One to Remember
April 3, 2023
On behalf of the Montauk Friends of Erin, thank you to everyone who came out to support and participate in this year’s parade. With nearly 30,000 participants and spectators, it was truly one to remember. In our minds, there is no better way to get the season started and no better reminder of what makes Montauk a very special place.
We also owe a special thank-you to the East Hampton Town police, the Parks Department, the Highway Department, and the Montauk Fire Department, all of which play a key role and who allow us to impose on them year after year. Lastly, congratulations again to our grand marshal, Jimmy Grimes; thank you for doing us the honor of marching with us and representing Montauk.
BRIAN E. MATTHEWS
Montauk Friends of Erin
Wished I Knew
April 3, 2023
I admit, I like to read obituaries. I often know the people, love the people, mourn the loss. But your writer Isabel Carmichael is a gem. She brings people I have never known to life. I read two such beautifully written descriptions this week. I did not know either of these very interesting women. But Isabel brought them “alive” for me. I wished I knew them. This is really good writing. Thank you, Isabel.
Legacy of Humanity
April 3, 2023
Elizabeth de Cuevas was, and will remain, such a force in our community — artistic and otherwise. I had some thoughts and feelings I wanted to share in your paper:
Elizabeth de Cuevas (a.k.a. Strong-Cuevas) leaves behind a lasting legacy of humanity and timeless beauty. A deep, mystical heart can be felt in all of her artwork, and I was honored to know and work with her for many years. She said, of the people she worked with, “We have advanced together.”
Her visionary, awe-inspiring, and powerful artwork takes you on a journey of outward exploration and inner meditation. A wonderful selection was on view last summer and fall, at the Figures Transformed exhibit at the Southampton Arts Center, curated by Christina Mossaides Strassfield (one of a number she did for Strong-Cuevas). It can viewed via a 3-D tour in the “Virtual Gallery” on its website. And Lana Jokel’s films, featuring Strong-Cuevas, provide wonderful insight on the art and artist.
She loved to dance, and said, “In sculpture, the body comes into play. We are mostly on our feet and we dance also with our hands. In Gupta India, I have read, you had to be a dancer in order to be a sculptor.” And so, she dances on through her artwork, her destiny fulfilled.
LORETTA A. BECHERT
Behind the Counter
March 30, 2023
To the Editor,
I was disheartened to find a green slip of paper in my post office box this week informing me of a change of staff at the Wainscott Post Office. If you’ve ever been, you were most likely greeted by the beaming smile of Brandi McCray Arguro.
A considerate and caring fixture behind the counter, Brandi is the highlight of every trip to pick up packages or send a letter. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Grasping the paper, I asked if she was the one leaving. Her response elicited gasps from the other customers in line.
A trip to the post office normally feels like just another chore, but among her regulars, Brandi built a community — one that will feel bereft without her. If you’ll miss her as much as I will, I encourage you to call our local Post Office Consumer Contact Department at 631-755-2850 and tell them that she’s a gem, and that we would love her back when the postmaster position opens in the future. It is a sad time for the residents of Wainscott, but our loss is Southold’s gain.
March 29, 2023
The Montauk ambulance squad: Those of you who have had to call them know; those of you who haven’t, should. They are the most dedicated, responsive, knowledgeable group of volunteers that anyone could hope for. I want to thank them again for their service.
There for Us
April 3, 2023
To the Editor,
The volunteers from East Hampton’s ambulance service have been there for us for more than 40 years, answering calls 24-7 — in blizzards, in the middle of the night, during Christmas dinner. Each of them has donated their free time in exchange for endless hours of training and weekly squad nights with no sleep all to provide emergency care at no charge for all of the rest of us, rich and poor, locals and visitors alike. They have never asked for anything in return.
Now, it’s time to show up for them. Please come to the East Hampton Village Board meeting April 21 at 1 Cedar Street, at 11 a.m. to express support for our ambulance volunteers and let the village and town know that the way these volunteers have been treated is disgraceful.
Support the Volunteers
April 3, 2023
I feel the need to clarify a few facts from the March 17 village board meeting concerning the East Hampton Village Volunteer Ambulance Association. Currently, I am the volunteer chaplain for the East Hampton association.
