May 22, 2023
“Just over one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the food system. Of these, roughly 70 percent are released by farming . . . — George Monbiot, “Regenesis.”
Life is complicated. We need to eat, but our agricultural systems are major contributors to the climate crisis threatening our world, and the climate crisis is no friend of agriculture. Floods, droughts, record-breaking temperatures and erratic weather make farming costly and difficult — which is why it’s nice to see Bess Rattray writing about hedgerows.
Hedgerows, and their pollinator-strip cousins, are simple, natural solutions that can go a long way toward mitigating farming’s hidden environmental damages.
Hedgerows of native plants restore many of the natural services lost when land is cleared for farming. They efficiently sequester carbon, mitigate heavy-metal soil contaminants, prevent soil erosion, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff, and restore soil ecosystems. They also provide habitat for beneficial birds and insects that contribute to natural pest management and crop pollination.
Studies from the University of Iowa show that “buffer strips and edge-of-field filter strips . . . can yield disproportionate benefits for soil, water, and biodiversity [and] by converting 10 percent of a crop-field to diverse, native perennial vegetation, farmers and landowners can reduce sediment movement off their field by 95 percent and total phosphorous and nitrogen lost through runoff by 90 and 85 percent, respectively.”
Hedgerows are still a common sight in the English countryside and were once common throughout New England. Out here, shadbush, high and low bush blueberry, chokeberry, sweet fern, bayberry, milkweeds, mountain mints, and Virginia rose are just a few natives that, strategically planted, would go a long way to providing the natural services of hedgerows. Stretched along farm fields, hedgerows make ideal pollinator pathways. They are also beautiful. And an added bonus: The United States Department of Agriculture offers assistance to small farms that add hedgerows and pollinator strips to their fields.
We face the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity collapse. We have drastically altered the ecosystems that protect us, but simple measures like planting native hedgerows can make big differences.
Tower in Springs
May 20, 2023
Referring to a front-page article in The East Hampton Star on May 4: “St. Peter’s Tower a Go, With little choice . . .”, it’s unfortunate after eight years of controversy about a cell tower in Springs, that the board was forced into choosing a site rather than being able to act without facing a lawsuit. The article states that board members were not happy about the outcome. Well, I can assure you that as a resident of Springs, I am happy. I’m ecstatic! After all these years of frustration and poor, interrupted, or no cell service, the board’s hand was forced into providing good cell service in Springs. I would bet that I’m not alone.
As a practicing psychotherapist who provides a vital mental health service to high-risk clients such as battered women, trauma survivors, and the mentally ill, I am extremely relieved for my clients that virtual sessions, both phone and Zoom, will no longer be interrupted. I was forced to call back one client three times; another, I never received the Zoom invitation for our meeting, and so on. In my personal life, cell service has been so poor that often, I have to drive somewhere with better reception.
What about the taxpaying homeowners in Springs, like me, who have similar or worse stories about not being able to call 911 in an emergency or able to call their aged mother to wish her a happy birthday? The aesthetics of cell towers have been of major concern, not residents. Instead of lamenting altering an aesthetic, I think the board should be cheering that they have reached a decision that shows concern for their constituents.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the natural beauty, serenity, and charm of Springs. I chose to live in this area. This is 2023 however: The era of technology and the internet is a way of life, whether we like it or not. The Star’s article cites Samuel Kramer, the chairman of the planning board, saying 30 years ago he took a bike ride and came upon St. Peter’s Chapel. Thirty years ago he happened upon St. Peter’s while riding his bike? I wonder if Mr. Kramer lives in Springs? He regrets it’s not going to be “gorgeous” anymore nor quite such a beautiful spot which is a “shame”? Another board member, according to The Star, Ian Calder-Piedmonte, said, “Nobody’s excited.” Nobody’s excited? I’m excited, I’m very excited, but, then again, I’m not a board member; I’m a Springs homeowner and resident. I’m excited that after eight years of frustrating inaction, there will be one — one — cell tower that will afford me decent cell service. I suspect there are plenty of Springs residents who are happy and relieved, too.
I am quite familiar with St. Peter’s Chapel, living around the corner from it. Yes, it’s a lovely, charming spot. Passing by, I love to look at the chapel and hear the church bells, but is there some myth here that it is a bucolic setting? Maybe on a Tuesday afternoon at about 3 p.m. it is. The fact of the matter is St. Peter’s is located on Old Stone Highway, a major thoroughfare where cars busily speed by day and night, endlessly, making plenty of noise.
I, too, want to keep the aesthetics of the chapel. Since that appears important to the board, it behooves them to ensure erecting a vital and lifesaving service is done with care.
JANET A. GELLER
May 19, 2023
This misguided campaign of banning books for children is getting ridiculous.
I recently heard that some state or city has banned “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” from schools and libraries because someone said one of the books features an illustration of lesbians.
