Built the Foundation
March 6, 2023
“Forgetting to Remember” is a small historic exhibit, paired with a 30-minute documentary film at the Sag Harbor Cinema, describing previously forgotten individuals within the surprisingly large population of enslaved, indentured, and free people of color in the Sag Harbor area. It was surprising to learn so much of this information was hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered in documents carefully preserved in historical collections.
Everyone who put this project together did a great service to our community by giving us the opportunity to better understand our true diversity — and our need to finally credit the critical, but forgotten and often ill-treated, members of our historic community. These forgotten folks were the essential labor that built most of the foundation for what we enjoy today as Sag Harbor and the Hamptons.
Unfortunately, the film has finished screenings and this valuable exhibit will be taken down Wednesday. I hope it will reappear elsewhere in the near future and people can find it.
Thank you for your work on this project, and to Donnamarie Barnes, the director of history and heritage at Sylvester Manor. This is the beginning of a much better understanding of our community. For those who missed it, I suggest looking for it. I see that more information can be found at www.forgettingtorememberproject.org
March 1, 2023
May I use The Star to thank and bring attention to your readers the excellent and valued help the East Hampton Free Library provides? I bring to your attention Rebecca in reference, who so quickly and so well provided these old bones with requested help.
Party of Four
March 2, 2023
To the Editor,
Wednesday evening, the four of us asked the server to please turn down the volume of the Euro-techno music at Topping Rose restaurant. She said, “No problem.” There was one other party of four in the whole dining room.
Then the manager came to the table and asked, “What’s the problem?”
We requested the volume of the playlist be lowered.
She said, “No. It is set at the volume we chose. If you don’t like the ambience here, maybe you should dine elsewhere.”
I said, “If you don’t like communicating with customers, maybe you should find another line of work.”
February 23, 2023
I’m such an idiot. I should have written this letter to you a long time ago. I always knew that you were a history buff from all the articles that you have written in The Star, but I didn’t know that you had written articles about Captain Kidd until I researched the internet just yesterday.
It always seemed odd to me that there are no bronze plaques in East Hampton telling the story of Captain Kidd’s dealings with Jonathan Gardiner back in 1699, even though East Hampton had nothing to do with it. (Are there any records or old letters dating back to that time that mention Captain Kidd?) East Hampton’s only claim to fame is that we used to trade with the owners of Gardiner’s Island for lumber, etc., since we are just a stone’s throw away from each other. Nevertheless, the story of Captain Kidd and his treasure is known throughout the world through movies, books, and articles and it would be a shame not to mention it in some way since we are the closest neighbor. There is a way!
I will be writing a proposal to the town board soon to build a “lookout” facing Gardiner’s Island, which would provide the history of Captain Kidd and at the same time provide some fun things to do for East Hampton kids. David Lys has been helping me find a suitable place to build this and has suggested Maidstone Park, where there is already a small play structure. This would be ideal, since the town already owns the property, but unfortunately there is not a direct view of Gardiner’s Island. The best place, of course, would be at the end of Fireplace Road, where the shipping connection was made between Gardiner’s Island and East Hampton.
( Now here’s the part I think you might like as I know that you are an accomplished carpenter.) It is my hope that the structure would be made out of locally grown trees (red eastern cedar) and built using the same type of tools (broad axes, adzes, and wood planes, all of which I have) so that it would appear that it was built by Captain Kidd’s shipwrights.
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter and I would love to add your name to the list of people who have endorsed this project.
March 5, 2023
I would like to add my thoughts in regards to the article in last week’s paper about Springs School. I worked part time at Springs School for two years as a recess and lunch monitor. It wasn’t about the money; it was having something to do every day, and I loved the children and, I am proud to say, they loved me.
During my two years at Springs, I got to know Christine Cleary. She was always sweet and kind with the children, as well as with her staff. When she was given the job of principal, I thought how lucky Springs School was to have her. When Ms. Winter arrived at Springs, she brought a certain dynamic with her. Not always the best one.
