September 28, 2023
As a 1971 Farmingdale High School graduate and a retired East Hampton High School teacher, I’d like to thank the East Hampton High School community for their heartfelt gesture in recognition of that terrible tragedy the Daler community has suffered. Well done, East Hampton High School, well done.
Make You Proud
September 30, 2023
To the Editor,
I’m wondering if the following letter in memory of my brother Jeremy Goncalves can be published in the next paper. It would be greatly appreciated by the family.
Hey, Jeremy. It’s been three years since you passed away, and it’s weird that any of us are here without you. And yet I see you all the time in your nieces and nephews — in a gesture, an expression, in their generosity when they’re having a hard moment.
We all miss you and are doing our best to make you proud and to teach our kids all the outdoorsy stuff we grew up doing together. When we’re on an adventure, that’s when we feel closest to you.
Halloween is coming and we’re going to do it big in your honor! We love you, big brother.
Lone Star Babies
October 2, 2023
Labor Day has long passed, and many of our summer visitors are back at school and work, but the famous Hamptons visitor, the lone star tick, is still out in force. The lone star babies (super-tiny larvae) and nymphs are still searching for a blood meal as we march through September. Many confuse the lone star larvae with the larvae of mites (commonly called chiggers). Remember, there are no chiggers in Suffolk County, only lone star larvae. Often stepping on a nest can result in scores of tiny bites.
Remember to use repellent on your skin and additionally on your clothing, check for ticks often when out (using a lint roller on your pants is a great way to catch ticks before they attach), and kill ticks by putting your clothing in the dryer before washing them.
October 2, 2023
On Monday, my family had a scare while playing at Herrick Park. My 2-year-old grandson ran after his soccer ball, right through the trees along Stop and Shop’s parking lot. This barely-there border is very close to the soft asphalt play area where many children run. I was astounded to learn the fence behind the trees had been taken down. There was no sign whatsoever to alert the public to its removal. How does the village not see this as a lawsuit waiting to happen?
In helping families keep their children safe, I would think a fence would be a basic requirement when a public park is located alongside a parking lot.
Thank God my grandson was not hurt. Someday a child may not be so fortunate.
The Money Is There
October 2, 2023
To the Editor,
I realize I’m a little late in writing this but here goes anyway. The Amagansett School, specifically the teacher and students, should be commended for getting awarded the Blue Ribbon Award for academic excellence. But I find it a little distressing that with the large salaries paid to the superintendent and principal of the Amagansett School, $249,000 and $199,000 respectively based on numbers from SeeThroughNY.net, plus providing housing for the superintendent, the Amagansett School still does not have air-conditioning in the classrooms. Yes there are some offices and the library that have A.-C., but as far as I know there are no classrooms that currently have it. Why is that, why not the whole school. Is it cost?
I, for one, as a taxpayer in the Amagansett School District, would be happy to pay a little more if it could be earmarked for the addition of air-conditioning in the school for the safety and well-being of the students and teachers. Based on the salaries paid to the administration, I believe the money is there somewhere, it just needs to be reallocated.
Passing the Tank
October 1, 2023
Tanks for the memories. In your Sept. 28 article “Tank Rumbles on From V.F.W. Post,” you discuss the removal of the “Cold War-era behemoth” that had become a “local landmark of sorts” at the entrance to East Hampton Village — a well-written description.
Its final resting place and destination, after nearly a 30-year residence, remains, as you point out, unknown, “it’s going upstate to an American Legion somewhere.”
As a resident of East Hampton since 1987 and passing the tank hundreds of times over the years, I often wondered why it was there and what purpose it served.
I’m sure that many hated to see it and saw it as an outdated symbol of violence and destruction of a bygone era, a Cold-War relic unnecessary today for peace in our bucolic village and our country as we search for other ways to resolve conflicts.
Others probably loved it and saw it as a symbol of patriotic strength and security, necessary for our safety, reminding us of the never-ending vigilance we should have for our enemies — here and abroad. I consider myself a wonderer for the purpose of this letter.
What struck me most in your article was Herbert (Smokey) Anderson’s (an officer of the day at the V.F.W.) comment in the last sentence of the article in which he says, “What happens next is up for discussion through the post.”
In our already hyper-polarized society, may I suggest that “what will go in its place” should be a discussion for the entire East Hampton community that would certainly include the post but would also involve the lovers, haters, wonderers, and whoever else was interested in the project.
Since the overwhelming majority of East Hampton residents from whatever ideological and political bent want peace for our village, country, and world, the absolute best way to honor our courageous fallen soldiers is to make sure we never have to send our young people into battle again.
All of us could work together to create a community culture of peace in which nonviolent solutions come from collaboration and cooperation among all sectors of our community — the arts, education, environment, business, safety and security, wellness, and government. That’s the model followed by the Cities of Peace project — hundreds of cities around the world have joined in to become part of a growing international network. I’d be glad to work with people of all political persuasions on this invitation to establish East Hampton as an international city of peace.
