Our Town Pond
May 28, 2021
We are writing to tell you all we learned about the work on Town Pond. We are in second grade at the John M. Marshall Elementary School in Mrs. Eberhart’s class. We learned that Town Pond was built in June 1653. It was a man-made pond used to water the cattle. Many animals began to build homes in, on, and around the pond. Some of the animals were swans, fish, turtles, and frogs. In the winter kids love to go ice-skating on our pond.
Sadly we learned that people dumped their animals in the pond. These animals are called invasive animals. The invasive animals fought the native animals, ate their food, and bit the swans. On our walking field trip to Town Pond, Mr. Cullum showed us a lot of trash from the pond. Some of it was water bottles, wrappers, and bags. Some was trash from long ago. We saw an old clock, a glass milk bottle from the deli near our school, a glass 7-Up bottle from long ago, a wagon wheel, an old iron that does not use electricity to heat up, and a piece to an old-fashioned Jeep.
A third thing we learned was there was a lot of sludge in the pond. This had a lot of leaves, sticks, and mud in it. This was not good for the pond for two reasons. The first was that there was a lot of sludge and not a lot of water. So the snapping turtles were close to the surface and snapped at the swans. The swans did not like that so they found a new home. The second reason is that the sludge was hot and it didn’t let the pond freeze quickly when it was cold.
We learned many good things about the pond being dredged. The first thing we learned was that the sludge was not toxic or polluted so it would be used to grow plants. This is called reusing materials; this is good for our environment. Another fact we learned was they found new homes for the invasive animals so the native animals can have their food and a healthy pond. A fun fact is that now that the pond has a little muck and a lot of water it will freeze faster and we can go ice-skating, yippie!
Now that the pond is clean we would like to keep it healthy and clean. We did a video conference with the East Hampton Village Board. We told them some ideas we had to keep our Town Pond a great place to visit the animals and have a picnic. One thing we hope to see is garbage cans for the trash. We also hope they put up a sign to tell people to not dump their animals, like turtles or fish, maybe even have a phone number or an email to call to help them find a place for these animals so they can live in a healthy place.
Thank you for listening to us.
Banish These Balloons
May 31, 2021
From spring into winter, I walk the Promised Land beach and retrieve the remains of party balloons. By the time of the March storms, the Mylar and latex have mostly shredded (and, unfortunately, found their way into the chemistry of Gardiner’s Bay and its creatures). But the curling ribbons attached to the balloons never leave. They wrap around plastics, seaweed, and flotsam like wire. I have read that their bright colors, which don’t fade, attract the birds. I’ve struggled to untangle the ribbons, pull them out of the sand, and chase the fragments blowing in the wind. Often I’ve wished for young people to rally against the mindless ritual of releasing balloons that bring momentary fun but long-lasting toxic litter.
I was thrilled to read that East Hampton students, supported by Trustee Susan McGraw Keber, are working to banish these balloons from our town’s beaches. Please add their indestructible party ribbons to the ban, too.
Minimum Three Feet
May 25, 2021
To the Editor:
Drivers on our local roads may not be aware of a new law in effect in Suffolk County that requires drivers to give a minimum of three feet of distance when they are passing a person on a bicycle.
Here’s the text of the law:
“The operator of a vehicle which is overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of the road shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a distance of at least three (3) feet until safely clear thereof.”
The law also provides that it does not apply on roads with clearly marked bicycle lanes.
Three-foot passing laws are widespread in the U.S.; 33 states and the District of Columbia have them in place. In addition, Pennsylvania requires four feet, and South Dakota requires six feet on roads with a posted speed limit over 35 miles per hour.
I find that the vast majority of drivers on the South Fork are careful and considerate when they pass me as I’m riding my bike and give me plenty of room. I have, however, had some very close calls.
Hopefully, this new law will reinforce the need to safely share our roads with all vehicles.
May 30, 2021
If the definition of antiquated in a restaurant means crisp, responsive, and reliable service, then the legacy of Cafe Max must be celebrated.
