World Upside Down
October 30, 2023
Today my world seems to have been turned upside down. I saw the pictures of swastikas in Montauk. In Montauk?
I was born in Europe in 1931 and came to the United States in 1953, eight years after the Second World War. In 1964, we bought our summer house in East Hampton. Now that the children are grown up, I live here full time. Should anyone ask how things are going, I would tell them that I live in Paradise. Having seen a good bit of the world and given my World War II experiences, what else could I possibly say?
So now my question is how am I to deal with the fact that swastikas appeared in Montauk? In paradise?
October 30, 2023
I had a letter drafted asking voters for their support on Election Day. However, in light of the acts of hatred that took place in Montauk on Monday, I am taking this opportunity to ask the members of our community to stand together in peace and love.
Ms. Burke-Gonzalez is the Democratic candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor. Ed.
East End Ohana
October 30, 2023
On behalf of Colleen McGowan and myself, a big mahalo to The Star for your great coverage, which helped raise awareness and, in turn, helps the success of the Maui Strong Musical fund-raiser and the Small Works for a Big Cause Maui Art fund-raiser. Kudos to Mark Segal.
Also, a big thank-you to Peter Honerkamp, for offering the Talkhouse, and William Quigley, for offering the ABNY Gallery. With their help and the generosity of our East End ohana we have raised more than $27,000. These funds will provide much-needed relief to this devastated community.
October 25, 2023
To the Editor,
On Wednesday morning I was walking my pup on Montauk Highway past the Amagansett School. Much to my surprise, I heard a woman’s voice speaking over the school’s loudspeaker. She I presume was leading the student body in the Pledge of Allegiance.
I stood there listening, reminiscing, and proud that the Pledge of Allegiance is still alive and well.
October 29, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
Thank you and the staff at The Star for covering the exciting homecoming football victory and the unfortunate injuries suffered by Coach McKee. Coach McKee does so much for our community. On behalf of the East Hampton Youth Flag Football players and parents, we wish him a speedy recovery.
I couldn’t help but notice an omission in the reporting on the homecoming game: the participation of players from Youth Flag Football in the pre-game festivities. It was a wonderful event for the kids, who deserve their own thank-you for turning out to cheer on the victorious Bonac squad.
Thanks for a great season — and get well soon, coach!
For Many Years
October 26, 2023
To the Editor,
Regarding Richard E. Whalen’s letter in the Oct. 26 issue, my house on Old Montauk Highway, Montauk, was for many years owned by a Miss Sammis, who my mother still remembers. Not enough to name a beach after, but it does establish a tenuous link between the Huntington Sammis clan and the East Hampton area.
For what it’s worth,
October 26, 2023
I enjoyed your column on Sammy’s/Sammis Beach. I live in Northwest, and that’s the nearest beach. I’ve always wondered about the uncertain spelling. I knew there must be a story there.
I did a Google search for “Sammis Beach” to see what I could find. I’ve copied some of the results below. (I put the search term in quotes, which forces Google to look for that exact search term.)
You’ll get a kick out of it. Or maybe not.
Mr. McCreary’s Google search results included links to pornography websites with videos by a Sammi St. Clair, notably one titled, “Sammis Beach Body.” Ed.
October 27, 2023
To the Editor:
East Hampton village is — was — beautiful. Entering the village from Woods Lane, one sees a lovely pond, windmills, green vistas. Leaving the village via Newtown Lane, one sees Herrick Park, a vast green area near the children’s swings, a calming, soothing, pretty view.
Jerry Larsen, what are you doing? Basketball courts? Close to Newtown Lane? Will there be night lights? Two courts? How awful. No more green vistas. No more room for temporary tents for Author’s Night or film festival tickets or concerts or art sales.
Find another place for basketball. Work with the town to secure a spot not so prominent. Even putting it behind the baseball field in front of the back parking lot is better than smack dab along Newtown Lane. Or better yet, don’t build one at all.
Violation of Law
October 27, 2023
The recently announced plan for a roundabout at the difficult Long Lane intersection was ill considered. About a year ago, the town board discussed the very same idea and did not support moving forward. Notably, the recent decision was made without any environmental review, a clear violation of state law.
In our previous review, the highway superintendent agreed that a four-way stop should first be tested. Installing two inexpensive signs is a prudent alternative to costly large-scale construction.
In its recent discussions, the board ignored newly drafted changes to the purposes listed in our zoning code. One relevant change requires zoning to encourage easy and safe walking and biking. The board ignored the difficulty that car-focused roundabouts pose for joggers and bikers who regularly use the intersection.
Nor did the board discuss the location’s designation as a scenic area of local significance. Long Lane’s panoramic views will be impacted by both the roundabout and the many signs required to avoid confusion. The supervisor’s dismissive remark that rural character was of no concern given existing traffic was absurd.
Nor did the board have any accident data justifying such an expensive capital project. My prior research of many years of data suggested that it was unnecessary. In fact, a roundabout is likely to increase traffic.
It is inexcusable to ignore required environmental review, which tests the strength and practicality of town board proposals. When review is not conducted, projects fail.
The town board has a record of many such false starts, including proposed wastewater structures in Hither Hills State Park; the inappropriate cell tower location in the Crandall-Norfolk woodland (which delayed improved cell service by years); the costly design of an earlier senior center building that was abandoned when it did not fit on the original site, and the rushed proposal for an unnecessary 7,500-square-foot aquaculture project on Gann Road, to name a few.
Required state environmental review discloses flaws, permits public participation, and protects our town. Instead, this board seems to repeatedly adopt the motto of “Ready. Fire. Aim.”
Mr. Bragman is a former member of the East Hampton Town Board. Ed.
October 24, 2023
Incredibly, the Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s Montauk Wastewater and Sewering Report commissioned by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk completed in June 2023, has just now seen the light of day with the general public, many of whose C.C.O.M. dues paid for the report. C.C.O.M. and the town have had it in hand since the early summer.
Why the delay one may pose? Well, the report eviscerates the whole premise of the need for a centralized sewer treatment plant, along with the engineering firm’s work that the Town of East Hampton commissioned to, it appears, confirm their hypothesis.