I would love to hear from Mr. Anderson — perhaps through a response in a letter to The Star — and work with him to further honor the fallen soldiers he so loved and admired through making East Hampton a city of peace — studying and finding nonviolent ways to stop the never-ending wars and violence that threaten to destroy us all.
We need to change the narrative — not find and display new generations of weaponry, perpetuating a mind-set which will only lead to our mass destruction as a species.
I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Anderson, and meeting you in person.
Has to Wonder
September 24, 2023
One of our local residents recently traveled to Midtown to attend a fossil fuel protest. Did she drive, take the Jitney, or a diesel train to Jamaica from here? If she ditches her transportation mode, how will she get to the nearest grocery store or doctor’s office?
One has to wonder about some facts she may not be aware of. Let’s start off with electric vehicles. One major car make weighs in excess of 5,180 pounds, including the batteries, of which some are lithium double-AA. Where are they disposed of? You cannot just throw them in the trash. Electric cordless tools use lithium batteries. I only charge them outside. I don’t let my mobile phone charge overnight either. I constantly check for excessive heat when it charges.
A documentary segment showed African children barefoot and barely clothed, lugging sacks of hand-crushed cobalt carried on their heads and many of the sacks are often half their weight. One complaining his head and shoulders hurt. No water source was seen.
The wind turbines are limited on the power output and it takes almost 300 gallons of oil to lubricate each one. They require twice-a-year maintenance, estimated to cost approximately $125,000 each time They have been known to leak, and their life span is not forever and diminishes as they age. Is she aware of what type of energy is used to manufacture the blades? How is the estimate to build them here, now being increased by a billion dollars to finish?
There is a gigantic open pit in California, where they dump the blades, as they are not recyclable.
Does she think that rubbing two sticks together will light and heat her house? Where is her uproar about Russia, China, Brazil, India, and others, being the major source of pollution in the world?
The Ice Age began over 2.4 million years ago and ended 11,500 years ago. That started climate change.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
September 29, 2023
On Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the East Hampton American Legion Post 419, we will be having a 100th birthday party for my Dad, who we call affectionately the Fish Commander.
My Dad is a retired cement mason foreman and the oldest living member of Local 780. In the early 1960s, the union assigned him a job to do some finished concrete work for the Long Island Lighting Company in Bridgehampton. With some spare time, he took a casual ride through Bridgehampton and East Hampton and marveled at how much the area resembled where he grew up as a child in Murtosa, Portugal. There were farms to the edge of dunes and fishermen haul-seining just as they did in Portugal. Another selling point was the sense of community, with families living in the same town for generations. In my Dad’s hometown, his family dates back to the 1300s and the big question was never if you were related but how and how far back.
In his travels, he stopped in at a real estate office of Drew and Constantino, where Apple Bank is now. Within a few weeks, my Dad and Mom purchased the property in Springs and soon embarked on building the house that I grew up in and where my Dad still lives.
Not knowing what to get someone 100 years old for his birthday, we decided to have a 100-year-old birthday party. And we hope to get 100 people to stop by and wish the Fish Commander a happy birthday. We will have a collection box for donations to be given at the end of the evening to be split between the American Legion and the Springs Fire Department.
Hope to see you there, and God bless.
October 2, 2023
To the Editor,
Hello, my name is Scott Smith and I’m running in the election for the East Hampton Town Board this Nov. 7 on Row B.
I am not a born local, but my father has been coming to Montauk since the 1930s. I tagged along with him ever since I was a kid and have been an active member of the local community for my entire life.
I attended the University of Montana. After graduating, I took a job on a cattle ranch for a few years before coming back here permanently to call East Hampton my home. Over 25 years ago I started a sole-proprietorship called Smith River Kitchens. It is a successful local kitchen and cabinetry design and installation company that employs many local craftsmen on a per diem basis.
I have seen our community go through a lot in these intervening years.
It was the huge influx of people moving here due to Covid-19 that has really driven the price of real estate to unaffordable levels for many locals. They are starting out, want to raise their families here and enjoy what they once had themselves. The East Hampton landscape has drastically changed and I believe the current town board has made things worse in many ways.
I have two children at East Hampton High School and I am a member of the East Hampton Fire Department. A year ago, I decided to get more involved and see if I could help make things better for everyone. I am running for town board because I have been upset with the current leadership. I feel this town that we all call home has been headed in the wrong direction for a long time now.
I hope you will agree that my knowledge from my days working in Montana, and now working with all walks of life in the construction industry, is extremely valuable. These skills are transferable and can be very beneficial to the residents of this town. Why? Simply because I am a problem-solver. I have the ability to bring people together, to work for a common goal that benefits everyone.
The invaluable lessons I learned — whether saving a calf trapped and dying in a snow drift in subzero temperatures or a major resource problem on a job site — all comes down to having a rational thought process and working together to solve the problem.
It is critical to act clearly and rationally, which always results in a positive outcome. But most important you must work with the people around you. I believe if we collectively work together as a community, as a team, even as a family (of East Hampton) the outcome can be nothing short of fantastic.
I will represent all of the people. If I do my job correctly, as I believe I can, then I will please 90 percent of you. This is a bold statement but I do feel I can achieve this.