I was a new editorial staff member at Scholastic, Inc., when Clifford was “born.” We published the first book in 1963, and I worked on dozens of Clifford books throughout my long career there. I can’t for the life of me imagine which book this might be. Norman Bridwell was a lovely person — mild mannered, soft-spoken, generous with his time, not to mention funny — but he was not a social activist.
He drew lots of old and young women and children, but how any of his drawings could have a secret, sexual connotation is beyond me. Must teachers and librarians examine all their Clifford books to weed out the offensive one? Or is Clifford to be banished from their school and library bookshelves altogether?
I remember only one complaint we had about a Clifford book. “Clifford Goes to Hollywood” included a page where Clifford was lying next to his “house” — a Hollywoodish palatial structure. A Muslim father complained that the building was a mosque, and a dog in (or in this case close to) a mosque was an insult. The wonderful editor I worked for did some architectural research and found that many palaces had similar features, and that Norman hadn’t intended for the structure to be seen as a mosque. The man was not placated, so we had Norman redo the page for the following printings.
This goes to show how our prejudices can taint our perceptions beyond reason.
Village in Danger
May 20, 2023
Sad news about the Marsden Street purchase. Sag Harbor is such a unique town with wonderful history of its whaling past and famous artists.
The village is in danger, as is the rest of the Hamptons, of being overbuilt and becoming a suburb of New York, said as an ex-owner of a property on Three Mile Harbor and a lover of the Hamptons currently living in Dublin, Ireland.
Needs of Our Students
May 22, 2023
On behalf of the Springs School Board, I would like to express our gratitude to the residents of Springs for supporting the proposed school budget for the 2023-24 school year. The school’s motto, “Together We Make a Difference,” has never been more true than when our community chose to put the needs of our students ahead of their own pocketbooks by consenting to piercing the tax cap.
While many of us are back to life as normal, the lingering effects of the pandemic are still affecting our kids in school and the ability to provide them with the continuing enrichment and social and emotional help they need is so important. Thank you for making sure they have the opportunity to stay with a reasonable class size and to have as many extracurricular activities as our neighboring districts as possible. Watching these kids grow and shine is always a pleasure and it is only possible because our Springs community is a willing partner.
Springs School Board
A Boutique School
May 22, 2023
The recent defeat of the Wainscott School budget should send a clear message that the burden is a hand grenade thrown at the seniors and residents on fixed incomes and hard-working families trying to avoid the potholes of daily living expenses.
As once said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Real estate and school taxes never go down. The Wainscott School taxes for the small school, that because of the size does not get New York State funding, as other districts do. No one mentions that!
Do the math, divide the 26 students into the total operation budget and the number will cause a loud gasp. A boutique school may be charming but not at that cost.
A study needs to determine if the district should even exist any longer. What is the cost to have children go to other nearby schools? Do all of these students actually live in the district or are they dropped off from other areas? Why are subsidized-housing-complex properties removed from the tax rolls? In another complex here in town, only a one-time school tax amount was paid.
Who pays the maintenance fees, along with the utilities, refuse pickup, and amenities? Wainscott taxpayers, who are also facing a possible catastrophe with the sand pit. If a proposal made by a coalition to have the town purchase that property, it would be removed from the tax rolls. That loss of real estate and school taxes would wipe out most residents. Are we that expendable?
I urge residents to closely examine the loss of purchasing power that has hit us all. Take a look at food costs, heating fuel. I live alone and my costs for heat will go up $1,493 a year and that is with an internal temperature at 64. Hold on to your hats.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
Called the Town
May 20, 2023
To the Editor:
To the person who anonymously called the town to report that I built a fence along the western boundary of my property: I put the fence up because the summer people on the highway just north of me, who blast their music until 3 a.m., have also started walking across the empty lot adjoining mine, and then across a corner of my land, to get to the beach because, you know, it’s just too difficult to go a few feet farther to walk on the paved road.
In the couple of summers this has been happening (since new owners bought and “improved” two of the highway houses), these people (who I guess to be renters) have killed a substantial amount of dune vegetation, and created a depression in the dune which will in the next hurricane act as a channel for seawater to flood the houses in which they are staying.
Under these circumstances, you would think that putting up a fence would be a basic act of American freedom. I reviewed the town code, kept it within height limitations, and made sure the posts were placed in bare patches in the sand, so no vegetation was harmed. For my pains, I had a town inspector (who was quite civil in our conversation) knocking unexpectedly on my door yesterday.
If the anonymous caller was one of the owners of the highway houses, your tenants crossing the dune have killed a substantial amount of vegetation, and I harmed none. In fact, I protected a substantial area of vulnerable lichen from you, as it is now within my fence.
