A False Premise
April 29, 2023
Your “objective” reportage about pickleball courts in Herrick Park begins with a judgment, a conclusion, and a false premise — all at the same time.
“A couple who lives next to Herrick Park in East Hampton Village filed an Article 78 petition in Suffolk County Supreme Court on April 16, seeking to stop the village from building lighted pickleball courts in the park and making other improvements there.”
Improvements? The story is about stopping the construction of an ice-skating rink, a concert stage, and pickleball courts in a public place. Obviously, some residents don’t consider these items as improvements; they see them as noisy, intrusive elements that will degrade their quality of life and destroy any hope for equipoise.
For Hook Pond
East Hampton Village
April 29, 2023
Fortunately for Hook Pond, the Town Pond underground waterway has been blocked. Town Pond scum can no longer depend on this waterway to reach Hook Pond. Let’s hope at some point in time East Hampton Village will not have to hire workers to wade into Town Pond to remove the pond’s scum.
Fortunately for Hook Pond, the town’s Department of Natural Resources has initiated Clean Water East Hampton: Improving our Water — Protecting our Future, a raising awareness campaign, dedicated to just that.
April 30 2023
To The Star,
For the extra crossword puzzle! I love it!
PATRICIA ANHOLT HABR
April 30, 2023
I wish to commend the East Hampton School District for its support of the newly enhanced high school science research program. The symposium presented to a packed house on April 25 in both the auditorium and the cafeteria was strikingly admirable, allowing students and parents, faculty, and mentors opportunities to shine as never before.
Achieving the level of success shown at that symposium — the astonishing results of the new wide-ranging and deeply embedded three-year course of science study — certainly requires knowledgeable encouragement and committed backing from the district in terms of time, space, staff, and money. The board and the administration are currently managing the science research team as they would any award-winning team, and perhaps we’ll soon see research participants celebrated with portraits in the front hall. Kudos.
May 1, 2023
The projected 44 percent Wainscott School tax-rate burden is just one example of the so-called affordable housing proposal in the Wainscott School District that is strictly subsidized by the taxpayer. In addition, we face an 11 percent increase in the costs of food; electric rates, 4.5 percent; gasoline, 50 percent; homeowners’ insurance rates, 8.4 percent, and home heating for the average home will increase 35 percent in a locked-in price.
As mentioned, the sale of the tax credits benefits only the investors, with zero benefit for taxpayers. As in Amagansett, the properties are removed from the tax base and residents bear the burden. There is no doubt that the high cost of housing on the East End continues, yet not one single word of concern about seniors on fixed incomes who will have to try to survive and live out their years. What else do they have to cut back on?
There is a need to step back and carefully take into consideration all factors that will impact the entire community.
April 29, 2023
To the Editor:
I would like to offer some advice to Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who is very likely to be our next town supervisor.
Kathee, you strike me as intelligent, decisive, and skilled at public engagement. However, it will take some additional effort to restore the town Democratic Party — and its elected representatives — to full trust and respect and thus to keep winning elections in the years to come. Here are some suggestions:
1. We need to know what the town Democrats believe and stand for. I remember reading a book about Tammany Hall many years ago, which included the phrase, “There were no issues, only interests.” The town party currently has that same lack of an ideological and spiritual identity. Since 2016, we have lived in very stressful times, with huge stakes at the national level and many setbacks. The town does not exist in a detached-bubble world. It would be nice to know where the town board members stand on the issues of equity, equality, justice, and free speech, which are in play.
2. It feels as if the town Democratic Party and the town board have stopped even trying to get their message out. There has been a dearth of interviews with The Star, or letters from any of you. The public portion of town board meetings is fine for the tactical details, but more free-ranging discussions are discouraged, especially the political. There is a huge piece missing in the party’s public relations.
3. More internal diversity of viewpoints needs to be encouraged, not punished. It would be good to hear a dissenting view on the town board — and even a vote that wasn’t in lockstep. The town board these last few years has been a drearily uniform group, where individual personalities are submerged. That contributes to no one knowing what you stand for.