One does not want to be “looking to confirm” a hypothesis because that’s confirmation bias. You need to retain an open mind either way to handle the new data evenhandedly. Thank you, Chris Gobler.
The report underscores the accurate, independent, objective, open-minded scientific analysis that should have been conducted by the town supervisor, the Town of East Hampton Natural Resources Department staff, and the Wastewater Committee before they all audaciously asked the Suffolk County Parks Trustees to swap Hither Woods parkland sited above an aquifer, to site the unneeded plant.
This whole affair whiffs of alternative motivations and/or simply not meeting proper performance expectations for the outgoing town supervisor, among others.
Well, good riddance to bad rubbish,
Black and White
October 27, 2023
To the Editor:
At the end of the day, perhaps the paint color of the exterior of a nonhistoric commercial building in a historic district is not the most crucial issue, but it has gripped our town — and me. Why? Maybe because of an overpowering sense of helplessness many of us had while watching the architectural review board turn a deaf ear to the compelling arguments in support of Rowdy Hall’s application. There are few more respected architectural authorities than Paul Goldberger, a local resident, Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic for The New York Times, author, lecturer, and certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to opposing local projects. And yet, it was as if most A.R.B. members’ eyes rolled back and glazed over when one of its members read aloud Mr. Goldberger’s very cogent argument in support of the application. They didn’t appear to consider this expert opinion. It felt very much like a microcosm of what is at the heart of our nation’s dysfunction: the extent to which our leaders come to the table with preformed opinions, talk past each other and don’t listen, integrate, and consider views different from their own.
What was perhaps most frustrating was board chairwoman Kathleen Cunningham’s fundamental misunderstanding of her and the board’s role and authority. During the hearing, Ms. Cunningham repeatedly mislabeled “opinion” as fact and “guidelines” as code, demonstrating a flawed interpretation of the A.R.B.’s role and the directives which empower them. Ms. Cunningham went so far as to assert that, “This board does not have the power to issue a variance to town code,’ “ explicitly implying that a “yes” vote for Rowdy’s application would require a variance. During a subsequent sparring session with Attorney Jon Tarbet, she denied and tried to walk this assertion back — But it’s on video. Thanks, LTV.
There is one fact that is clear — the guidelines for paint color for unhistoric commercial buildings in the historic district are vague and subjective, with the operative criterion being, “other colors used should harmonize with the colors of the historic buildings and with the setting of the historic district.” Ms. Cunningham blithely asserted as settled fact that black paint could not possibly harmonize with white paint, because they are opposites. I imagine most top designers would dispute her allegation about the harmonic relationship between black and white.
Having served as an elected official on the East Hampton School Board for 12 years, I’ve taken my fair share of criticism and come out bruised in more than a few community scrums, but I have always sought to display respect for my critics and my colleagues. For that reason, I was most disappointed by Ms. Cunningham’s sarcastic response to her board colleague Frank Guittard’s voice of support for the Rowdy application. Upon his expression of support, Ms. Cunningham defensively muttered, “Okay, so Frank, you’re the hero.” In doing so, she dismissed Mr. Guittard’s support, backed by a cogent argument, as his wanting to be a “hero.” It was conduct unbefitting the chairperson of a board which wields significant power in this town.
Rowdy’s application should not be about winners and losers, heroes, or villains. It is about a community which has a deep sense of its history and deciding how to move forward and retain what we all love about it. We may have different opinions on the way to do that, but we must have a consistent set of facts. I would argue that paint can be easily changed and fixed over time; a flawed process that breaks our community apart is harder to heal.
October 23, 2023
Two comparable issues confront Wainscott and East Hampton Town. Both involve an entitled few with little regard for our larger community and natural environment. The airporters are engaged in yet another dishonest dark money campaign against duly elected representatives who rightly believe that a town ought to be able to control its own property and well-being. The airporters’ P.R. persists with the lie that “town officials are using taxpayer money” to deal with the onslaught of litigation brought by the airporters themselves. Money for legal costs comes directly from airport-only funds derived from leases, fuel sales, and landing fees. Anyone paying attention knows that — and the airport‚Äôs impact on the town’s economy is negligible. And luxury aircraft emit lots of unnecessary pollution. And no, we are not using the airport to fly overseas military missions or defend the nation against U.F.O.s.
The Maidstone Gun Club is another long-time disaster: bullets from the range hitting residents’ houses, mind-numbing shooting violating noise ordinances all day every day, and who knows how much lead leaching into the ground, air, and aquifer. (That’s never been tested, actually.) We laud the Democrat officials for standing up for airport regulation. We hope to laud them for accepting that having an outdoor shooting range in a residential neighborhood is nuts. There are far better uses of municipal land.
Stated the Obvious
October 30, 2023
To the Editor,
Financial problems are plaguing the wind power industry. Siemens, a major manufacturer of wind turbines used by the leading offshore wind developers, lost $4.8 billion last year due to significant failure rates on its turbine components and is looking for a bailout from the German government. Meanwhile, large offshore wind developers in New York are having money troubles, too. According to The Wall Street Journal, they recently asked regulators for an increase in contractual payments by an average of 48 percent to cover their costs. Regulators denied their requests, so now developers are deciding whether to cancel the projects if they can’t get more subsidies from Washington. So, look for taxes to go up too.
The president of Orsted, which is building the South Fork Wind project off Montauk, candidly stated the obvious in a recent Bloomberg article: “In order for the industry to bring future projects to fruition, it’s ‘inevitable’ that consumer prices for energy will increase,” he said. “And if they don’t, neither we nor any of our colleagues are going to build more offshore. It’s very simple.”
While wind power may be needed to reduce the impact of fossil fuels, the truth is that it isn’t always reliable and it certainly won’t be cheap.
A Fair Price
October 23, 2023
To the Editor:
I was extremely disappointed to learn that Long Island will suffer a setback in the development of offshore wind energy. Four projects that would have benefitted Long Islanders are now in limbo: Beacon Wind, Sunrise Wind, and Empire Wind 1 and 2. Thankfully, South Fork Wind is already under construction and was not affected.