If the anonymous caller was the owner of one of the houses in the neighborhood (purchased by single-property L.L.C.s to be “improved”) about which I have written letters to the zoning board: You sought permits to remove hundreds or thousands of square feet of dune plants, while using a corporate form that assures you can never be held accountable if you fail to revegetate. More significantly on the moral front: I signed my name to my words about you, while you acted in darkness. Shame on you.
For democracy in East Hampton,
Takes More Gas
May 20, 2023
Forgive me for my confusion in advance. The town’s energy and sustainability committee is recommending the Electric Building Act, which will among other things eliminate the use of fossil fuels (according to Christopher Walsh from your fine publication) in new construction as of January 2025.
My source of confusion is this: Electricity on the East End is, and will be into the foreseeable future, generated predominantly by fossil fuels. So how in the world can a legitimate claim be made that this act will eliminate the use of fossil fuels, specifically gas?
The facts would lead to the exact opposite conclusion. This is because electricity transmission lines, especially older ones, with gas-powered electricity “leak” power among the transmission routes. This inefficiency actually takes more gas to power the electricity than direct use of gas.
I am not an electrical engineer, and I strongly favor diminished use of fossil fuels in general, but the fundamental thesis behind this act appears to be misguided at best and simply untruthful at worst. Can someone help me understand this differently?
With respect always,
Guard the Guards
May 22, 2023
“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” is a famous Latin phrase that loosely translated means, “Who will guard the guards themselves?” or “Who watches the watchmen?” Have you seen the recent headlines in The Star: “Town Ordered to Pay Up Within 15 days in Truck Beach Suit,” and, “Judge Says East Hampton Town Violated Airport Order, Must Pay $250K”?
I believe we need somebody to guard the guards: The one-party Democrat stranglehold over our beloved town must come to an end.
In the Truck Beach fiasco the judge ordered the town to pay a total of $389,060 for plaintiffs’ fees. Of course, we don’t know what the town board paid its own lawyers. The total tab of taxpayer money spent might be approaching $1 million, inclusive of fines.
Now, in the latest chapter of the East Hampton Airport closure debacle, a New York Supreme Court judge on Friday ruled the town board in civil contempt for violating the temporary restraining order issued in May 2022. I quote from the article, “The town, Justice Baisley ordered on Friday, must pay the plaintiffs $250,000. He also imposed a fine of $1,000 per day ‘for each day it fails to comply with the T.R.O. from the date of this order,’ and that the town pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys fees for costs associated with the contempt motions.”
The total legal bill to the East Hampton taxpayer could easily hit the $1 million mark, taking into consideration the $250,000 fine, the plaintiffs’ legal fees, the $1,000 per diem fine from the date of the order, combined with all the monies spent by the town litigating the issue over the course of the last year.
The Supreme Court judge is calling their actions “arbitrary and capricious.” Their actions speak for themselves; the judge’s comment emphasizes the mindless and reckless manner in which the town board governs East Hampton.
Good governance and good leadership focus on the long-term goals, beyond any potential short-term gains, personal or otherwise.
Good governance requires participative management skills and the acknowledgement of boundaries, limits, and the potential to span them. Litigation is a scorched-earth policy which must be avoided, as its costs to the public trust can be monumental.
The current town board has not shown good governance. It’s time for a change in the current town board. The Town of East Hampton deserves better. The Town of East Hampton deserves competent leadership.
Mr. Wootton is a Republican Candidate for East Hampton Town Board. Ed.
May 20, 2023
To the Editor,
When I spoke with Joe Palermo, the new head of the Building Department, I made him aware of some situations that have now continued to be ignored to this date. I was told I’d be called back, “in a few days.” I obviously never have been.
I have made Freedom of Information requests, and, from what I have only yet begun to receive, the narrative seems clear: We don’t have a town that is following the law or code. I am disheartened to see it. But it makes sense with all that has been done.
I even see Building Department notes that hastily added on information since that March 20 conversation. The additions still don’t make what’s been done lawful and have invalidated all permits and certificates issued. Work continues today. Other departments won’t even acknowledge receipt of FOIL requests.
The two-tier system is fully established: Year-round residents need to follow the law and code to the letter. Those who are not year-round: Do as you please. The riches get the spoils.
Ten years, no senior center. Eight years, no communication tower turned on in Springs. Six years, a road and emergency access blocked. Four years sitting on hands and now they don’t even want us to cut “Footloose.”
A Vital Role
May 20, 2023
We (Claire, 24, and Kyle, 22) are writing to shed light on a topic that holds immense importance for the well-being and empowerment of younger generations: Planned Parenthood. As our society progresses and conversations surrounding reproductive health become increasingly critical, it is imperative to acknowledge and support the invaluable services provided by organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Our grandparents Steven and Louise Bergerson have been supporting Planned Parenthood since the early 1970s. We grew up attending the Planned Parenthood summer fund-raising event year after year, listening to women discuss a time when their bodies were not their own. We were shocked to learn that our grandfather had to give written consent for my grandmother to receive a tubal ligation. It was at this moment that we began to understand the importance of Planned Parenthood — its very existence promoting gender equality globally. Planned Parenthood has been fighting an uphill battle for a long time, but along with our grandparents, we understand this battle is one worth joining.