In his review of Cove Hollow Tavern (May 27), Kurt Wenzel mentioned desultory service, 15-minute wait time, and missing cutlery. A good restaurant experience begins with a knowledgeable and well-trained kitchen, which is the business at the back of the house. However, there has to be more to the experience to consistently draw a following, which is the job of the front of the house. Both have to be professionally supervised.
The menu at Cafe Max was never overpriced, and neither was his wine cellar. Max offered classic entrees, well prepared and served by a pleasant and orchestrated staff in comfortable upscale surroundings for a fair price.
And oh, what a distant memory that is.
May 27, 2021
To the Editor,
Just reading this leaves me heartbroken. “Hampton Chutney Co. Squeezed Out of Square:” “We were shocked, horrified. I have a New York City restaurant, and these are New York City level rents they’re charging.”
“Gucci Says East Hampton Shop Is Here for Good:”
“A line of handbags and totes designed to reflect the East Hampton aesthetic will be sold exclusively at the Newtown Lane shop.”
Is this the new East Hampton aesthetic? The new rents?
Feeling of Community
May 31, 2021
To the Editor:
Last Friday in the early afternoon, I dropped by Amagansett Square to pick up a dosa I’d ordered from Hampton Chutney. It was a glorious, sunny afternoon, and it seemed like everyone was in a celebratory mood, rejoicing after a long, bleak winter. I remarked to myself that the locus of the good cheer was concentrated in a small radius around Hampton Chutney, on the nearby lawn and picnic tables. There was a feeling of community that had noticeably blossomed in Amagansett since Randy Lerner had purchased the square and had overseen its transformation from mini-outlet mall to a tasteful aggregation of shops and a yoga studio. Hampton Chutney, offering healthy, delicious, affordable food, served with grace and extremely good spirit, has become the center of that nascent community.
So it was with great sadness that I read the front page piece in this week’s Star about Hampton Chutney’s imminent departure from the square, of its being forced, quite possibly, to leave Amagansett because its rent was being nearly tripled. Of course I don’t know the full story. I haven’t talked with the owner of the square, Randy Lerner, or his manager. But I do know that Amagansett is one of the very few places on the East End, along with Sag Harbor, that can boast of an improvement in its quality of life. At least it hasn’t become, as other nearby communities have, a high-end mall. Not yet.
I’d like to hear Randy Lerner’s side of the story. As I say, I don’t know much about him — only what I’ve learned from reading his Wikipedia entry: That his personal fortune has been estimated at over $1.1 billion, that he was, until 2012, the owner of the Cleveland Browns, and that his philanthropy includes support to the United Kingdom’s National Portrait Gallery to the tune of 5 million pounds, the largest single donation it has ever received. These facts are worth mentioning, I think, insofar as they impact our little community and contribute to a discussion of trends in our society at large.
Let’s face it: We live in a capitalist society, and this system over the past couple of hundred years has accomplished “wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals.” But one of the things unregulated capitalism doesn’t seem to do so well these days (along with fostering citizens’ involvement in the democratic process and creating a fair economic playing field) is to build and sustain community. We’re increas-ingly beginning to understand that these things either require government intervention or the involvement of individual philanthropy.
One can only hope that someone like a Randy Lerner could step into the breach and help sustain, not a pyramid or cathedral, but perhaps a little oasis of community in our loverly village. These are some of the thoughts evoked by your disturbing article and a recent stroll in the square on a sunny spring afternoon.
Kicked to the Curb
May 29, 2021
To the Editor:
I am outraged that Hampton Chutney is being forced out of Amagansett Square by a characteristically greedy landlord who wants to install another overpriced venue into an increasingly soulless compound. After 20 years of caring service, superb food, and a devoted clientele, Hampton Chutney is being kicked to the curb without even a thank-you. Only this time the landlords have miscalculated. People care, deeply in fact, especially after enduring a year of being locked inside our homes. It made us realize what really matters: community, authenticity, integrity, quality, and humanity matter.
This is a slap in the face to all of us. We need to come together and stop this insanity. Like David and Goliath, the little guy will triumph over the giant!