This setback is because the Public Service Commission denied inflation adjustments to contracts with offshore wind developers bid out years ago. The P.S.C.’s reason: Utility rate increases to cover the inflation adjustments would have put too much burden on consumers.
The anticipated increases? An average of $5 per month per household. Is that not a fair price to enable New York to shut some polluting gas-fired power plants? Is that not a fair price to build a clean energy economy and add good jobs for New Yorkers? Is that not a fair investment by families to help ensure a liveable planet for their children? And since when did the P.S.C. deny rate increases for conventional power companies? Why is wind energy any different?
Governor Hochul and the P.S.C. seem to have caved to the “affordability” pressure campaign from the fossil fuel industry. What we cannot afford — more delay in meeting our clean energy mandates.
Lessons of Florida
October 30, 2023
To the Editor:
Beach communities from Maine to Florida are struggling to manage shoreline erosion in the face of accelerating sea level rise and slowly coming to the realization that maintaining beaches by dredging sediments from the sea floor cannot keep pace with SLR and other climate phenomena (i.e., tropical cyclones in January, collapsing ocean gyres). With a projected life span of four years for nourished beaches, capacity to deliver will not match demand. Federal dollars are drying up and a small fleet of East Coast dredgers capable of performing the work are spread thin.
Instead of confronting reality and making the hard decisions, like moving back from an expanding ocean, politicians are taking the easy way out by committing millions of taxpayer dollars on short-lived sand replenishment projects with no end in sight. Fiduciary negligence aside, willful ignorance jeopardizes the long-term sustainability sandy beaches, tidal wetlands, and other coastal resources. Delays instituting adaptive strategies, such as coastal retreat, are a repeat prescription for coastal armoring and an inevitable death sentence for recreational beaches. Death by anchoring.
Long Island-elected officials, particularly East Hampton Town leaders, must heed the lessons of failure in Florida. Bathtub Beach in Martin County has been artificially replenished for some 20 years. The most-recent augmentation washed out to sea in less than two years, requiring continuous dumping of mined quarry sand (sound familiar, East Hampton?). Regrettably, Martin County officials surrendered to the seawall, the beginning of the end for this iconic recreational beach, and what is a look into the future for the downtown Montauk beach if officials go down the path of political expedience, taking the easy way out.
Stop kicking the can. It’s time to move back.
Work to Be Done
October 30, 2023
During the final stretch of the campaign for Suffolk County Legislature, in reflecting back over the past several months, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to run to represent the East End. Like each of you, the East End is more than just a place to me. It is my home, my community, my family and my identity. The iconic landscape of our coastline is an inspiration to each of us daily, as are the hard working and caring communities that make up the East End. It would be a privilege to serve the South Fork in the Suffolk Legislature.
Although I have served as a Southampton Town trustee for three terms, the position of Suffolk legislator encompasses a much broader scope. In March, I began attending County Legislature general and committee meetings.
I have learned much these last many months. I am up to the challenge and am laser-focused on addressing the concerns of the many people whose doors I have knocked on, whose thoughts and concerns I have listened to and learned about as I traveled from Westhampton to Montauk, from Flanders to Sag Harbor to Springs.
Quality of life issues, such as traffic and workforce housing; environmental concerns pertaining to sea level rise, and coastal resiliency; water quality , as well as water quantity; preservation of open space, these are but a few of the concerns that have been brought forward by members of our community. There is much work to be done, but I am up to the task of doing the hard work of government as a Suffolk legislator for District 2.
In light of the events taking place on the world stage, as well as the national and even within our own community, it is more important than ever to have voices that can be heard across divides, to have hands that can reach out to others to begin to work together to find solutions and get things done. I am that voice and those hands.
I ask for your vote now and on Election Day to continue that fight for our quality of life, to retain the character of our community and protect the beloved place we call home.
ANN E. WELKER
One South Fork
October 30, 2023
The Suffolk County Legislature comprises 18 legislators. Sixteen are from the five western townships, leaving one South Fork and one North Fork legislator.
Never before have there been so many issues left unresolved on the South Fork. From County Road 39, fentanyl, which is killing our youths; migrants, public safety, housing, infrastructure, and septic waste treatment, to name a few.
Your next legislator must have a firm grasp of government operations, legislative procedure, public policy, applicable laws, and government advocacy. They will need to be able to build bridges with 16 legislators and, when appropriate, be fierce advocates to fight tooth and claw to achieve goals to benefit our communities. The legislature is no place for on-the-job training.
To accomplish these feats, your next legislator must have the political savvy to play political chess on multiple levels to handle the 16 legislators who will equally fight for their constituents. These skills and shrewdness are necessary for the South Fork to obtain valuable funding and resources.
I have the skills to be the most effective legislator. I have over 30 years of experience as a police supervisor, union president, and Albany lobbyist. I have handled complex multibillion dollar state budgets, drafted multimillion dollar legislative bills, and negotiated multimillion dollar collective bargaining agreements.
I believe in our community, and I believe in you and your families. Over the past few months, I have attended citizens advisory committee and civic meetings from Montauk to Westhampton. I have worshiped with you and attended countless events and fund-raisers, all so I better understand every inch of this beautifully diverse community we call home. I love people and will be an active member in all your communities, so I publicly post my cell number 631-324-0528 and email [email protected].
This is why I am asking for your vote this year for Manny Vilar for Suffolk legislator. Thank you for the opportunity to spend time with you these past few months, and looking forward to the next two years.
For Ann Welker
October 30, 2023
I’d like to put in a good word for Ann Welker, running for county legislator. I’ve worked with Ann over the past several years, she in her capacity as a Southampton Town trustee and me as an East Hampton counterpart.
Ann shared an enthusiastic and active presence in the environmental interests of our boards, such as horseshoe crab breeding surveys, public aquaculture initiatives, and efforts to maintain good water quality in our coastal pond ecosystems. In this last case, she initiated a collaboration between our two boards seeking a regional approach to pond management.
Ann is hands-on, positive, and proactive and she will serve the South Fork well as our next representative to county government.
