For Our Father
October 16, 2023
The outpouring of love for our father, Joseph DeCristofaro, was so heartwarming. We would like to thank the entire East Hampton Fire Department, especially Company 1, the Springs Fire Department, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Village of East Hampton for their tribute to him. We were so lucky to have him for 98 years!
Thank you to everyone who reached out to us during this time.
October 16, 2023
With regard to your editorial last week about Sammis Beach, you may want to turn your attention inward. The East Hampton Star has been using the place name “Northwest Harbor” in article headings recently.
For my entire life, “Northwest Woods” has been the accepted term for the peninsula bounded by Northwest Creek, Northwest Harbor (the body of water), Gardiner’s Bay, and Three Mile Harbor. Somewhere during the dawn of the Internet Age, the term “Northwest Harbor” was lifted off an old map and (figuratively) plastered all over the Northwest Woods.
Thesaurus states that “synecdoche” is a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole. Although Northwest Harbor as a place name is valid, my impression was always that it referred to a small area at the end of Mile Hill Road, where there is some actual salt water, and where there was a thriving settlement centuries ago.
This insidious term is showing up everywhere. Please do not let it get a foothold.
You have a standard to uphold. Give us back our Northwest Woods.
A Sleeping Baby
September 29, 2023
To the Editor:
I read with shock the letter “What’s Too Much” published on Sept. 1, when a customer at the Amber Waves farmers market observed a woman having her baby use a potty chair near the dairy section. Instantly I recalled an incident I observed several weeks ago with a baby sitting on the beach at the Indian Wells ocean.
When I arrived in the morning, I noticed a baby carriage on the left of the blue, plastic walk-mat. There was a sleeping baby in the carriage, as I noted that little toes were dangling and not moving. I assumed that the baby was related to the couple seated to my right, perhaps the grandparents. After 45 minutes, the little toes started wiggling, and I knew the baby was waking up. However, no one was checking on the baby, so I walked over to the elderly couple and asked if they were related. They said, “No.” They thought I was. It was a hot morning, and the sun was strong.
At this point, a man approached in a truck and we quickly told him about our observation and I said I was going to walk down to inform the lifeguards. The man said he would sit a distance from the carriage to be sure no stray dog approached the carriage.
I asked the lifeguards if they knew anyone who was related to the baby and they said, “No.” I asked them to follow me up to the carriage, which they did immediately. As we were looking around, a woman ran up from the beach. She was sitting beyond the lifeguard chair near the water, quite a distance away. I asked if this was her baby and she said, “Yes.” I also asked if she was a local (resident), as I know tourists from other countries have different standards from our child protective laws in the United States. She said she was “local.” She picked up her baby and promptly left the beach.
I approached a nearby fire department vehicle and related the incident and was informed that I should notify the East Hampton Town Police, which I did as soon as I returned home, leaving the beach immediately to do so.
Both of these incidents occurred in Amagansett, and it is apparent that parenting skills are needed to protect everyone involved in these two different situations — children and customers alike. Training staff on all levels is also necessary so everyone can be prepared for the unexpected. It is gratifying to know that individuals became involved to do something.
October 11, 2023
I’ve just read the great outpouring of support for Rowdy Hall using its “traditional” black for its new Amagansett location. I actually took a trip to Main Street and can point out one anomaly here: You cannot see the facade of Rowdy Hall from East Hampton’s Main Street, and as it is largely hidden within a courtyard of rather taller yellowish structures, it is even hard to make it out from the sidewalk in front of that space.
The Amagansett building however has a very large presence on the main street. The two buildings are quite different cases, and Amagansett has preserved much more of its traditional appearance.
Minimal at Best
October 15, 2023
The Star was always a community oriented newspaper. Lately that seems to have slipped a bit.
On Oct. 10, the Tyler Project held its annual car show. Every penny raised by this nonprofit goes to this charity to raise awareness of the crisis our young people face, founded by the Valcich family after the tragic loss of their son Tyler. Those of us who lost a child know full well that this wound is omnipresent. Try to imagine yourself in that position of a reminder of such a loss.
I found your coverage of this event minimal, at best. The large photo on the front page shows a 1966 Volvo, hardly a classic car. Obviously, the photographer was in a hurry, or just clueless.
Just to the right in the photo, there was a man in a plaid shirt viewing young Tyler’s rare 1969 1/2 Dodge Super Bee six-pack that he built using original parts. I was standing just left, closer to the car. The photographer failed to photograph Tyler’s car, but worse, just a few more feet to the right, stood Mickey and Valinda Valcich, Tyler’s parents and sponsors of this popular car show.
