but it has been impossible to log complaints for even half of them. As the frequency of the disruptions from helicopters increases, the time spent to log noise complaints has stolen more and more time away from our lives with no evidence of any benefit from having done so. I can’t keep up, but I imagine many others have given up.
I would like to believe that a compromise could be reached. We’ve seldom been troubled by propeller planes or even jets. If helicopter traffic could be distributed more equitably over the homes of the other good citizens of East Hampton and regulated by law to maintain some minimum altitude and speed until within a mile of the airport, our lives might once again be tolerable. Unfortunately, I see little evidence that suggests this would work. The commercial helicopter firms who travel to KTHO are obviously aware of the controversy stemming from their operations and the risk that the airport shuts down. And yet, apart from mostly, roughly following these “noise abatement routes,” I see no willingness on their part to reduce their impact. This suggests to me that the minimal action that could have a positive impact on our lives would be banning commercial helicopter traffic from KTHO.
Valid arguments have been advanced to justify the complete shutdown of the airport ranging from pollution to more equitable use of the land. It may very well be that this is the most effective approach, but I don’t want to be selfish.
Could Be Spared
East Hampton Village
May 31, 2021
To the Editor:
A very prominent ad in a rather threatening graphic style in your current issue claims that if East Hampton Airport is closed to commercial helicopter traffic that all of them will be rerouted to the Montauk Airport, rather like an invasion of locusts. However, a quick check on Google Maps showed that my own instinct on this is correct.
For a helicopter to land at East Hampton Airport it must, of geographical necessity, fly over inhabited residential areas. Montauk Airport, on the other hand, is located parallel to Block Island Sound on the north with essentially no residential and hardly any commercial structures between the runway and the sound.
There may well be restrictions of which I am unaware, but I see no reason that a helicopter leaving New York City that made its way as directly as feasible to the South Shore of Long Island and then flew parallel to the coast but offshore to just past the Lighthouse, turned 180 degrees in the vicinity of the Lighthouse, and could then land at the Montauk Airport without having overflown any eastern Long Island residential property.
With some careful planning Montauk could be spared the agony to which East Hampton is inevitably subject as long as helicopters are allowed to land at its airport. This is not a problem without a solution. I think any additional fuel costs could be covered by a raise in the ticket prices.
High Housing Costs
June 6, 2021
During the last year, I have spent between half and two-thirds of my time on the East End of Long Island, and have kept my eyes and ears open about issues people in those communities face. To me, the biggest issue is the absence of affordable housing.
Because so few of the people who work in East End businesses can afford to live there, especially with the astronomical home prices and rents charged during the pandemic, area workers have to suffer long, dehumanizing commutes. Huge traffic jams are a daily part of life every weekday, and local business owners, especially in restaurants, suffer from a crippling labor shortage.
Having seen the traffic jams on Route 27 between 6 and 10 a.m. coming in and between 2 and 6 p.m., the vast majority of those caught in them being essential workers, I have been astonished by the stress this must put on tens of thousands of people who have three or four-hour commutes to get to and from work. What these working people are going through is cruel and unusual punishment.
But it is not only workers who suffer, it is area business owners. Today I spoke to Scott Rubenstein, who manages a tennis club, restaurant, and arcade in East Hampton and who finds it incredibly difficult to staff the enterprises he runs because so few entry-level workers can afford to live in the area.
His response to the staffing shortage was to propose to transform one of the buildings on his property from commercial to residential so he could create six apartments that provide housing for people who work for him at rents they can afford. Unfortunately, some people on the town board are standing in his way.
This is unconscionable! If the town itself can’t construct enough affordable housing to reduce the terrible traffic jams that East End workers have to endure and address the local labor shortage, they should support local employers who wish to make such housing available on their own properties.
Right now, the burden placed by high housing costs on the East End on workers and business owners is far too high. It is time to make affordable housing in East End communities a matter of the highest priority and encourage innovation by business owners, which would expand the supply of that precious commodity.
