December 12, 2022
Montauk always shines when there is need. Saturday night's lighted-boat parade and benefit for the Montauk Food Pantry were fabulous additions to what I hope will be, in addition to the downtown festivities, Montauk holiday rituals.
Amanda Jones and the crew of the Inlet did a fantastic job serving the multitudes. I am sure anyone who was there is as grateful as I am for the generosity of the owners and crew for this event. A true spirit of community was evident, and what pleased me even more was the notice put out that though the Inlet was sold out of tickets for the event, dinner could be had at Salivar's Clam and Chowder House or Sammy's. That is the true spirit of community.
Thank you, Montauk!
December 10, 2022
To the Editor,
One aspect I enjoy about this time of year is picking up gifts to thank those who have gone out of their way to help make life better. While gift-giving is wonderful, especially if sourced locally, all too often, we overlook giving thanks.
There are so many out there who make our lives easier: town employees, who work endlessly behind the scenes, to ensure that things function as smoothly as possible; teachers and school staff, who not only do their best to educate our kids in safe and clean environments, but also give us a break from them (remember lockdown!); police departments and dispatchers who deal with traumatic, violent, and threatening incidents to keep us safe; fire and emergency services departments who are there when disaster strikes, and nurses, nurse assistants, and hospital staff, who seem to be facing endless waves of medical crises.
There are also those who help run numerous organizations -- food pantries, sports teams, parent-teacher associations, senior centers, shelters, and other community groups -- that perform invaluable services. A shared feature is that we probably only truly recognize their importance when we need them or they stop working.
The last three years saw us all face innumerable challenges. And that we came through it as we did is in no small part because of these groups. As we face new challenges, including the current economic turbulence, there is little doubt that these same individuals will be the ones to keep our community functioning.
We live in an amazing place, but without these people and what they do, it wouldn't be that way. So, on behalf of myself and my community, I offer a heartfelt thank-you for all you do. Wishing you a great holiday season and an amazing 2023.
December 6, 2022
It was with great sadness that the Garden Club of East Hampton learned of the passing of its past president Diane J. Paton in October. The obituary notice that appeared in The Star in November included her extraordinary accomplishments on the national stage. In retirement, she continued to use her copious talents for the benefit of the Village of East Hampton.
First as president of the garden club from 2000-02, and then as the club's leader of Projects and Community Gardens, a role she created and held through 2014, Diane led the transformation and beautification of important public spaces in the village. A genius at creating the collaborations needed to bring to life complicated projects, under her leadership the garden club restored and created gardens all over the Village of East Hampton; removed invasive species and replanted a half-acre area of the Nature Trail at the David's Lane entrance (2003); established the Mimi Meehan Native Plant Garden at Clinton Academy (2003); designed and planted gardens around the Post Office (2006); restored and replanted Rachel's Historic Dooryard Garden at Mulford Farm (2007 and again in 2011); constructed the Millstone Garden Park on Main Street in front of RRL, opposite the Chase Bank (2012), and renovated the brick courtyard garden at the East Hampton Library (2014). At other garden club project sites, such as the East Hampton train station, she worked to assist the horticulturists in whatever way was needed.
Diane knew that gardens are always a work in progress, requiring ongoing attention and hard work to thrive. Accordingly, she set up a system of garden club teams to care for many of them, while at others, she tactfully and persistently reminded the owners responsible to make sure trash was picked up, weeds removed, pruning performed, and plants replaced.
Modest to an extreme, Diane never wanted to take credit for these accomplishments and instead focused praise on the garden club horticulturists -- Abby Jane Brody, Leslie Clarke, and Calista Washburn -- who designed these gardens, as well as on our members, who cared for them so lovingly. Her files are full of praise for the garden club's many partners in the ventures she led, including the village mayor, the village administrators, the Ladies Village Improvement Society and the Village Preservation Society, the staff of the Village's Department of Public Works, and the contractors, such as Fort Pond Native Plants and Whitmores, who assisted with these projects. There are others as well.
Having lived in Hawaii for many years where she was a member of the Garden Club of Honolulu, Diane was famous for orchestrating the beautiful and exotic orchid arrangements sold at the garden club's annual Memorial Day fund-raiser. She was an outstanding horticulturist and garden designer herself -- visiting her garden was always a treat. After she stepped down from leading the garden club's Projects and Community Gardens, she continued advising her successors, and as throughout her life, her wisdom and insights were welcome and invaluable.
East Hampton has lost its own gracious and far-sighted Saint Fiacre, the patron saint of gardening. May her memory be eternal, living on through the gardens she helped to create and nurtured so thoughtfully.