4. Seek advice. One of the bad things that classically happens to a party in complete control is it exists in an echo chamber and only discovers how out-of-sync it has become with its voters when it loses an election. That has happened in our town in living memory, when we had a Republican board because the prior Democratic administration lost the thread.
In 2022, the state party, which is also heavily suffering from the problems I highlight here, lost several seats, substantially contributing to the loss of the House of Representatives, because it spent more energy and money shutting down internal opposition than communicating with general election voters. The local party has spent the past few years driving out independent voices who were also subject-matter experts. Though not this year, there may come a time when the Democrats face organized opposition from people who have the qualities they have come to lack.
You strike me as possibly having the skills to avoid that. I hope you will impart a different spirit to the board and to the local Democratic Party. Thanks for listening.
For democracy in East Hampton,
April 30, 2023
To the Editor,
The Star has had some great “Guestwords” the last few weeks on housing. This coincides with the recent uptake on the noticing of the long-withstanding issues with our zoning code.
Unfortunately they all run parallel or intertwine with each other. If the town changes any codes from this point forward, a bigger looming question is whether or not code was adhered to in the first place. New codes on top of codes that aren’t enforced are merely more suggestions.
I would like to give a shout-out back to Jonathan Wallace. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing your continued use of your sign-off. Though I would let you know these arrows are hitting the bull’s eye where they are intended.
As one local elected official told me on a phone conversation in February, “You keep bringing stuff up and people have to go look up what the heck you’re talking about.” That would be town documents and history.
Turn a Blind Eye
April 18, 2023
To the Editor,
What could be clearer and more urgent than Erica Broberg Smith’s April 13 Guestwords: “Zoning’s Perfect Storm”? Step by step, Ms. Smith, a practicing architect in East Hampton, lays out legal, financial, aesthetic, and environmental effects of home builders ignoring residential construction codes, and the inability of town inspectors to look into alleged violations in a timely manner with an eye to enforcing those codes; seeing that validated violations are redressed in an appropriate manner, and ensuring that inspectors work with relevant elected officials to revise codes that allow for inadequate reparations — a clump of native grass, for example, to replace a healthy 50-foot tree.
Unlike many complainants, Ms. Smith not only itemizes concerns but suggests specific remedies that could be implemented immediately were there a will to do so. But as she notes several times, the inspection department is shorthanded, overworked, and perhaps not legally supported enough to review or analyze reported violations. It is also true that money may rule, especially if builders are neighbors or well-heeled corporate outsiders who may sweeten their hope that inspection personnel turn a blind eye to questionable concerns over codes.
As Ms. Smith urges, violation doubters should look for themselves at some of the egregious abuses she cites. How did these houses and settings get the green light? What evidence enables a temporary stop-work order to be withdrawn and business to go on as usual? “Not my bailiwick” is an unacceptable response, so is “What else is new!” or “We’ll look into it.”
What kind of a town will we have if those who manage important local offices and elected officials who appoint them do not uphold codes and work with other division heads for the betterment of community? Ms. Smith has pointed the way toward immediate action. Elections are six months away. The time to hold candidates’ feet to the fire is now. In writing.
Need Those Trees
April 30, 2023
To the Editor,
Either there are too many loopholes in our zoning codes, or they are entirely inadequate for the climate and extinction emergencies we face.
Driving around town, I see lot after lot denuded of native trees and vegetation. Cottages and traditional single-family homes are replaced with houses large enough to house three families, houses that occupy almost the entirety of once-vegetated lots. Some of these are in environmentally sensitive areas, adjacent to dune systems, or perched on coastal bluffs. One sits high above a local harbor, where any runoff will end up in our overstressed waters. They are all insults to our environment and community health.
I don’t know how to say this more simply: We need those trees. We need native vegetation. They are irreplaceable elements of the ecosystems that clean and protect our ground and surface water from the abundant toxins we giddily pump into our environment. Trees and native plant communities, oaks, black cherries, white pines, high and low-bush blueberries, huckleberry, switch grass, little bluestem, are just part of a bigger picture — entire ecosystems of microbes, fungi, macro and micro biota ceaselessly working to mitigate the excess nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, and pollutants we mindlessly disperse.