June 7, 2021
To the Editor:
The town board has recently made the decision to purchase the Avalon Motel on Fort Pond, Montauk. This action has come at the most inopportune time when employee housing is at its most critical state. Purchased with community preservation fund funds, this could have been deferred until alternate housing can be identified, or at least operate the property through the season.
Those of us that have been around for the Rose Study 20 years ago, whereby the report had indicated a serious shortage of worker housing facilities, can see that nothing has been done of any consequence to address this issue. It does, in fact, place the working class at a severe disadvantage.
Homeowners, whether primary or second, demand services that have become more difficult to satisfy as a result. The planned elimination of the Avalon, in my opinion, can be viewed as simply racist since it adversely affects the minority working community.
Mr. Walles is a candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor. Ed.
Bonacker Never Was
June 7, 2021
I hope that my East Hampton relatives were as surprised as I was on Saturday afternoon when Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc ended his portion of the debate sponsored by the Group for Good Government. We heard him sign off with the claim of his descent or relationship to the East Hampton Van Scoy family, 18th-century settlers on a farm in Northwest. Nowhere in Jeannette Edwards Rattray’s volume of our local families is such a relationship to be found.
Peter Van Scoyoc hails from Virginia, not Long Island, a fact he told me himself years ago. He may claim to be a Bonacker in this election year, but he never was, or is, or will ever be a bona fide Bonacker.
Sorry, Peter, but it takes generations, history, and a lot of clams to be what you falsely claim to be.
Ethics Above All Else
June 6, 2021
Words from the Demi Lovato song have come to mind when I read your editorial in this week’s Star:
“Gambling with my soul
It’s so hard to say no
When you’re dancing
with the devil. . . .”
I watched the town board meeting you wrote about in your editorial with much chagrin (June 3). The flare-up among the attack-dog members of the town board, Sylvia Overby and David Lys, against Councilman Bragman is probably a reason for them to gain the favor of the supervisor and is truly astonishing in our small-town government. The tone of the meetings is set by the supervisor and by doing his bidding many favors are probably gained by the two councilmen for attacking Jeff Bragman. They are the ones safe in their town board seats and not running on the ballot. So, this behavior is truly disgusting and these councilmen are “dancing with the devil” in doing so.
How else could Sylvia Overby spend five months in Florida on the taxpayers’ dollars during the height of the pandemic in East Hampton? Only with the approval of the supervisor. How else could each councilman invite a spouse or boyfriend to the Bon Jovi concert unless the leadership approved of it? I couldn’t afford the price of such a ticket — $1,400 or $1,600 — and I don’t know anyone in this town who can.
So, under the pretense of giving Jon Bon Jovi a proclamation by the town board, everyone went for the full experience except Jeff Bragman, Jeff Bragman who left without drinking the “top shelf” liquor (only three glasses of wine, according to Sylvia Overby; two according to him), eating a gourmet dinner, and listening to the hour-and-a-half concert.
The only councilman to feel that ethics counts is Jeff Bragman. East Hampton voters should care on Democratic primary day — June 22 — and vote for ethics over the bullying style of Peter Van Scoyoc. Leadership counts (unlike the theme of the Democratic committee that claims “Leadership Unites!”).
Democrats should vote for Jeff Bragman for supervisor in the Democtaric primary on June 22, and second-home owners should send in their absentee ballot with a vote for ethics above all else, if they can’t vote in person.
Voting in person starts early, on Saturday, at Windmill Village, 219 Accabonac Road, East Hampton.
I won’t dance with the devil in this town, and no Democrat should either. Jeff Bragman has my vote! Ethics and honesty count in politics.
June 7, 2021
Suggestion to the East Hampton Town Board: If you’re going to attend a high-profile charity event, just pay for your ticket like all the other people.