Will Change the Square
May 31, 2021
A week ago, we had visitors and took them to Amagan-sett Square. We found ourselves sitting on the grass, eating a delicious snack, sunny sky, not a worry on our minds, marveling at how positively Amagansett Square had developed. It felt, we all agreed, like a little village square in Europe: a cheese shop, an Indian eatery, a yoga studio, a hair salon, a barber, a more formal restaurant and some stores for gifts and clothes. In that moment in time something felt so right and we hoped that once achieved and so appreciated, it would be there for our and everyone’s enjoyment for a long time.
The following Thursday we read in The East Hampton Star that the rent of Hampton Chutney, a beloved food place in the square, had been almost tripled, forcing the restaurant to leave and ﬁnd another location. Isabel and Gary MacGurn have been making delicious dosas for us for a long, long time. Their presence in the square has meant predictability, a feeling of comfort, and wonderful food. And it has been bringing many customers to the square who support all the other businesses.
And the question now is, what propelled Randy Lerner to make this move? Was it the sense that the proﬁts have to keep going up and that whatever smart and civic-minded thinking had gone into the creation of the square was replaced by a desire to make more and more money?
If Hampton Chutney leaves the square, it will continue to make its delicious dosas somewhere else and everyone who loves them will simply go there. But it will change the square profoundly and forever. You can’t undo those changes that disrupt the ﬂow of a commercial and personal community like this. So often in our society we wished we had pon-dered the moment of change and fought for the continuation of something that really worked, before it was too late.
May 30, 2021
To the Editor,
There may be some benefits to the ParkMobile system, but I haven’t found them. Far from it.
I do not pretend to be computer proficient, but have used Word and Excel and created and made PowerPoint presentations. And, like so many, I do a good deal of online shopping.
Promotions for ParkMobile proclaim it is fast and easy. My nearly seven-hour experience trying to sign on was anything but. It started last Wednesday when I arrived at the Long Island Rail Road station parking area a half-hour before my 11:45 a.m. train to the city for a late afternoon appointment and two Thursday appointments.
Instructions on the ParkMobile sign were unclear, insufficient. Reading my Samsung S9 cellphone in the bright sun was next to impossible. Using a cellphone keypad with arthritic fingers can be frustrating and lead to hitting wrong letters, numbers, etc., even in friendlier environments. I called the help number several times. Never got an answer. Always told to wait, that their reps were helping other customers. No suggestion of wait times or a call back. Just endless, annoying tones.
With the minutes dwindling to train time, I continued my futile efforts. I got to a point where I was able to take photographs, but no indication they went through. And no confirmation of any sort. The train came and went. I returned home to see if two heads could do better.
We tried to set up and thought we had set up a password and an account. At 1:45, I returned to the station hoping to catch the 3:12. Over and over again, ParkMobile said the password I thought I had set up was invalid. At times the signal seemed to drop. Perhaps that was the reason. Nevertheless, I called help several times more again, reaching no one.
Efforts to reset the password were futile. Several times it even showed me the password I had tried to use, but when I used it, I was told it was invalid. When I tried to create a new password, it accepted the change, then responded that the new password was invalid. Then I was told that my access was locked. The 3:12 came and went. I was informed my access had been locked — and to call and have it unlocked.
Having had to cancel my 4:30 afternoon city appointment, I was concerned about my Thursday medical appointment, which had required a three-month lead time. I decided to drive, but traffic on 27 was at a standstill, so I went to the Lumber Lane lot, tried some more, and went back to the phone, calling again and again. I decided to stay on hold as long as it took and to take the Jitney — if they had availability — and I could get ParkMobile to work. After about 40 minutes, a fellow picked up. I explained the problem. He apologized for my inconvenience, said he understood my difficulty and could help. (He repeated these comments so many times over a period of 20 minutes, I had to ask him to stop.)
He told me I had to set up an account, and then repeatedly told me to do the things I had been doing. I did so, with the same result. When it didn’t work, he insisted I do the same thing again and again. It was now after nearing 5 p.m. I had mentioned that I had to get a 6 o’clock Hampton Jitney, if space was available.