Someone told me they saw a car with the number 278 and there were even possibly more who displayed their cars to raise funds, a community response that warrants a thunderous applause, magnified by the large crown of spectators who roamed about.
The East Hampton Press deserves community recognition for its large photograph of Tyler’s parents and description of Tyler’s “project” car. The smiles observed tell the story.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
October 12, 2023
To the Editor,
I am surprised and disappointed that there was no coverage in The East Hampton Star of the most-beautiful, yearly Blessing Day of the Animals. Why? It has been covered every other year and it encourages others to come.
PATRICIA ANHOLT HABR
October 13, 2023
This past weekend, I held a 100th birthday for my dad, whom we affectionately call the Fish Commander. The goal was to have 100 folks stop by and wish him a happy 100th birthday.
We had delicious food prepared by the One-Stop Market, a live band, and with the help of American Legion Post 419, we had a tremendously successful event. New York State Senator Tony Palumbo sent a proclamation, and we had over 150 family and friends stop by. The Fish Commander was surprised by the outpouring of love and the unexpected opportunity to see his six grandchildren and great-grandchildren who came home from college as far away as North Carolina.
Instead of gifts, we collected money to split between the American Legion and the Springs Fire Department, and, in honor of my dad, I will match the donations.
On behalf of my family, we would like to thank everyone who stopped by and sent their well wishes for a happy 100th birthday.
God bless you,
Searching for a Sign
October 16, 2023
To the Editor:
The Hamptons are becoming the land of the roundabout. The intersection of Long Lane and Stephen Hand’s Path is a treacherous intersection, but yet another roundabout is not an entirely safe solution. Most drivers don’t feel compelled to use turn signals to indicate their departure from the circle, leaving the entering drivers searching for a sign telling them when it is safe to enter.
Yes, the current intersection is terrible, but the proposed one is still treacherous. In fact, the article suggests the circle will be built high so drivers can’t see one another.
How about a stoplight? There is no equivocation, which means fewer accidents.
Sense of Place
October 16, 2023
There’s no question that the intersection of Stephen Hand’s Path, Long Lane, and Two Holes of Water is dangerous and requires safety measures ASAP. However, the town board was too quick to dismiss Councilwoman Sylvia Overby’s concerns about the importance of maintaining the rural look of the site.
Over the years, there has been a steady erosion of the rural environment and beauty of the town that has attracted so many artists and visitors for so many decades. It has long been one of the attributes that distinguishes our town. This particular intersection with views of the beautiful farm compound on the far corner at Route 114, often with acres of summer corn, is one of the last remaining rural vistas on the fringe of the village.
Why not a simple traffic light, rather than a multimillion-dollar, urban roundabout that looks like it was plucked right out of a major city? Overzealous traffic engineers, God bless them; they are famous for “over solving” of problems where more simple solutions would suffice.
The big ticket items like zoning and house size are currently being addressed by town government. But it is good to remember that it is in the smaller details, like an intersection, that a sense of place is often found — or lost.
A Few Suggestions
October 14, 2023
To the Editor:
As the self-appointed president of the Springs General Store Customer Advisory Task Force, we’re your best advertisers (or detractors), a few suggestions:
Opening at 11? No breakfast! I don’t think the Bloody Mary-at-11-crowd is too large. These days some of us pick up our coffee and breakfast comestibles at the Montauk Market (a.k.a., Barnes Store), Damark, or One-Stop and end up on “the porch.” Scores, maybe a few hundred potential customers, have dropped by over the last year, disappointed with the closing, with “I loved the store” comments.
What do we have to look forward to? A $14 plastic cup of wine with lunch is not high on the “locals” list of lunchtime treats. The new forest they’re planning around the store is nice; asking for comments on a menu would be more welcome.
While I haven’t seen a job listing for a sommelier yet, I believe a range of coffees, not natural wines, might be a better choice, or, maybe yummy Carissa baked goods, or a job posting for a baker who interned in Paris.
The Springs General Store had a steady group of customers: for many, a daily breakfast and lunch, and, for a few, three meals a day.
You guys have been “in the business” for ages, and we’re just the end users. However, we’re the ones who flash the credit cards across the screen.
I’m sure Ashawagh Hall would make space available to welcome back your customers, a meet-and-greet, a get-acquainted, don’t be a stranger. We really, really want to like you.