Deserves Our Support
June 7, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I assume you’re usually in agreement with anything I write to The Star, because you’ve never contradicted any of the 110,000 words I’ve sent (with the exception of suggesting that I send fewer words) Fine. But now I must fully disagree with your recent editorial condemning “Conduct Unbecoming a Town Board.” With its focus entirely on personality issues, internal squabbles, and possible conflicts of interest with regard to a concert fund-raiser at the Clubhouse, your opinion piece effectively reduces disagreements and conflicts among town board members to some version of schoolyard bullying. And, at that level, entirely ignores the frequently abrasive, self-righteous manner in which Councilman Bragman conducts himself among his fellow board members.
I fully support Peter Van Scoyoc for re-election to town supervisor. I also fully support the remarkable, indefatigable Kathee Burke-Gonzalez for re-election to the town board, as well as Cate Rogers, chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Party, for the board seat being vacated by Mr. Bragman.
Have a look at the accomplishments of the current board on the Democrats’ website, ehdems.com. From affordable housing initiatives to environmental activism; preservation of hundreds of acres of open land to achieving the highest credit rating in East Hampton town history, providing a home for the East Hampton Food Pantry, expanding transportation services for veterans, and, crucially, providing the town with clear, smart social protocols throughout the pandemic: It’s an incredibly long list of accomplishments the great majority of which were achieved without fanfare or rancor.
Every committee has its personality issues, Mr. Rattray, particularly in times of inflammatory national conflict, an unprecedented worldwide health crisis, and a devastating economic downturn such as our great nation has and continues to go through. This team of Democrats deserves our support and appreciation for staying focused on the needs of our community, and it deserves our vote in the June 22 primary. Don’t sit this one out, neighbors.
June 7, 2021
I support Jeff Bragman for supervisor because of his candor, clarity, and integrity. As a local environmental and land-use attorney for more than three decades, Bragman is the most qualified candidate. In the aftermath of the Duryea’s restaurant fiasco, we need a transparent leader who will never cut shady backroom deals with billionaires.
Bragman was also the sole member of the town board who complied with the $75 limit on gifts in our town ethics code by not accepting a lavish hospitality gift from a business the board regulates. I applaud Bragman for his refreshing honesty and transparency in keeping the people of East Hampton informed about the inner workings of town government. I hope Democrats recognize substance when they see it.
June 2, 2021
Let me start by saying I’m a Democrat through and through. And, without doubt, there are a number of successes that current town board members can cite with justifiable pride. Notably, the town as a whole has navigated the Covid-19 pandemic in an admirable way.
And yet we have suffered an unfortunate division in our local Democratic Party. Jeff Bragman is a talented and capable public official. We’ve all been fortunate to have him serving the town. Even those who don’t agree with him on one issue or another have to acknowledge that Jeff listens before he speaks, seeks solutions that balance competing interests, and conducts public business with intelligence, integrity, and professionalism.
So why was Jeff hung out to dry by the local party? The answer is obvious if you watch the board at work. Jeff doesn’t go along to get along. He raised reasonable questions about issue after issue, and the town benefited. Whether or not you like Duryea’s as it now is (I do), how the situation was handled was not a shining example of professionalism. Whether or not you wanted a new shellfish hatchery hastily built (I didn’t), that process wasn’t a showpiece either.
I like Peter Van Scoyoc and I don’t want to attack his character or minimize his achievements. But Jeff Bragman is a better choice to lead the town forward as supervisor. East Hampton is already a great place to live and to enjoy. Let’s keep it great, and make it even better.
May 31, 2021
The East Hampton Democratic Committee mailed out a picture postcard endorsing their trustee candidates as received by my democratic neighbors (I must have been taken off their Democratic mailing list). In that postcard photo were eight Democrats and one Republican, James Grimes. On another page in The Star is a newspaper ad stating, “We’re The Democrats!” Surely the Democratic Committee has lost their way in East Hampton and become the party of deception. I guess power corrupts!