First, the statement that when paid paramedics were hired they had to answer to the police chief: The reason given to the volunteers was paid people answer to paid people. At the meeting in March, the mayor stated that, in the new ambulance program, paid and volunteers will answer to the ambulance volunteer chief, Mary Mott. Next question would be if Mary Mott will now have a paid position. According to the mayor, that is not the case. Tell me why not. It sounds like a full-time position.
Second, one of the issues surrounding the paid hires was that their drivers didn’t need to pass the same criteria that the volunteer drivers did. This was a big issue from a safety standpoint. The medic on the scene might save your life, but the ambulance driver is the only one who can get everyone to the hospital in one piece.
So much more I could say, but I will close with this quote, author unknown: “Volunteers are the window into the heart of a community.” Please remember that the community needs to protect our heart. Attend the April 21 meeting of the village board to support the volunteers whose response area includes the village, the Northwest section of the town, and, by mutual agreement, Springs, Amagansett, Sag Harbor, and Bridgehampton.
DOREEN M. QUARANTO, R.N., L.C.S.W.
Who Will Answer?
April 3, 2023
To the Editor:
If you live outside the Village of East Hampton, you may be thinking the drama surrounding the mayor’s takeover of the East Hampton Village ambulance service does not impact you. You would be wrong, and you should be worried. All residents of East Hampton Town are going to be impacted by the dismantling of this exemplary volunteer ambulance service.
Did you know that two-thirds of the 911 calls the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association responds to are not within village boundaries, but in parts of the surrounding township, from Northwest Woods to Wainscott and the zone north of the village? Nearly 1,000 ambulance calls were run in town territory (outside the village) by E.H.V.A.A. volunteers last year alone.
Even if you live in Springs, Amagansett, or Sag Harbor, your well-being and safety will be impacted by the dismantling of E.H.V.A.A. Why? Because when those neighboring districts ran out of crew or ambulances it was most often E.H.V.A.A. volunteers who answered their “mutual aid” calls. Who will answer those mutual aid calls now?
And watch your wallet. As volunteers are forced out and more paid paramedics are needed for the mayor’s new E.M.S. service, who do you think will be paying their wages? Not just village taxpayers. Expect the financial burden to be spread around to town taxpayers: Village Hall will soon be waking up, looking at the geographical distribution of ambulance calls, and smelling the financial coffee.
If you don’t like the safety and health of your family being imperiled by the village board’s wrongheaded attack on the volunteer service, you should call both the village board and the town board and tell them so. Better yet, show up on April 21 at 1 Cedar Street, at 11 a.m. and tell them so in person.
April 3, 2023
I love this Village of East Hampton; loyal readers of these pages will have gathered that by now. I was born and raised here. As a young boy, I ran barefoot through vacant lots with my friends and rode my Stingray bike through these streets. I surfed these magnificent beaches and, like my father before me, was an ocean lifeguard for the village during my summer vacations. I have roots here.
When I was a boy, my father served as mayor of this village. He once told me, “One day you will see that when your child is cut, you bleed too.” He was the best dad I could possibly imagine and the best friend I ever had. My father has been gone for 20 years now, but today I bleed for him as I watch this village being monetized and torn to shreds. I bleed for my own child as well, to know that the village I love may not be here for her to raise children in.
Please forgive my sometimes-poetic prose and don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. Those who know me well would confirm that such would be a grave miscalculation. If I were to share all the things I’ve done and seen in my life it may well leave you breathless. You would know that I have witnessed everything from the horrors of war to the sorrows and destitute poverty of the developing world. I try to keep my pride in my pocket, but have no qualms about wearing my heart on my sleeve. What else have we got if we can’t extend compassion to one another and share our most honest thoughts with our neighbors?
I write this week, as I’ve done a number of times before, because I have great concerns about this village, its heritage, and its future. I know my letters are long, but I have a lot to say when it comes to the well-being of the Village of East Hampton and its residents. I have great confidence in the intellectual capacity of every single one of you to absorb my thoughts as well as your patience to listen to someone just like you who desperately wants to preserve our heritage and quality of life. Now, if you’ll bear with me and allow me to paint you a picture, I promise you I’ll come full circle.