Just Always Shows Up
October 30, 2023
I urge all your readers who value what makes living on the East End so special to me — our beautiful, mostly undeveloped beaches, miles of protected trails and forests, and so many options for places to get into the water and swim, paddle, fish, crab, or whatever — to join me in voting for Ann Welker this coming election as our representative in the Suffolk Legislature.
I first met Ann nearly 30 years ago, when I was studying marine biology at the former Long Island University Southampton campus, where her father was teaching marine ecology. We were both working with an organic gardening company at the time. Since then, I’ve gotten to know Ann as a strong and joyful water woman who helps others feel confident and safe in the ocean by teaching kids how to swim and by being part of the Southampton Village Ocean Rescue team. She is also one of those people who just always shows up and gets her hands wet or dirty depending on the task, helping to maintain the community oyster garden in Shinnecock Bay or cleaning the beach with the Surfrider Foundation.
In fact, when I was unfortunate enough to break my toe about 10 years ago, she stepped in to collect water samples at Sagg Main Beach and Pond, Flying Point, Mecox Bay and other ocean beaches for the Surfrider Foundation’s water testing program and to help with their analysis in the lab. Although as an East Hampton resident I couldn’t vote for her as the first woman to serve as a Southampton town trustee in their nearly 400 years’ history, I could not have been prouder to have her working to restore water quality and protect public access to our coastal waters.
Now we all have the opportunity to vote for Ann to represent us in the Suffolk County Legislature and to be the voice for the issues that matter most to us here locally. Ann has deep roots on the East End. She will be a tireless advocate for clean water and healthy, thriving communities so that East Hampton and the rest of the South Fork remains a place we can be happy and proud to call home.
Deep Community Ties
October 30, 2023
I’m writing to express my support for Ann Welker to represent the South Fork at the Suffolk County Legislature. She has deep family and community ties to Southampton and the East End. Her lifelong commitment to ocean safety, community volunteerism, and her tenure as the first-ever woman elected to serve as a Southampton trustee position her perfectly to be a strong leader, representing our local priorities in Hauppauge. She will support change that is needed to reverse the trend we are seeing with declining water quality in our bays, harbors, ponds, and other important coastal waterways that so many of us depend on for quality of life and to support our livelihoods.
October 24, 2023
For the last six years as an East Hampton Town trustee, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Southampton’s first elected female town trustee in nearly 400 years: Ann Welker.
We became friends early on, supportive of each other as we often shared projects that concerned the same end goal: to implement solutions that would restore, enhance, and better our bodies of water, landscapes, and the overall environment. I witnessed firsthand how dedicated Ann was to the East End’s fragile estuaries, salt marshes, ponds, and bays. During these years, Ann and I have been “oyster farmers” through East Hampton’s Shellfish Hatchery, and we’ve grown to know each other well.
Ann’s work ethic is phenomenal. She’s energetic, thoughtful, analytical, and sensible. Ann is a problem solver. She approaches her work with experience and knowledge and does her research with accomplished professionals in their field.
A lifelong resident of the East End, Ann knows the issues we face and will put her energy into solving the problems we are all concerned about. Here are just a few she’ll tackle: The Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act public referendum; affordable housing for our residents; coastal erosion and sea level rise; renewable energy resources; public transportation to relieve traffic congestion, and wastewater management.
Ann has committed to continuing her work in preserving and protecting the South Fork as the Democratic candidate for Suffolk County legislator, District 2, the position currently held by Legislator Bridget Fleming, who decided not to run again. Ms. Fleming fully supports and endorses Ann.
As a legislator, Ann Welker will bring her expertise, experience, and knowledge of our community needs and concerns to the forefront with her colleagues, who have the jurisdiction and ability to pass legislation that will benefit and serve the people in District 2.
Fourteen notable civic, environmental, and labor union organizations have endorsed Ann, including the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, and Newsday.
On Nov. 7, please vote for Ann Welker, a qualified and earnest representative who will work diligently as our Suffolk County legislator.
I've Been Honored
October 27, 2023
To the Editor:
I am writing to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the incredible community that I have had the privilege to serve as a town trustee over the past eight years. As I seek re- election for another term I want to express my deep gratitude for the trust and support you have placed in me, and reaffirm my dedication to preserving and enhancing our community. As we look ahead to the future, I am more committed than ever to the well-being of the Town of East Hampon. The preservation of our natural beauty and the improvement of the quality of life for our residents remain in the forefront on my mission. I am proud of the progress we have made and I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for our community.
Some examples of projects which have been important to me during my tenure include getting the dredging back on track at Georgica Pond as well as working with the Friends of Georgica, East Hampton town and village and property owners to establish wetland buffers. The net result of these actions resulted in the consistent improvement in water quality in Georgica Pond. As trustee I played an integral role in negotiating the community benefits package related to the offshore wind facility bringing in over 28 million dollar to the community for environmental and waste quality projects. I initiated the horseshoe monitoring program in East Hampton to assess the strength of the local population. And finally I was involved in creating 35 year leases to the Lazy Point community allowing lease holders the ability to secure mortgages and become property owners.
I have been honored to work with dedicated community members, volunteers and public servants and my fellow trustees who share the same passion for our town's growth and prosperity. Together, we have achieved numerous milestones, and I believe our collective efforts will continue to make a positive impact in the years to come. As I seek re-election, I humbly ask for our continued support and your vote. I am confident that, together, we can build upon progress we've made over the past 8 years and create even brighter future for our community. I want to thank you for your unwavering support and for the trust you have place in me and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve our community.
JAMES C. GRIMES
Failure of Elites
October 24, 2023
In November’s election, East Hampton will once again place into office a caretaker government of the status quo.
All of the serious problems — lack of affordable housing, traffic, an aging local population needing services, an economy totally dependent upon the summer partying crowd (their whims and fashion) — will be left to fester. The new supervisor will be someone who couldn’t get a senior center built in 10 years of trying.
Should we blame the political candidates who run for office? Should we blame the one-party state we have created or the boss of that party who carefully grooms safe candidates for office?