Venue to Drink
October 12, 2023
To the Editor:
It seems the central issue is serving (actually making available) booze for immediate consumption. This is a concern for people going and coming from the Springs Historical Society and Community Library, Ashawagh Hall, the Presbyterian Church, the Food Pantry, the Springs Elementary School, and the General Store itself. Providing a venue to drink liquor in this densely populated and very well-traveled area is an unnecessary threat to life and safety.
October 13, 2023
To the Editor:
The ongoing dispute over the Benson preserve project has many facets, of which an important one is the question of invasive vegetation. The project is being sold as removing invasive plants and restoring native ones
I have some personal experience with sophistical political rhetoric about an invasive species. Fifteen years ago, when the forces of darkness tried to put a parking lot on the pristine dune of the nature preserve next to my house, one of their talking points (absurd as it may seem) was that the proposed project would get rid of the “invasive black pines.” This is a species that has been here about 80 years, has colonized the entire East End, and in places where it dominates is often the main, or only, vegetation securing the dune. What makes Benson preserve so special that we are “solving” the invasive species problem there, but not along the Napeague stretch, or in Springs, or, or, or?
Back then, “invasive black pines” (and, by the way, why not just “invasive pines”?) became cheesy, dishonest, political rhetoric. Something similar appears to be happening again today.
For democracy in East Hampton,
Energy Into Action
October 12, 2023
To the Editor,
The Concerned Citizens of Montauk started as a grassroots group of Montaukians who opposed the mass environmental degradation of Indian Fields back in 1970 — now known as Montauk County Park. Thanks to C.C.O.M. action, instead of being burdened with 1,200 acres of tract houses and septic tanks over a sensitive aquifer, we have a protected public asset which has preserved Big Reed Pond, the Montaukett village, Deep Hollow Ranch, Third House, and Camp Wikoff for the present and future.
By the time I became a volunteer (2003), board member, and then president of C.C.O.M. (2009), the organization had gone a substantial way toward defending, preserving, and protecting 70 percent of Montauk’s land from abuse, alienation, and overuse. Now, two presidents beyond my term, C.C.O.M. is still leading, basing its initiatives on science, feasibility, and cost/benefit analyses. C.C.O.M. distinguishes itself by seeking to shed light, not heat, on the complex environmental challenges that continue to put this natural paradise at risk.
C.C.O.M.’s attention is now on water quality, the health and resiliency of the coastline, and environmental sustainability. These three challenges must be properly managed, giving Montauk the best chance to keep lifestyle, economy, and ecology in healthy balance for years to come. To do so, C.C.O.M. partners with other nonprofit organizations, every level of government, and citizen volunteers.
In 2023, C.C.O.M. is still putting its energy into action. Supporting the organization’s efforts remains an effective way for concerned citizens to help “keep Montauk Montauk.”
Not Taken a Position
October 16, 2023
My name is Brian Harris and I am the president of the board of directors of the Montauk Beach Property Owners Association, Inc., on whose behalf I write.
We have read several recent letters to the editor published in The East Hampton Star that reference alleged positions taken by the association regarding a topic currently before the East Hampton town board: the removal of invasive species in the Arthur Benson reserve.
The descriptions in the letters of the association’s position (and the board’s deliberations) are inaccurate. In fact, prior to this letter, it had not taken a position on the proposal. The association’s position on the proposal is that the Montauk Beach Property Owners Association is neither for, nor against the proposal. It is neutral.
You are welcome to contact the board to verify any future references to the Montauk Beach Property Owners Association and its alleged positions that you may wish to publish.
October 2, 2023
To the Editor,
Federal and state regulations are harming the for-hire industry. The for-hire industry has a long history of participation in the fisheries of New York State. Their endeavors are a large economic factor on the East End of Long Island, particularly Montauk. The multiplier effect includes marinas, tackle shops, mechanics, hotels, and restaurants in Montauk. This industry has been in existence since the end of World War II.
The Montauk Boatmen and Captains Association is concerned about the regulations passed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and applied by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. We fear they are being used to curtail the non-boat owners from using the for-hire boats (charter and party) to utilize a public resource. Reductions in catch limits and increases in size limits are discouraging the public from fishing on the for-hire boats. The for-hire industry utilizes less than 5 percent of the fishery but serves over 95 percent of New York State’s citizens.
Statistics show a 40 percent error in the surveys of the fisheries but the A.S.M.F.C. still uses these figures.