My tenure at Springs ended shortly after I had an issue with Ms. Winter. I questioned her regarding her policy not to give the monitors keys to the classrooms. At that time, the doors were to be locked when the teacher left the room. On numerous occasions, the students were left waiting in the hall with me for someone to come and unlock the door. Many times, it cut into their lunch period. The answer for a key was a resounding no. Not long after, I was not rehired for the next school year.
I decided, based on many discussions with some teachers and other staff members, to run for the school board. Maybe having a different perspective might help. While trying to get support for my run, I again received lots of feedback from staff. There was a common denominator. That was the elephant in the room. It is obvious to me that the elephant is Ms. Winter.
How can there be so many unhappy staff members, and nothing done to solve the issues? And who decides whether the superintendent’s contract is re-signed?
I am also a homeowner in Springs. Our taxes keep going up and up, yet there never seems to be any incentives or initiatives to increase wages for the staff. This year, I read that the school will not meet the budget cap. This comes from the school board and the superintendent not managing the finances of the school. I believe many on staff are afraid to honestly voice their concerns for fear of being reprimanded or terminated.
I feel better now that I have put my thoughts on paper. These are my opinions. Take them as you may.
Deal in Jeopardy
March 6, 2023
To the Editor,
The proposed joint venture between the Sag Harbor School District and Southampton Town to acquire the Marsden Street property for a school athletic field has hit a roadblock. Despite a majority vote in favor of the acquisition by Sag Harbor residents, the Southampton officials have again delayed their decision to approve funding.
It appears that the town board has been influenced by a small group of homeowners surrounding the Marsden Street property, some of whom seem to be only part-time residents. This vocal opposition has been using the cover of concerns about a turf field to dispute the project. However, now that turf is no longer being considered, we unveil the truth about their most likely motivation: protection of their own property values and personal enjoyment (not the community’s).
The town board’s decision to stall the acquisition puts the deal in jeopardy; the contract with the seller will expire. Additionally, the town board has given the opposition more time to organize, raise funds, and offer the seller an attractive price. Even if they purchase only one lot on this property, this minority group will make the decision for the community.
People have suggested nice but unrealistic ideas for this privately owned land. The reality is that there are only two options: houses or a school field. Building residences prevents any public use of this land for this and future generations, whereas a publicly owned field can eventually become something different as the community evolves.
Preservation is fundamental to Southampton, but the Marsden Street property is neither wetlands nor a historic site. Moreover, a school field provides immediate environmental and safety benefits, such as reducing emissions from buses and cars, mitigating car accidents as exhausted parents drive to practices throughout the East End, and providing safe, walkable space for the community at large.
For these reasons and more, the town board should honor its commitment to release money from the community preservation fund to acquire this property. It is time to move beyond the vocal minority’s opposition and focus on the needs of the community as a whole. Sag Harbor residents have spoken, and their vote should be respected. We cannot let the delay jeopardize the acquisition of the Marsden Street property for a much-needed school athletic field.
Pushing Out Locals
February 28, 2023
I am writing to express my deep disappointment in the village’s recent proposal to extend the village beach permit season into October, effectively pushing out any town locals who were not able to spend the $500 for the more “affordable” town resident permit.
Mayor Larsen and the board continue to prove that they care more about part-time renters and the wealthy than they do the local working-class people who keep the village and town running. It was especially saddening to hear the board members care more about contractors losing parking access than local families losing a chance to spend time on the beach.
Between wanting to eliminate the volunteer ambulance service, consistently raising beach permit prices, and now this proposal, I find myself wondering if the village ever thinks about working class people. Or maybe they just follow the dollar signs.
March 4, 2023
To the Editor:
A powerful aura of dishonesty and hypocrisy floats from the full-page ads signed, “Political Transparency, Inc.,” which run every week in The Star, attacking our town board. Many of us believe, with some evidence, that these ads are placed by the same companies who are fighting so hard for the “right” to buzz town residents with low-flying helicopters, and who have successfully filed a lawsuit preventing us from exercising control of our own airport. I was therefore interested by last week’s article “Spokesman Emerges, Sort Of” (good title, by the way) about John Collins, a “communications strategist based in Brooklyn,” who claims that the organization was founded by “community members.”
