Entertained for Days
April 18, 2023
To the Editor,
I would like to congratulate all who put together the Hamptons Whodunit Mystery and Crime Festival. There are far too many people to name.
The event was unbelievable and received so many compliments. The turnout was incredible, and almost all events were oversubscribed. The authors were magnificent.
Special thanks to the honorary co-chairs, Alafair Burke and A.J. Finn; the true crime chairperson, Casey Sherman, and the guests of honor, Anthony Horowitz, Lisa Jewell, and Michael Connelly.
I and many others were entertained and captivated for four days. I hope this event takes place every year.
JOHN M. MALLORY
Pick It Up!
April 17, 2023
Again, thank you for your coverage of the newly formed East Hampton Town Litter Action Committee.
We are excited for our upcoming month-long No-Fling Spring events. Not only will we be calling attention to our litter problem, but we’ll be helping to make East Hampton litter-free.
Our first pickup is Saturday (Earth Day) along Springs-Fireplace Road. We’ll be meeting at Ashawagh Hall, 780 Springs-Fireplace Road at 9 a.m. We hope anyone interested in helping will join us. There are many more pickups and events scheduled around town in the weeks to come. You can find the schedule of events on the town website, Instagram @dont.trash.east.hampton, or email us at [email protected].
It is our hope that everyone will become more attuned to the litter and join the effort to rid our roads, beaches, and open spaces of it. If you see it, pick it up! Even picking up the tossed bottles and cans on your own streets and roads makes a difference.
This is a great time for all the Adopt-A-Road sponsors to join us and schedule their own pickups. After all, we live in this special place, and it’s up to each one of us to keep it looking special.
East Hampton Town Litter Action Committee
Others Like Us
April 15, 2023
I am a fan of both “The Shipwreck Rose” and “Gristmill.” They are the highlights of my Thursday for sure.
I had to write you because this week in particular “The Hard Way” spoke to my heart. Egads! I am sure there are others like us out there, but really! “A bit prone to sloth . . . because I am an introvert and socially phobic to some to some degree.” Yup and bingo! All that followed rang a really loud bell here in Sagaponack. I was in Seventh Heaven — a fellow soul. Phew!
Thanks to Bess Rattray for her wonderful column. Keep up the really good work.
Yours in slothesque social ineptness (to a minor degree),
Two Times the Poison
April 17, 2023
Thank you for the editorial on the use of pesticides by Suffolk County.
That the Department of Environmental Conservation has reports showing Suffolk County uses more than two times the amount of poison on our land than the next-highest county in New York State is both horrendous and a huge wake-up call. These poisons of course go directly into the groundwater, which is the sole source of your and my drinking water.
The use over time of Roundup, in particular, in our food system and at our residences is correlated with lockstep increasing rates of various types of cancer. Our landscapers will do what we ask them to do. Having more native plants and less lawn will reduce the requirement for various chemical inputs to our properties. There will be a Sustainable Landscaping Forum at LTV studios today, Thursday, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. that will be on the LTV YouTube channel. Becoming informed is the first step in the process of doing what we do in a manner that does not undermine our own well-being.
KRAE VAN SICKLE
Already Hit Hard
April 17, 2023
Recently, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report saying that if we don’t drastically reduce carbon pollution, our world could be like an alien planet by the end of the century — that’s only one lifetime away for a newborn. Long Island is already getting hit hard by costly climate impacts, but this is just the start: We can anticipate stronger hurricanes, extended droughts and scorching heat waves that will be much worse.
The most gut-wrenching part of the report is that we could fix the problem if we used what we already know, the tools we have, and the money we’ve got. But instead, in the last 18 years, we’ve burned half of all the oil and gas that’s ever been burned. Big Oil has been fighting against taking action on climate change for a long time and they’re doing it again — flagrantly — in New York.
New Yorkers for Affordable Energy is an AstroTurf front group for gas companies and other fossil fuel interests. They’ve launched a big advertising campaign with robocalls and digital and TV ads to derail climate protection bills from being considered in the state budget talks.
Gas is really bad for the climate; methane’s potential to heat up the atmosphere is 85 times higher than that of carbon dioxide, and leaks from drilling to distribution to domestic appliances make it a major cause of damage to the climate. But gas companies make a lot of money from selling gas, so they don’t want to stop.
The fact is, we already know how to make buildings use clean energy, and, with higher incentives for building electrification from the federal government and the state, New York residents would save money. And the Long Island Power Authority says the grid is ready for the transition.
