Candy Canes and Lumps of Coal - 27 East

Candy Canes and Lumps of Coal

Editorial Board on Dec 13, 2023

CANDY CANE: To the East Hampton Town Police Department, investigators from the Suffolk County Police and District Attorney Ray Tierney’s office, and to the Montauk home and business owners who shared the footage from their security cameras that proved crucial to the capture of the accused vandal who had terrorized Jewish business owners and the community in general with violent antisemitic graffiti. The police work and investigative prowess helped identify a suspect fairly quickly and then, after hundreds of hours of surveillance, catch him literally in the act of another burst of antisemitism. The agencies recognized the seriousness of the crime and dedicated significant resources. The community can sleep easier now, knowing that the incidents will not continue. It’s also a pointed reminder that, in a season of peace and love, there is plenty of work to do in our own community, sometimes right under our noses.

CANDY CANE: To the Montauk Historical Society, for its vision and wherewithal, and to the U.S. Coast Guard, for having the foresight to return the 120-year-old Fresnel lens to the top of the Montauk Point Lighthouse. The famously powerful lens had been in the lighthouse museum since it was decommissioned in 1987 in favor of a lower-maintenance system. With the Historical Society recently completing a three-year renovation of the 1792 lighthouse, undoing decades of modernization that had actually accelerated deterioration of the 1792 structure, returning the lens to operation seemed a fitting cherry on top, so to speak. The Historical Society stepped in to ensure its upkeep and safe operation, otherwise the lens might still be sitting in the museum lobby rather than sweeping its powerful light over the ocean. The lighthouse stands as a gentle reminder: Modern isn’t always better.

CANDY CANE: To Suffolk County Transit and the “Reimagine Transit” program, which has introduced “on-demand” buses, ordered via a smartphone app, on the South Fork, bringing an entire new generation of riders to public transit. Dumping the notoriously unreliable and inconvenient schedule has more than doubled the number of riders on the first route where it was introduced, between Sag Harbor and Southampton Village. The new administration led by County Executive-elect Ed Romaine needs to stay the course and ensure that plans to introduce the system to two routes in East Hampton go ahead as planned in the new year. The new system has the potential to take a bus system that was the butt of jokes and actually make it a convenient service that can be used by a population looking for safe, convenient and affordable alternatives.

LUMP OF COAL: To opponents of a proposal to remove invasive plants from the Benson Reserve, a 40-acre preserve owned by East Hampton Town that runs along Old Montauk Highway just to the west of the downtown. Residents have lashed out at the plan, seemingly as reflexive opposition to something supported by “rich people.” The arguments they have thrown around — that removing the invasive plants would destabilize the land and lead to some kind of catastrophic deterioration of the dunes; that the low fences used to enclose munching goats for a few months would violate a court ruling barring permanent fencing; that the invasive species are not so bad, even though they have taken over a third of the property and obscured the stunning reserve from public view — are just absurd. When a chance arises for nearly $1 million in private funding to help restore a centerpiece public property, the best idea is to stay out of the way and enjoy the benefits.

CANDY CANE: To the Four-Legged Flyers, who recently flew rescue puppies up from South Carolina on behalf of the organization Gimme Shelter; they’ve done flights for other rescue organizations, including the Animal Rescue Fund. The volunteer pilots are a crucial link between animal lovers in communities where these animals are in need, and animal lovers who are waiting to help unite them with eager adopters in other areas, including the South Fork. It’s a wonderful endeavor — and many of their “passengers” will enjoy their first holiday in a real home this December.

CANDY CANE: (Immersed in a cup of very warm cocoa) to the hundreds of people who donned bathing suits and costumes on an unseasonably warm Saturday — but, still, in December! — to support the 20th annual Heart of the Hamptons Polar Bear Plunge. The organization does a tremendous job keeping those in need in Southampton Village and neighboring communities fed and clothed throughout the year. The annual Plunge, a great time for all, also is critical to keep the organization funded. Beyond the chill, the warm hearts make it a perfect holiday tradition.