My door will always be open to hear your issues, I am here for you and will serve the community putting people’s needs first.
Kindly vote for me, Scott Smith, for town board this Nov. 7 on Row B.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
SCOTT W. SMITH
October 2, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I’m writing to express my disappointment and concern about the unqualified candidates nominated by the local Republican committee for election as town supervisor and membership on the town board. On Sunday, I sat for two hours in the Montauk firehouse as the Democratic and Republican candidates presented themselves and responded to questions submitted by the community. The contrast between the Republican nominees and their Democratic opponents is blindingly stark.
The three Democratic candidates — all of whom have served multiple terms in elective and appointed office throughout our town — present deeply relevant public and private-sector experience. Leadership, budgeting (including all of the difficult decisions that go into that), community service, project management, and execution. Their Republican opponents have zero public service experience and, in some cases, no measurable management or leadership experience. They’ve never been accountable to voters or their neighbors. For the most part, they’re simply aggrieved in the most general and palpable way. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d rather not have our town run by a cabal of angry, resentful, and inexperienced people.
The three Democratic candidates have lived in our community — they’ve been our neighbors — for decades. They built their lives here. Raised their kids here. Worked here. Volunteered here. We know them, and they know us. All three of them — and their families — are critical threads in the fabric of our community. They have all served our community with dedication and integrity for years and years. They know East Hampton in their bones.
Can that really be said of their opponents? One is young and inexperienced with apparently no knowledge of what leading and managing the town requires. The others have business experience, but no relevant public service. In fairness, none of them seems to be bad on a personal level — but that’s pretty faint praise in this context, isn’t it? None of the three Republican candidates can claim any local elective or community service. No zoning board of appeals. No planning board. No affordable housing advisory committee. No community preservation fund committee. No town trustees. No East Hampton Village offices, boards, or committees. No other local government, community, or school boards, or committees. No fire departments, chambers of commerce, or citizens advisory committees. In short, what have they done thus far in their lives for East Hampton that suggests they know our community well enough that we should give them our votes? Nothing that I can see, especially when compared to their Democratic opponents, each of whom has spent year after year working hard for us.
Where it really gets troublesome, however, is how the challengers responded to the community’s questions. Sometimes arrogant, sometimes ignorant, and sometimes hectoring with empty rhetoric. One, when asked for her view on the proposed reclamation project, the Benson reserve, indicated she’s in favor of the project because she “likes goats.” That’s like saying you like going to the beach when asked about coastal resiliency. At least she was honest with herself as much as the audience in her closing remarks, noting, “I know I may not have the experience to be supervisor.” She’s right; she doesn’t.
Another challenger expressed frustration, questioning what the Democrats had accomplished in the last 10 years. Let’s see — sustained the highest municipal credit rating attainable year after year, hurricane and storm recovery efforts, affordable housing development in multiple areas around town (with more to come), a coordinated townwide Covid response that served as an example to communities statewide, open land preservation, historical preservation of local landmarks, ongoing redevelopment of the Montauk Playhouse, new ball fields in Wainscott, and an urgent care facility underway near Town Hall, not to mention the general maintenance of high-quality daily life on the East End. Sure, you can cherry-pick areas where work is ongoing and takes a long time — some of which delay is driven by the state or federal governments, to be fair. By contrast, this particular candidate was mostly eager to attack his opponents and the challenges of managing our town. Maybe he doesn’t really understand the practical and legal limitations on what the town can do. That was the impression he gave.
The third challenger is the smartest boy in the room — just ask him. He has reams of printouts and convenient, selective quotes, and he has lots to say, albeit entirely unresponsive to the questions asked by the community. For example, when asked a specific and direct question about affordable housing, he basically advocated for accessory dwelling units, one of the most important policies implemented by the current town board and otherwise punted on the issue, saying it’s complicated (which is politician talk for “I have no idea what I’m talking about and have nothing to add, but I have to say something”). Smart, but tone deaf. A know-it-all. Except, not really. This candidate has no clothes.
Sadly, not one of the Republican nominees spoke to those assembled as neighbors and friends. Sadly, they failed to acknowledge that, for the most part, people in our town spend their days going about their daily business and are just trying to live their best lives. Sadly, not one of the Republican nominees acknowledged what a truly special place East Hampton is — but their opponents did.
Yes, it’s complicated. Running a town like East Hampton is really, really complicated — and hard. It requires a depth of experience, creative problem solving, and perhaps above all else, patience. In this day and age, change happens slowly, and sometimes you have to reconsider alternatives (e.g., wastewater treatment in Montauk). That doesn’t mean you’ve failed — it means you have to be humble and acknowledge that you have more work to do. The kind of judgment that town leadership requires presupposes the kind of experience that comes from living here year round for years and years, with kids in school with your neighbors’ kids, working alongside your neighbors on municipal, nonprofit, and church committees, serving on school boards and in fire departments, dealing with natural disasters and pandemics, and working with local businesses that employ local people who are trying to make life livable on a daily basis. It requires the kind of profound, tactile appreciation for the truly special place we’re privileged to live in. I heard none of that from the Republican nominees.