December 6, 2022
As I settle down to go through my Christmas list, I am thinking of the conundrum faced by elementary schoolteachers in Florida. I taught at Springs School for 34 years, as we transitioned from a small community of 98 percent Caucasian students in kindergarten through eighth grade in 1968 to a mix of races and religions in 2022.
Our students loved celebrating Christmas. As the years went by, we became more inclusive of other religions when the school would celebrate holidays observed around our winter break. I personally looked forward to potato latkes, along with fresh Christmas cookies brought by the students, and the colorful Kwanzaa observance. No problems or big changes except calling this joyful time, "happy holidays."
Back to the teachers in Florida. As we know, they are now not allowed by law to mention the word gay in front of their students. Imagine their consternation as the children get ready to end the holiday assembly sing-along with the beloved, "Joy to the World."
Consider the following lyrics, "Don we now our gay apparel, fa la la . . . Oops." Oh, no! The whole school just belted forth Florida's forbidden school word: gay! School boards: Should we just skip it altogether? Or explain that we are not singing about clothes worn only by cross-dressers or transvestites? What a conundrum.
And how sad. I sincerely hope that Florida school boards do not scratch that popular song. I feel we can all agree that a heavy dose of joy is just what we need this holiday season.
Down the Block
East Hampton Village
December 9, 2022
To The Star and Its Readers:
I lead off with a confession: I almost never watch team sports on television. I actually do not own a television, and my computers have informed me that that is not their job. However, pretty much apart from the Olympics, in which we do compete internationally (and of which I do watch certain events, usually by accident, along with an occasional World Series game), it does seem to me that our country has crossed some kind of athletic Rubicon this year: soccer!
It's surely time that we have joined the other nations of the world in this particular mania, and learned new-for-us words and rules. And the ruder among us can no longer bark out imprecations of foreignness at any group in the midst of a soccer game, as they will no longer be able to know for certain that it isn't just the boys and girls from next door or down the block. I don't know that our founding fathers (who are the mothers, really?!) would all approve, but I'm certain Ben Franklin would have been the first to come around.
December 9, 2022
I am saddened and appalled by the full-page political attack on Town Councilman David Lys and the town board collectively by Political Transparency, Inc.
Who financed this hateful ad? What political agenda fueled this broad, conclusory indictment?
David Lys is one of the most hard-working public servants. His integrity is beyond reproach. I have witnessed his dedication to his job and his unsung acts of kindness.
I decry these political times when extremists lash out at dedicated elected officials who serve for modest reward. The complex airport issue is reduced to a simplistic ad hominem ad of name-calling and inaccuracies. Let's return to reasonable deliberation and discussion and abandon the example set by our former president.
Thanks to David Lys and the other members of the town board for all they do to safeguard all of us and this special town, and let's support them in coming up with a viable solution to the airport conflict.
SUE ELLEN O'CONNOR
December 10, 2022
Perhaps Political Transparency Inc. should post pictures of themselves in their obnoxious and flat-out lying full-page ads in your newspaper. That would be political transparency, would it not?
Best holiday wishes,
Generate More Options
December 10, 2022
Thank you for suggesting in last week's editorial that East Hampton might learn from our island neighbor Down East. The revelation that Martha's Vineyard has found a way to not only better control short-term rentals but also create a financial windfall by doing so, is brilliant. A tax collected by the state and then redistributed to the municipality like the way hotel taxes are now managed, would add needed muscle to our rental enforcement efforts.
Short-term rentals have been a problem for years. Every weekend, noise complaints flood into the Ordinance Department. What should be quiet neighborhoods are assaulted by gangs of party people holed up in some short-term rental while the owner ignores the town registry.
Moreover, although these properties are spread out through residential zones, they operate as commercial entities. Why not treat them as such?
So yes, the new tax would be a good idea, but I would like to add a carrot to the stick: Simultaneously, why not give homeowners a tax break if they can certify they rent their properties year round? The differential between the two options (plus tax for short-term vs. minus tax for year round) could well generate more options for anyone out here trying to live on a budget.
December 11, 2022
To the Editor,
Great to see the word "scofflaw" used. The editorial was flawless -- certainly highlights the pitfalls our community faces. Short-term rentals are -- and will be -- a continued dilemma, especially when the rules and regulations are currently, actively changing day to day, case by case. Also the editorials on housing and East Lake on Nov. 10 were marvelous.
On Public Beaches
December 15, 2022
I applaud your editorial suggesting that the town restrict catered parties and events on our public beaches.
As a past co-chairman of the East Hampton Town Board Special Events Committee, which issued permits for these parties, I routinely urged the committee to take control and reduce the size and impacts of parties and events. Little changed, and the size and intrusiveness of catered events has relentlessly increased.