As I write this I’m watching the sunrise slowly bleed over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico. The coyotes have finished their shift, and a rooster is beginning to crow in the distance. I’m sipping my coffee with my dog by my side, outside a small cottage I rent on a cattle ranch, miles and miles from the nearest town. Travel gives me perspective and I’m somewhat hooked on road trips. For so long as I’m able to drive, I’ll throw some clothes and books in a duffel, whistle for my cattle dog and we’ll load up and hit the road. Now that I’m essentially retired I have no need for haste and I take back roads, gravel roads, and dirt roads that only add to the experience.
Although this road tripping has been a lifelong passion, over the last two years I’ve driven out West no fewer than six times, twice all the way to California, every time at least as far as New Mexico or Arizona. This past summer, I was between cattle dogs and rode a two-month, 12,000-mile, two-wheeled meditation on my motorcycle up to Newfoundland, across Canada, down through the Great Basin to the Mexican border, then back east through the desert, the agricultural heartland, the Deep South, and up the Appalachians home. Despite the exhaustion, the heat, the rain, the cold, I experienced a daily bliss that words can only begin to describe. In January, I drove back out to Arizona to pick up my new pup, Scarlett. She’s already a proven road warrior at 5 months and she’ll sit shotgun on my road trips for years to come.
Do you know why I take all these road trips? Well sure, the mountains and wide-open spaces are just staggeringly beautiful — so much so that it damn near brings me to tears some days. But have you ever actually traveled these United States? I mean really ridden the back roads and explored the small communities? The real reason I love traveling through rural America is the people. I meet the most magnificent people and every one of them has a story to tell. I seek out coffee shops, greasy spoons, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants where the locals eat. I eat with farmers, ranchers, oil field workers, and highway crews. I had coffee and doughnuts with an outlaw motorcycle club who were on their way to a Hell’s Angels brother’s funeral. I’ve sat on sidewalks, shared my meals and had some of the most fascinating conversations with homeless folks. I’m always enlightened by the people I meet while washing my clothes in coin-operated laundromats. All these encounters become even more meaningful to me as the years go on. Maybe it’s my age and perspective. Despite all the chaos going on today, the world still looks pretty amazing through my 58-year-old eyes. I think it’s something else though. We’re at a time in our country where these culture wars are at a fevered pitch.
When I travel out West, I’m sure to encounter folks who, when they find out where I’m from, want to get all up in my business about the whole red vs. blue dilemma. That, right there, is the best part of my travels. That’s where the magic happens. To me, finding common ground with someone who feels they’re at odds with my views is like solving a puzzle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met that person and responded, “Friend, I’m willing to bet that you and I agree on over 99 percent of the issues out there, with the exception of maybe two or three things. Now, what do you say we sit down for a cup of coffee and get to know each other, because I’m traveling through your area for one reason. Your home and your way of life are absolutely fascinating to me.” I’ve made a lot of friends that way. I’ve been invited into a lot of people’s homes. I’ve been taken to places the average person never gets the opportunity to go. I’ve also learned one of the truest things in this world. There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and then somewhere in the middle, there’s the truth.
I tell you my stories not simply for the sake of sharing my experiences, although I do hope they encourage you to travel off the beaten path and to be open to meeting new folks. I tell you all this because our Village of East Hampton desperately needs to look beyond its boundaries to solve the problems we’re facing today and we need a leader who’s not afraid to visit and consult with other similarly situated communities all over this country, perhaps the world, and ask them how they’ve navigated the challenges they’ve encountered. A leader who can strike a balance between the preservation of our heritage and the pressures of development and outside investment. I can assure you, virtually every beautiful rural community I’ve visited faces the same challenges we have right here. I’ve heard it time and again.
In my travels I talk to elected officials, sheriff’s deputies, nurses, schoolteachers, retirees, shop owners, AirBnb owners, dog groomers, homeless folks — you name it. Some of those communities have already been gutted by development and monetization. Some are just getting their first taste and are wooed by the interest of the rich and famous flocking to their hometown that nobody had even heard of just a few years prior. It’s all the same template of development or “progress,” if you wanna call it that. It behooves us to raise our eyes and seek the advice of others who have traveled the same path.