How in the world did the local Republican committee pick three nominees who have nothing in their life experiences that would suggest they are actually qualified to do the jobs they’re asking us to elect them to? I don’t get it. Public service Is very different from running a business, working in finance or insurance or becoming a dentist. It just is. It requires so much balance and nuance and mutual respect, and it requires knowledge of the facts and the process. It also requires knowing the people you propose to lead and represent and accepting accountability to them.
What I heard at the Montauk firehouse on Sunday from the Republican nominees was bitter grievance, not constructive solutions or community spirit. We live in one of the most remarkable places anywhere. Yet they painted an unrecognizable picture of East Hampton, grim and dysfunctional. They’re sadly uninformed and, for the positions they seek, inexperienced. The Republicans were once a party of ideas and principles, things that merited discussion and consideration. I wish we had a real contest of ideas and principles this year. Sadly, we don’t.
What Has Happened?
September 30, 2023
To the Editor:
In my usual letter to The Star, I make an assertion and try to offer facts to support it. I write this week to ask a question I hope The Star itself, or one of its readers, will answer: What has happened to Concerned Citizens of Montauk?
I remember it 10 or 15 years ago as a small, brave, honorable, and scrupulously honest organization. The group supporting the apparently duplicitous Benson preserve project (while failing to take a stand on some of the other more critical challenges we face today) does not sound like the same entity. There have been some letters to The Star which suggested a backstory, such as when the prior president resigned, but these were rather oblique. If there has been a huge change in C.C.O.M., I want details (inquiring minds want to know).
For democracy in East Hampton,
Referring to Me
September 25, 2023
In reference to a recent letter to the editor by Laura Michaels, I believe she is referring to me, as I am the only person that fits her description of being on the boards of the Montauk Beach Property Owners Association, concerned citizens, and the citizens advisory committee. So I am taking this opportunity to publicly repudiate her comments inasmuch as: I never told Ms. Michaels that I was against the Benson reserve project. I did state to her that I was curious about the project and considered supporting it to see if it would eventually be applicable and beneficial to the M.B.P.O.A. property. I never voted “no” on M.B.P.O.A.’s Benson reserve position, nor mentioned M.B.P.O.A.’s board stance.
In general, it’s important that people state the facts and not their interpretations of them.
Other Valid Reasons
October 2, 2023
To the Editor,
Three people whose opinions regarding our community, which I ordinarily value as much as anybody’s, expressed their thoughts in last week’s Star about the Benson Reservation. In all three cases on this topic, their opinions and remarks were either misleading or downright false. Two of them are very close friends. The other is the editor of The Star. In the spirit of cooperative discourse, without antipathy, but as a means toward clarity and truth, I felt compelled to write this letter. My purpose is to provide light, not heat, to a topic that has engendered some unkind defamatory discourse. This letter is meant as a fact check of the misleading arguments and to correct the false statements about the Benson reserve project.
David Rattray, in his editorial, first created a straw man by intimating that the purpose of the Benson reserve project is to create a habitat that will replenish the depleted number of monarch butterflies. He then spent the entire essay attacking his own false straw man, stating that the milkweed plant is the only source of food for baby monarch caterpillars and there’s plenty of milkweed here on the East End. And why would anyone spend $850,000 on such an unnecessary, myopic project?
That is grossly misleading. The purpose of the project is not to just create a habitat for monarch butterflies. There are other valid reasons for doing the project: dune resiliency, creating a more natural habitat that would attract other fauna; coastal birds and the insects they feast on that are not as prevalent due to the lack of native vegetation, and forming improved open views of the ocean, which is now completely obscured. David is correct that for the caterpillars of monarchs, the host plant is the milkweed. However, he’s mistaken in stating that it is abundant on the East End. On the contrary, it is deficient.
My good friend and life guru, Larry Smith, claimed in his letter that “the most stable of our beaches on the South Shore of Long Island are those anchored to the sand by so-called invasive flora.” That is not true. The most secure beaches are anchored by the native dune grasses near the beach, which is why the project is not addressing the lower sections near the beach. However, the upper portions have invasive species primarily with shallow roots of 9 to 12 inches that are not as secure as our native grasses that drive roots to 6 to 15 feet.
Larry also intimated that those people across the street from the reserve should be responsible to pay for the project since, in effect, it’s their front yard and they’re the main beneficiaries of the improved vistas. No [local] taxpayer money or town money is being used. If grant funding is not obtained, the project will be funded by the adjacent homeowners and fund-raising.
Oh! and Larry, this project is not in any way analogous to the geotextile fiasco. That project attempted to enhance a natural dune that had already been compromised with man-made hotel structures with an artificial sandbag berm. This project restores a dune that’s gone to weeds with the original natural ecological vegetation.
The third letter was written by one of the smartest guys I know and the person responsible for instilling in me a motivation for community activism, Chris Poli. He wrote a long, seemingly well-thought-out letter in opposition to the project. Unfortunately, the points that Chris made are misguided. The following is a list of Chris’s comments listed in quotes with my counter appearing below each one.