We would like to thank our federal and state representatives for their support in our endeavors. State Senator Anthony Palumbo, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, and Congressman Nick LaLota have sent letters to the D.E.C. and A.S.M.F.C. in support of the citizens of New York State. We hope that other legislators will do the same. Please call or write them of your concerns.
CAPT. JOE MCBRIDE
CAPT. RICK ETZEL
For Town Justice
October 9, 2023
My name is Brian Lester and I am running for East Hampton Town justice. I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. I am a lifelong resident of East Hampton, with family ties running back to the foundation of East Hampton. I graduated from East Hampton High School in 1990 and then obtained a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from West Chester University, graduating summa cum laude. I then attended the Suffolk County Police Academy graduating valedictorian of class 94-116.
After becoming a New York State certified police officer, I worked part time as a police officer as I attended Hofstra University School of Law. I graduated with honors from Hofstra University and was an editor on the Hofstra Law Review, as well as being published in the law review.
I have been practicing law in East Hampton for 25 years and have built a successful law practice. I have practiced in federal, state, county, district, and local courts. My practice has included criminal defense work, civil litigation representing plaintiffs and defendants on a wide range of areas, work in the appellate courts, matrimonial and family courts, landlord-tenant, will, trusts and estates, land planning and real estate, as well as general contract work. I have been a hearing officer for Southampton Town taking on a role similar to a judge.
I have also been the East Hampton Village prosecutor handling parking and village code and zoning matters for 16 years and Sag Harbor prosecutor for 10 years. In my practice I have handled every type of case routinely heard by the East Hampton Town Justice Court, and I have been appearing in the East Hampton Town Justice Court on nearly a weekly basis.
In my vast time in the East Hampton Town Justice Court over the 25 years that I have been practicing here, I have been able to observe not only the process and procedures of the court and the different styles of the numerous justices who have served on the bench over those years, but also the litigants and the needs of those litigants, and what they are seeking and needing from our local justice system. I know our justice court and I want to bring my experience to serve East Hampton as our next town justice. Please vote for me, Brian J. Lester, for town justice. Thank you.
BRIAN J. LESTER
One Thing Stood Out
October 16, 2023
I am writing on behalf of David Filer, who is running for the town justice position in the upcoming election. David and I are both alumni of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and we just barely missed overlapping during our time spent in the office. When I learned that he was running for the town justice position, I reached out to a number of my former colleagues in the office (there’s a very strong alumni network) to get a feeling for how he was viewed in the office.
Everyone I spoke with sang his praises. He was seen to be a hard-working, highly intelligent, extremely committed assistant district attorney who contributed to a number of different units within the office. But the one thing that really stood out, that was expressed by every single person I spoke with, was his integrity. It came up again and again, and I was really impressed with how much everyone wanted to stress this point.
I have had the good fortune to get to know David personally, and, as I have spoken to him about his work and his family, I can understand why he was so highly regarded in the office. He has very strong roots in our community, and I am convinced that he has all of the qualities that will make him an excellent town justice. So, I urge everyone to go out and vote for him on Election Day.
Puts Environment First
October 16, 2023
I write this letter as a resident of East Hampton and not in my capacity as executive director of the Friends of Georgica Pond.
Now, more than ever, we need a representative in the Suffolk County Legislature who puts the environment first over partisan politics. Ann Welker is that person.
Ann grew up here and comes from a family that valued and enlightened us about the natural diversity of our area. She will make it a priority to protect our unique habitats, bays and harbors, and drinking water. As a natural leader, she will persuade her peers to do likewise. She doesn’t grandstand. She doesn’t boast. She just gets the job done.
I’m voting for Ann Welker.
Has Zero Record
October 16, 2023
Why does perpetual G.O.P. candidate Manny Vilar rely on bald-faced lies to promote his candidacy? Is it because he has no solutions for the real problems we confront in our East End communities — problems like degraded water quality, affordable housing, and coastal protection from sea level rise?
Several weeks ago in these pages, he leveled outlandish charges against his opponent, current Southampton Trustee Ann Welker, in the campaign for Suffolk County legislator. He wrote that since she is endorsed by the Working Families Party, she supports police abolition. How absurd.
According to Shoshana Hershkowitz, a Working Families Party representative, the claim that the party supports police abolition “is absolutely untrue. The Working Families Party stands for community investment and treatment as means of reducing involvement in the criminal justice system. Addressing poverty, addiction, mental illness, and systemic racism are far more effective means of creating safe communities, and that is what we support.” That’s not supporting police abolition; that’s just common sense.