We need leadership in this village from elected representatives who not only listen, but who get out there and ask people what’s working for them and what’s not — what challenges they’re facing. We’ve got a whole generation of locals who are struggling to stay and live here. At the same time we have some folks with tremendous wealth who want to see a return on their investment. Like it or not, this Village of East Hampton has become a pretty big deal and global investors are just drooling to carve it up like a filet mignon. We’ve got a choice here and we’re at a critical juncture.
Now when I use the word “we,” I mean all of us — locals, second-home owners, newcomers, business owners, investors, visitors, all of us. We have a choice here. We either continue at breakneck speed trying to extract every dollar out of every opportunity, in which case we will surely kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Or we all sit down at the table, with a spirit of compromise, and make a plan to maintain the beauty, the heritage, the value, and the integrity of this Village of East Hampton. The future of this community has the potential to be very bright, yet this current village board is creating far more problems than they’re solving. They have no comprehensive plan whatsoever and are simply making it up as they go along. They are gutting the goose that lays the golden eggs. We need to get things back on track and have a disciplined, measured approach.
This current village board, week after week, initiates projects of window dressing with no substance. Worse yet, they are dismantling institutions, such as the volunteer ambulance association, which have been there for so long and, for so many, on the worst days of their lives. Week after week this administration says things to the effect of, “Let’s just give this a whirl and see how it works!” For goodness’ sakes, that’s what you do when you’re trying out a new laxative. That’s not what you do when you’re managing a municipality that affects people’s lives, their investments, their heritage, and when you’re spending their tax dollars. You make a comprehensive plan and you stick to it, yet maintain the flexibility to meet the needs of the people as times change. You live as if you’ll die tomorrow, but plan as if you’ll live forever.
I promised you I’d come full circle, so here it is. If you share my vision, please begin talking with each other about this. Let’s start a grassroots movement. Reach out to each other and find common ground. Talk with your partner at the breakfast table. Talk with your friends over coffee. Talk with your neighbor over the fence. We all know this is how a democracy best functions. This is your opportunity to take this village back and secure your future. There is strength in numbers. Every single one of you reading this is far more powerful than you may possibly imagine and if you find that common ground and band together — we have the chance to make this community a shining star for the rest of the country, if not the world, to look to as an exemplary community with a tremendous quality of life. And if you think this all sounds very idealistic, you’re right! But you wanna know what? That’s how successful outcomes begin. First a dream, then talk and then action. We can do this, but only if we join together as a community.
Great Place to Start
April 3, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
In your editorial last week “Needed Tax Increase for Springs Students,” you raised a number of tax-related opinions that may not bear up to a fact-check.
Regarding “the misleading perception that Springs residents pay the most in taxes,” I will leave it to others to compare the various hamlets’ relative school tax burden, but suffice it to say Springs has virtually no commercial tax base so all the burden falls on residences. For our current enrollment, it costs a little over $34,000 to educate each child under the proposed budget.
You argue that a town wide reappraisal would “unlock millions of dollars and spread the proposed tax hit more equitably” because “Springs has miles of coveted waterfront.” Really? Please remember Springs is the “affordable” district with a large amount of low-income and substandard housing, and the greatest increases in house prices have been South of the Highway. Most of Springs would welcome that re-appraisal.
You don’t mention the elephant in the room: the collection of one-school districts in our town to continue to ensure high costs and inefficiency. The salaries of the five current superintendents in the town total over $1 million per year. That is almost two times the salary of the superintendent of the Los Angeles School District, which has 420,000 students!
School consolidation would significantly reduce cost and fairly distribute the tax burden of giving our children a great education. Springs residents are all-in for school consolidation but the other hamlets are not because they believe their taxes will go up.
Tackling the tough issues should be front and center for our town leaders and advocated by your paper. Gov. Kathy Hochul campaigned on making New York State a more affordable place to live, not leave. School consolidation is low-hanging fruit and a great place to start.
Because of differing real estate values, property owners in districts with high school tax rates sometimes pay less annually in school taxes than residents with seemingly identical properties in districts with lower school tax rates. Ed.