“How can it make sense to allocate precious state environmental grant funding to a venture that appears to yield no discernible water-quality benefits?”
Misleading: The grant is for water quality and for dune restoration. The best water quality along any water body is to create a healthy buffer of deep-rooted plants to direct more water through the cleansing process of healthy soils with plant roots. The deeper the roots the more water quality is possible. As for the grant requested, it is part of the water quality grant process, but is designed for marine habitat improvement.
“There are well-maintained paths that traverse the reserve toward the ocean and the thicket that serves is a remarkable stabilizer.”
False: The thickets are not stable. Those thickets have roots only six to nine inches deep and will come out with a tug, where native grasses will not.
“Uprooting these invasives, some of which boast horizontal root structures extending up to an astonishing 30 feet, would cause significant damage or compromise native vegetation.”
False: Some minor roots may extend out, but when they pull the plants out, it will be likely 18 to 30 inches of disturbed soil. The native vegetation will not be harmed around it and will hold the soils. The disturbed area will be raked smooth, seed would be sprinkled over the top, incorporated with a light rake, then covered with a little straw mulch or blanket to protect from rain. The area will be green and stable in about two weeks.
“It will take three to five years for the new native plant roots to establish themselves and this will render the area resistant to erosion.”
False: Native plants at the surface do not grow fast but have deep roots. The site would be protected within two to three weeks after the seed has germinated, very quickly. However, the plants may only be a foot tall or shorter for the first year as the plants drive the roots deep into the soil. Within a year, the roots will be 4 to 12 feet deep into the soil and start growing tall instead. Native grasses establish quickly and put all of their initial energy into root production and then aboveground leaf and seed production.
“Where will the funding for this ongoing effort come from for the perpetual maintenance needed to prevent the invasives from returning?”
Answer: The majority of the estimated $865,000 budget is for the initial removal and planting. Ongoing maintenance and monitoring to prevent the return of the invasives over 10 years is included in this budget and is not expected to exceed $22,000 per year. If grant funding is not obtained, the project will be funded by the adjacent homeowners and fund-raising.
“Over the course of three to five years, the result would be a destabilized ecosystem that was previously in total equilibrium, leading to pronounced erosion and potential degradation of beach grass and the dune itself, particularly given the increasing severity of weather events.”
False: The site would be protected in a few weeks, and more stable within one year. No degradation will happen at all, especially for the beach grass or lower dunes. There are proven examples of it working that way in Kings Point after doing the same process.
“This ecosystem may not truly harbor invasives, as our environment has evolved significantly, and what was considered native 50 years ago may no longer thrive today.”
Absolutely false. That is not what a native is. It is instead a plant and animal that has co-evolved over millenniums to work together with the balance of nature. An ecosystem truly develops over thousands of years and invasive species do not participate in the ecosystem. They do not provide habitat and food, which are the resources for the most important portion of the food chain of insects. Our local insects have not evolved with these invasive plants. Nonnative plants are not host species to our insects, resulting in the insects having declined populations, which then decreases food and habitat for the birds, bats, mammals, and the rest.
“Placing excessive reliance on any one expert, even those with honorable intentions, especially if they stand to gain financially from executing the project. Such a scenario represents a clear conflict of interest.”
Answer: Receiving $6,000 per year, as this is the fee confirmed publicly by the technical expert for the 10 years, does not meet the definition of “gain financially,” in my opinion. Moreover, Rusty Schmidt is not the only expert. The project has been reviewed and agreed to by the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area, the Partnerships of Regional Invasive Species Management, and the State of New York Natural Heritage Program. It has also been assessed by the town’s environmental and Planning Department.
“Montauk Beach Property Owners Association rejected a similar project on the central portion of Old Montauk Highway because of concerns it would destabilize the dune?”
Answer: As far as I know, the association’s position is to wait and see the results of this project before deciding whether to implement a similar project in the central part of Old Montauk Highway.
“Simply hire a landscape contractor with a cherry picker and trim from the road without disturbing the root structures — a win-win for everyone.”
False: Cutting doesn’t remove the invasive plants. It has been done year on year by the overlook and is not a replacement of plants to better plants, nor is it a long-term solution. It will actually be a more costly maintenance to be cutting annually, and for some species like the vines of Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose, it will make more plants.
“We should adhere to the timeless principles of do no harm and do not look for a problem where none exists.”
Answer: Restoration and restoration biology/ecology is a long-tested and approved science with academic graduate degrees. The invasive species are causing harm. It is our duty to protect the planet by providing biodiversity and to limit the damage that has and continues to occur. The State of New York has an entire program for invasive species management called the Partnerships of Regional Invasive Species Management, where the entire state has been broken into eight regions to help manage invasive species.