What has been created in East Hampton is due to a failure of elites. A town in which millionaires are a dime a dozen, which has a museum for farming, fishing, and its ancient history but can’t find a logical solution to the problems enumerated above begging for a solution.
Ask yourself that when you go into the voting booth.
One Dissenting Voice
October 23, 2023
My name is Michael Wootton and I am running for the open seat on the East Hampton Town Board this Election Day, Nov. 7. Let me tell you why.
As Election Day approaches, I pose the following question to all voters: “Are you better off today than four years ago?” or, actually, “Are you better off today than 20 years ago when the Democrats started their monopolistic control of the town board of East Hampton?”
Has our current town board been able to serve the needs of all East Hampton residents in all these intervening years? Have they been able to protect the environment, stop overdevelopment, or completed the senior center they promised when they first ran back in 2014? Did they even build a simple cellphone tower or keep residents’ water safe from contaminants or maybe keep town employees’ morale up or at least address traffic congestion situation in any meaningful way?
The answer I consistently get from the various constituent groups I meet while out campaigning is a resounding, “no.”
“No” from our senior citizens for whom time is an obviously sensitive matter. The new senior citizens center was first promised in 2014 and is now expected to open in 2025. If you were 72 when you first heard this from the board, you will be 83 before you can walk in the door. Yikes!
“No” from residents of Springs who still do not have an operational cellphone tower and continue to drop important calls. Even the Springs School had a dire smoke situation that required operational cell service and it wasn’t available. Luckily no children were hurt.
“No” from the East Hampton Town Police and the East Hampton Sportsmen’s Alliance as they are trying to force the closure of the Maidstone Gun Club with yet another costly litigation fight.
“No” from East Hampton Town employees; as they suffer from low morale primarily due to a stressful work environment — and because of relatively low wages, when compared to the private sector and adjacent townships for doing similar work.
“No” from local business owners who are hustled for color choice of their storefronts in Amagansett, or for allowing patrons to dance after dinner in a Montauk eating establishment. All while mom-and-pop little shops get crunched by the big luxury stores on Newtown Lane that now looks more like Rodeo Drive than the historical town we knew.
“No” from Montauk residents where water quality issues remain the paramount problem. Fort Pond was deemed unsafe to swim in for the Mighty Montauk Triathlon on Oct. 1 simply from stormwater runoff. The town board comes up with a grandiose plan — with an initial price tag of nearly $80 million and 10 years to complete — for a wastewater treatment plant in Hither Woods State Park, but the plan amazingly does little to address the water issues for Fort Pond or Lake Montauk.
“No” from Wainscott residents who feel ignored and unheard. My own hamlet is by far the smallest village in the township but it seems to be the favorite target of the current supervisor and the town board. We residents feel like the school bully keeps picking on the weakest kid.
“No” from East Hampton taxpayers whose tax money ultimately pays the total bill of $8 million for all these endless litigation fights and fines (Truck Beach, East Hampton Airport, Maidstone Gun Club, and now Hero Beach Club).
“No” from all the East Hampton residents whose pleas were heard by all at the Town Hall meeting on Oct. 5 to address changing Chapter 255 of the zoning code. As someone testified: “Something must be done fast or the East Hampton they knew and love will be gone forever due to the max buildout.”
I could go on, but your readers know all too well the failures of this town board, well documented by your paper, and by the readers who write the letters to the editor.
If “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” as Einstein once quipped, I know East Hampton is ready for change and that is exactly what I hear while campaigning. I think the East Hampton Democrats know that change is afoot too, as my lawn signs once strategically placed seem to magically disappear.
My election to the open town seat could bring much-needed change by breaking the one-party rule of East Hampton Democrats’ control of the town board. The Democrats would still be in the majority, but at least there would be one dissenting voice of reason.
I am fiscally conservative, socially progressive, and I am an advocate for our environment. I believe good governing requires participative management skills and the ability to not only lead, but also listen, bridge differences, and build consensus. I hope to bring people together to find common ground and common-sense solutions to solve these complex problems.
Please vote for me, Michael Wootton, for East Hampton Town Board on Nov. 7 on Row B, a reasonable, balanced, honest voice for all.
Please peruse my website for more information: Wootton4eh.com
All Deserve a Chance
October 30, 2023
To the Editor,
My name is Gretta Leon and I am running for town supervisor.
The current administration has lacked many of us in standing up for the community’s needs. I am here to let you know that if elected my priority will be advocating for the community, its current members, and future generations.
The current town board, in my opinion, has forgotten that their job is to lead and vouch for the community they represent. They have been managing and leading this town for over a decade, and until now leadership matters. Until now, they have wanted to listen.
Until now, they have been trying to fix everything they started. Yet, after 10 years, some projects haven’t even been commenced and are not even close to being finished, for example, cell phone towers and the senior center. Until now, they want to bring culture, training, and betterment to a work environment. I keep asking myself what have you been doing for 10 years then? Where are the accomplishments? Where are the solutions to the waste management system, the water quality issues, the affordable housing, the antiquated septic systems, and affordability?
The current administration has been circling with the same unresolved situations because it just patches up the problems temporarily without planning and implementing long-term solutions. It seems like they are just hoping they won’t come back around or that it will self-resolve.
Every day, I question whether the current administration has forgotten their place and if they would acknowledge that without the community, their position would not exist.
The idea of leading is not based on a hierarchical structure but more of an integrated approach that can listen and be socially sophisticated to consider everyone’s perspective before shutting ideas down, something I was taught to do in the masters program in organizational dynamics. This program was all about deep listening, observation, analyzing, planning, and problem-solving.
A professor once wrote about me, stating, “Gretta’s scholarly acumen is her multi-minded perceptive intelligence. She is not the brazen individualist who will sacrifice the team at the altar of ambition and fame. She will bring them to their own true potential. It is a test many of our current industry leaders still try to achieve with little success.”
I reference this because I couldn’t have put it better myself, and I believe it’s an important quality I bring to this election. I am a person who cares deeply not for myself but for others and, in this situation, for the community members. That is my main concern, not the airport, as the Democratic Party has been wrongfully stating.
