July 30, 2023
A nice little story: At last Tuesday’s Music at Main Beach a 50-50 raffle was held to benefit Meals on Wheels. (Thank you, Mayor Jerry Larsen and the village, for inviting us to participate.) We sold $1,040 worth of tickets, which meant that half ($520) would go to the winner and the other half ($520) to us. Except it didn’t work out quite that way — because when the winning number was called, the man with the winning ticket graciously gave his winnings back to Meals on Wheels.
Now, I don’t know who that man was; it doesn’t matter. But Mr. Anonymous, thank you. In human terms, your gift alone was enough to provide almost two months of delicious, balanced, nourishing meals to a homebound resident of the Town of East Hampton — and for that we are most grateful.
East Hampton Meals on Wheels
May Be Too Late
July 29, 2023
To the Editor:
I have so far passed on writing concerning various concerning items that affect all who live either full time or a lengthy part time on the South Fork of Long Island. It is no secret that things are truly out of control, that the traffic and the crowds and the various pollutions have truly caused what had been a marvelous piece of civilized land with appealing communities to clearly bite the dust. Wishful thinking will no longer return it to its not-so-distant past.
I was pleased to read The Star’s editorial a full week ago, which was clearheaded about what has happened and some of the things that might, well, help, though we may very well be past the point of having real solutions available.
Traffic is not impossible to deal with if the posted speed limits can be actually enforced and policed. I see nothing of the sort anywhere. Speed and aggression seem to rule the day. There should probably be limits set on all congregating indoors and outdoors in our villages, including strict parking limits with quite-expensive ticketing for violations.
Of course, it may simply be too late for our species to turn around the now very evident results of global warming. What can we do to keep cool that will not simply exacerbate the problem? (Put air-condition-ing and swimming pools in that column.) And with the ocean around southern Florida and much of the Caribbean at 90 degrees, there is the chance that more and larger hurricanes are more than likely. We are right on that particular superhighway.
Particularly concerning in terms of what can be accomplished by our local governments is that a thoughtful proposal to limit the noise from the East Hampton Airport was quashed by the moneyed owners of private planes by spending more money than the town has, lawyering up and squelching the deal. This is one of the main things that keeps me pessimistic for the future. I’m glad I’m not 6 or 16 or even 36.
Side With Neighbors
East Hampton Village|
July 27, 2023
To the Editor,
As a village resident, I write to object to the Huntting Inn’s request for a variance to construct a pool. Although I am not in the immediate vicinity of the inn, I side with the nearby neighbors in opposing this plan. An establishment that serves alcohol and has a pool may not be in the best interests of the Village, its residents, or the inn’s neighbors.
I am all for making the internal changes needed so the inn can be Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant.
At the hearing, Mr. Bell suggested the inn might go bankrupt if it did not have a pool. The inn has operated continuously for centuries and there is no evidence it is on the precipice of failing owing to a lack of a pool.
I am also concerned about the precedent this creates for other inns in the village that surely will want a pool as well if this is approved. This is indeed a slippery slope.
I am a loyal customer of the Palm Restaurant and will continue to support that aspect of the Huntting Inn regardless of the outcome of these proceedings.
East Hampton Village is such a beautiful place. We should endeavor to keep it as historically correct as possible.
In closing, do we really need an additional commercial hotel pool on Main Street?
July 29, 2023
It’s hard to believe that village residents and business owners accept the recent transformation of our lives to a state of continual assault by low-flying jets. Can nothing be done to restore the peace?
BARBARA A. STRONG
Failing Our Earth
July 29, 2023
I am writing today to express my extreme disappointment with the Suffolk County Legislature for refusing to bring the water legislation act to the ballot this November. It is absolutely abhorrent that the conservative majority would vote against allowing all of us to decide how to protect and improve our water.
As we face an increasingly hot summer and horrific water quality, it’s shameful that this legislature decided to play politics and refuse to protect our environment. When will they understand that in failing to protect our Earth we are failing to protect ourselves?