In the newspaper, along with that Democratic Committee ad of “We’re The Democrats” is a photo of the Republican fund-raiser at the Clubhouse with longtime Republican, James Grimes, standing strong with his Republican Party. Yet the Democrats have endorsed this Republican, James Grimes, to run on their Democratic Party line for trustee and not endorsed a six-year incumbent Democrat, Trustee Rick Drew. Are they trying to pull a fast one on the Democrats and second-home owners who vote in this town? Is the East Hampton Democratic Committee’s power all-knowing that they can do whatever they like in order to get Democrats to vote for whomever the committee chooses, including a strong lifelong Republican? What are their explanations, if there are any?
Democrats, don’t fall for deceptive ads and become part of the deception promulgated by the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Vote for the true Democrats!
Vote for Rick Drew, a longtime, six-year Democratic trustee; Jeff Bragman, a longtime Democratic councilman, and John Whelan, a longtime Democrat and head of the zoning board of appeals. They are the actual Democrats you should vote into office. Early voting begins Saturday — or vote on June 22 — for the Democratic primary. My Democratic friends, don’t be fooled by these false ads.
June 6, 2021
The solemn obligation of all our elected officials is to improve the lives of the governed. By that measure Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is the clear choice for councilwoman in the upcoming Democratic primary.
Eighteen years ago when Kathee’s son started kindergarten we attended school board meetings together. Not one to sit on the sidelines, she ran for the Springs School Board the following spring and served for nine years, the last two years as its president. She then stepped up in 2013 and again in 2017 to serve on the East Hampton Town Board.
As a working mom and a former caregiver for her aging parents, Kathee knows firsthand how critical it is that we prioritize the needs of our children, our senior citizens, and our working families.
In March of 2020, when the town was forced to close the East Hampton Senior Center due to Covid, the Human Services Department quickly pivoted to preparing and delivering frozen meals to any resident 60 years or older in an effort to keep our seniors home and safe. The town normally serves about 18,000 lunches a year at the center. Under Kathee’s leadership in the first 12 months of Covid, they prepared and delivered over 67,000 meals. Currently, a few hundred seniors are receiving five frozen meals, fresh fruit, and oatmeal each week from our senior nutrition program.
Even before the global pandemic, there was a mental health crisis in our community. In 2018 Kathee formed the adolescent mental health and substance use task force. Five local school districts, three police agencies, Family Service League, Phoenix House, and many of the not-for-profits in the Town of East Hampton that work with children and families participated.
A public access station show entitled “Honest Conversations,” on which Kathee and the East Hampton High School principal interviewed experts in the field of anxiety, depression, under-age drinking, vaping, bullying, and dating violence, was one of the efforts of that task force. The goal was to educate parents and start a community-wide conversation. They filmed 11 episodes that are still being aired today.
Ms. Burke-Gonzalez has more than earned another term on the town board. The people of East Hampton deserve more of her compassionate leadership.
The Democratic primary is June 22. Early voting starts Saturday.
June 6, 2021
The Democratic Primary is coming up soon and I want to share with your readers why Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez has my vote.
During Kathee’s eight years of public service, the town board has not only balanced every budget (earning a AAA bond rating from Moody’s) but it has developed a socially responsible one. As the liaison to Human Services for the last eight years, Kathee has accomplished much to enrich our town that supports our children and our seniors.
Kathee helped expand mental health services for adolescents and has spearheaded programs to educate our high school students about suicide awareness. She has worked to expand free health and wellness programs for our seniors and she just recently announced that a contract has been signed for seven wooded acres in Amagansett to house a new, larger senior center. And in this year’s budget, she increased funding for Meals on Wheels, the Springs Food Pantry, Project Most, and the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center.
We are incredibly fortunate to have a leader so dedicated to the social and emotional welfare of those she serves, which is why I am proud to vote for Kathee in the Democratic primary on June 22. And I hope that she will receive your support as well.
June 6, 2021
To the Editor,
In choosing the Democratic slate for November, the Democratic committee passed over incumbent Trustee Rick Drew, an individual they had enthusiastically endorsed in three prior elections. Why the change of heart?