I have been fortunate to have been raised here and been taught to value our beautiful town with its local traditions and diverse culture. I was educated by the East Hampton public educational system and the Ross School to voice my concerns and stand up for what I believe in. So here it is: I firmly believe that the members of this town all deserve a chance to live here under liveable and affordable conditions, and the current leading administration should be more inclusive of all its community members.
To this election, I bring vast knowledge that I gained not only from being educated in the United States system but also from my birthplace, Costa Rica, which has helped me view things through a different lens.
I also bring diversity to this election, bridge gaps among the age groups, and have a clean slate with no political background. Along with this, not only do I represent the local community, but I also represent the Hispanic and Latin-American community and I am bilingual.
I am not interested in running for fame, political gain, or ambition. I am running because I’m not fond of this lack of support for our local community with the current and previous town administrations, and I can’t sit around any longer and wait for things to change and be okay with it when I am not.
We deserve the support, especially being the backbone of this town. I am here to represent each one of you and to advocate for you. We need change in this town for the current and future generations
I ask you to vote from now until Tuesday for me, Gretta Leon, for a more-integrated, innovative, dynamic approach that will create change for East Hampton Town and its members.
Real, Substantive People
October 29, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray:
As we reach the advent of Election Day, please allow me to share final summary observations about the Democratic candidates for town board and supervisor.
David Lys is a passionate, sometimes pugnacious, and always committed public servant. He has a strong track record of projects he’s led and completed on our behalf — not just completed, but done excellently and with sensitivity for often conflicting interests. His faith in East Hampton as a vibrant community now and for the future reflects his life lived right here, where he grew up and where he and his wife are raising a beautiful family. He serves us all with energy and intensity that reflects that faith.
Tom Flight is just one of those people you meet and come away thinking, “Wow, what a solid guy!” He’s a natural optimist, which means he thinks today’s pretty good and tomorrow’s gonna be even better. He’s taken the time to learn about the processes that make our community — most especially, Montauk — work and what might make things even better down the road. That positivity, that hopefulness and that belief in our common potential for goodness. We could use a strong dose of that just now — right?
By the way, they’re both fantastic fathers, husbands, friends, neighbors, and gentlemen.
Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is an exceptionally talented and experienced public servant who has focused her energy on East Hampton, not as a stepping stone to higher office, but rather as her community and her family’s home. She has a deep understanding of how town government works and how it can be improved, as well as the limitations imposed on the town by county, state, and federal laws. She is tenacious and visionary. She’s also a very real person, as anyone who’s spent even five minutes talking with her can tell you. Smart and funny, generous and insightful, her experience reflects a life lived, not just as a public servant, but in business and at home. We’ll be celebrating our common good fortune to have her lead our town in the years to come.
As has been pointed out by others, I am a Democratic committeeman. Why does that matter? Contrary to the intended implications, it means I’ve had ample opportunity to get to know each of these candidates as candidates when they presented themselves to the committee seeking our endorsement. What it doesn’t tell you is that I know these good people outside of their public personae. David and I have sat, side-by-side at countless varsity girls volleyball games. Tom and I have driven carpool for our kids and spent hours talking about everything and nothing. Kathee is a one of the most gifted listeners I’ve known: thoughtful and patient and generous. These are very real, substantive people who, just like each of us, are just trying to live their best lives and do a little good for everyone. Each of them is personally present and engaged in the daily life of our town, and each of them will be exceptional as they continue their service to our community. My political affiliation and activity are beside the point, a red herring.
October 29, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray:
Gretta Leon, Scott Smith, and Michael Wootton are new to the political scene and have stepped forward and are offering to bring new stewardship to East Hampton Town government. I use the word “stewardship” purposefully, because according to the nytimesineducation.com, “stewardship is acting upon the understanding that leadership is a temporary role which is outlasted by the life span of an organization.”
Ms. Leon, Ms. Smith, and Mr. Wootton are not part of the permanent East Hampton Town government enterprise. Their numerous professional accomplishments are in the private sector. Each will bring a unique set of skills, perspective, and creativity to the town board.
Ms. Leon, a foreign-trained medical professional, earned a doctorate in dental sciences, along with a master’s in project management from Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnologia. Currently, she is a member of the board of ethics for the College of Dental Surgeons in Costa Rica. Additionally, she has a degree in foreign language education. She recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in organizational dynamics and a graduate certificate in leading and managing through change. Ms. Leon was born in Costa Rica but raised from infancy in East Hampton, attending East Hampton elementary and middle schools and the Ross School. She is fluent in Spanish and understands firsthand the needs and aspirations of our growing Hispanic community. If elected, she will be the first Hispanic town supervisor and the only person of color on the town board.
Scott Smith, a longtime East Hampton resident, owns and operates a successful local design and cabinetry business. As a small business owner, Scott must navigate East Hampton’s often cumbersome regulatory process and experiences firsthand the challenges East Hampton citizens face every day when dealing with the town government’s processes and procedures. Scott knows what it means to make a payroll, meet deadlines and how to live within a strict business budget all skills that are much needed in local government. Scott is also a volunteer member of the East Hampton Fire Department.
Michael Wootton and his family have made East Hampton their home for decades. His parents were involved in town politics for many years, so Mr. Wootton is well acquainted with how this town runs and what makes it tick. Mr. Wootton has an extensive 40-year career as a finance professional. He traded currency derivatives in the global foreign exchange market. As vice president at the Bank of New York, he advised Fortune 500 multinational corporations on how best to mitigate foreign exchange currency risk. Mr. Wootton is a chartered financial analyst. This accreditation requires completion of a rigorous, multiyear course, demonstrating a strong foundation in advanced investment analysis, among other requirements, and is accompanied by a strict emphasis on ethical practices. Charter members globally number less than 200,000, as of 2022, and must commit annually to uphold and abide by a strict professional code of conduct and ethical standards. Michael also has a degree from Georgia Tech in industrial engineering and a masters in finance from Columbia Business School.