When we lose these ecosystems, we lose biological communities, not just the visible, star-status species we all worry about: the bees, the butterflies, the fireflies, but also the microscopic, unseen species that make the whole green, living miracle possible. Yes, our yards, our private properties, are part of this, and what we do with them matters if we hope to curb the toxic algal blooms, groundwater pollution, and other environmental catastrophes we have imposed upon ourselves.
We need town codes that adequately acknowledge and address the climate change and biodiversity emergencies we face. It’s time to revisit our clearing and vegetation codes. Our everyday indifference to the consequences of our actions will not protect us. I suspect James Baldwin gets it right, as he so often does: “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction.”
To Adapt and Adjust
May 1, 2023
At 88 years old, my mother kneeled, fist in the air, for eight hours at a rally in Carl Schurz Park in solidarity and support of Black Lives Matter. My mom is a Democrat, and I am a Republican.
I was happy for her. She was using her voice and her time to stand up for what she believed in. We love to discuss politics, both American and worldwide, since she is an Egyptologist in Luxor, Egypt, and her world view has always been fascinating, a different perspective.
I am running for town board in November on the Republican ticket. My goals and vision for East Hampton are not based on party lines. My vision is a local-centered overhaul of our town infrastructure. These overdue adjustments would bring the governance up to date in terms of policy and practice, and technology. It’s time.
At 50-plus years of age, there have been three major events in my adult life that have profoundly changed East Hampton. The first was 9/11, when summer houses became year-round houses, and those who were once summer residents realized the beauty in the peace of living here in the off-season. Since then, off-season living, which was once quiet, and sometimes lonely, was forever changed. Restaurants stayed open, stores change their hours, and new businesses to support the new residences arrived. The tempo of everyday life quickened.
The next profound change was the internet, email, cable, and scanning. Remember our slow dial-up internet? The ability to work from home brought a whole new group of professionals into our community on a year-round level. Then Covid hit. Whatever empty houses were left in winter, many folks decamped from New York City or rented and now have decided to call East Hampton home. School enrollment bumped even higher. Each of these changes has impacted our community in so many ways. Medical facilities are desperately needed, and the list goes on and on. With each dramatic shift due to world events, our once “quiet farming” town by the sea needs to be nimble, to adapt and adjust.
This adjustment needs to be carefully and surgically addressed in every department and with never-before-seen community involvement, regardless of party. I say community involvement because collectively we all should participate in crafting the direction our town is headed; it should not be one-sided. My responsibility as a board member is to hear the voice of every member of the community and produce solutions that work for all the residents. The current town board has a habit of taking away our rights instead of producing a solution that works. One could say their mentality is if we take it away then we never have to address it again. Again, I believe in solutions, not litigation.
The tipping point is here. The fish rots from the head. The current board has shown you who they are. They are not nimble, creative, forward-thinking, or flexible. They do not build consensus within the community.
I am not a politician, although I strongly believe in protecting what’s left of the old East Hampton and standing up for my beliefs. My kids live here and I want them to be able to share the uniqueness and beauty of East Hampton with their kids. It’s as simple as that. We are in this together, regardless of politics, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
Please feel free to email me your comments or concerns, as I would love to hear them ([email protected]). I am always available for an early morning cup of coffee to talk about our amazing town.
SCOTT W. SMITH
April 28, 2023
To the Editor,
So there we have it in black and white: While Bea Derrico is entitled to her political opinions — misconceived though they may be — we all know what her singling out George Soros and Jerry Nadler in her letter of April 23 reflects.
MARK N. BLOOM
You Will Be Inspired
April 27, 2023
This is a reply to the letter to The East Hampton Star that was published on April 27, 2023. Dear Ms. Derrico: I would like to congratulate you for winning the Antisemitic Jackpot for your recent letters attacking the “lowlife” George Soros and family, for their many secret visits with President Biden, and for your recent attack on Congressman Jerry Nadler.
I am sure that due to Fox News and Newsmax, many people in our nation actually believe that our government is controlled by a Jewish cabal of liberal, progressive, woke degenerates, placenta-hungry, transgender supporters, gay rights lovers, anti-white man replacement theorists, critical history lovers (mostly those who teach that slavery actually existed in the United States of America), and those softies who want to take away our constitutional right to own an assault rifle that continues to proliferate in the shootings of our children, teachers, and business people.