After more back-and-forth, he asked if I wanted him to book the space. I said yes but noted it would be condition-al on my getting the reservation. He said that was impos-sible, that I would be charged if he booked it. Once made, a reservation cannot be canceled. I did not want to drive to the city or face the prospect of getting a village parking ticket, so I told him to go ahead and book the two days. He also gave me a temporary password.
Hampton Jitney initially said they had no seats on the 6, then a wonderful young man did some additional checking and, fortunately and thankfully, found one. That brings up another problem. I have serious walking issues. Getting from the Lumber Lane lot to the Jitney stop was a painful challenge, made more precarious by the grassy, though uneven, terrain. It took about a half-hour to get there. Fortunately, I made the bus and arrived in the city before 9 p.m., rather than after 2 if I had taken the 11:45.
So much for easy! And what a threatening and unnecessary challenge for senior and disabled citizens in a village that seems to be changing rapidly, and not for the better. It is on their behalf I write both to offer words of caution and to hope someone responsible will find a way to make this system more accessible.
East Hampton Village
May 25, 2021
East Hampton Village residents should be concerned with the agreement to install Tesla-branded charging stations on village-owned property at 8 Osborne Lane, effectively privatizing public land for questionable benefit to residents.
Recently approved by the board of trustees, the agreement with the electric vehicle manufacturer calls for the installation of Tesla-branded E.V. charging stations on the property. All the charging stations and signage will be Tesla-branded, with a majority of the stations outfitted with their proprietary Supercharger.
The agreement calls for a limited number of universal charging spaces available for other E.V. owners. Unfortunately for these owners, adapters do not exist to connect to the Tesla Supercharger, thus limiting their charging options. Tesla owners face no such limitations, as all Teslas come with an adapter for all chargers. This puts residents who are other E.V. car owners at a distinct disadvantage charging their vehicles on village property, particularly when they’re local taxpayers.
My educated guess is the vast majority of East Hampton’s Tesla owners have already installed a home charger, particularly with the PSEG Long Island’s rebate program. A simple inquiry to PSEG Long Island could confirm this fact.
As of now, Tesla’s E.V.’s current market share may justify the majority of chargers. However, within months — and certainly before the earliest completion of the project (Q4 2021) — the market will be flooded with E.V. alterna-tives and Tesla’s dominance will be reduced significantly.
If the East Hampton Village attorney and administrator had approached the Tesla agreement with appropriate due diligence, the inequities of this agreement would have been revealed and could have been addressed. Instead, this agreement effectively privatizes public land in exchange for a benefit most village residents won’t be able to use. What kind of precedent does this agreement set for how the village exchanges our land for a questionable benefit few residents really need or could use even if they did need it?
In short, other than Telsa owners, how many village taxpayers really benefit from this agreement? The village attorney, administrator, and board should consider all residents’ long-term best interests, and make better use of the village’s most precious asset — our land.
May 26, 2021
To the Editor,
Prior to the start of the roadwork on Springs-Fireplace Road, all the local papers spoke about the five-foot-wide sidewalks, a bike path north of Abraham’s Path, and various other improvements. Living on a dead end road off Springs-Fireplace Road, I have dealt with this roadwork for well over a year now and have a few questions.
1. When the new telephone poles were installed a few years ago, didn’t the town anticipate this project? Could the poles have been set a few feet back to provide room for a badly needed bike lane from the village to School Street?
2. Is there really room for a bike lane north of Abraham’s Path? How far north? It seems to me, it should extend at least to School Street for the safety of our children.
3. Will the road north of Abraham’s Path get the new cement curbing, or will that portion of the road not be improved and still have the old blacktop “speed bump” curbing which is crumbling and nonexistent in some areas.
4. I notice that some driveways (not all — makes one wonder how that was determined) were provided with new aprons from the driveway to the road, however some roads, such as Bell and Beverly, did not get that same consideration.
5. Why was grass planted between the sidewalk and the road instead of native groundcover that doesn’t require mowing?
6. Last, but not least, when is the anticipated completion date of this project?
May 31, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I’m not sure you would have seen it, but there was a full-page ad in the May 27 Star with the headline, “The Air Invasion That Will Ruin Montauk” with illustrations of about 70 helicopters flying left to right (presumably from New York City to Montauk Airport), which evoked a day from the Desert Storm attack on Iraq. Scary.