The reasons are no secret. Rick investigated and express concerns about the original Deepwater Wind project, including the amount of money offered the town and trustees. That rattled the powers that be who were gung-ho about the project from day one. But because of Rick’s persistence, the town and trustees will now receive millions more. Rick’s efforts also ensured our beaches and marine environment will be protected from unintended consequences of the wind farm’s construction and operation.
Rick considered being cross-endorsed by the Republican Party. That did not sit well either, which is odd because Trustee Jim Grimes is a Republican cross-endorsed by the Democrats. So where is the problem with cross-endorsement? Obviously, In Rick’s case, it was regarded as a show of disloyalty.
The Democratic Party in East Hampton strongly resembles the Republicans in Congress. You are either in lockstep or you are unwelcome. Liz Cheney found that out.
When it came time to vote for the trustee slate, it appears the district representatives had been advised as to who to vote for. And, according to Betty Mazur, the rules for voting were changed at the last minute to expedite the predetermined outcome. Everyone did as they were told. Three-term Trustee Rick Drew was replaced by David Cataletto. Other than inexperience, no fault can be found with Mr. Cataletto.
Speaking of inexperience. Would it be wise for the November election to result in four inexperienced trustees on the board? Tim Garneau, Mike Martinsen, and Ben Dollinger were sworn in, in January 2020. They had no experience, and despite good intentions, probably did not have much of an opportunity to learn the ropes due to pandemic limitations. Having four inexperienced trustees would likely put a burden on the other five who would have to do most of the work while also serving as mentors.
The Democratic committee’s message is clear: Unquestioning allegiance to the party is the paramount requirement. Those who have a backbone, think for themselves, and express differing opinions, as Rick has done, are not welcome, even when they have been proven right. That’s an unfortunate attitude for any party.
The primary will be a chance for voters to send their own message by basing their votes on the merits of the candidates, not on the dictates of a committee that has shown intolerance for dissent, lack of wisdom, and a determination to place total control in the hands of just a few whose judgement is questionable.
Rick Drew is a trusted, experienced, qualified, hard-working three-term incumbent. He is not a yes man. He is someone who acts independently, takes time to investigate issues, is willing to disagree with higher-ups, and will speak out in support of what he believes is right. He can also be a strong team player. He has a lifelong connection to our local waters and is dedicated to protecting them and marine life. Rick is looking at the future with the understanding that coastal communities will be faced with problems arising from climate change. He believes there must be a planned process in place to deal with these eventualities.
The Democratic committee chose to ignore Rick’s excellent track record and qualifications, which they had supported three times before. His name will appear on the Democratic line for trustee in November. Rick is the wise choice. He has been, and with your votes will continue to be, the kind of trustee East Hampton needs.
June 6, 2021
As a former resident of East Hampton who still follows East Hampton news, I must write in and express my upmost support for Susan McGraw Keber for re-election for town trustee. Susan’s passion for the people and the land of East Hampton are endless. As someone who has known Susan personally for over 35 years, I can attest to her fortitude and her willingness to work 200 percent. Her dedication, intelligence, and her drive are just a few of her many qualifications that make her unequivocally the best candidate for town trustee.
She is someone who is constantly learning and fighting for the people of East Hampton and helping to maintain its bucolic way of life. She is working hard to make not only East Hampton better, but that of future generations to come! She exemplifies resilience and perseverance, and some of the programs that she has helped to initiate, from banning helium gas balloons and educating the public schools about their pollution, to establishing an Accabonac Harbor mosquito larvae program and serving on the water quality technical advisory committee, are just a few of the successes she has helped to achieve in her time as town trustee.
Susan McGraw Keber is truly an inspirational woman who deserves to be re-elected, as she exemplifies the resilience and drive that make her an outstanding candidate for re-election for East Hampton Town trustee for 2021!
Proud to Vote
June 7, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I’m writing in support of a hard-working candidate who deserves our vote: Susan McGraw Keber has exceeded my expectations of what a town trustee should be.