July 31, 2023
To the Editor:
The lights have just come back on, not literally, but figuratively. It is not criminal that we, like the rest of East Hampton, lost access to television, internet, and, in many cases, phone services for just over 24 hours. Service interruptions happen, especially in a shore community like this, given its exposure to the elements and drivers who routinely exceed the speed limit only to crash into utility poles to which Optimum’s cables are attached.
What is criminal, however, is the totally useless responses from the so-called customer service personnel at Optimum. The three people with whom I finally was able to connect (during five calls) not only had no specific knowledge of what had caused the outage, but worse, apparently had no means to contact others in the organization who presumably would know more about what caused the outage as well as how and when service would be restored. Reminds one of the poor response one used to get from LILCO after the area was devastated by a hurricane in 1992. For the prices we all pay to this monopoly, to provide such shoddy service is to my mind outrageous and should not be acceptable.
Be that as it may, however, my real complaint is with the East Hampton Town Board, whose job it is to oversee such matters as cable and phone service, which apparently continues to do nothing to remedy what appears to be an ever-eroding quality of service from Optimum, the origins of which date back to the time it was known as Cablevision.
The solution, I hesitate to say, seems obvious. Since Optimum continues to show its customers that it is either incapable of upgrading the current network, the backbone of which was put into service in the 1980s by its predecessor’s predecessor, and/or is financially unable to do so, I would suggest the time has indeed come to invite multiple bidders to submit competitive proposals for providing a level of service that meets both current usage patterns and anticipates future demand(s) with far greater reliability and at lower rates than Optimum currently does.
This “cure” needs no study, just action. And if the town board either cannot or will not take action to promote competition, then by all means let’s replace them with a board that will.
JAMES R. WELDON
Find a Solution
July 25, 2023
Like many permanent residents of Amagansett and readers of The Star, I’ve been aware of the controversy regarding the Maidstone Gun Club. Full disclosure: I am a nonmember, and my last encounter with a rifle was with an M16A1 in basic and advanced infantry training in Fort Jackson some decades ago.
This may sound odd for a centrist Democrat, but I have to add my name to those who want to reopen the club. In our culture, many equate guns with “bad,” and, in far too many tragic instances, this is valid. There are way too many guns in the hands of the wrong people with far too few checks on ownership. However, with the gun club, as far as I know, we’re talking about something different: responsible gun owners pursuing their sport in a responsible way. I’m sure that many members would be among the first to decry irresponsible and illegal ownership and use of guns.
In short, there should be a way to find a solution to this problem so many of our neighbors can again resume their sport.
Eye Off the Adversary
July 29, 2023
To the Editor:
Your July 20 editorial “At Least the Conversation Has Started” was very thought-provoking.
The travails of our town Democratic Party map the struggles of the state party in recent years. The shocking loss of several New York seats in 2022, guaranteeing the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, was attributed by knowledgeable observers to a remarkable failure of the imagination.
For years, the state party has spent all of its energy — and money — fighting younger, more-progressive or liberal Democrats who ran primary elections against incumbents; as a result, the state party took its eye off the Republican adversary. And the state party has at the same time experienced a failure of narrative: Democratic and independent swing voters are jumping ship because no one really knows what state Democrats stand for.
The town party has committed these same errors. Not too long ago in political time, it engaged in an internal settling of scores that lasted several years, ejecting from the town committee, the town board, and the trustees every individual who had an independent voice and was capable of standing up to the party on issues of ethics or policy. (Full disclosure: I was attorney for some of them.) And the letters column in The Star offers major evidence that nobody really knows what the town party stands for anymore.
This is not a long-term strategy. If there is not major revitalization, the Democrats will crack, whether by a third-party challenge as your editorial indicated, or by primaries conducted by strong adversaries with good technical support.
For democracy in East Hampton,
Need to Know
July 30, 2023
My letter in last week’s Star, titled “Population Cap,” evoked some questions.