Lastly, as to the argument that this project should be further down the list of more crucial issues that require our focus instead, I say the following: I agree that there are existential issues in our town that demand priority — overdevelopment, sewage upgrades, coastal erosion, and affordable housing. But does that mean we postpone all other endeavors to improve our community? Under that metric, we shouldn’t have built the skate park, nor saved the Lighthouse, or built the playhouse, and we shouldn’t have taken down the utility poles to improve the view of the ocean at the entrance of town. As in our personal lives, we prioritize our health, watch our diet, and make exercise a routine, but performing those vital necessities doesn’t mean we have to forgo personal grooming or shun weekend entertainment choices or give up our hobbies. Life is a cornucopia of activities. Some are lifesaving and some are life-enhancing. Engaging them all heightens our life experience. Undertaking a diversified agenda of public initiatives enlivens and improves our community.
Find a Write-In
October 1, 2023
To the Editor,
Back in spring, I spoke at a town board meeting. I called on both political parties to renounce the candidates that were announced for town justice. Why? Bay View Avenue is blocked by geocubes, and both the law firms those candidates have their names in have been working for those owners.
The town board did just pass a resolution to take action against appropriate parties. These candidates have been fine with denying townspeople rights already, In my opinion making them unfit for office.
It might be time to find a write-in candidate. Remember the town justice doesn’t need to be an attorney. That opens up a wide field. Any takers? The more you know.
The Root Cause
October 1, 2023
I spent a lot of time this summer thinking about water in our town — the quality of it (compromised), the supply of it (over-consumed), and the rise of it (persistent).
Like other folks living here, I track the weekly reports from several local environmental groups about their water testing across East End waterbodies. I appreciate and thank these organizations and their volunteers who are dedicated to doing this important and good work.
But though their work is good, the test results themselves are not; there are an awful lot of those yellow and red warning dots each week on the water quality maps. Most every week since June, I’ve read the same warning: “given the recent rain, people should refrain from swimming for 48 to 72 hours.” In other cases in some places, shellfishing had to be paused because of rain-driven contamination of the waters. And in August, along came “vibrio.”
More broadly, the July 27 issue of this paper brought us the sobering article “Long Island Water Quality Has Never Been Worse” by Chris Walsh, quoting the Long Island Marine Monitoring Network that “water quality in Long Island’s bays, harbors, and estuaries reached an all-time low, with water bodies awash in fish kills, dead zones, toxic algal blooms, and fecal bacteria,” that “current conditions threaten public health, economies, and ecosystems across Long Island” and that “only six of 30 sites between East Hampton and Hempstead ranked good and only one site meeting all water quality guidelines.”
Of note, the September 18 and 25 water test results were particularly grim, with what looked to be nearly two-thirds of all sites tested across East Hampton, including some ocean sites, registering “high” bacteria levels. This past Sunday, the annual Montauk Mighty Man Triathlon had to cancel the swim leg of the race because, not only was its Fort Pond swim venue again declared too, toxic for human contact, but their contamination-back-up site in Fort Pond Bay also was too contaminated for swimming.
But when I read most social media posts and articles about water quality, I see the ongoing water fouling attributed sometimes to hot weather but mostly to the rain.
Yes of course it rained, and on a handful of occasions this summer, it rained a lot, ark-like a lot with no let-up for several hours at time. (As I am writing this, it’s torrential, and my cottage roof has now surrendered and sprung a leak.) Climactic patterns and scientific data indicate that on an ongoing basis we should expect greater frequency and intensity of rain, flooding, and other severe weather events, including extended heat waves, as well as rapidly rising and record-setting water temperatures. But positioning the rain as if it is the cause of compromised — if not collapsing — water quality seems to me to be burying the lede.
A repeated message that rain is at fault has the effect of normalizing a crisis situation that should otherwise be considered untenable. Subtly, it conditions us to resign ourselves to the idea that, oh well, it rained again, so we can’t go into the water or eat what comes out of it. Instead of lighting our hair on fire, it numbs us to the need to be fighting — to demand a fix, to focus on the real cause of the catastrophe — and it distracts us from taking actions we need to take.
Though downpours and rising temperatures do exacerbate water quality problems and pathogen-laden runoff, and they catalyze toxicity events such as algal blooms, let’s make no mistake about what is happening here in East Hampton: Human activity, specifically in this case the ballooning scope and scale of development and the intensification of both residential and commercial uses is the root cause of the stunning degradation of water quality unfolding in front of our eyes; it is the wellspring despoiling our precious water bodies.
We continue to witness unprecedented and unnecessary supersizing of houses, and with this engorged development comes the proliferation of structure, hardscape, and landscaping that create water quality problems in myriad ways.
First, the bigger the house, the greater the occupancy and intensity of use, meaning increased flow of sewage and other polluting effluents. And yes, indeed I understand that the new “modern” low-nitrogen septic systems offer meaningful improvement and reduce nitrogen compared with antiquated options. But there’s a reason these newer systems are called “low nitrogen” and not “no nitrogen.” They reduce but they do not eliminate the nitrogen problem, their long-term efficacy in a world of rising groundwater is not known fully, and they are not necessarily effective at dealing with other types of contaminants. Their purpose is supposed to be the mitigation of existing septic flow volumes, and not to be used to support or justify bigger flows coming from expanding development.