Sponsored by montaukunited.org, the basic message of the ad was this: If the East Hampton Airport is closed, the increase in air traffic and noise pollution to Montauk, from planes and helicopters will become a nightmare for residents of the (far) East End. A casual visit to their website goes into greater detail and sort of suggests dire consequences for any local politician who would support East Hampton Airport’s closure. Ouch.
I don’t have a great deal to add to Barry Raebeck’s letter responding to Montauk’s legitimate concerns for their own right to privacy and quietude. I spoke briefly with one of Montauk Airport’s managers, who doubted that incoming flights would increase substantially, given the limitations of the runway and the greater distance from points farther west. But of course, that’s a matter of speculation. What I do believe is that the hamlets and villages within the Town of East Hampton need to take a unified rather than “tribal” approach to the matter, for the broader issue is not merely one of unacceptable noise aggravation for the perhaps 10-20 percent living in proxi-mity to flight approach and takeoff airspace. It is also, specifically, the air and ground pollution from excessive fossil fuel consumption by all of the aircraft, prop planes, private jets, and helicopters alike. At a time when the world is attempting to move in a more future-forward direction with regard to energy consumption, pollution, and environmental protection, East Hampton Airport has been flying against the “winds of change” (Dylan).
Just look at the news of recent days: Two environmental activists were elected to the board of ExxonMobil, the first time management had lost a vote against its own hand-picked directors. And Wall Street took note. “This is a landmark moment for Exxon and for the industry,” according to one director of a nonprofit investor network that pushes corporations to take climate change seriously.
That same week, in a report from the BBC (and all major news agencies) a “court in the Netherlands has ruled in a landmark case that the oil giant Shell must reduce its emissions. By 2030, Shell must cut its CO2 emissions by 45% compared to 2019 levels. . . . It is the first time a company has been legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris climate accords, says Friends of the Earth.” You don’t have to be an environmental activist to marvel at these small steps against Big Oil.
Now back to our hometown situation, where final decisions are still very much up in the air. There’s been talk of the coming of all-electric-powered planes and helicopters, and that’s a good thing. In a recent summer an electric plane set new world records in the French Alps, reaching altitudes of 20,000 feet in less than two minutes, and flying nonstop for 300 miles. Called the e-Genius and built by engineers at the University of Stuttgart, the plane consumed one-fifth the energy normally used by a fuel-powered plane — silently. And according to the Robb Report, the Denver-based aerospace firm Bye Aerospace now has more than 350 orders each for its eFlyer two-seater and four-seater electric planes. Bye is creating larger electric aircraft in “response to the growing demand for all-electric aircraft that can deliver local and regional flights.” And at least six different companies on three continents are developing electric helicopter prototypes, though nothing’s quite ready for commercial consumption. So the future looks bright, and quiet.
But the present is still very noisy. And the very idea of closing an airport in the nesting grounds of the rich and famous is super fodder for the tabloids. On May 22, The New York Post (of course) ran a breathless piece on East Hampton Airport, complete with photos of Jay-Z deplaning with baby Blue Ivy, and Tom Cruise at the airport with baby Suri in arms (nine years ago), Bon Jovi boarding a jet. What, in God’s name, would they do if the airport were closed? I want to help, Mr. Rattray, and I believe I have life experiences that can benefit Jay and Bey and Jon, maybe Alec, Martha, and Ron, should East Hampton Airport be closed. Ready? Okay. First, I’m assuming you can get out of work early on Friday to avoid the weekend and commuter traffic, right? Like, how about having your driver pick you up at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and arriving at your Southampton/Georgica/Amagansett mansions two hours later. Boom! You’re home! And on the way, the kids can watch “Bubble Guppies” on their devices, and Jay, you can catch some Zs in the back seat, or Zoom with Weekend before the weekend! And you’ll all have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve taken a positive, highly visible role in protecting the environment of our community and in preserving the right of quiet enjoyment for all of the groundlings of East Hampton. Thank you in advance for that.