All Available Means
April 3, 2023
News reports of last week’s penultimate 2023-24 budget workshop for the Springs School District related the frightful possibility that the board may attempt to exceed the state tax levy cap. For 2023-24, the cap law prescribes a maximum of 2.14 percent increase in the amount of revenue to be raised by property taxes from district property owners. If the school board ultimately decides to try to “bust” the cap, it would do so at the peril of having a so-called austerity budget imposed if the budget does not garner 60 percent voter support. The cap law was enacted to ensure that those responsible for deciding the amount of property taxes to be collected remain fiscally cautious and responsible.
Student enrollment in kindergarten through eighth grade in our district actually peaked at 727 back in the 2016-17 school year, believe it or not. At that time, the district also paid tuition for 299 students at East Hampton High School. Next year, the district plans for only 632 K-through-eighth-grade students, while 376 East Hampton High School students are anticipated. The combined number of K-to-12 students in the Springs district has also declined over the past several years. However, it must be acknowledged that more and more high school students requiring our district to pay their tuition seem to keep “popping up” unexpectedly, not having graduated from our school.
The school board owes it to district taxpayers to use all available means to keep the proposed school tax levy under the state cap. If the necessary savings cannot be found by squeezing some of the “fun stuff” out of the budget, then the district must allocate a greater portion of the unassigned fund balance, i.e., surplus, that will remain unspent at the end of the current school year. The state allows an amount equal to up to 4 percent of the annual budget to be set aside as a rainy day fund. Baby, it is raining outside, right now.
The workshop last week incredibly included discussion of adding even more money into the budget for East Hampton High School tuition for students beyond the number reasonably anticipated. This notion is unnecessary and wrongheaded. That is precisely the type of contingency for which the allowed rainy day fund is intended.
Last year’s audit shows that $1.4 million of the budgeted funds were not expended. Budgeting and taxing more than what turns out to be actually needed appears to be the rule, not the exception, when it comes to school finance. Approximately $1.1 million (about the 4 percent maximum allowed) remained in the unassigned fund balance at the beginning of this school year. As of last week, the district did not yet have a good grasp of the amount of this year’s budget that is likely not to be expended and, therefore, can be used to reduce next year’s budget. Needless to say, the maximum reasonable amount of surplus should be used to reduce the amount required to be raised by next year’s tax levy.
Hopefully, at the final budget workshop on April 4, the school board would have closely re-examined current plans for hiring additional staff. Also, two currently unfilled positions should not be budgeted for next year. And, it is high time for the school board to tighten the belt when it comes to employee benefits, especially for those who are no longer district employees. I was shocked to read in the June 30 audit report that the district carries on its books a liability of more than $40 million for future payment of post-employment health benefits.
Will Cost Residents
March 31, 2023
What sort of world do we live in when a school district declines $6 million in community preservation funding to fund a passive park or scaled-down athletic facilities for kids? What could possibly motivate a school to decline such a massive gift? I know what cannot justify it — a stubborn insistence on building a (synthetic) athletic field with a 72-car parking lot, comfort stations, bleachers, and concession stand. The cost to taxpayers for this unpopular plan? $16.2 million or more. There are only about 6,000 parcels in the district: You do the math on what this will cost residents.
The town board’s proposed $6 million offer was the perfect solution to a tough legal problem. Following diligence, the town board realized it could not approve the proposal because no one (neither the school district nor the town board) had complied with the Type I environmental review process that is required by the state environmental law known as SEQRA. A Type I review takes six to eight months. Rather than hold up the sale, the town board could immediately offer $6 million to secure the land on the condition that the school alter less than 2.5 acres, which does not trigger a Type I review. The town board also figured that this compromise might appease the many opponents to the project, including many important civic groups like Group for the East End, Save Sag Harbor, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Friends of Havens Beach, and Citizens of Sag Harbor. The town board should be applauded for its creative thinking.
Shockingly, the school district said almost nothing in declining the $6 million offer from the C.P.F. The superintendent mentioned the offer in the last three minutes of a board of education meeting, with no real explanation to the community for why the proposal for smaller fields would not fit the school’s needs. The school district is going out to taxpayers to raise that $6 million (plus the $3.425 million already approved, plus $5 million to $6 million in development costs it will request in the future), and owes it to citizens to explain why taxpayers should foot the bill when it could have been paid for from a reserve fund rather than a tax levy.