I had stated that it is urgent that the ad hoc committee on updating East Hampton’s planning and zoning work quickly to further protect our health, safety, and quality of life. We are now experiencing a tsunami of development that is inundating our roads, polluting harbors and bays with harmful algae, lowering our only source of drinking water (located in an aquifer just below us), and increasing traffic is spewing more carbon, lead, and methane into the air we breathe, as you stated in a recent editorial, “At Least the Conversation Has Started.” However, as a former planning board chairwoman and town board member who was the point person on updating the 1985 and 2005 comprehensive plans and 2005 zoning map and zoning code, I noticed that the committee has not mentioned the very first information they need to gather.
Before any recommendations are made, the Planning Department needs to ascertain the current number of lots on East Hampton’s Land Use and Zoning Map that are already developed and those lots that are still vacant. In comprehensive zoning considerations, there is a need to know the ultimate buildout when all lots are finally developed and the current number of lots that are still vacant. Then accurate and valid revisions can be made. The planning director has said that you cannot revise any zoning map of the town until you know the current impacts to the environment, infrastructure, need for affordable housing, and the current population. The courts agree.
It is a good committee, and they are addressing a vital need that affects us all. For those who feel it is too late, remember this. In 1984 when Judith Hope was elected supervisor, her majority passed a moratorium and reduced the population buildout then by 60 percent. Then, the 600-acre Grace Estate was to be developed with 234 condos and a 600-car parking lot, Hither Woods was in for a subdivision of 300 lots and a state-required school. Three Mile Harbor had 60 condos with preliminary approval. Barcelona Neck was to be surrounded with 10-acre lots and no access to Northwest Harbor for our baymen. There is more, but the point is, what if Supervisor Hope and her town board had said, “It’s too late”?
By the way, all those beautiful spaces mentioned above for development are now public preserves. But there is more to do.
The good news is that a former Supreme Court has upheld a community’s right to preserve its character and open space by growing at a deliberate, sustainable pace. The key word is “sustainable.”
Getting to Work
July 30, 2023
Over the past week, I’ve been asked an essential question regarding the work-force housing we plan to build here. If granted, who will be able to own these one-to-six-bedroom units? I understand the reason for asking. In the past, some town-sponsored projects have, in fact, not used 100 percent of their units for local residents. Instead, some have gone to people from outside this town. The reason is twofold.
If any project takes State of New York funding, as the Town of East Hampton has in the past, they have to open the eligibility to residents of the state, not just the town. And since the town looks to drive down its costs of building and operating these projects they have, in fact, done just that. That allows someone from another area of the state to apply and qualify for a unit.
Second, affordable housing projects come with minimum and maximum income requirements that many deserving people in East Hampton cannot match. Generally, it’s a matter of exceeding the maximum income requirement, not failing to meet the minimum needed. The fact is many people here who don’t make enough money to own a home make too much to rent or own an affordable unit. In that case again, people from outside the area who do meet those criteria end up getting units promised for local residents.
In our case, we are a 100 percent privately funded project. We will not take money from the state and therefore will not need to open eligibility to anyone from outside East Hampton. We also are not setting minimum or maximum income requirements for these units. What we will do is restrict ownership to East Hampton-based businesses that will guarantee the units bought will be used to house their workers.
No second homes, no Airbnb, no summer rentals, each and every unit has to be devoted to housing that businesses’ workers need, period.
The one exception to that rule will be projects that occur on privately owned land that the owner may have priorities to fill before other businesses have a chance to buy; our work with the East Hampton School District may be one. They may choose to only have units occupied by their staff. That should be decided by early fall, and we will of course respect their decision.
Even so, working with the town we will be able to deliver one-to-six-bedroom townhouse units starting at $375,000, well below the cost of any housing currently available in East Hampton.
I look forward to getting to work, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have, please contact me if you do.
July 23, 2023
To the Editor,
March 15, 2022, was the day a modular home company brought sections of a home over Cranberry Hole Road Bridge — four times over with and four times over without.