So, Montauk United, Wainscott, East Hampton Village, Sag Harbor, Shelter Island, and all on these blessed lands, let’s work together to silence our skies, clean our environment, and think long term about the quality of life in our very special community.
May 10, 2021
Your May 6 editorial regarding Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study and Concerned Citizens of Montauk’s position is both incorrect and misleading. Since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, our organization, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, has been at the forefront in developing ours and the community’s understanding of the science of Montauk’s coastal dynamics, as well as advancing options to ensure its long-term coastal resiliency. For example, in 2013 we brought internationally renowned coastal experts to a public forum in Montauk, and in 2014 we successfully fought for the $250,000 in grant funding that was needed to develop a long-term, scientific, community-based Coastal Assessment and Resiliency Plan. And from 2016 on we sought to ensure that all options, including infrastructure adaptation, were part of the comprehensive Montauk hamlet plan for downtown Montauk.
Unfortunately your editorial fails to mention that work and the progress that has been achieved as a result. In fact you erroneously claim that “. . . a consulting firm’s recent proposal for a visionary, 50-year relocation plan was roundly rejected by town officials. . . . ” That is not the case. In fact, the downtown Montauk hamlet plan, including recommendations for infrastructure relocation, was unanimously adopted by the town board as part of the town’s comprehensive plan in May 2020.
Furthermore the CARP plan has been laid out in great detail, not only for the Montauk downtown but for three other coastal areas at risk in Montauk. That work is available on our website at preservemontauk.org and was part of an educational webinar we helped sponsor in June 2020, also available on our website. As we stated in a press release provided to The East Hampton Star last month, “FIMP is an integral intermediate step in addressing the coastal resiliency of our vulnerable community and is part of a much larger, longer term comprehensive plan to protect the Montauk downtown area. CCOM has been deeply involved in the scientific understanding of Montauk’s coastline and in fostering the community’s development of long-term solutions such as sand replenishment and adaptive infrastructure planning to ensure the protection of Montauk and its beaches for generations to come.”
C.C.O.M. will continue to work with the community and all constituents who can help make that happen, including the Army Corps of Engineers and elected officials. We believe that creating the funding streams and laws necessary to fulfill these planning initiatives will not come to pass by simply opposing the Army Corps but instead by engaging in the hard and difficult work of making it happen. We hope you will join us in that work.
Concerned Citizens of Montauk
May 30, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I am writing to express my support for Rick Drew in the upcoming June 22 primary. Rick is the most-qualified candidate for town trustee. He has served as an incumbent trustee for the past six years, two years as deputy clerk. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Southampton College and has studied and worked on our local waters for the past 50 years. Rick is a former commercial fisherman, a fishing guide, water sports instructor, and a dock master on Three Mile Harbor.
Rick framed out several key components of the South Fork Wind Farm Host Community Agreement. His four-point plan, presented in 2019, emphasized the need for a marine fisheries study, electromagnetic field monitoring on the beach and near-shore surf zone, a detailed erosion mitigation plan should the cable become exposed, and a performance bond for decommissioning the wind farm cable at Beach Lane. His research on the South Fork Wind Farm dates back to 2017.
He has also worked hard to protect the offshore area of Cox’s Ledge from the impacts of wind farm construction and operation. Several cooperating agencies, including the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Council, have supported his advocacy and the recognition of essential fish habitat on Cox’s Ledge. Cox’s Ledge is recognized as the most environmentally significant area south of New England and east of Long Island. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also defines Cox’s Ledge as Essential Fisheries Habitat. Pristine ocean reefs such as Cox’s Ledge should not be developed for the sake of profit, particularly when so many alternative wind turbine-siting options exist on the ocean seafloor.
Rick is a longstanding advocate for clean water and marine habitat restoration, performing fund-raising and working closely with the Peconic Baykeeper, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Stony Brook University over the past 15 years.
Your vote for Rick Drew in the June 22 Democratic Primary is a vote for clean water, a healthy marine environment, and local sustainability.
An Ethical Conflict
May 25, 2021
Once again, the Democratic committee is trying to punish Jeff Bragman for taking ethical stances and not simply going along with the crowd.