I haven’t heard any explanation for why the school would only benefit from an oversize plastic field and parking lot. Do children benefit when they witness destruction of trees at their doorstep? How many athletes actually use the soccer and hockey field? If there’s a safety concern about walking to Mashashimuet Park, why does that concern apply only to hockey and soccer players? What about kids who run track or who play baseball, who still will have to walk to Mash Park? What about the soccer and hockey field that exists behind the school? I’ve been following this issue closely, and I still have not heard any rational explanations to these very logical questions.
The school district’s stubborn insistence on pursuing this destructive plan divides this community. If the school were really to “do this for the kids,” it would go back to the town board now, take the $6 million, and build a park space for students and kids throughout the East End to enjoy. I know how I’m voting on May 16.
April 3, 2023
The article in last week’s East Hampton Star “Dalene Aims to ‘Decarbonize the World’ ” by Christopher Walsh was well written and accurate, illustrating his clear understanding of my book.
In today’s world with many media outlets reporting fake news, misinformation, disinformation, and bias, it’s refreshing to note and compelling to recognize the excellence in reporting by Christopher.
Thank you for maintaining such high standards in The Star. Thank you, Christopher Walsh, for a great article.
April 1, 2023
Thanks to The Star for featuring Christopher Walsh’s important front-page article “Champion of ‘Rational Restraint,’ ” on the work Jaine Mehring is doing to examine East Hampton Town’s out-of-date zoning code. She has exhibited thoughtful leadership, concern for community character, and courage that seems to be lacking in our elected town officials. Do they believe overdevelopment is good for our economy?
Towns on Martha’s Vineyard — and the Towns of Southold and Shelter Island here — are reining in grossly oversized houses and all the damage they do to the fabric and character of our community, the environment, and the availability of affordable housing opportunities. I wish Jaine could be on the ballot for East Hampton Town Board in November. I would vote early for her.
April 3, 2023
The town board’s recent proposal to limit catered parties on our public beaches to 50 persons was both too little and too late.
Over the years, the size of glamorous parties, weddings, and “influencer” events has increased. Despite best efforts, code enforcement has been severely taxed; at least one new unlawful pop-up business service defied town rules with impunity.
Elaborate private, catered clambakes send the wrong message. They suggest exclusive use of cherished, tranquil beach expanses, which belong to all. These events can easily be relocated to residents’ homes.
Beach events should be limited to 15 persons with the requirement that all supplies be carried in and out. Permits could be required (and infrequently granted) for larger groups up to 25. Commercial catering parking and stopping should be prohibited.
Protecting our town’s rural character requires vision and bold action, not lip service.
Mr. Bragman is a former East Hampton Town councilman and co-chairman of the town’s special events committee. Ed.
April 3, 2023
I’m not a hunter, but I do have a simmering indignation toward people who try to force their beliefs on others. If you don’t like hunting, don’t hunt, it’s that simple.
To the best of my knowledge, the last introduction of wild turkeys to this area was in 2004, from Brookhaven to the Grace Estate in Northwest and Jacob’s Farm in Springs, by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the East Hampton Chapter of the Waterfowlers of America.
There is already a limited legal hunting period for turkeys. If the population will support a controlled spring hunt and since turkeys are classified as game birds, not pets, then I see no reason why turkeys can’t be added to the other game birds legally hunted in the area.
Leave Them Alone
April 2, 2023
I live next to the Montauk Public School and feed “my” flock of 14 turkeys every day. The sight of the gang walking in line down the road at 6:30 a.m. each morning makes me laugh. The idea that people want to shoot these magnificent, intelligent birds makes me sick! Turkeys eat ticks. Leave them alone. We did such a wonderful job with the passenger pigeon.
Likely to Fail
April 1, 2023
To the Editor:
I really wasn’t trying to join the “writes every week to The Star” club, but your article subtitled “Gun club alleges someone is bankrolling opposition” caused the degree of indignation needed to motivate me (at the gun club, not you, of course). Your story reports that the gun club lawyers have countersued the homeowners for daring to complain in the first place, a time-dishonored tactic very likely to fail.