But being endorsed by a party doesn’t mean you support everything the party stands for. Candidates are running this year who are endorsed by Working Families and the Conservative Party. By that standard, Manny Vilar endorses everything Donald Trump is for.
Oh wait! He does support Donald Trump! Although he’s erased any such hints from his social media after deciding to run, his fellow Springs residents like me remember well his full-throated endorsement of Trump and his odious policies on nextdoor.com.
Manny Vilar has zero record on actual policy, since East Hampton voters have rejected his bid for power again and again. In contrast, his opponent Ann Welker has a solid record on protecting water quality as a Southampton Town trustee — a top issue for Suffolk County. The Republican-dominated Legislature refused to put funding for water quality on the ballot (a one-eighth-of-1-cent sales tax), so we need water champions like Ann Welker to fight for clean water.
We also need to elect another water champion, David Calone, to be county supervisor. (His opponent, Ed Romaine, is the subject of a devastating corruption report by Newsday.)
We don’t need Manny Vilar’s lies and self-promoting bluster. We need true public servants like Welker and Calone. Remember to vote on Nov. 7!
October 16, 2023
To the Editor,
Montauk hasn’t had a resident representative on the town board for 10 years, and it is with great enthusiasm that we welcome the opportunity for Tom Flight to step into this crucial role for our community. As we all know, Montauk boasts a unique blend of residential and commercial elements, from restaurants and nightlife to pre-existing nonconforming properties and cherished open spaces. The delicate balance required to navigate these diverse facets is of paramount importance.
One of the most pressing issues we face in Montauk is the responsibility for improving water quality, a responsibility that falls on each and every property owner in our community. Tom Flight is the ideal candidate to take this on. He not only calls Montauk his home, but he is deeply engaged in our community as a business owner, a volunteer firefighter, and a dedicated school board member, to name just a few of his roles. His extensive business background will prove invaluable in making well-informed, smart decisions at the town board level. We know he will invest in the research necessary to find the most advanced technology for water quality improvement that will not cause a divide in our community.
Furthermore, we strongly advocate for Tom Flight as the ideal candidate for the Montauk citizens advisory committee liaison position. Frequently, decisions have been made without involving our engaged community. One notable instance is Mr. Lys making unilateral decisions, like allocating $300,000 for renovating public tennis-pickleball courts instead of addressing urgent water quality improvements at Fort Pond, where 14 stormwater drains contaminate the water. And the lack of transparency in the progress of the Benson reserve project was disappointing, bypassing prior Montauk citizens committee presentations and votes and town public hearings and going straight to a town board resolution during a work session. These situations illustrate the negative consequences of decisions made without our community’s crucial input, especially when Mr. Lys had been actively involved in its planning since 2021. It wasn’t until residents and business owners discovered this during a P.R. announcement and demanded Montauk citizens committee involvement and a public hearing that these issues are finally being acknowledged.
With Tom Flight, we have the opportunity to have a representative who brings insights, balance, and smart, thoughtful decision making to the town board. He understands the needs of our residents and the concerns of our business owners, and we wholeheartedly support him for the East Hampton Town Board and to be our Montauk liaison at the citizens committee, ensuring that our community’s voice is heard and considered in every decision that affects us.
We eagerly anticipate the support of all the hamlets within the Town of East Hampton for Tom Flight, as he passionately champions our entire community on the town board. Tom Flight’s dedication and inclusive approach will undoubtedly benefit our diverse and vibrant Town of East Hampton.
Can Make This Happen
October 16, 2023
To the Editor,
I firmly believe that there are a number of very important issues facing our beautiful town that are not being properly addressed. By not representing all the people —- and catering to just the few elites and power brokers —- the current town board has missed the mark of what a real community looks like and how it should operate. There are major issues in our town, why are we wasting so much time on what color Rowdy Hall is?
I believe that when a full community comes and works together — and compromises — there is less tension and something wonderful can happen.
The Democratic majority-dominated town board operates in an echo chamber. It not only doesn’t hear other points of view but also clearly doesn’t care what those views are. This type of dictatorship does not represent all the taxpayers. There should be another voice on the board that at least presents the other side.
Here’s one example: For over 10 years this fully-Democratic-dominated board said they were going to fix the issues involving the wastewater treatment plant. If approved, their proposed phase one is projected to be completed in 2033 — another 10 full years. That’s 20 years total to fix this matter, and it is an outrage.