Last week, The Star published a letter from a Democratic committee member claiming that Mr. Bragman was wrong to leave a private event with a lavish dinner and concert hosted by a local business. This business and its operations are directly regulated by those who attended the event, free of charge.
Mr. Bragman pointed out that this generous hospitality could create an ethical conflict, and chose to attend only a small portion of the event that he felt was appropriate. Mr. Bragman’s message was clear and was not meant to detract from the event itself or its message of thanks to frontline workers.
Mr. Bragman’s scrupulous conduct regarding this matter should be the norm for elected officials, not the outlier.
Buried Its Big Head
May 30, 2021
Sometimes, the people are heard. It usually, in the case of bureaucracies, takes time and requires perseverance. When our water source and aquifer depend on it, what other decision could there possibly be? I am speaking specifically of the wise ruling by the courts in the Sand Land Mine, against the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Suffolk County Department of Health had shown that pollution was present in the water caused by the deep drilling into the aquifer by the mine operators for years. It turns out, as many of us know who fight for aquifer protection and stopping the harmful drilling of these deep sand mines locally that the D.E.C. was out of its depth.
The town where the mine is located is responsible for zoning permits and is supposed to monitor these mines and how much they are expanding and what exactly they are allowed to do within the mine. Is it just sand they are digging or are there other operations going on, like mulching and selling mulch, dumping debris, how much expansion, where are the watchdogs, etc.?
What happened at Sand Land and what happens at other sand mines locally, is they get grandfathered in, throwing the rules that should apply with what is actually going on, environmental reviews, water testing, anyone watching, out the window with their antiquated ideas of yesteryear.
Once the farmlands here used arsenic, resulting in a cancer cluster among its young people who lived nearby. So we don’t do that anymore. These sand mines have operated and dug down so deep into the aquifer, one can no longer say it is fine and dandy to keep digging sand. It is harmful. It disturbs the aquifer, polluting it to an extent it cannot ever come back.
The D.E.C. has long buried its big head in the proverbial sand and not told the truth about what is happening to the aquifer. The sand mine “monitoring,” is a joke. The D.E.C. knows it and keeps rubber-stamping permits. Now they have been caught in their own net of lies. The Towns of Southampton, regarding Sand Land, and East Hampton, regarding Sand Highway, need to take their power back and be the watchful eyes of what overexpansion and deep drilling is taking place at these mines in their own towns. The assumption that the D.E.C. was doing its job was the town’s mistake. But they know now and can rectify it. The D.E.C. does not care about our sole-source aquifer; that is evident in its behavior and dangerous for all of us. This decision by the courts against the D.E.C. is precedent setting and long-awaited.
Once upon a time, people thought it was okay to dig these mines without thought to the consequences. Bravo to the courts for recognizing the value of protecting our water above big business and bureaucracy and back-room deals. Time for the good ol’ boys to give it a rest.
Cheered Him On
May 31, 2021
In his zeal to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Lee Zeldin recently lambasted the governor as “somebody who bullies, harasses and intimidates.” He condemned that behavior and tried to assure us all that such conduct was anathema to him, claiming it “was a different way of operating than how I’m wired.”
How can we take this guy seriously? The Former Guy, Donald Trump, spent the last four years bullying anyone who dared disagree with him, harassed Democratic members of Congress and state government leaders, and intimidated other world leaders and his Republican colleagues in an attempt to bend them to do his bidding. And who cheered him on? Lee Zeldin. We’ve all seen him searching for microphones wherever he could find them to extol the “leadership” of the Former Guy, cheering that churlish conduct as real leadership. Yet now he brandishes those same labels in his quest to unseat Governor Cuomo. Whatever one thinks of Governor Cuomo, let us not be lured into the web of dystopia Mr. Zeldin is trying to spin.
Nor should we be lured into his web of deceit. In the wake of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road announced significant service cuts to stem their mounting deficits. At the time, Mr. Zeldin (and Andrew Garbarino, our neighboring congressman) denounced these cuts in service. The Democratic House and Senate then passed the American Rescue Act, which pumped billions of dollars into the M.T.A. and L.I.R.R. coffers, allowing them to reverse the announced service cuts and begin to resume normal service.