The State Senate in New York has some good ideas, like making all new buildings use electricity starting in 2025 and not making ratepayers subsidize gas network expansion. Now we need Governor Hochul to support these ideas. Other states like California and Colorado have already made these changes, and Washington is even further ahead, so supporting the Senate’s proposals shouldn’t be a high bar for the governor to clear.
The fossil-fuel industry is using our atmosphere as a free dumping station, their lobbyists and disinformation campaigns are bamboozling us, their pollution is sickening us, and burning cash to burn their gas is stealing our children’s future. The science is clear. The technology is ready. The economics are favorable. All New York needs is for its leaders to muster the courage to kick fossil fuels out of its politics and buildings now.
April 17, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I’m the mom of two wonderful children, one a Wainscott kindergarten student and the other a preschooler. I’ve been living in Wainscott with my growing family for the last 10 years. My husband grew up in Southampton and both of his parents served as educators, including at the nearby Tuckahoe Common School District. My side of the family has loved the East End for generations. Now I’m carrying that torch by building my life here. My commitments to my family, this community, and public education have inspired me to run for a seat on the Wainscott Common School District’s board of trustees this May 16.
I’ve worked in K-12 education for the last decade and spent over 16 years at youth-focused nonprofits before going “back to school” last year through the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s online M.B.A. program. As a vice president at Teach For America, I trained and supported our national force of over 250 fund-raising professionals and executive directors. In return, these leaders taught me invaluable lessons as they navigated complex and distinct educational funding, policy, and culture landscapes. As chief operating officer of Pencils of Promise, I led a multiyear strategic plan that tripled annual revenue, met ambitious educational goals, and operated in lock step with communities around the world. I’ve been trained in executive leadership and fund-raising by top institutions including the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. My professional experience has been a gift of knowledge and perspective that I’d be humbled to offer in service of Wainscott’s future.
If elected, I would bring three cornerstone commitments to my leadership: open dialogue with the Wainscott community and neighboring districts, resilience and preparation for the future, and exceptional, celebrated student outcomes.
There are challenges and opportunities on the horizon for the Wainscott Common School District and the community at large. The work ahead will be difficult. Luckily, I’ve never been inspired by easy jobs. Holding these commitments steady as a trustee, I’d honor the rich legacy of the Wainscott Common School District by striving for a future that’s brighter than ever. Please reach out with questions, to share your hopes for the district, or just to say hi at [email protected].
April 15, 2023
Once again, the residents of Springs will face a major tax hike because of the Springs School District budget. As a result, the mandalic wheel of politics, fully described by the late Howard Lebwith, will spin, leading residents through the ritual of concern, frustration, finger-pointing, and ending up in acceptance of the status quo.
Naturally, the school administrators saw the handwriting on the wall and left town because they didn’t want to be blamed for a problem they didn’t create and didn’t solve.
East Hampton is a town that never solves its problems, if it ever briefly even admits it has any.
So is there a solution to the imbalance between Springs school taxes and those of the rest of the town?
Yes, but not by combining school districts. That will never happen through voluntary action by the other districts. This is the usual proposal put forward by Springs residents. It merely kicks the problem down the road, doesn’t happen, and causes the mandalic wheel to spin again. It is however therapeutic. Springs residents can once again demand justice and blame the rest of town for not getting it.
There is one solution that is available however, and it is fully within the control of Springs residents — a plan to build a new middle school. The tuition Springs pays to send its students to the East Hampton Middle School would come to an end. The other districts could be attracted to the new Springs middle school by a lesser tuition than East Hampton and just maybe the East Hampton School District would recognize it was better to send its students to the new Springs middle school. That would move us at least halfway toward a solution to the tax imbalance.
Should this ever happen, I only ask that the school have a running track built and named after Howard. In this way running around in a circle (or oval) can lead to a healthy outcome.
The Nature Trail
East Hampton Village
April 17, 2023
It was disappointing to read The Star’s reportage of the “rat poison” issue in last week’s Star. The Nature Trail Committee of the Ladies Village Improvement Society takes the care and feeding of the ducks very seriously, and The Star story made it sound as if there was profligate spreading of feed with the intention of attracting rodents. This could not be further from the truth.
We are diligent in feeding the ducks year round: on the bleakest, coldest days of winter — in the rain and in the snow. We carefully gauge how much food to give them through years of experience, communication with one another, and we use only genuine nutritional food formulated for waterfowl. We are working on new signage now to discourage bread and bagels: the real culprits. I would hope that all lovers of the natural world would applaud us.
As for Meghan Bambrick, she has been asked to join our committee, impart her knowledge, and share her devotion to wildlife with us. She has refused and instead wages her own campaigns.