She is dedicated and gives so much to the various committees on which she serves. I will be proud to vote for Susan McGraw Keber’s re-election to represent us as an East Hampton Town trustee.
Voters can check the East Hampton Dems website to learn the specifics of how much this individual has given to us. There is so much good work worthy of our applause and thanks.
Hoping terms for the trustees become longer than two years so this devoted public servant with so much integrity can continue to serve without having to pause her good work to run for the office.
Susan McGraw Keber is full of passion for what she does and I am so happy to cast my vote for her this weekend during early voting (Saturday to June 22).
Drivers Not Prosecuted
June 6, 2021
The Town of Oyster Bay’s new law allowing the seizure and selling of food trucks for merely violating relatively unimportant regulations is way too draconian. Councilman Louis Imbroto said current fines don’t stop violators, but I say the cure for that is simply tripling or quadrupling the fines — or starting at $1,000 for first offenses, and doubling the fine for any and every subsequent offense. Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s claim that there was an “urgency” to pass it to protect “quality of life” is clearly a huge exaggeration. However, the Nassau County Human Rights Commission’s chairman, Bobby Kalotee, is right when he says the law is too extreme since “When there’s a traffic violation, they don’t seize your car and sell it.”
But I say the town, county, state, and nation should be seizing and selling the vehicles recklessly driven in violation of important, lifesaving traffic safety laws (i.e., speeding, drunk and distracted driving, etc.). And I say begin with the vehicles of the 115 Long Island drivers not prosecuted by irresponsible Nassau and Suffolk County district attorneys despite those drivers having killed 115 pedestrians and cyclists in 2019-20.
In Federal Court
May 31, 2021
Some of you know me, and some know of me. Or not. I’m a retired criminal defense attorney and Marine Vietnam combat veteran. I have hosted a local TV show called “Gung Ho” for many years, mostly about corruption and misconduct in our so-called revered institutions. Currently I’m airing, indefinitely, a show about William Cuthbert’s fight for justice.
At the moment I’m involved in three cases. One, a wrongful conviction for murder, the second about an ongoing criminal conspiracy to cover up systemic corruption in the federal criminal justice system and beyond. The third is a case now pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that began in our town on Jan. 23, 2014 as State v. William Cuthbert. I was trial counsel in East Hampton Town Justice Court. I hope some of you remember his case.
In 2014, William, after a minor fender-bender, was wrongfully taken into custody. While handcuffed to the rear, he was assaulted by Police Officers Frank Trotta and Barry Johnson. During the assault he was held face down, handcuffed to the rear, and Officer Johnson kneeled on his back and pushed the handcuffs towards William’s head. He was arrested for disorderly conduct, harassment, and resisting. Officer Trotta drafted and signed the three criminal informations filed against William. The gist, according to Officer Trotta, was that William was arrested for cursing at him. Do we all understand in America cursing at a police officer is not illegal?
Then, based on what Officer Trotta said, William was zealously prosecuted and defended in court. His prior counsel, Patrick Gunn, moved several times to have the case dismissed because William was not charged with any unlawful conduct under our laws. And counsel was right all along. However, being right had no effect on Justice Steven Tekulsky’s mind-set.
I substituted for Mr. Gunn and tried the case before a jury in front of Justice Tekulsky. Several times I argued to dismiss the case based on prior counsel’s arguments that William Cuthbert had committed no crimes or criminal offenses, meaning he was innocent from the git-go. Being innocent means you are not guilty.
Even so the jury found Mr. Cuthbert guilty of disorderly conduct, not guilty of harassment, but guilty of resisting arrest. Please keep in mind that the charge of disorderly conduct rises or falls based on Officer Trotta’s claim that William cursed at him. In America, cursing is not a crime, even at police officers.
William appealed his convictions and the Appellate Court reversed and dismissed the case saying that the disorderly conduct charge was facially, meaning factually, insufficient, and the resisting charge was dismissed. Four years had gone by.