Brazenly, Mr. Zeldin and Garbarino took a victory lap, claiming that the reversal of the service cuts was done at “their urging.” It wasn’t their urging that had anything to do with the restoration of service. In fact, these two politicians were part of the united bloc of Republican opposition to the federal funding bill. If the G.O.P. had its way, we would still be waiting for trains and buses. And the feckless Mr. Zeldin wants to run New York?
Let’s all hope that New York voters will be able to see through the cloud of deceit that follows Mr. Zeldin wherever he goes.
May 31, 2021
Every spring like pollen the anti-abortion movement rears its ugly head with a spate of new bills limiting the right to have an abortion. Clogging our sinuses, our throats, and our eyes, several weeks of misery and pain. Yet from the pollen springs life and beauty; from the Right to Life we get only pain.
In the United States the issue of abortion is genuinely bizarre and difficult to understand. The most bizarre aspect of abortion is how it has become validated as a legitimate issue. Perhaps it’s the old trope “that repetition creates legitimacy,” or perhaps it’s a function of religious dementia where life for the unborn is credible but life for the living is irrelevant, or some unrealized moral sense that the U.S. actually believes in life even though the evidence is massively on the other side, or just a political ploy used by politicians to energize voters.
Nevertheless, validation in the U.S., if nowhere else in the Western world, is real. It is a certifiably deranged American disaster.
What’s confusing about abortion is that it’s not about money. Unlike racism (see Native Americans), guns, elections, and prisons, the money component is missing. Abortion seems more about an intense hatred of women, punishing them for abandoning their historic docility and subservience. All protests to the contrary, it is genuinely perverse — even for the U.S.
Sex further complicates the issue. Sex for pleasure or release of whatever but not for procreation is a problem. Consider that the heartland of the abortion question is also the heartland of our pornography industry and the confusion and self-loathing that is generated. Pornography isn’t known to produce a great deal of affection or empathy.
Why is it that something so private and personal is treated in the public domain as an issue of national importance? Why was abortion chosen as a political wedge issue and given an outsize relevance? In a country where the sanctity of life is no more important than chewing gum it makes little sense.
If we decided to ban chewing gum because it might cause impotence in males between the ages of 15 and 40, which means the population would consist of immigrants and non-gum chewers, would it not be the same as with abortion?
Abortion is a process that relates only to a woman and those people she allows access to it. No church, no government no social, political, or moral institutions have any right in determining the process. The idea that we debate and discuss what a woman is allowed or not allowed to do is a gross violation of our right to privacy. It’s not like wearing a mask or getting vaccinated during a pandemic, where personal behavior is subjugated to the general well-being of the population.
That our politicians use abortion as an issue to cultivate political support denigrates and eviscerates the possibility of any reasonable discourse.
Legal abortion essentially means that the process will be safe.
There is no question that an abortion terminates life. How much life when measured in weeks or days is irrelevant because the sanctity of life doesn’t exist in our world and probably never has.
There is no legitimate argument against abortion except for the personal belief that it violates someone’s moral principles. Yet no one is obligated to have an abortion if they choose not to. In our history and in the history of the world no religious institution has ever supported the sanctity of life (pro-life). In our 414-year existence we have never put life before anything else. There are a gazillion examples of our behavior as a nation that nullify the idea of life. We can’t pretend that something is real when there is no evidence (election fraud aside).
What is even more perverse around the question of abortion is that we are willing to intrude on the lives of people (women) who are making painful, gut-wrenching decisions about their lives. There is no compassion, no empathy, just the certainty that they are doing something you believe wrong and immoral.
In Sunday’s Times 14 conservatives were asked if George Floyd was responsible for what happened to him. Thirteen said that he was. Floyd doesn’t have the equivalence of a fetus?
Violence is part of our national DNA. We kill kids in schools, sell arms to anyone with a dollar, participate in endless wars or support proxies, destroy lives in prison, refuse to care for our soldiers, and love our racism.
Nobody’s life really matters is our bottom line.