The 14 members of our committee, and indeed the entire L.V.I.S., is wholeheartedly dedicated to the L.V.I.S. mission of maintenance, preservation, educational improvement, and the advancement of the general welfare of the Village of East Hampton, which most certainly includes the Nature Trail.
Also in last week’s Star, there was a nice story about the exhilarating upcoming season at LongHouse Reserve accompanied by a lovely photograph of me. Thank you, but please allow me to correct the record. I have not retired from the LongHouse board, I am instead the very first president emerita and now chairwoman of the LongHouse Arts Committee.
Influx of Building
April 18, 2023
Growing up in East Hampton has been a wonderful privilege, one that many would desire. We are surrounded by nature, which includes wooded areas and, of course, our wonderful ocean.
We have seen an influx of building that has been taking place and it makes me wonder where we will be in a couple of years? How will the town look if this continues at this rate and pace? I am not saying stop the building now, but where did our mindful approach to our surroundings go?
This said, we have some builders unfamiliar with the area overstepping boundaries and with a Building Department that is understaffed, underpaid, and working long, hard hours looking for the ability to keep up and trying their best to perform their work-related duties.
We all know that these conditions could take a toll on our town employees and cause high stress for them and for those dependent on their services. We need this to be corrected and the way of doing so is by providing appropriate compensation similar to other East End towns and adding more much needed help to the Building Department, Natural Resources Department, zoning, and planning in order to help them keep and improve their work conditions and to keep our beautiful town in order from becoming overdeveloped and being able to meet everyone’s needs.
When building, no matter if you are an out-of-town or in-town builder, we must protect our environment and our surroundings that are a gem to our local community. We must set boundaries in place and take into consideration that certain zoning and town codes were made to be respected in order to preserve nature.
Makes me wonder: When did we get to a point that it was okay to just overstep and not consider zoning codes and just cut down trees because they are in the way for larger development without taking into consideration the local impact this can have for our future generations?
For those of you who think it is okay to overstep a zoning code, well it’s more than that. It was put in place to help ensure balanced communities.
So I leave you with the next question to ponder: What are we teaching our future generations?
We desperately need solutions, not more litigation.
Ms. Leon is the East Hampton Town Republican candidate for supervisor. Ed.
April 17, 2023
After working for decades in a kitchen design firm here and occasionally in New York City, I have worked with the New York City Department of Buildings. The city has implemented a ‘self-certify’ program for architects and engineers to complete and certify their own framing inspections on residential projects. We can learn from the more efficient (and massive) Department of Buildings. In addition, our Building Department needs an online portal. Paper pushing, in this day and age, is antiquated and not efficient or transparent. Meanwhile, our town board is mesmerized by closing the airport.
Since our Building Department is grossly underpaid, overworked, and unsupported by our current town board, this results in a blatant free-for-all of expansion. I suggest we implement our own “self-certify” framing program as soon as possible. As New York City does, people can have the option of having a Building Department inspector complete the inspection (as we do now) or they could pay their architect or an engineer. Some of these routine inspections are backlogged; let’s lighten the load and increase efficiency.
As traumatic as is sounds, a two-month moratorium on new residential building permits (new houses, not renovations) would allow time to review, process, and issue the backlog of applications pending. It would also allow a thorough review of the current code to locate the loopholes.
We need to stop the illegal clearcuts of our land. There is an excellent new head building inspector taking over, so it’s the perfect time to reflect, reassess, and regroup.
In addition, the building inspectors need a significant raise effective immediately. Fair is fair. How can we attract and keep town employees while offering subpar salaries?
The next department that needs to be examined is the underfunded and skeleton-staffed Highway Department. We have over 30 trucks to plow snow and only six paid employees to drive them! We are very lucky we didn’t have any significant snowstorms this winter. Given the lack of commercially licensed drivers on staff, we all could have been snowed in for days.
I am running for town board in November and am looking forward to identifying the many pain points in our government and policies and flushing them out one by one. Tedious work it is, but highly beneficial to our community. Four words: less litigation, more solutions.
I say, enough is enough.
SCOTT W. SMITH
April 8, 2023
To the Editor,
To recap to current date, we have a real Steele document, money exchanged, collusion that was now confirmed and reiterated this week with the town looking to change wording in “geotextiles” under town code. That part would be the town only speaking with the engineer who did the work. You mean the same engineer and company who works for the town who was sent notice of 30 days to remove an obstruction from a roadway or face legal action?
Even Aram Terchunian, in his own words, wrote to the zoning board of appeals on June 11, 2019, to speak of moving the cubes back down the property lines on Bay View Avenue. Case closed, if we had a town that believed in its own laws and code that are on the books already.