I, too, have recently been a severe critic of many actions of our town board. But I live here, and I sign my name to my words. I challenge one “community member” actually to step forward and take responsibility for these ads. Otherwise, I will continue to believe that your advertisements are dark-money mind games. We have enough real problems here to deal with in daylight — without the noise you are making in self-generated obscurity. Back off, please.
March 6, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray:
The 2023 East Hampton Town Board elections this fall will be a clash of the Democrat Goliaths vs. the Republican Davids. East Hampton is being brought to its knees by one-party rule and the added enormous outsider pressure of the New York City hard-left Dems who moved here full time over the past two or three years trying to outrun the Chinese Wuhan Covid-19 terrors. Relocated Dems made sure to pack their self-righteous attitude, as well as over-the-top progressive politics. (Quick, let me prostrate myself on the ground and grovel before now-discredited Black Lives Matter. Remember that?) They are putting the squeeze on local moderate Dems and on the 100 percent Dem-controlled town board, too.
Time to bring back a politically representative town board to help the remaining board members and to implement some new, common-sense ideas. (Sorry, Dems, best intentions, but you can’t seem to get it done: airport, sewage, housing. Dare I continue?)
Who has the slingshots? They are in the capable hands of Gretta Leon, Scott Smith, and Michael Wootton, Republican-supported candidates for town supervisor and two council seats, local, smart, not steeped in politics, not under the thumb of the Don Corleone of East Hampton. Watch for more info about these excellent candidates as they ready their platforms.
LYNNE W. SCANLON
Ms. Scanlon is a member of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee. Ed.
Can Work Together
March 6, 2023
To the people of East Hampton: My name is Scott W. Smith and I have lived in East Hampton most of my 53 years. I want to work for you and serve as a new member of our town board.
Our East Hampton way of life is rapidly changing. If you can’t lend a hand, then get out of the way. The existing town board has had ample time to lend a hand to us and to listen but has failed us. It’s time to carefully examine what benefits us and what is detrimental to our way of life in a thoughtful and collaborative way. We need a team that can work together whilst having a robust understanding of the communities’ desires and needs. We desperately need transparency, organization, and most important, the ability to bring projects and policy from concept to reality.
I am a strong communicator and collaborator, with an innate ability to judge character. I love people, and I develop and maintain relationships far and wide. I intend to use this skill to create and nurture healthy, friendly, and productive relationships around our shared identity and lived experience. My aim is to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community aligned with the values of old East Hampton.
Throughout my 20 years of running a local, client-oriented cabinetry and design business, I have honed my skills to listen, collaborate, build a consensus, and identify common needs. I intend to streamline logistics and use common sense to assist all areas of government to have the help they need when they need it. I am proactive and hard-working, with a no-task-too-small attitude. In addition, I have a keen eye for fiscal responsibility, which is desperately needed. My values are grounded in creating the conditions for people to perform at their best and feel fulfilled and confident in their work.
In my 20s, I worked at a cattle ranch in Montana. I lived in the bunkhouse, pulled calves at 3 a.m. in subzero temperatures, mended fences, and did what was needed to help the ranch prosper. There are things you can learn on a ranch that guide you throughout your life. I offer my unique experience to help organize, mobilize, and preserve our beautiful East Hampton.
The town board is a partnership with the community. I can commit to a positive and impactful working relationship with you and significant cultural engagement, so that together we can unlock the possibilities of growth. Gretta Leon, Michael Wootton, and I intend to create a vibrant future that benefits our whole community, from children to seniors. Please contact me at [email protected] I am eager to hear what is near and dear to you about our wonderful home, East Hampton.