Most of our school teachers aren’t from the Town of East Hampton because they can’t afford to live here. The police and Marine Patrol are understaffed and not competitively paid. Our marine life is being taken illegally (specifically shellfish) from our waters — right in front of us — because there is a shortage of personnel to enforce the rules.
Our fine police department seems to be having a difficult time hiring. Last week I was told that five police officers were offered jobs by the East Hampton force but all five declined the positions because the starting salary wasn’t equal to locations elsewhere. (The ugly rumor on the street is that the current police officers aren’t appreciated and staff feels that.)
The great volunteer fire departments we have (Montauk, East Hampton and Amagansett) are at an all-time low in staffing. We are losing residents willing to help out. They are being replaced by nonresidents. If this continues, we will need to have a full-time, paid fire department, which will only increase our taxes even more.
Closing the East Hampton Airport means that most plane and helicopter traffic will probably be re-routed to Montauk. We will suffer the loss of jobs and revenue that the airport pumps into the local community. In the meantime, more and more families are leaving East Hampton; often after generations of being here, simply because they cannot afford to stay. These families are the fabric of what makes East Hampton the place we all call home.
If elected, I vow to bring back accountability in our town board. Most important, I want to bring back pride in our town.
The way I operate is getting to know all the employees and the residents. I want to know your needs. My door will always be open to hear you. I am confident that collectively we can make the difference that is so needed. I don’t believe in taking things away. I believe in solutions, not litigation.
I am Scott Smith and I ask for your vote this Nov. 7, on Row B.
Together we can make this happen. Thank you.
Offer an Alternative
October 8, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I would like to thank Gretta Leon, Scott Smith, and Michael Wootton for standing for election to the East Hampton Town Board. Facing a tough battle (Democratic-registered voters vastly outnumber Republicans), these three successful professionals have put their lives and careers on hold to offer the citizens of East Hampton an alternative to a one-party, politically entrenched town board that has accomplished little for its citizens. Critical issues such as East Hampton Airport, solutions to septic problems, replacement of the disgraceful and depressing seniors center and the lack of safe and adequate cellphone communications, particularly in Springs, to name a few, have languished and festered for a decade under the management of the current Democratic town board. Indeed, this current town board’s management of the airport and other important issues, such as the so-called Truck Beach, and now, the Maidstone Gun Club, have and will continue to cost taxpayers millions of dollars in litigation fees. By the way, who are those outside law firms and how were they selected? Friends, relatives, or a thoroughly prepared and managed bid process? Just askin’. East Hampton, we can do better!
I was disappointed, but frankly not surprised, to read a snarky letter in The Star last week criticizing Leon, Smith, and Wootton for their lack of public and management experience and community service.
As a retired 30 year-manager for New York City government, I can tell you that serving in a government position, elected or otherwise, ain’t brain surgery. God knows that’s true. Just look at our federal and state officials. Skills obtained not only in life, but clearly in the private sector, such as running businesses, making payrolls, navigating the vast regulatory environment and restrictions placed on businesses, is invaluable experience to bring to the public sector and frankly way more valuable than being appointed by some political domo to the planning or zoning boards. Understanding that every single dollar expended by government (local, state, or federal), comes from only one place, the taxpayer, is something that public officials with little or no private sector experience don’t understand. Business owners and financial managers understand this in their bones.
As to the criticism of Ms. Leon’s not having any managerial experience, I suspect a number of current and past town board supervisors had none or very little, prior to being elected. However, Ms. Leon recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, with a master’s in organizational dynamics and a graduate certificate in leading and managing through change. Might I also mention, since I know how important this is to Democrats, if elected, Ms. Leon would be the first woman of color elected to the supervisor position and would serve as the only person of color on the town board. Ms. Leon is a fluent Spanish speaker, having been born in Costa Rica, and understands the problems, issues, and concerns of our Hispanic neighbors, firsthand. It has been decades since East Hampton Town government had a board member with a Hispanic background, with, I believe, Diana Weir, another Republican, being the previous member.
Last week’s writer also laments that this team has a lack of community service. It is my understanding that Mr. Smith is a volunteer member of the East Hampton Fire Department and Mr. Wootton is a member of ocean rescue and a lifeguard, among other community activities. I don’t know about others, but if my house is on fire, or I am floundering in the ocean, I would be calling for one of these guys rather than an affordable housing advisory committee member. Seriously, putting your own life in jeopardy to save lives in your community is the highest form of community service that anyone can offer.