April 14, 2023
To the Editor:
It isn’t a mystery to most people paying attention that our town is controlled by a Democratic Party machine. There is an unelected person in the background calling shots. All five seats are held by Democrats (though one is only nominally so) and they vote in lock step. An occasional breakaway vote would be an indication of democracy in action. But the last board member who was an independent Democrat capable of a dissenting vote and of standing up to the party line was denied renomination by the party (and then trashed during the ensuing campaign in the Letters pages by obedient members of the Democratic committee).
Therefore, Sylvia Overby emphatically got my attention at a recent town board meeting when she announced she would oppose the new May turkey season. I figured, since she was not running for re-election anyway, that she might use her remaining months in office to cast an occasional dissenting vote. I didn’t watch this week’s meeting, at which the new season was unanimously approved, but your article covering it notes that Ms. Overby “was not in attendance.” What a shame.
I hope to have the opportunity, if not in this election, then in the next one, to vote for a Democrat (or failing that, any kind of sane candidate) capable of saying no to the machine.
April 11, 2023
The politics were bad. The optics were worse. And then the Tennessee G.O.P. jumped on a hand grenade in the most transparent of political suicides this nation has seen.
The background: Six Tennesseans, including three 9-year-old students, were massacred in a shooting at the Covenant Elementary School. Only days later, three Democratic Tennessee state legislators (two Black men and a white woman) protested on the floor of the State Legislature, demanding that it act on gun safety, if only to protect its students from future massacres.
The bad politics: Despite repeated massacres of schoolchildren, the Tennessee Legislature has continued to loosen restrictions on the ability to buy and carry weapons of war. Their ostrich-like politics stand in the face of the demands of most of their constituents for meaningful gun safety measures.
The bad optics: After the Coventry massacre, rather than listen to the three protesting legislators and consider possible gun safety measures, the Republican supermajority took offense to the protesters’ accusations that the G.O.P.-led Legislature would rather sacrifice schoolchildren at the altar of the Second Amendment than do anything about gun violence. Resolutions to expel the three legislators passed.
The hand grenade: In votes that drew nationwide attention, the Republican supermajority, the supermajority of which is white, voted to expel the two Black legislators. They let the white woman legislator keep her seat by a single vote.
For all to see, the Republican Party bared its dirty underwear: It could care less that schoolchildren were being slaughtered — now almost weekly. It could care less for the will of its constituency, which has been demanding meaningful gun safety measures to protect against gun violence.
By voting to expel only the two Black legislators, the party reminded the nation that Tennessee was the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan and that legacy was still a stain on the state. And by allowing the woman legislator to keep her seat by a single vote, the Republicans showed that the party’s view of women was only a hair above that of the Black and non-white citizenry.
And what did the leadership of our local Republican Party committee have to say about the Tennessee travesty? What has it said about the need to have meaningful gun safety measures to protect our schoolchildren? Nothing. While its leadership spills ink week after week touting how community-minded the G.O.P. committee is, its hypocrisy could not be more visible for all of us to see. And its silence is complicity.
The real question is: Do they deserve to be community leaders? The answer could not be clearer. Think of the kids and then vote.
Facts, Not Lies
April 14, 2023
This letter is addressed to Bea Derrico in response to her many letters to The East Hampton Star.
Dear Ms. Derrico, I have refrained from responding to your weekly letters to The Star for over a year, mostly because the most important freedom in our nation is the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech for all.
Today, millions of Americans believe that facts are lies, and lies are facts. We are now living in an Orwellian nightmare that became reality in the Age of Trump. I am sure that Trump is following the example of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda who conceived the concept of the Big Lie. A prime example today is the fact that millions of Americans believe that Biden stole the 2020 election from Trump. Why? Simple answer! Trump said so, and so did Fox News.
Before the rise of Trumpism in 2015 and 2016, journalists were viewed as our nation’s truth-tellers and the collective soul of American decency. In particular, I am sure that older Americans remember vividly when Walter Cronkite announced on TV the death of President John Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Tex. Cronkite’s signature sign-off every evening was, “And that’s the way it is.” And it was what he said it was because he reported facts, not lies. He did not need any fact checkers to confirm his reports. His colleagues at NBC and ABC were treated with the same respect and belief in their truthfulness.