CANDY CANE: To 11-year-old Delaney Smith of the Shinnecock Nation, a student at the Tuckahoe School, for her fast actions last month in saving a choking classmate by performing the Heimlich maneuver. She knew how to perform the maneuver because she had seen a poster explaining the procedure when she was younger. It just goes to show how much kids pick up from their surroundings, and that those posters that seem to be in every cafeteria and restaurant are not just taking up space. Delaney is a true hero — as her classmate can attest.

CANDY CANE: To the East Hampton Town Board and its Planning Department, for pursuing and winning a $600,000 grant to study climate change solutions for downtown Montauk. The reality is that all municipalities need to begin actively planning and preparing for the impact that climate change will have on our coastal communities, especially in vulnerable areas like downtown Montauk. This is a proactive step in the right direction.

CANDY CANE: To the Greater East Hampton Chamber of Commerce and East Hampton Village officials, for making Christmas extra special this year in East Hampton Village. With a day dedicated to the holiday, East Hampton Village was abustle with holiday cheer the first weekend in December, with the community out in full force enjoying a chilly and festive start to the holiday season, with free events available for the whole family to enjoy.

CANDY CANE: To Kidd Squid, Sag Harbor’s locally owned brewery, for supporting the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Back to the Bays program with its Brew for the Bay beer, being sold to support water quality initiatives at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor, and across the East End. Owners — and couple — Rory McEvoy and Grainne Coen have evolved their Spring Street business into one that it is increasingly hard to imagine Sag Harbor without, volunteering time on the Sag Harbor School Board, the Chamber of Commerce and the Village Planning Board, among other organizations, while also running their mom-and-pop business. In a time where there are fewer locally owned establishments, it’s heartening to see business owners so clearly dedicated to a community for more than the dollars it can bring through their doors.

LUMP OF COAL: To the Southampton Village Board, a board that seems immune to reminders and admonitions to discuss public business fully in public — the way government is meant to operate — for passing notes during a public hearing. The hearing concerned a since-abandoned proposal to double term lengths for the mayor and trustees. During this important hearing, when all of the board members should have been rapt by what residents of the village were there to say, the mayor was writing a note that was then passed back and forth across the dais for the trustees to read and add their own writing to. This kind of behavior flies in the face of the spirit of the Open Meetings Law. What was the board discussing, privately, on paper? We’ll never know for sure, because the village reports that the note was destroyed prior to The Press filing a Freedom of Information request for it. Some secrets stay hidden.

CANDY CANE: To Hamptons Doc Fest founder Jacqui Lofaro and her team for once again offering a film festival filled with thought-provoking documentaries that explore difficult and emotional topics in troubled times. The region already has one terrific film festival — this shows there’s clearly room for another. It has become something to look forward to every year, a big part of the cultural landscape.

LUMP OF COAL: To the four young women who are facing felony grand larceny charges following a reported November 30 theft at TJ Maxx in Bridgehampton. Instances of shoplifting are on the rise across the country, making goods more expensive for the rest of us. This region appears to be a mecca for petty thieves and those seeking higher-end items. And more often than not, these kinds of thefts result in car chases that endanger everyone on the road. All we can say: Knock it off!

LUMP OF COAL: To Robert Rubin, for creating more problems than he helped fix by donating $60,000 to Maria Moore’s campaign for Southampton Town supervisor in the waning weeks before the election, via a flimsy dark money PAC called Citizens for Clean Water. It’s unclear if Rubin has any particular agenda beyond his claims to wanting clean water, but he’s also put Moore in a difficult spot, having to decide whether to recuse herself from any business that Rubin has before the board — which he does.

CANDY CANE: To our readers, whether in print (like the new better quality?) or via computer or cellphone. You demand information, you have informed opinions and you expect the truth. It sets the bar high, and it gives us motivation to clear it. Community journalism is necessary for a healthy hometown, and the readers are a crucial part of the equation, providing feedback and support for the news organization and its advertisers. This holiday season, we are grateful for you — and hope, in 2024, to make you grateful for us.