This is a classic instance of an inane and dishonorable Trumpian trope, similar in kind to the chatter over the last few years about “paid protesters.” There the idea was that in our peaceful and perfect country, nobody would possibly come out on their own to protest police killings of unarmed Black people unless George Soros was paying them. In the context of the gun club, it translates to, “Nobody in their right mind would possibly object to bullets hitting their houses unless some dark force in the background was putting them up to it”.
I have personally heard this in a case (yes, I am a lawyer) in which I represented neighbors who objected to a development next door, which we alleged had bypassed necessary permits and permissions and was causing crowding and traffic. The very wealthy individual on the other side also claimed to the court that we must have been put up to it by a third party.
In the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department, an individual quoted in your story angrily dismissing the gun club’s accusation is on the team making the allegation in the other case.
Anyway, I would suggest to the attorneys representing the homeowners, if they haven’t already done so, to take a look at the New York law penalizing so-called “SLAPP” suits — strategic lawsuits against public participation. This law was strengthened and expanded by our Legislature a couple years ago.
April 4, 2023
To the Editor,
I write to express my dismay at the continuing decline in journalistic ethics and standards represented by the headline for The Star’s March 30 article “Gun Club Alleges Third-Party Influence in Effort to Shut Its Range.” While it may or may not be considered responsible journalism to quote interviewees who make false, preposterous, and entirely unsubstantiated allegations, raising such allegations to a headline and lead for a story places The Star in company with supermarket tabloids that vie for shoppers’ attention with stories of alien encounters and Elvis sightings. Perhaps the real headline might be to consider why the Maidstone Gun Club tried to resist legitimate soil sample testing for lead contamination, why the Town of East Hampton has not itself done such testing over the decades-long life of the gun club lease, and why the town would even consider a renewed lease for the gun club without an environmental review.
Alternatively, if The Star’s goal is now attention-getting, rather than responsible investigative reporting, one wonders why your paper neglected to mention that the club’s new attorney, Martha Dean, is, as described in an editorial in The New Haven Register, known in her home state of Connecticut for her Facebook posting (now removed) giving credibility to Sandy Hook deniers. The headline for the Register editorial read: “Martha Dean, who gave voice to Sandy Hook ‘truthers,’ is not a credible candidate for governor.” According to The Register, when confronted by the Connecticut press, Ms. Dean noted that the deniers “raised important questions.”
Alas, the quality of The Star’s recent editorial policies does raise important questions.
April 3, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray:
As a Maidstone Gun Club member for over 35 years, I was very impressed with your newspaper on-target editorial reporting concerning the Maidstone Gun Club and the current litigation the club is involved in.
In the many years that I have enjoyed clay bird shooting at the club, the most stringent safety procedures have always been the number-one consideration of the directors. The Maidstone Gun Club has been a community partner in East Hampton for many years. I hope this relationship will continue.
April 2, 2023
To the Editor,
If you are only allowed two five-year permits for geocube structures from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, what happens in year 11? Apparently, like some places in town, nothing.
What will next happen when two homes want to retreat but are already under 100 feet from wetlands? Kevin McAllister of Defend H2O already asked the town board in August of 2021 for “tough love.” The sands of time have run out. The kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality can’t be a diversion. Decision time is here. Or will that be ignored? Here on Bay View Avenue, the ignore method has brought us 1,728 days of blocked access.
Hope and Pray
March 31, 2023
I was truly astounded to hear that Donald Trump was recently indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, on charges that have not yet been unsealed.
There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump has been the most persecuted individual in the history of the world. His sufferings and persecutions at Mar-a-Lago were much more than the following ever endured: Abraham, Cain, Jonah, King David, King Solomon, Jesus of Nazareth, St. Peter, St. Paul, Muhammad, Buddha, Joan of Arc, Louis XVI of France, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin, The Beach Boys, Frankie Lymon, Jim (Wrestling Boy) Jordan, Kevin (I Will Do Anything) McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor (aided by visions from people on Pluto and LSD) Greene.
I hope and pray that the poor boy from Queens will remember his humble roots and exhort his followers to engage in peaceful protests, as he did on Jan. 6, 2021.
March 31, 2023
Before Joe Biden was senile, he was stupid.