In 2017 Mr. Cuthbert filed a pro se civil rights case against the Town of East Hampton and Police Officers Johnson and Trotta in the Eastern District of New York at Islip. The town, as they always do, hired an outside firm, Sokoloff Stern of Carle Place, to stop his case. The attorney from the firm, Mark Radi, has gone so far as to say that Mr. Cuthbert “beat the charges on a jurisdictional technicality” and moved to dismiss William’s civil rights case. In 2020 federal District Court Judge Joanna Seybert agreed and dismissed the case.
The judge’s decision means that you can be arrested for nothing. You can be prosecuted for nothing. You can be tried for nothing. You can be found guilty for nothing — and lose for winning in the State Appellate Court. And get this: All of this was done without William ever making an appearance in federal court. Going pro se means you’re representing yourself. However, William had limited pro bono counsel, Frederic M. Oberlander, to oppose only the dismissal of his case. Mr. Oberlander is a highly respected civil attorney and in opposing the motion to dismiss showed Judge Seybert she was wrong on the law. That resulted in a major fail, meaning an American can be railroaded through the state criminal justice system with the federal civil system going along with it. William, pro se again, meaning without an attorney, filed an appeal challenging the district court’s decision to dismiss his case. His brief is due on July 30.
June 6, 2021
Spring-cleaning is deciding what’s irrelevant vs. relevant. Many Republicans have greatly lost their relevance to the population of the United States of America.
Political professionals up to now were mostly interested in public service, coupled with some fame and fortune as compensation. Many politicians today have let the fame and fortune become their major focus of attention.
The Republican Party has recently turned almost totally away from public service — to focus on its own personal gain and survival. They are desperately clinging to their official positions, hoping to continue access to the riches showered upon them by taxpayers, lobbyists, and wealthy political donors.
The irony is that they fear losing relevance if they lose party approval — and their jobs. But, by clinging to false narratives and duplicitous leaders, they are actually becoming irrelevant to the nation’s population.
A few have chosen truth and service to others, such as Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, and Liz Cheney. Yes, they suffered the excoriation of their party leaders and apparently are now irrelevant to those “loyalists” who band together in support of falsehoods, evil obstruction, and blind loyalty. In reality, these few courageous politicians have actually become far more relevant to the population at large than to their small band of angry associates.
Locally, we still have a dyed-in-the-wool Trump sycophant and insurrection-denier representing us in the House of Representatives. Lee Zeldin remains desperately loyal to party falsehoods and dangerous misinformation.
Zeldin has done little good for Suffolk County other than some token gestures for our veterans. Blind allegiance to the deposed would-be tyrant, and his continuing support of boldface lies, is causing serious damage to this country, which our noble veterans fought to defend.
It’s time to face reality and get to work repairing this country. Let’s do some much-needed spring-cleaning and rid our house of fools, debris, and rodents.
From a Basement
June 7, 2021
Have you noticed that no one who supported Joe Biden, nor Dementia Joe himself, ever brings up the 81 million votes? Not even Pelosi.
First time in American history a candidate campaigned a few days a week, from a basement and, when in public, couldn’t fill a used car lot.
June 7, 2021
Rand Paul did a great job on his questioning of Dr. Fauci; perhaps he should have drilled him harder. This so-called doctor has duped the American people, lied over and over again, covered up his lies, and now got caught in his cover-up. President Donald Trump wanted to haul Anthony Fauci in front of a presidential commission to give evidence about funding the Wuhan laboratory suspected of leaking Covid-19. Plans were made to hold China and its collaborators accountable and tally a reparations bill to fire off to Beijing. Trump’s advisers talked him out of it for other reasons. That’s a shame; 600,000 Americans died thanks to Fauci and China, Hunter Biden’s employer.
Fauci is allegedly to be held responsible for sending American money for said research to Wuhan. This is outrage, and Fauci should be fired and possibly arrested. This man lied, flip-flopped, and reversed his own statements all this [time] to the American people — hold him responsible.
