Stop Virtual Meetings - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1823571

Stop Virtual Meetings

End Zoom at Town Hall. At last count, seven-plus people could not get past technical glitches to voice their traffic, environmental and other concerns at the scoping session for Concern for Independent Living.

The insistence on Zoom only (“out of an abundance of caution,” etc.) has whittled down public participation alarmingly, a boon for Jay Schneiderman and his robotic board members to push through any of a number of dubious and controversial developments he is promoting.

Concern for Independent Living is one of those. Some members of the public cannot use Zoom, while some who wished to were technologically ousted. The board refused to read aloud letters or the excellent analysis prepared by the Group for the East End, consigning them instead to the file (where, presumably, the board reads them all at their leisure) and moved speedily to close the proceedings, allowing only two weeks for written comments.

The hearing was a disgrace and needs to be reopened.

Those lucky enough to participate included a guaranteed return appearance by real estate evangelical Michael Daly and a few Sag Harbor acolytes. As usual, he framed the issue into his acronym-sodden pontifications and nasty accusations. Those whose concern is density, traffic and safety are really NIMBYs, while he is a puffed-out YIMBY (Yes, In My Backyard). His “backyard” abuts a nature preserve in Sag Harbor — far from County Road 39 and Tuckahoe’s miseries.

NIMBYs, by his inference, are really racists and victims of a “culture,” a crisis that he presumably surmounted by becoming insufficiently “woke” in middle age. Any assessment not limited to binary simplicities must recognize the potential problems and complexities of this ill-advised, Schneiderman-enabled application.

Perhaps if opposition is reduced to ITTS! (It’s The Traffic, Stupid!), they won’t be able to sidestep it any longer. Nor ignore the downzoning, the density, the two-lot subdivision of this property and future uses, the intentional murkiness of eligibility (nationwide), the drain on services and cost of maintenance (paid to ?), etc.

Most of the staff in Town Hall are no longer masked. The insistence on Zoom-only meetings is hypocrisy — or a ploy to exclude people from the decision-making process. After all, the public is unruly, can expose political and financial machinations, and is hard to deal with in person. (Remember Anna Throne-Holst and her armed guards?)

All manner of gatherings are sanctioned by Southampton. The town cannot continue to curtail public participation while relentlessly fast-tracking developments that impact the public. An “abundance of caution,” or real governmental concern that actually places the public good first and foremost, would suggest a moratorium, not a fire sale.

Frances Genovese