Down the Halls
April 1, 2023
I enjoyed reading Arthur French’s letter. I also had sent one on a similar basis. I saw these films at the very beginning of that awful day. My son and I were in shock, watching the police open the doors for the crazies and walking down the halls with them.
Now all hell has broken loose because Tucker Carlson has chosen on his show to allow the public to watch the tapes. Keep in mind, these tapes are not edited; they are the same as I watched on the eve of Jan. 6.
Nothing but the truth was stated in Mr. French’s letter. Getting tired of politicians lying in reference to “five police officers died that day” — the only person that got killed that day was Ashli Babbitt.
Someone should question why Nancy Pelosi refused to ask for help before the 6th, as she was warned of what was coming beforehand.
In God and country,
Up to Date
April 1, 2023
To the Editor,
Marjorie, Marjorie, Marjorie, I did not realize you were totally committed to your degree in word salad while advancing your studies at Sesame Street. Your last literary masterpiece bringing us all up to date on your advanced knowledge of the causes of inflation and deficit reduction was truly inspiring. Needless to say, your “Sesame Street” studies have not touched on these subjects and your present curriculum does not include this subject matter. Please try and concentrate on one subject at a time and try to stay on topics you might possibly have an ounce of knowledge of.
Big Bird has told you again and again that economics, politics, and finance are not in your realm of understanding. Marjorie, let’s try and stay on course and again stick to your lessons regarding the letters B and D, which have been a challenge for you. Remember what Big Bird told you: “Your opinions are not knowledge.”
April 3, 2023
The story of the Irish famine of 1845 to 1852 ran on PBS this week. The New York Times also reviewed “Poverty, by America,” Matthew Desmond’s book, and ran an Op-Ed by Mr. Desmond on Sunday. There are two ways to look at both stories, easiest is the capacity for cruelty that is part of human nature. More complicated and depressing is that people are cruel by nature and demonstrate feelings of compassion and love mostly when forced to show these feelings.
Long Island Cares (the Chapin Foundation) stated that it is feeding more than 200,000 people daily on Long Island and during the pandemic, almost 400,000. The connection between these stories is that somewhere deep inside of our cultures something is obviously amiss.
The Irish famine is uncomplicated. The wealthiest country in the world in the middle of the 19th century was England. It viewed the Irish as white trash and permitted the famine to destroy the country as well as reaping spoils for themselves. Maintaining its enormous colonial empire required an exceptional level of cruelty and debasement. The British excelled in both. Normalizing cruelty.
Mr. Desmond’s theory is that poverty in the United States is homegrown and by design, yet, he somehow thinks that Americans are better than that. Certainly, on some occasions, we are terrific, but mostly our generosity returns substantially more than what we give. Quid pro profit.
Yet, while the British, like most of Europe, have made significant progress in areas of poverty and the attenuating of racism, sexism, and antisemitism, we seem to be going in the opposite direction. The question posed is why? The English have readily admitted to behaving like the scum of the earth. Americans admit to nothing.
So stuck in this historical fabrication of our greatness that we are unable to get to the truth about how we have sometimes (like all peoples) behaved abominably. Mississippi is a great example — a Southern slave state that still hasn’t given up on Jim Crow. Poor and deeply church-ridden. Democrats until 1965; Republicans ever since. Dismissing party affiliation as relevant. Mississippi is in the news because the state is cutting off large swaths of health care to the rural poor by shutting down hospitals and refusing federal funds for dozens of health care initiatives.
The reduced health care increases poverty and shortens life expectancy. It continues its historical pattern of quasi-human cruelty and debasement of people of color and poor people in general. Perpetuating poverty means not sharing the wealth.
Mississippi has an abominable past. The state is too poor to compensate Black Mississippians for its past transgressions. The church resolves the problem by absolving the population and denying that it had ever transgressed.
What probably separates England and the rest of Europe from the U.S. is its sense of history, the wars fought on its soils, its openness to socialism and more humane ideas, and its understanding that the church is another business trying to make a buck. They understood that normalizing cruelty was fascism.
We probably need to spend two hours a day studying history in school. Learn to recognize truth from propaganda and figure out that being the greatest country on earth doesn’t get you a subway token. Normalizing cruelty makes us horrible.