East Hampton needs a change in government and 12 years of Democratic-majority rule. We need an independent, professionally oriented town board that will bring a fresh and independent perspective to the town’s decades-old problems and the new ones that are yet to come.
I urge all East Hampton voters to get out and vote on Election Day, Nov. 7, for Gretta Leon for town supervisor and Scott Smith and Michael Wootton for town board members. It’s time for a change, East Hampton, and the members of this team are great change agents.
For the Republic
October 15, 2023
To the Editor,
The description of former F.B.I. agent Dan Smoot: “The ideal of a constitutional republic is individual liberty. In this century, great strides have been made toward the goal of subverting our republic, and transforming it into a democracy. The foremost tactic of the subverters is subversion of ‘language’ by calling America a democracy, until people thoughtlessly accept the term, and use the term. Totalitarians have obscured the real meanings and principles of American government.”
Here we have signs to vote row A “For democracy.” “Eat the Rich” has been seen while calling for votes for rows B, C, and D. Individual thought should always win.
October 15, 2023
To the Editor,
It is unfortunate that under the one-party rule there have been few opportunities to have an intelligent discussion about critical issues that face the town. Even within the controlling party, it was difficult to have a dialogue as made evident by the treatment of one former board member, Jeff Bragman. This monolithic control has ironically grounded even the simplest progress to a standstill.
Local cell service is the most obvious political failure. How anyone at this point does not realize there is a serious safety problem is beyond comprehension. That the administration continues to use the same inept consultant for advice is confounding, but to have paid them for the last two years to review the current sad situation and then claim it may take another decade to fix the problem is just Kafkaesque.
A dozen years ago, the town received a report stating a thousand units of affordable housing would be necessary for our area. Today, there are 3,000 on a waiting list for this service and yet the town has only managed to plan for about 1,000 units in all that time.
The town’s handling of the airport situation has also been terrible. Our facility is one of the few that still allows toxic-lead fuel and represents almost 1 percent of all such aviation fuel used in the entire United States. Moreover, town officials had years to prepare for when they had a chance to assert better control of its operation, yet they never bothered to do a mandatory state environmental quality review and claim today they cannot even discuss the issue.
When given the opportunity recently to assume control of the small contentious airport in Montauk and turn it into a park, the town didn’t spend the $18 or $19 million it would have taken from the preservation fund. For some reason though, they allocated $27 million a year earlier to preserve farmland near the railroad tracks and public parking in Amagansett that probably should have been allowed to be developed into housing.
There is little progress in the sustainability arena as the town continually talks about reducing greenhouse gas emissions but never spends any of its own money to do so. A missed opportunity though is the town board backing a political patronage project at the Benson preserve in Montauk that could result in wasting at least $650,000 in state environmental aid. That type of funding should go toward better potential projects that might actually improve local water quality as opposed to enhancing the view for a few property owners.
The largest problem with the one-party rule is the level of smug hubris it seems to give local politicians to ignore real problems that often have simple potential solutions. An example of this is the long-ignored epidemic of tick-borne diseases that plague our town, something the Centers for Disease Control has recently come out and admitted is a far larger problem than they have assumed in the past.
I went to a town board meeting about two months ago (after many emails had been ignored) to ask why no action had been taken in this area as many in my neighborhood have come down with alpha-gal — the meat allergy disease that can lead to hospitalization and the need to carry an EpiPen.
The town claims this is a state and county problem they can do nothing about. This is simply not true, and other towns in our area have been much more aggressive and effective. North Haven for example has worked to get the necessary signatures needed to install 20 four-poster stations (something reviewed in this publication in the past) and works with a local bow-hunting group to reduce their deer population.
Data shows these kinds of actions can result in 80 percent fewer ticks found on the deer in their small village versus Springs and I assume significantly fewer deer-car collisions per resident. North Haven’s tick reduction plan’s total cost is about $200,000 a year.
When I inquired about East Hampton testing this approach over a year ago, I was told it was too expensive despite the town recently passing a $95 million budget. Is the health of hundreds, if not thousands of residents, who will come down with various diseases such as Lyme or alpha-gal not worth allocating at least the same amount of money a far smaller community manages to?