And then came Fox News and Donald Trump. Both were looking for an audience to showcase the inequalities and sufferings of hard-working Americans who were victims of Jewish globalists financed by George Soros and educational elitists; transgender corrupters of sexual orientation; baby-killers; socialists who destroyed America by passing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; placenta-eating Democrats at pizza parlors; police-hating leftist thugs; Second Amendment haters; woke-driven sniveling civil rights activists, and people of color everywhere. I must admit that Fox News did a great job in its propaganda role for Trump.
However, I must say that I sense a beautiful change in America this spring. As Americans, I think we are all tired of Trump’s narcissism and pathological lying. We are also tired of the “thoughts and prayers” of politicians when our children are being murdered on a daily basis in mass shootings in our schools. More Americans are coming to realize that not everyone should have guns and, in particular, assault rifles that were originally designed with one aim, and that was to maim or kill human beings on a battlefield. Our battlefields are now our schools, synagogues, churches, mosques, hotels, banks, and other places of business. Perhaps it is time to say we have had enough. The leading cause of death for children in 2022 was gun violence. What does this say about us as a nation?
We all know that Fox News has depicted Trump as a cultural war hero who has put his hefty guts on the line to defend democracy at Trump Tower in Manhattan and Mar-a-Lago in Florida. If America gets lucky, Trump will end up either breaking rocks at Fort Leavenworth or playing miniature golf at a white-collar federal prison. Personally, I hope it is the former and not the latter.
As the late and great Sam Cooke once sang, “A change is gonna come.” Right on, brother!
De Facto Ambassador
April 17, 2023
The White House has constant visitors. According to the visitors log, far-left billionaire George Soros has had his visits numerous times. As of now, Soros must be either very old or sick, therefore he sends his followers.
There has been over two dozen meetings with top officials, since Biden took office. Soros is very progressive and has brought his 37-year-old son, Alexander, into his fold.
Alexander chairs the powerful, liberal grant-making network, Open Society Foundations, originally founded by his father. Alexander has taken on the role of a de facto White House ambassador and has made nothing less than 14 visits there. Tom Perriello, executive director of the group’s United States operation, visited 17 times.
Patrick Gaspard, a former Open Society Foundations President now heads a liberal think tank heavily funded by Soros, has visited 10 times. Note: Gaspard was former Mayor de Blasio’s adviser. What’s that tell you?
It’s hard to tell whose really running the White House.
In God and country,
Mired in Idiocy
April 19, 2023
Ignorance isn’t always bliss. The conversation on Fox News about China’s challenge to the United States for world leadership was cogent and logical. For the first time, we are being challenged (the U.S.S.R. was never real) everywhere in the world by another country, and we are coming up short.
It is no longer the democracy-versus-communism argument, even though autocracy is part of China’s appeal. But what do you have to offer and how quickly can you provide it? The U.S. is still far ahead of China economically and militarily yet China poses a significant threat because it is focused and has a long-term vision. China hasn’t begun to deal with its domestic issues, which will certainly destabilize the country in the future.
China’s advantage is that its autocratic political system allows for long-term planning: 10 and 20-year plans that allow it to slowly gain influence and access to other countries. We function in two and four-year cycles based on our electoral system and changes in the system often radically change policies. The time disadvantage obligates a higher level of cooperation between the political parties and a minimum of dysfunction. It is a huge problem.
The problem is evident in recent events that have moved our political parties apart beyond recognition. The stolen election, a deranged set of absurd, nearly impossible actions that raised the level of dissonance, noncooperation beyond reason. The Jan. 6 insurrection, viewed as a resurrection by one party, is really a dereliction played out a thousand times in real life for the entire nation to observe. Yet one party thinks it’s actually cool.
The abortion pill decision, by a Texas judge whose only claim to fame is Christian misogyny, without medical or scientific experience and absolutely no data he attacks American women, who make up 55 percent of the population. How does the other party argue against smoke?
Tennessee expelling two young, Black legislators and keeping a white one (all who did exactly the same protest) is straight-up unmitigated, unashamedly racism. The country will soon be 50 percent nonwhite, and in Tennessee they are so proud of being racist (Jim Crowist) that they don’t even try to camouflage the crime (it’s against U.S. law).
Equally obscene is the reason for the protest: gun control, a problem specifically American about white men needing to shore up their manhood while bending over for the National Rifle Association.
So, in our twisted reality, where do we find the political connectiveness necessary to compete with China? What are we offering to the rest of the world, which is substantially non-white? Were Iraq and Afghanistan the fault of a brain-dead president? What about Vietnam?
We are mired in the political idiocy of misogyny, racism, and sexual inadequacy. We can’t afford any of these issues to take over our consciousness. Maybe woke is appropriate in the international arena, if not at home. Masturbation doesn’t make babies. Biden will be 98 in his third term.