If we want to restore tranquillity in our town, our elected officials need to acknowledge the real issue: It is inappropriate to permit for-profit catering businesses to use our public beaches and parking lots. Those events can and should take place at private homes.
Public beaches should be available for residents who wish to have casual gatherings, limited in size, for family and friends. Food, fire pits, trash, and beach chairs should be carried in and carried out.
Eliminating for-profit catered events on public beaches will send a strong message that East Hampton summer nights can be a respite from the glitz and frenzy of the much-hyped "Hamptons." It's about time.
December 11, 2022
As Marine Paul Whelan continues to sit in a cell for a crime he didn't commit in Russia, a basketball player who kneels for the "The Star-Spangled Banner" gets swapped for a criminal. Biden chose Ms. Griner to come home over the United States Marine and allowed an international arms dealer to be a part of this swap. This arms dealer is known as "Merchant of Death."
Pat yourself on the back, Biden, as you allow celebrity culture to prevail. God protect U.S. Marine Whelan. May he come home soon.
In God and country,
December 12, 2022
To the Editor,
Antisemitism is a psychosocial disease that is perpetuated by political and religious groups for the purpose of providing mass populations with an unchallenged sense of self-esteem. While antisemitism is one of the great miseries for the Jewish people, it is often a comforting elixir for the weak-minded idiots who support this sickness.
There are about seven million Jews in the United States, 2.4 percent of the population. Sixteen million Jews in a world of eight billion people. What is the point of antisemitism? Jews are essentially irrelevant to most of the world. Most Americans never interact with Jews or know who they are when they do. Almost half of U.S. Jews live in the New York metropolitan area, yet, antisemitism, which is and has been a constant, vibrant sickness for 2,000 years, remains strong in the U.S.
The religious derivation is Jesus-centric but distorted by the institutional Church for its own reason. Jesus had to die for putting out a set of ideas and beliefs that revolutionized religious thinking at that time. But his death was relevant once the institutional Church was formed and the need for adherence to Church principles was a priority. Jesus was an impossible act to follow, and the need to refocus believers away from ideas like the Kingdom of Heaven being in all of us, was critical to its survival. While there is a minimal possibility that Jesus was killed by Jews there is absolutely no doubt that his essential teachings were killed by the Church. Whose existence is based on these same teachings?
Sexual behavior was also recognized by Church leaders as a major tool for controlling the flock. With whom, how, when, and where sexual activity was permitted was proscribed by the Church. The idea that celibate priests gave instruction in sexual behavior underlines how insidiously absurd yet necessary they believed this to be. Dependence on the Church for sexual permission and absolution eviscerated the existing sexual norms. Eunuchry at its very worst.
So, antisemitism is a piece of meat the Church throws to its adherents to take their minds off the reality of the Church failures -- the endless con game and incessant drive for power and wealth that Jesus would find aberrant.
Jesus was never not a Jew. He never preached hatred. He wouldn't support crusades, holocausts, pogroms, or inquisitions that were done in his name or anyone's name. He would find that politicians' stating that they supported Israel as proof that they weren't antisemitic, was mindless drivel. My best friend's cousin is Jewish. I would only use a Jewish accountant. I'd never let anyone Jew me down -- endless bullshit and stupidity. At least the cretins in Charlottesville were honest.
Most Americans aren't antisemitic or racists or homophobic. They neither think nor behave that way. Our leaders, especially Republicans and church officials, are another story. How we deal with them is the question. We need to know that they are sick and contagious. Our sad, harsh reality.
December 11, 2022
To the Editor,
When Donald Trump was inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, 2017, he took the following sacred oath in which he promised: I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. However, that same evening, he apparently secretly signed an executive order in which he added this unofficial addendum to his oath:
"With these exceptions: I might not faithfully execute the office of the president if that is beyond the best of my ability. My followers, however, will be free to execute (hang) Mike Pence, my vice president, on Jan. 6, 2021. I might not preserve the Constitution, because I prefer my preserves (preferably strawberry) on my toast (with peanut butter). I might not protect the Constitution because I may choose instead to protect my business interests. I might not defend the Constitution because I will need instead to defend my outrageous tweets, actions, and inactions. I will not be obligated to preserve, protect, or defend the Constitution if I see massive fraud (which) allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. In fact, I reserve the right to even grab the Constitution by the P . . . reamble!"
"And, speaking of the Constitution's Preamble (We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America)."
Wouldn't my following "Trump Carnage" version make a better preamble: We the people of Donald Trump's United States, in order to form a more imperfect union, establish injustice, ensure domestic instability, provide for the uncommon January 6 Capitol Building offense, promote the general welfare of my immediate family, and secure the blessings of libertinism to myself and my posterity, do ordain and disestablish this Constitution of the United States of America?