SCOTT W. SMITH
March 5, 2023
To the Editor,
In 2019, at a zoning board of appeals meeting, I stated on the intended goal of the geocubes that block Bay View Avenue, “What will they say years from now, ‘The wetlands don’t exist because they suffocated them?’ “
Richard Whalen on Dec. 15: These are nothing more than “upland woodlands.” Point proven. Thanks, Rick.
This past weekend, the water went over and around the geocube structure, 530 feet up the road. In the middle of this area is pink tape hanging from a tree branch with the colored black word, “wetlands.”
Had High Hopes
March 6, 2023
To the Editor,
I feel sorry for our congressional representative Nicholas LaLota. While I did not vote for him, his communications post-election victory impressed me. I am of an independent political mind and can find a page worth of fault with democratic policies; LaLota’s call for bipartisan action to address the needs of his constituents on the economy, housing, environment, and taxes was impressive. I had high hopes for him. They have evaporated.
All I see out of the Republican House of Representatives is the buffoon Marjorie Taylor Greene leading the charge for every inanity — on Ukraine, on separating the very republic she was sworn to represent, and by continuing to broadcast her subversive election denialism, the same denialism we now know was fraudulently conveyed by Fox News to keep viewers deceived and the stock price up. Ms. Greene’s hysterics have sucked all the air out of the House, and I can’t hear LaLota at all. Is he still there?
Nicholas, if you are going to represent me fairly, you must shut Ms. Greene and her Moscow-supporting agenda up. The woman is a tool of our enemies, destroying the fabric of our country under the guise of populism. As a Navy veteran, you must know the role America plays in helping to defend the free world. Ms. Greene’s shameful lies about our aid to Ukraine make her unfit to serve.
We need you to tell Speaker McCarthy that Ms. Greene is not the “co-speaker” of the House. We need to hear your voice opposing her and her fellow congressional travelers’ destructive behavior. We need you to put forth your rational plans for the better government you promised us. It is time for your profile in courage.
Given Free Rein
March 3, 2023
To the Editor,
I strongly oppose Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing plan, which is a favor to developers, who will build high-income housing, not housing for the poor. The state should not be taking control over local land-use laws and policies. This is not Soviet Russia.
Build new low-income housing on vacant land or abandoned properties, but let local governments decide whether to do this, where, or how much. New York City has allowed the city to become a high-rise, high-income slum and given free rein to developers. It is a disgrace.
Very Fine People
March 2, 2023
To the Editor,
The “Dilbert” cartoonist, Scott Adams’s, statements that Black people are a “racist hate group,” which white people should “get the hell away” from, and that whites “should also avoid any group that doesn’t respect you, even if there are people within that group who are fine,” sounds a little like Donald Trump’s June 15, 2015, presidential announcement speech in which he railed against Mexicans entering the United States by saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people who have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Not to mention that in Trump’s August 2017 speech after a white-racist march in Charlottesville, he referred to “very fine people on both sides.” Therefore, I suggest that presidential candidate Trump immediately recruit Scott Adams to become his like-minded vice-presidential running mate!
For Your Information
March 4, 2023
A letter posted two weeks ago from Robert Ihle claiming Marjorie Taylor Greene was writing letters to our local paper is not amusing. I find this reference is directed at me, Bea Derrico. I have a birth certificate that posts my name as Beatrice Derrico with no aliases except for my maiden name.
I kind of resent this fiction, as I personally think M.T.G. is a nut, as I also think A.O.C. is a crazed lunatic. I would never ask RINO traitor Mitch McConnell anything insofar as he’s not sure where he stands on anything. I will have to personally write to Rick Scott and Mike Lee to insist on their stance pertaining to Social Security and Medicare. I will keep you informed.
Don’t hand me your bull on prescription drugs, because the only one right now anyone is talking about is insulin. The most expensive scripts so far have no conversation. When the time comes (you say) in 2025, we will see the $6,000 drug I need will be capped. As of now, I pay $395. It drops after one month then it’s not covered at all for the next seven months.
AARP claims Medicare can negotiate the prices with pharmaceutical companies. Note: the magic word is negotiate. Tell me what pharmaceutical company is not rich and wants to get richer?