Why do we know this? Why, that home is on Bay View Avenue. The more interesting part: They had an alleged valid permit. Yet in May of this year, a road-widening easement was granted to the Town of East Hampton. This would now ensure with the passing of that resolution they can now be issued a valid building permit.
Too late, the home and pool were already built. So how does this work? First step last, last step first? A home not constructed in a valid matter and Cranberry Hole Road Bridge now closed for the foreseeable future. No wonder Bay View Avenue still has an obstruction with no permits. Wild Wild East reigns supreme.
Decade Too Long
July 30, 2023
As I meet residents from Westhampton to Montauk, a universal complaint appears to come up consistently: Traffic has reached epic proportions. Many factors have led us to where we are today. In the end, the absolute truth is a failure of planning.
Planning failures come in many forms, including a myopic view for which Robert Moses was classically famous for his focus on roadways at the expense of mass transit and residential urban planning. In other instances, the failure of communities to understand the consequences of growth, as in the late 1970s when Suffolk County proposed a widening and upgrading of 11 miles of County Road 39 in Southampton only to meet intense opposition from the community.
In other instances, planners and politicians fell in love with their work and could not make adjustments as development intensified. Take Springs, for example; the town’s newly created 1980s master plan zoned the hamlet of Springs into a tax base fiasco, condemning Springs residents to a never-ending cycle of spiraling high school taxes.
Just like traffic, septic management is equally problematic — a failure to recognize that at some point there would be more septic than can be safely filtrated. In the 1960s, East Hampton and Southampton were still very rural. Sewers could have been required as a development component at a minimum cost comparable to sewer installation today. The good news is that the invention of innovative-alternative septic systems is all the rage and much better than traditional septic systems. Unfortunately, I.A. systems are not foolproof. As recently as 2022, several county-approved systems consistently failed to meet minimum standards, and the county had to direct the manufacturers to retrofit already installed systems.
The future of eastern Long Island will require out-of-the-box innovative thinking. To protect our environment, economy, and all the wonders that make our home unique, but if we depend on the same old thinking, the future will bring more problems than solutions.
This Election Day, let’s move forward to protect our environment, community, and future. Let’s think out of the box, bring innovation back, and vote for change. A decade is too long to go without solutions.
Mr. Vilar is a candidate for Suffolk County legislator. Ed.
For Any and All
July 30, 2023
Hunter Biden’s plea deal fell apart last week, thanks to a judge that seems to be fair. Even though everyone states, “She’s a Trump-appointed judge,” she’s still a judge regardless who appointed her.
Hunter was just about to receive a plea deal in which he had political favoritism by prosecutors to protect Joe Biden. The Department of Justice was about to grant Hunter blanket immunity for any crime he committed while selling his father’s name abroad. Bad enough he was getting a slap on the wrist, he was going to be completely off the hook for any and all House investigators might find.
The D.O.J. seeks prison time for Hunter’s business partner, just as he was due to take the stand in D.C. to testify. This is rushed in probably to avoid his testimony.
Damian Williams, the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s intervention in Archer’s case comes at the same time new charges are being put in place against Donald Trump. Special Counsel Jack Smith is bringing these new charges.
In God and country,
July 30, 2023
For much of America this past week, the release of the movie “Barbie” was an unapologetically joyous occasion. The pink-drenched comedy based on the long-beloved Mattel toy doll captured the spirit of the summer of 2023. People are finally shaking off pandemic trauma and just want to ride along with Barbie and Ken in her bubblegum-colored Corvette. Sure, we still have a lot of problems that need fixing, but Barbie’s box office success is reminding everyone that it’s okay to make some time for fun.
Republicans, of course, can’t let people have a good time without getting angry about it. This is how the right-wing noise machine works: It gloms onto the immediate cultural moment, whatever that happens to be, and emits high-pitched whining noises. So, right after Barbie’s release, the right-wing misery machine shifted into high gear, screeching about how America was being destroyed because Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling were making campy jokes in an imaginary universe.