There are, sadly, many other areas of failure that can’t be addressed in just one letter: the pine tree devastation that the town continues to ignore or blame once again on the state, the lack of locally funded and independent water quality testing at sensitive areas like the recycling center, the airport, the gun club or our bays and ocean beaches, and potentially saddling taxpayers with over a $100 million in long-term costs due to wrongheaded beach erosion or waste treatment plans in Montauk that will mainly benefit a dozen commercial operations.
Given the many examples of dysfunction, it seems to me the current town board deserves more of a Bronx cheer than praise for its track record over the last decade. Here’s hoping a new supervisor for the town board will finally allow it to better respond to common-sense suggestions to the serious safety and health issues we continue to face.
Attack on Jews
October 13, 2023
The attack on peaceful towns and a music festival in southern Israel was an attack on Jews. It was an attack on Israel as a nation, but more immediately and fundamentally, it was an attack on Jews as Jews. The area in the south is not the West Bank, where retaliatory measures, Israelis and Palestinians, have been going on for years. Nor I am writing about future actions, considering the rules of war. Only the attack on Oct. 7.
What sets this attack apart is that it is beyond the usual categories of retaliation. It is far more existential. There is no moral equivalence in this instance. It is an attack on Jews. It has a long history, and it always needs to be called out for what it is.
As clergy, I attended the service on Oct. 11 at the Jewish Center in support of Israel. I went because I felt a line had been crossed in the attack on Jews in those southern border towns. I have a hunch that within Christian communities, some did not attend this or similar services, thinking they did not want to take sides. But this is not about taking sides politically. It is to support Jews who, because of who they are, were attacked and killed as Jews. That is the a priori moral issue, greater than the politics and moral questions in any other related, contingent discussions.
REV. ROBERT B. STUART
Free Money to All?
October 16, 2023
I’m reading the newspaper and found a tiny article stating Biden and his administration are taking seriously thoughts to give illegals money, perhaps in the form of welfare. Have they lost their minds? Are they going on TV claiming the border is closed but just laid out, “Come on down. We’re giving free money to all”?
God help us. God help the insane world.
In God and country,
Couldn’t Be Weaker
October 13, 2023
To the Editor,
Hey Biden voters, did you get your wish? World War III may be upon us. Along with a shit economy, billions are being spent on wars that Joe Biden helped fund, either by buying fuel from Russia post-Ukraine attack and by Biden freeing billions to Iran. Four years Donald Trump, zero new wars — and a booming economy. We were fuel independent. Now we buy fuel from people who chant, “Death to America.”
The borders are wide open, another failure of the Biden administration. New York City is a dump again. Good job, Biden voters! We couldn’t be weaker with the current administration. God bless America, and, in strength, there is peace.
Rules of Life
October 16, 2023
Somewhere buried under the greed-based madness that permeates our universe lies a set of rules by which humans can continue to survive. Perhaps the most precarious one (that seems to barely exist) is that killing breeds more killing — the way nations genuflect to the reaction to violence and the need for revenge and carnage as a way of easing the pain, inflicting pain on others to ease your pain in an endless cycle of mindless yet purposeful vengeance. The purpose being the perpetuation of killing and war. A placebo for conflict resolution that can’t work by design.
The media insanity around the Hamas attack only exacerbates the problem. Hamas has not been known to rape women and kill kids but other members of the attackers, like Islamic Jihad and Isis offshoots, are renowned for such behavior. Hamas is responsible for the attack but perhaps not the most inhuman aspects.
The sympathy for Israel evaporates with the bombing and the siege. Any solution beyond eradication disappears. We are left with the blithering idiocy of men incapable of finding a solution. Aside from the release of the hostages, there is no starting point, assuming Hamas is interested in a solution. Most of the world has little sympathy or feeling for the two parties. No nation states have ever cared about the Palestinians, and everyone knows the history of the Jewish people. In truth, the world would like them both to disappear.
Unfortunately, there are no historical models to follow that make sense. Ours, killing off the indigenous peoples and bringing in slaves, was a Roman derivative and not easily emulated. We are left with a plan imposed by other world powers or one created by the leaders of Israel and Palestine. I think that the Israeli and Palestinian people could figure it out if their leaders went away a long with the violence. The attack was mindlessly moronic, religious idiocy at its absolute worse. Taking hostages made no sense. What’s the plan? Israel’s response is madness. Provoked or knee-jerk, it will accomplish nothing good.
It’s like the Israel’s blind leading the insanely blind. Our universe screams out for reasonable people who have the intellect and insight to solve problems without war. Without death. Without hatred. Without religion.