Mr. Wootton is exactly what the East Hampton Town Board and we East Hampton taxpayers need: a seasoned financial professional uniquely qualified to deal with East Hampton’s staggering $100 million budget. Mr. Wootton is also involved in many community service activities, including the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, autism research, disaster relief organizations, and he is an ocean lifeguard and first responder-rescue swimmer for both East Hampton Ocean Rescue and Southampton Village Ocean Rescue.
Ms. Leon, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Wootton are an accomplished and educated team, well positioned and experienced to deal successfully with the current challenges East Hampton faces and those challenges yet to come. On Tuesday, Election Day, please vote on Row B, for the dynamic team of Gretta Leon for supervisor and Scott Smith and Michael Wootton for East Hampton Town councilman.
He Takes the Time
October 23, 2023
To the Editor,
I am writing this letter to you on behalf of my husband, Brian Lester, who is running for East Hampton Town justice. Brian and I have been married for 24 years, and there is no one better to attest to his character than me. He is the most patient, level-headed person I know. One of the many things I love about my husband is the fact that he genuinely listens to people. He takes his time to understand others’ viewpoints, reflects upon what they say, and then acts fairly to share his opinion. Brian’s perceptive and empathetic nature will undoubtedly benefit everyone in our community if he is elected on Tuesday.
Brian also happens to be extremely intelligent. By now, many people have seen his long resume and are aware that he graduated summa cum laude from West Chester University, earned valedictorian of his police academy class, and graduated with distinction from Hofstra Law School. His intellect goes way beyond what you see on paper. It is fascinating to hear him talk about topics and contribute information that I have never heard of before or even considered. I often find myself fact-checking him, only to find out that he is correct. I must say that Brian is not only book smart, but he has a wealth of common sense too.
My husband is a family man who is deeply involved in our community. Anytime my parents, daughter, or I need anything, Brian is there to support us. Whether it be to fix something, give a parent a ride to a doctor’s appointment, or support a local event in our community, Brian is always present and happy to help. When our daughter decided to join the mock trial team at East Hampton High School her senior year, Brian stepped in to help the teacher and served as their advisor. Even though our daughter graduated, he continues to be the team’s attorney advisor. In addition, he volunteers as a Mason and founded Bonac Lights. He and his fellow Masons raise money during this event, and every dollar they raise goes directly to our East Hampton High School students through scholarships. Brian also volunteers on both the Springs Fire Department and East Hampton ambulance as a driver.
Brian’s love for our community is evident in all he does. Between dedicating his time to many volunteer organizations and teaching our daughter about our local history, I am certain he is the right person for this job. Brian will serve our community with a listening ear and make careful and informed decisions, while exhibiting empathy for all those who appear before him. Please vote for Brian Lester on Tuesday for East Hampton Town justice.
For David Filer
October 30, 2023
I write to encourage East Hampton residents to vote for David Filer for town justice. David has been my friend and colleague for over 20 years. We worked together at the New York County District Attorney’s office and, more recently, have collaborated on legal services initiatives for the immigrant community on eastern Long Island. Through these experiences, I have come to appreciate David’s integrity, fairness, and sense of compassion.
As I think so many in this community already know, David is deeply rooted in East Hampton and has already devoted himself to serving his neighbors in many ways. As town justice, David will continue to help make East Hampton a safe and vibrant place for all.
Commitment to Fairness
West Orange, N.J.
October 30, 2023
To the Editor:
The voters of East Hampton have an important decision to make on Tuesday in their selection of a new town justice. I write to urge them to vote for David Filer.
I have known David for over 20 years. We first met as newly minted assistant district attorneys in Manhattan. As his colleague, I was able to witness firsthand his strong intellect, his high level of integrity, and his deep commitment to fairness and justice. David effectively balanced the need to hold criminal defendants accountable, while also showing compassion to victims, witnesses, and first-time juvenile offenders.
When visiting David in East Hampton, I am always struck by the pride David has in his hometown and the strong commitment he feels toward his family, friends, and neighbors. David’s roots in East Hampton run deep, with his family having lived continuously in East Hampton since the 1600s. With regard and pride in that history, David is now focused on maintaining East Hampton as a safe and equitable community for the next generation. Please give him your support.
Mr. Boylan was a first deputy inspector general with the New York City Department of Investigation. Ed.
October 29, 2023
To the Editor,
Local elections are where your government starts. It is honestly the one you have the biggest say in. Many people like to speak about national issues and often miss what’s in their own backyards. Many people also misunderstand what your local government is in charge of. Some ask our officials to do the jobs of the county, state, or country. Next week, we all have the opportunity to let our voices be heard.
Out here two years ago, about only 37 percent showed up to vote. It will be interesting to see the turnout this election cycle. Especially with everyone seemingly pushing early voting.
Vulnerable to Tyrants
October 30, 2023
Right-wing MAGAhead zealots in the House of Representatives finally elected a speaker and could get back to work unlocking government legislation and passing the federal budget — if they choose to. After a bumbling three weeks of bickering power plays, they chose to keep talking about being tired of funding Ukraine’s defense. They seem to be proud of themselves, declaring that they are “tired” of supporting Ukraine! Are they crazy?
Who is actually tired? We are. The sane and sensible voting citizens are really damn sick and tired of this dangerous MAGA nonsense, while they feather their nests with perks and pay, but do no actual work for the benefit of those who put them in their privileged positions.
We are tired of them! These lying louts waste time, lives, and precious resources, and march us swiftly toward another government fiscal shutdown, as if we are playing a child’s game of uncle!
What the hell do they think is going on in Ukraine — a video game? Ukrainians are a peaceful people trying to save their lives, and defend their democracy, while seeing their families decimated by Putin’s deliberate, unprovoked war crimes. But Congress teases Ukraine over the offering of support to help defend against Putin’s bombing of their civilian targets; and his record of torture, rape, and kidnapping of their children all are well documented war crimes.
Doesn’t Congress care? Don’t we the voters care? Or are we tired, too? Tired of our democracy and humanity? What are we going to do about this? Are we going to get out and vote to remove these selfish, incompetent fools at every opportunity we may still have during our sadly damaged democratic process? Will we continue to support the continued fetish with the Mexican border wall, the attack upon women’s rights, the attack upon L.G.B.T.Q. rights, the attack upon racial equality?