To the writer who can’t think for himself, makes up garbage, calling Trump followers “a cult,” get a brain please. I am a Trump supporter to a certain extent, and I resent the garbage you wrote, re: Membership is composed of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Klansmen, Klanswomen, wackos, etc., etc. Should you choose to call someone a liar, please look straight at the Bidens.
I’m a true patriot, born and raised in the American way; people like you should find a country that will make you and your ideas happy.
In God and country,
We Choose Ignorance
June 6, 2021
With the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre it seems appropriate to triangulate the event with the Black Lives Matter movement and the new American craze of “white supremacy.” What happened in Tulsa was pretty normal for the times. Not much publicity, no protest, or government consternation. It faded pretty quickly. The governor of Oklahoma’s reaction to all the current publicity was to ban the teaching of historical events that might disturb and trouble young people. Clean, healthy history.
That gesture is sufficient to end all further conversation about race in America. This level of retarded buffoonery and ignorance says it all. (While using the term retarded is a no-no I think that learned or acquired retardation, which is neither a physical or mental disability, has a definite place in this discourse)
Fortunately for the Tulsa massacre event some of the B.L.M. leaders come to the rescue. While B.L.M. is straight upfront, lets deal with racism. Some of its leaders are a bit disturbed. One of them actually claimed to be a Marxist, which is the dumbest crap I’ve ever heard, given that there are about 24 practicing Marxists, mostly in France, left in the world. Marxism died when Leon Trotsky got an ice pick in the head about 100 years ago. One of the 24 remaining Marxists is my nephew Christophe who used to be a fascist and really wants to be a wealthy capitalist. So I know almost 5 percent of the world’s Marxists and we don’t have to worry that they have infiltrated B.L.M.
As for “white supremacy” it boggles the mind that we are only talking about this now. Most of the world ended the conversation 80 years ago when colonialism and imperialism were falling out of favor. White supremacy is like white bread, peanut butter, and jelly, before peanuts turned toxic, it’s just life in the real world.
In the land of historical ignorance it isn’t possible to say that dominance by one group over another has always been the norm? Internalizing this kind of interaction leads to the creation of systems that support it. Before America we had castes, classes, races, etc., all of which represented privilege as a stark reality. That we have come to the question of privilege so late in our history is like learning about sex in our late 70s. We make a choice between knowledge and ignorance. Like the governor of Oklahoma we choose ignorance.
White privilege is still alive and well in much of the world. Being spawned from England, we could look at English history and see how they dealt with Native Americans, Indians, Chinese, Asians, Arabs, and the Irish. Never discriminated. Treated them all as inferiors, like shit, based on white or “whiter” superiority.
So, we react as we usually do when issues are difficult or painful or too negative to face. We manufacture some gross fabrication and divert and distort reality. Does anyone remember the Vietnam War? Page 345 in U.S. history junior level high school textbook. A war that we can’t glorify and make up heroes. A war that killed a million and destroyed a country and demolished out soldiers and our social compact and there’s barely a bloody word in our textbooks — 55,000 dead, 125,000 suicides, and hundreds of thousands who still suffer from P.T.S.D. if they are still alive.
History is all we’ve got to stop us from sucking permanently. When we deny it, rewrite it, and pretend it never happened we give up our souls. So when Matt Gaetz tells us that the Second Amendment is about arming people to overthrow the government he is greeted with applause.
Because we never dealt with Tulsa, we never dealt with or thought about the ramifications, the long-term effects on people who lost everything if not their lives, the generations who experienced the massacre and never quite left it behind, the mental and emotional scars, like our soldiers after Vietnam that never healed because they were never treated, the harsh inhumanity of our racism, which we would deny except for the burning bodies and the broken minds.
All these issues: White supremacy, the Tulsa massacre and B.L.M. deserve, at least, a conversation. Are we not capable of having that discussion?