As is usual to question about Donald Trump, you deflect to another topic. Nowhere in any previous letter did I mention anything about Jerry Nadler. Your recent letter asked me if I would vote for Jerry Nadler if he were just a Democrat.
My reply is this: I would not care if Jerry Nadler were Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or atheist; I would vote for him for being a decent human being — unlike the Nazi scum whom you love. It is time to call out your spade for being a spade and not a shovel.
In your spare time, check out the “The Hitler Tapes” on Netflix. You will be inspired. Sorry to hear that Tucker has been fired for saying one thing on air and believing something else. Oh, the horror!
But you never watched Fox News, right?
Country So Divided
April 27, 2023
This is not the first time I’ve said I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat. I’m really tired of the insinuation of what I stand for. I stand for my country, the U.S.A. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d see this country so divided, nor would I believe it was the people in charge of the country, who caused this divide.
I believe that Fox News was on air a very long time before Donald Trump came along. There also seems to be so many vile words against Trump; however, Joe Biden has been caught in so many lies. He has dementia. He has manhandled woman. Biden and his family are under scrutiny for illegal dealings. All this is okay, why?
Transgenders do not belong in women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, or in women’s sports. Where the hell did this come from? How did gender nouns and transgender and abortion become the topic of everyday conversation? Let’s not forget schools are training young children they will take care of their changes. They will do this without the consent of any parent. The government does not own the children.
Seems A.O.C. is throwing around the Orwellian reality in the Age of Trump. God, help this country.
In God and country,
Are We Awake?
May 1, 2023
Watching Bill Maher and his guests Elon Musk and his two political, left, right bloggers talk about the woke virus with disdain and flip it off like some kind of progressive malfunction reminded me of how ignorant and dumb we are all capable of being. I generally like Maher and find Musk interesting but they were both delighting in their kind of meanspirited stupidity.
Of course people will take woke too far. Frustration, lack of patience, hopelessness in the face of rising fascism, etc. Yet, woke didn’t drop out of the sky; it was actually a reasonable way of saying that it’s time to stop being ignorant and join the real world.
The group mentioned telling kids that George Washington was a slaveholder. Wow, denigrating George. Bullshit — he was, but he was also, as I learned in grade school, the father of our country. Except the conservative narrative of our country gives James Madison and Article 10 of the Federalist Papers much of the credit, which is really bullshit. (See Charles Beard’s 1913 book that completely distorts the reality of what happened when the country was being formed.)
In a 2022 group of essays called “Myth America,” the fantasy of Madison and Article 10 is obliterated. First, the only reason we have a country and not separate states is because George Washington agreed to lead the new country. Without Washington it wasn’t going to happen, Second, almost all of what Madison wrote in Article 10 had already been put out by Washington and Alexander Hamilton in their constitutional plan. Third, Madison played a small part in forming the new government. Washington was the only one that mattered.
What conservatives tried to do to Washington is 100 times worse than calling him a slave owner, yet Mahr and co. didn’t go there. Are we awake or incurably stupid?
Another, more contemporary example of mindless woke is a conversation with a friend about Black Lives Matter. She told me that she had read that B.L.M. had been infiltrated by communists and she didn’t trust the movement. Outside of North Korea and Cuba, commies are as rare as unicorns. I thought about her stupidity and then thought that her racism was a product of our society, and communism seemed like as good a reason as any to beat on B.L.M.
Yet, despite 400 years of documented proof — thousands of pages describing the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow — she doesn’t get the racism thing. The Civil War ended 158 years ago, and 16 million dead Indigenous people are more than proof positive. How much time does it take to figure this out? Never-ending stupidity? Take your head out of your ass is the more appropriate definition for wakefulness.
The fog of stupidity masks the fear of knowing the truth. We aren’t perfect. We don’t have to be perfect. The world knows our history but we can’t come to terms with it. We don’t have to be afraid. So George Washington had slaves — we wouldn’t exist without him. Why would anyone care?
There are victims from past events. Don’t blame them for what was done to them. Deal with it.