Can’t we see that these religious fanatics and MAGA zealots in Congress are destroying our country from within? They are also giving license and succor to tyrants worldwide to prepare to supplant us as a meaningful world power — and conscience.
There is also no doubt whatsoever that the recent Hamas attack upon Israel was disgusting and requires a strong and effective retaliation. The continued loss of civilian life, both Israeli and Palestinian, must end. We are proud of our country’s continued support for Israel for lawful defense against these terrorists. We must urge Netanyahu to use all best efforts to protect all civilians, as well. Both Israel and Ukraine assistance budgets are being held hostage by the House.
Meanwhile, don’t we think the brave Ukrainians may also be “tired” of being attacked over, and over, and over, by Putin in his criminal effort to take over and destroy their peaceful country? We must stand by Ukraine as well, unequivocally! World peace and stability is a joint effort nowadays.
Who’s going to stand by us when Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping or some other lesser tyrant like Kim Jong Un or Bashar al-Assad, Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko, or even Bolsonaro decides to come on to our borders, or those of NATO allies, and murder us, steal our lunch, and our resources and our land? We must do something about the international reach of these murderous dictators. Or, is the political hatred in Congress for Biden, Hillary, Obama, Democrats, progressives, and homosexuality so strong that we are willing to let that political distraction cause this country to be vulnerable to tyrants?
Congress must stop fighting like a bunch of spoiled children in an unsupervised schoolyard. They need to grow up and act like intelligent human beings because they have been given honorable positions to guide this country safely. Congress enjoys medical, dental, and psychiatric care, and travel all over the country, and worldwide; the perks even include franking privileges, stamps, so that they don’t even have to pay postage. Most of their working day is spent “working” to raise money to be re-elected — and to continue the cycle of raising money to be re-elected. We should confront them and ask, “How about actually doing your job and stop being spoiled brats, acting stupid, destructive, and reckless?”
Putin is acting reckless with virtual impunity and seems out of control. Perhaps reckless is a spreading phenomenon. I worry Netanyahu is acting well beyond appropriate retaliation to Israel’s actual enemy, Hamas. Ordinary citizens in Gaza are trapped in their own little “country” with no way to escape to safety from the constant bombings. They are trapped on what amounts to an island smaller than our own Long Island home.
How can we let Congress just sit on its ass, bickering about budgets, and just watch this? They were horsing around with no speaker for three weeks and now are letting the remnants of a failed MAGA president guide them.
Enough of this. Time to stop it and get back to work and do something good and productive.
Wolf in a Suit
October 29, 2023
Wow! It didn’t take long for the Republican party to dash my hope that sanity would begin to take hold among House Republicans. After dissing the candidacy of Jim Jordan as too radical, the House G.O.P. elected an even more radical speaker.
In short, Mike Johnson is a wolf in a suit.
Mr. Johnson’s ideology is utterly out of sync with mainstream America. An adamant opponent of abortion, Mr. Johnson has decreed that life begins at fertilization and favors a total ban on abortion, which he has described as “a holocaust.” In the past, Mr. Johnson threatened “hard labor” for doctors who perform abortions. His views on gay rights are equally extreme. Not only does he oppose same-sex marriage, but he would outlaw homosexuality itself, which he has described as “inherently unnatural” and a “dangerous lifestyle.” He is the sponsor of legislation that would prohibit the use of federal funds for providing education to children under 10 that included L.G.B.T.Q. topics, a proposal that would federalize Florida’s “don’t say gay” law.
In the wake of the mass shooting in Maine, Mr. Johnson wrapped himself in the G.O.P. mantra of doing nothing except calling for prayer, even as the Republican congressman from Maine announced that he was rethinking his absolute support for gun rights. Mr. Johnson doesn’t stop there. Past comments would have us believe that mass shootings were the product of a combination of “radical feminism,” the sexual revolution and abortion rights, even though there has yet to be a shooting in which the killer wrapped him or herself in any of these ideas.
As one of the two most-powerful G.O.P. leaders, Mr. Johnson’s radical view of America captures the spirit of the MAGA world and should be viewed as its catechism for all Republicans seeking public office, even down to the local level.
Shamefully, our congressional representative, Nick LaLota, voted for this odious agenda in supporting Mr. Johnson — we get to vote Mr. LaLota out of office next November.
For those who have succumbed to the MAGA contagion, this letter is not for you. It is for those voters who embrace the promise of the American experiment — the notion of the “city on the hill” envisioned by Ronald Reagan. For those of you Republican voters, before casting a vote for a Republican candidate, ask yourself the question: Has that candidate repudiated the hateful ideology of the MAGA extremists? Only if the answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes” does that candidate deserve your vote. Silence should be viewed as complicity.
A Bloody Mess
October 30, 2023
A week in Dublin (for a wedding) is like a gift from the gods. People with amazing positive energy, lots of Guinness, and a gift for gab. The sun shone some every day, and the rain was softer than usual. The TV didn’t seem to work. Pretty sweet.
People in Dublin had trouble grasping our political craziness. With all our wealth, power, and security, we are a bloody mess. Then the new speaker of the House from Louisiana took the gavel in his hand, and we took another step down the rabbit hole.
Intellectual incoherence and religious perversion are the new speaker’s primary attributes. He sees the constitution opposing the separation of church and state and fervently believes that the election should have been overturned. He is homophobic, misogynist, and racist. Sexually off-kilter. It feels like we are in 1930s Germany: Deutschland uber alles — or MAGA on steroids.
Imagine if the election were overturned and Trump would be dealing with the two wars. Ukraine would be over and Russia would be screaming victory. Hamas and its really “smart supporter,” Hezbollah, would be marching in the streets parading the hostages. There would be no plan for the future of the region, which could only lead to more chaos. You can’t lead the world with hot air.
Yet, Dublin was very sweet. Christianity gave it a break and the city is alive and thriving. The relief from being there will certainly fade away. Too bad that Guinness doesn’t travel well.