Second, the breadth of structure associated with increased house size can generate excessive runoff, and expanding lot coverages and density compromise the resiliency of the land and its ability to absorb heavy rains and mitigate flooding. The accelerating trend of ever bigger and deeper concrete “below-grade” living spaces also undermine absorption and could even interfere with natural hydrological patterns. (Keep in mind that these below-ground luxury stories don’t even get counted by our current code in the official calculation of allowable house size.)
Third, in order to make way for bigger houses and all their so-called “amenities,” there’s the profound impact of increased clearing/over clearing of mature trees, shrubs and ground cover, especially the loss of native vegetation. The clearing as well as extensive excavation and regrading related to construction does much to disrupt the process of water recharge, as it also undermines absorption of rain, runoff, and proper filtering of pollutants. And then, to top it all off, add in the harmful effects of profligate over-irrigation and inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides.
The surface of the land on all of our lots together is supposed to function as the first essential filtration layer for rainwater down towards the aquifer as part of the lengthy and life sustaining recharge process. Lands stripped of native vegetation and their deep root systems, smothered under impervious surfaces and irrigation-sodden sod laden with chemicals and septic waste are a poor filter indeed, and our ground water and surface waters suffer.
And speaking of irrigation in addition to the persistent water quality problems that plagued us all season, concerns about water supply — more specifically, overconsumption — also emerged this summer as the other most critical water issue.
Not only are we warned of seasonal shortages when for weeks we tilt toward extreme-heat and drought rather than deluge, and when thousands of irrigation systems fire off daily all at the same time putting undue strain on the water authority’s pumping system, but we again read about the astounding overconsumption by the list of notorious water hogs published each year.
That is bad enough, but coming to light recently is an even more monumental issue we face about water supply. A significant research piece in The New York Times at the end of August, “America is Using Up Its Ground Water Like There’s No Tomorrow”, (in which the East End is highlighted) was a real wake-up call. In short, overuse and over pumping from the aquifer by ever-larger development and more intense uses directly threatens the aquifer, not just in terms of depleting it sooner than we ever considered, but it also creates the risk of saltwater intrusion and contamination.
All in, what is happening with climate, sea level rise, erosion and flooding, the decline of our ecosystems, the degradation of our water quality, as well as potential for contamination or depletion of our sole-source aquifer is clear and incontrovertible. So, it is inconceivable that oversized development continues not only apace, but that the scale of construction continues to expand and extract cavalierly in the face of it all.
I don’t think I really have to tell anyone, let alone our town board, that water is the existential issue for East Hampton. It’s everything — it defines us, it defines this place, our heritage, our wellbeing, our joy, as well as the economy and many people’s livelihoods.
For now, we can’t control the heat and we can’t control the rain. But the town indeed can “control” appropriately its land use policy and zoning code. The town can manage rationally what we build, how big we build, where we build, and where and what we don’t build. So, it’s time now to stop blaming the rain.
Now is the time to confront reality and muster a sense of urgency about sustaining the value and viability of our land, water and community. Now is the time to propose and make meaningful changes to house size, coverage, and clearing allowances all across the town, and even more specifically, for the town to consider implementing special zones around our coastal and dune land areas to ensure even more judicious scope of development there. And now is the time for us all to come together to protect what we love.
We’re past the time of tweaking things around the margins. We need a real rethink and true reset. Overdevelopment is no longer simply about neighborhood character, or aesthetics, this is about the true health, safety, and welfare of all of us in East Hampton.
A Simple Reason
September 29, 2023
There has been a good deal of wonder about how any financial institution would lend funds without a healthy look at the true market value of the collateral. This is basic due diligence and, in the case of the much-publicized loans to the Trump corp., something seems very much amiss. However, and one needn’t have worked for a major bank for almost 50 years as I did, to see there’s a simple reason for this — money.
The loan banker in charge of the Trump corp.’s business would be compensated by the amount of business he or she brings in. While individual loans may not by themselves be profitable, more business in other areas may well have been promised.
There is or was also the possibility of introductions to other high-net-worth individuals (similar to at least one J.P. Morgan executive’s supposed reasoning for maintaining their Epstein relationship).
The lender to Trump may have also stipulated that the loaned funds be kept in a non-interest-earning demand deposit account at the lender until drawn upon. This would allow the lender to have use of those funds. At year end, the banker who pushed through the loan deals would, of course, expect a bonus based in part on the wonderful deal made with a great company. Simple.
September 27, 2023
If Star readers agree with any of these suggestions they should talk it up, send an email, contact their elected officials. Yes, they all require careful discussion and exact language to achieve their intended purpose, but no political party will benefit from their adoption for long.
Justices of the Supreme Court should be limited to a 20-year term. Members of Congress should be term limited; I suggest that senators be limited to two terms, a total of 12 years, members of the House to five terms, total 10 years.
English should be our national language. Two languages divide a nation.
When a tax-exempt charity has been in existence one full year, it must in all advertisements list the percentage of donations that go to the charity’s intended purpose, versus its expenses.