We were taught from a young age that our bodies are ours to control and maintain as we see fit. We were taught that our bodies should not be a political battlefield. These teachings were passed down from my grandparents’ generation, who were hopeful that their kids would live in a time where their bodily decisions were up to them, alone. But here we are, still defending the right for women to access the necessary resources to control their reproductive health, this time arm in arm with our grandparents. We are hopeful that standing with Planned Parenthood in the quest for gender equality will mean our daughters and daughters’ daughters will never have to question whether their bodies are theirs alone.
Planned Parenthood has been a beacon of hope and a sanctuary for those seeking comprehensive reproductive health care, education, and support. Its mission extends far beyond the provision of contraceptives and abortion services. It encompasses an inclusive approach that promotes healthy relationships, sexual education, and preventive care. By prioritizing accessibility and affordability, Planned Parenthood has played a pivotal role in shaping the lives and futures of countless young people.
Not only is Planned Parenthood a pillar of gender equality: It is also a critical health care provider for many in underserved communities. The organization’s commitment to affordable and confidential care ensures that young people can seek out the medical attention they need without fear of judgment or financial barriers. This not only protects their physical well-being but also safeguards their emotional and mental health — removing barriers to achieving health equity.
The United States is rooted in the values of liberty and freedom, and decision-making Americans deserve compassionate, unstigmatized health care that empowers them to make informed decisions about their bodies and their futures. The autonomy, or lack thereof, to make this decision impacts the way we understand ourselves as decision-making persons. By denying this autonomy, the ability to make decisions as a free person and citizen is also denied. We must foster a society that prioritizes the well-being and autonomy of its citizens rather than denying their personhood.
In conclusion, Planned Parenthood stands as an indispensable ally for younger generations, championing reproductive health care, education, and support. It plays a vital role in empowering young individuals, ensuring their access to comprehensive care, and equipping them with the tools they need to lead healthy, informed lives. Let us come together with prior and future generations to recognize the significance of Planned Parenthood’s work and support its continued efforts to uplift and empower younger generations.
Support women. Support families. Support Planned Parenthood.
The writers, cousins, are members of the committee for a June 3 benefit for Planned Parenthood to be held in Wainscott. Ed.
Essence of the Country
May 21, 2023
In France, there is a sense that the underlying essence of the country remains intact, despite the political chaos. People talk, argue, debate, and protest but they don’t hate; they aren’t enemies. Pols lie and cheat but are conscious of their behavior. They aren’t pathological. Not deviant.
We are 17 at the table in the garden, 7 years old to 80. My nephew at the barbecue overcooks everything. Another bottle of Champagne to the rescue. Desserts save the day, which is amazing because we are all together and delighted to be so.
At 11 we put the kids to bed and collapse around 1. Four hours in the sun-filled garden was a little too much.
Life is very sweet on vacation in France.
Come Under Control
May 17, 2023
As many Republican-controlled states have moved swiftly to legislate control of women’s reproductive rights and control of their bodies, I am concerned that the same legislation and control might be in the future for males.
To prevent pregnancy and a possible abortion, should all males be required to wear a condom? Should men who refuse to wear a condom be prosecuted for promoting pregnancy and illegal abortions? Should condom sales be placed into a state or federal database in case a pregnancy occurs? Should doctors be prosecuted for performing abortions when the male refused to wear a condom?
These are issues that have been ignored in the recent debate concerning the nullification of Roe v. Wade. However, I think that the role of Mr. Spermy might also come under control of those who espouse limited government.
Needs a Nap
May 22, 2023
I can’t comprehend why politician and directors of different foundations just can’t tell the truth, nor can they take responsibility for their actions.
A lie spearheaded by Sharon Toney-Finch, a military veteran and director of the Yerik Israel Toney foundation, her lie: She claims vets were forced out of the crossroads to make room for migrant arrivals. There’s so much to this downright lie. Let’s hope for a full investigation.
Then we have the Republicans allowing George Santos to remain in Congress while under investigation for alleged charges. Let’s make this a quick investigation so we can get to the truth and either keep him or throw him out. In this case, the Republicans are putting power over people.
The Democrats are no better, as they chose to keep a sickly Dianne Feinstein, who doesn’t remember where she is, and, lastly, John Fetterman can’t form a coherent sentence, and please let us not forget President Biden needs to take a nap.
The message from the Democrats is obvious, vote for anyone with a D after their name.
In God and country,
May 22, 2023
To the Editor,
Hey B.D., Fox News just called. They have a bridge in Brooklyn they want to sell you, and we all sure know you’re buying.