Indeed, the blueprint used by right-wing propagandists in these exercises is so familiar that it’s become as automatic as breathing. First, they identify what ordinary people are talking about and then turn the picture inside out baselessly claiming that America’s fun is nothing but a plot to undermine the “freedoms” and “traditions” of “real” Americans, i.e., culturally alienated conservatives. The goal is to persuade folks to start fighting about these non-issues on social media, and then sit back and watch the media fall for it. The accelerating coverage of their dumb — and often blatantly fake — opinions generates clicks and hard-cash donations.
This process works pretty well, at least in the short term, for politicians and influencers who rake in money and power by stoking baseless rage and anxiety. However, it is the conservative audience for this stuff who is actually being harmed. For one thing, raging about how “Barbie” is feminist-communist-L.G.B.T.Q. garbage is a good way to make sure their kids and grandkids visit less often.
On a deeper level, the damage is much more sinister. The constant targeting of others as the enemy infects this audience’s minds with the relentless message that their only recourse, and only real source of pleasure, lies in inflicting cruelty toward others, and that even something as innocent as a summer comedy is too “woke” to enjoy.
July 30, 2023
In the summer of 1952, my family went to Far Rockaway for two months. One day my brother and I came home singing a song that was scribbled on a billboard up the street. “God made the [ . . . ] in the middle of the night. He was in such a hurry he forgot to make them white.” When my father heard us, he sat us down and said we could spend the rest of the summer in the house if he heard that song again.
He explained that we are Jews, and in America antisemitism, like racism, is part of the national heritage and that we can’t contribute to making it worse. He was a Republican then because the Repubs were less antisemitic and racist than the Democrats.
In 1952 every United States institution was racist: police, churches, the military, schools, every level of government, almost every corporation, banks, insurance companies, et al. When everyone and everything are racist no one and nothing is racist. Complicity is in the eye of the beholder, sometimes known as the “good Nazi” rationale.
In 1948, President Truman desegregated the military. He was vilified for it. In 1964, President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act. In the Senate 19 Democrats voted against it. Every Republican except one voted for it. The Civil Rights Act, which restated the Constitution, radically changed the political landscape. The Dems now had a somewhat progressive side, and the Republicans embraced racism more fully than before.
So, where we stand today, almost 60 years after the Civil Rights Act was enacted, is a Republican Party and Supreme Court that are more virulently racist than they ever were before, yet the country is significantly less racist than it has ever been.
The shameless racism that existed before the Civil Rights Act has resurfaced in Alabama, where the state refuses to include a Black district in its voting map even though the court ordered it to; in Florida, with its glorified new history of slavery, and in Oklahoma, with the state whitewashing of the Tulsa massacres.
When SCOTUS eviscerated the Voting Rights Act in 2013 it was impossible to fathom the rationale. The Senate had voted unanimously to renew it, yet SCOTUS knew something no one else did. Institutional racism at its very essence.
“Woke” derives from African-American vernacular English used in the Black community as an alert, a cipher, a lighthouse to identify racial discrimination and prejudice. It existed for more than 100 years. That we slander and debase the idea is straight-up racism. Before George Floyd and Black Lives Matter drew worldwide attention to racism in the U.S., woke wasn’t an issue for hard-core racists. Attacks on woke are another example of out-of-the-box racism.
When you are called out for bad behavior, criminality, lying, distorting reality, and thievery, denial is the initial defense. When it doesn’t work, attack. You may be racist scum, but those woke people hate America.
So, the Fox clunk Greg Gutfeld expounds on the benefits of the Holocaust by stating that Jews learned survival and coping techniques in the camps. Is it a stretch or the ranting of an antisemitic scumbag who feels that there are no constraints to his prejudice? Can America stretch any further? We are the rubber band that never breaks when it comes to our racism.
So, we understand that the Republican Party has always been racist and antisemitic. Its decision to expand its racism was based on practical political expedience and not a change in its belief system. It is more racist because it works. If it didn’t it would change course. Expedience over truth and truth whatever they want it to be. Their repugnance has no boundaries. Our political system is the bigger bag of shit theory.