All federal elections should require voter identification at the polls. Those requesting an absentee ballot must apply in person or if medical conditions prevent in person voting then a physician’s letter or other proof should be required. Both would help elections to better reflect the will of citizen voters.
We have all seen advertisements on television for prescription drugs. They always include a lengthy list of cautions and side effects. This is a waste of your time and the pharmaceutical companies’ money. It is the job of your physician and pharmacist to advise you.
The age to vote in federal elections, except for members of the military or others who put their lives on the line to protect their fellow citizens should be 21. How stupid is it to admit that a citizen lacks the judgment to drink or smoke until age 21 but think that they have the necessary wisdom to select who shall govern us at age 18.
God bless the U.S.A.,
October 1, 2023
I’m so perplexed by watching Joe Biden get in front of the TV camera and insist he is doing a great job. He claims, swears, he and his administration is focused on lowering costs for Americans and they’ve done that.
Truths: Costs have soared 18 percent since 2020. Gasoline up 74 percent, from $2.28 a gallon to $3.96 this month, according to the U.S. energy info administration. Food, groceries, full blown higher.
The gem that has the job well paid, I hope, for having TV press meetings, lies, and protects the Biden administration like you’ve never seen. Ms. Jean-Pierre claims Bidenomics has worked so well that Republicans are trying to take credit for it. What planet do these people live on? Is she an E.T. in disguise?
Another bright one is A.O.C. comparing legal entry into America vs. illegals entering. Twelve million legal people came through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954, however in just two and a half years, 3.8 million illegals have crossed our southern border. She has an economics degree. How did she pass a test?
In God and country,
October 2, 2023
In our political universe there are three basic groupings: conservatives, liberals, and fascists. Conservatives and liberals want what’s best for the country but have different ideas about how to do it. Using sexual parlance as a metric, we easily see the basic differences between them. Conservatives tend to be sexually challenged and unwell with anything outside the missionary method. Orthodoxy or bust. Literally.
Liberals are sexually confused and unsure where they are. Their public and private behavior are rarely in sync.
Fascist is a term that doesn’t resonate in the United States because of our general lack of interest in the rest of the world. It is hard to find an appropriate term to replace fascist that generates the right level of repugnance and disgust. So, from now on fascists will be referred to as dirtbags: repulsive, degenerate trash. Obviously, they are S. and M.- (sadism and misogyny) obsessive, but more into pain than pleasure. (Lauren Bobbitt aside.)
So, as the dirtbags push for a government shutdown, we need to know that the $150 billion in savings is simply a transfer from poor and working class people to the wealthy. There are no savings, just pain, misery, and a repugnant scam.
The truth about shutdowns is that there are never any savings or intention to reduce the budget or the deficit (dirtbags and Republicans never, ever do that). But, as Jesus certainly knows, they sure talk about it a lot.
We should remember that before Steve Bannon was disgraced and exiled he was the dirtbags’ philosophical guru. Autocracy not democracy. Tear it apart to rebuild it in his image.
There are two components to the Bannon Doctrine: Expendability and sadism. People are essentially useless and if they are obliterated for the benefit of dirtbag nation, so be it. Only white, wealthy Christians have value. The sadistic part is just guys being guys (see Newt Gingrich).
So, perhaps the best example of how the DB elite works its magic is the opioid crisis. “American Cartel” by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz can demonstrate all the gory details. First, it was and is real. Billions of addictive pills were injected into the U.S. population by our major pharmaceutical companies, or Big Pharma, distributed through the drug distribution network, sold by all of our leading pharmacies and prescribed by tons of our leading doctors. One town in West Virginia, population 5,700, received three million pain pills at the local pharmacies in one year — 540 pills for every person in town.
The companies knew the pills were addictive. Knew they were going to the black market. Knew that people were dying like flies, 50,000 to 100,000 per year. Knew the profits were astronomical. Knew that the addicts and the dead people were all expendable.
Of course our useless government, as the DBs will tell us, wasn’t buying in to the scheme. The Drug Enforcement Agency under the direction of Joe Rannazzisi went at all the involved parties big time. Yet, no matter how often they prosecuted and fined the pill companies, they continued flooding the market. Set up pill mills. Focused on one state, Florida, where everything was legal. Closed one distribution center and opened another. The flow of pills never stopped. Too much money and too many expendable people to beat up.
When the D.E.A. made them too crazy, they decided to get rid of the principal trouble makers. With the help of Republican DBs, they got the most dangerous D.E.A. people removed and passed a law making it really difficult to prosecute the bad guys.
So understand, that despite the addiction and the death and the pain, the pill purveyors refused to obey the law. They were brazen enough to accuse the D.E.A. of being one of the causes of the problem. There was no limit to their fascism. Genuine DBs.
Yet while dirtbaggery may have deep roots in the general population, it almost always owes its popularity and temerity to one leader. Someone who feels nothing and has no moral compass. Someone who says that his ex-Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley should be executed because of his disloyalty to him. What the rest of the world calls fascist we call MAGA — led by our own unabashed dirtbag.