For your information, I do not have any TV stations past number 20; I have basic and no Fox News. If Fox is being sued, I don’t give a red rat’s ass — why should anyone care? The Times gets sued quite often and who cares? It seems you, Mr. Ihle, have a major problem with people’s choices.
In God and country,
Fear of Learning
March 6, 2023
On the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine War, there is some conversation about a speech made in December 1940 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt with regard to supporting England and Europe with arms to save the world from fascism.
Most Americans didn’t care about the Nazi takeover in Europe and the collapse of democracy. We were isolationist in general and somewhat fascist-leaning. Prior to World War II, the United States had always played a minimal role in world politics. Our democracy included slavery, a mass genocide against Indigenous peoples, and dozens of forays into small, nonwhite countries as a colonizing imperialist power. The best description of the U.S. in 1940 was a mediocre, marginally democratic, self-absorbed country. We rarely provided any positive support to other countries.
Yet, here’s F.D.R., in the face of an ignorant uninterested population and a large greed-based political system, telling the American people that in order to protect our democratic way of life we needed to intervene against the fascists. The speech helped change the U.S. attitude of isolationism but its primary value was in explaining to the American people that we live in the world with billions of people and how we interact with them will determine our future well-being.
F.D.R.’s speech was the most important and significant of the 20th century. Despite all the negativity surrounding him, he insisted on presenting an image to the world of democracy and freedom that established the current political structure of our world order. While the U.S. was the least likely place to develop a world order of this kind, it was F.D.R., on his own, who had the vision and the courage to make it happen. It would not be difficult to imagine our world today if F.D.R. weren’t F.D.R.
Biden’s visit to Ukraine reinforced F.D.R. He took it upon himself to tell Ukraine that we will not let you go down and that we are all in this together. The concept is so clear and straightforward that even the American people, who are historically ignorant, can figure this out. It’s a world-threatening crisis. Lead the world.
The context to understanding Ukraine has two essential obstacles. At CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, the mindless parroting of “wokeness” is indicative of trained monkeys who are taught a few words and repeat them endlessly. Being “woke,” especially with regards to L.G.B.T.Q. issues, is the plea to take your head out of your buttocks and try to smell the roses. Instead of looking at the issues surrounding the L.G.B.T.Q. as serious and complicated, we do our killing-for-Jesus passion play, and we denigrate and debase a group of people in need. As our churches did with slavery, Indigenous genocide, etc., etc., they lined up in support of violence and cruelty. At what point in our history do we recognize the destructiveness of our churches and separate, in real ways, church and state? In truth, CPAC is no longer a testing ground for conservative ideas and intellectual curiosity. It has slipped so far away from reality that it edges on a shameless subhuman phylum of cruel, quasi fascism devoid of compassion, warmth, and love.
The second context is racism. That Americans don’t understand the issue of racism in our history is clearly their fault. For how long do we excuse stupidity and ignorance as a basis for our violence? If you are troubled by the 1619 Project or the multitude of new books on the subject, read them, discuss them. Don’t do the standard white-racist head- in-the-sand defense. You will figure out that your ignorance is self-determined and debasing.
So, Ukraine. Russia’s aggression is a challenge to the existing structure of our universe. Clearly, the order constructed after World War II, the first of its kind, needs to be redesigned, the ground rules altered to limit this kind of behavior. Ukraine is a test case for powerful countries to abuse power. Do we have the capacity in the U.S. to figure this out? We have massive amounts of knowledge that didn’t exist in 1940 when F.D.R. made his remarkable speech. We have channels of communication that never existed. We have the strongest military in the world (in 1940 we had none) — are we capable of creating a plan that will avoid World War III? Probably not. We can only play the cards we have but we need to play them forcefully. If not, we will be forced to play them some time in the future when the circumstances will be less favorable.
The Russian message to the world is that only power matters. We will need to return that message in full force and let them know that there are consequences to pay and that they will pay dearly for their aggression. The alternative to not crushing Russian aggression is the same one we faced in 1940.