Moment Of Truth
Taking part in the recent protests in Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor has educated me about the extent of the racism that has existed out here in the past.
Notably, most of the protesters were white. Is that because the population out here is mostly white? Probably so. At least it showed an acknowledgment of, and an outcry against, the racism that has permeated our society.
Some black commentators have stated that whites don’t know and cannot know what racism is, or means. While, unfortunately, that may be correct for a large proportion of the American population, it should not be a reason to denounce the well-intentioned support that has risen to this occasion.
The tragedy of George Floyd’s death has, hopefully, been a decisive moment of truth for this country and the world.
Can we aspire to be better? Can we stop not only prejudice against blacks but all other ethnic minorities, indigenous populations and marginalized communities?
We are all human. Let’s all be humane.
All Lives Matter.
An Ethereal Omen
I was pleasantly surprised to find my photograph “June 1st Rainbow Sunset over Sag Harbor” published in the Opinion section of the June 4 Express and Press. Thank you for giving credit to me. My good friend and neighbor submitted it, and many of my friends have gained a great joy seeing it at this time of several severe and potentially lethal crises that we all have been experiencing.
I was having dinner at home, after months of careful social distancing, and noticed the appearance of this complete rainbow at sunset. It was spectacular and bridged from the North Fork to Sag Harbor.
I immediately thought it was a sign, an ethereal omen, to remind all of us how very special this place and our planet is, and it had to be shared.
As for the location of the legendary elusive “pot of gold,” I will leave that to your own imagination. For me, it is all of us, and this fragile planet.
I chose to take this ethereal omen as a precursor to better times ahead, with improved respect for each other, and our fragile Earth, with its flora and fauna.
Much To Be Done
Why is it that we continue to see police officers with considerable checkered pasts, regarding human rights violations and extensive pronounced violent tendencies, escape significant disciplinary action?
Once again, we witness another outrageous police officer kill a civilian over what amounts to, at best, a minor violation of law, with no significant threat to society.
As a retired officer with the NYPD, I find it repugnant that police agencies continue to not address the issues of officers who are violent, antisocial, overly authoritative and generally islands unto themselves, who are combative with peers and disregard superior officers — and yet continue to serve their communities, even though they are a ticking time bomb.
All of our political leaders need to address this very sensitive yet significant issue that is paramount to a safe and just first line of defense for those in our society that are most vulnerable regarding day-to-day interactions with police in general.
We continue to hear the outrage from politicians, but what have they done to secure adequate sanctions and oversight to secure that police officers adhere to and abide to standards of community harmony? Officers that continue to have excessive civilian complaints and acts of violence against the community need to be monitored and either retrained or removed from their commands.
Clearly, this incident in Minnesota shows a total disconnect from responsibility of superior officers. Officer Derek Chauvin is a classic maverick of disconnect of community values, yet is held in high esteem among fellow officers because of his anti-establishment and abrasive, intimidating, I-don’t-give-a-damn, all-powerful police attitude. His lengthy documented record of chronic abuse of police powers is something that should not have gone on without serious intervention and response by higher-ups in the department.
Clearly, every community wants dedicated officers who serve and respect all citizens, regardless of race, economic situation and mental capacity. The first thing that officers need with total clarity is empathy. Without empathy and understanding of every situation, officers fall into a trap of machismo that most certainly leads to bad decisions and overreaction.
Officers also have to realize that they collectively are responsible for all their reactions. To ignore abusive behavior under the rule of brotherhood makes them an accessory to all that goes with it.
That is clearly the most disturbing aspect of George Floyd’s death. The very officers who could have saved him from the abuse stood by idly, either out of ignorance or misguided loyalty. Either way, much needs to be done in America to improve how we as a nation police and protect those that are most vulnerable to police abuse.
Thomas M. Jones
Mr. Jones is a retired sergeant/supervisor of detective squad for the NYPD — Ed.
Words Are Not Enough
To the Sag Harbor Board of Education: I’m grateful for the statement I received via email this morning. I think it is important that we all stand up and use our voices and actions to fight against police brutality and work toward racial justice.
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t point out that those words are not enough, and there is much to be done in our schools to address the racial disparities and inequities that exist.
I implore you: You cannot write those words if you are not willing to step up and now take action.
What would that action look like? For a start:
Hire people of color.
Bring in outside speakers and consultants to help us all understand and work through these difficult topics.
Provide mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all staff.
Have an honest and open dialogue with the community. There are many out there who can help to chart a path forward.
I’m so grateful that you have started this conversation. Now, it’s time to step forward and make a change.
Peace And Quiet
I am a concerned full-time resident of Bridgehampton, and I must implore that more limits or a ban be placed on gas-powered leaf blowers.
Especially in these difficult times, when we’re working from home and grappling with images of violence, we need a place of retreat. We need the peace and quiet of our beautiful towns. We must attend to our mental and physical health.
We can smell the gas. We breathe its fumes.
Four or five leaf blowers at once nearly every day blow for hours on end, including weekends, sometimes as early as 8 a.m. and as late as 7:30 p.m. The noise is excruciating, ruining sleep, work and lives. Usually, the gardening is being done on empty homes, with total disregard for year-rounders. This has been getting worse each year. Landscapers are completely unresponsive.
According to The Atlantic, green technology is readily available and just as effective. So are rakes. Companies should be implored to convert to green now — for the benefit of our Earth and our health.
East Hampton and Southampton villages have already taken steps in this regard. Many cities around the United States have as well.
The rest of Southampton continues to suffer. Why?
A Rare Person
I am writing to wholeheartedly endorse Ron Reed for the Sag Harbor School Board.
I have known Ron since our sons started kindergarten together two years ago. I have been so impressed by Ron’s commitment to the community and tireless work both on the school district’s Facilities Committee and as an alternate member of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board. Both Ron and his wife, Patricia, the owner and founder of the Main Street store Matriark, already have made such positive contributions to life in Sag Harbor.
Ron’s architectural career, with a focus on large-scale public projects for the public good, certainly has fine-tuned his long-term perspective on the impacts that decisions big and small have. He has an understanding of the importance of collaboration and inclusion of all concerned parties in the processes, and a firm grasp on the management needed to turn good ideas into great realities for all involved.
As we face new challenges returning to school with the impact of coronavirus, I think this makes it imperative to have real-life experience in handling complex projects with far-reaching consequences.
Ron is also an extremely talented artist, most recently showing at the Parrish Art Museum as part of the Artists Choose Artists 2019 Show. His work contemplates many of the challenges we collectively face in today’s society and highlights his unique creative underpinnings.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who embodies both complex logical thinking and unconstrained magical creativity, but it is abundantly clear that Ron is that rare person.
My husband and I were drawn to Sag Harbor for its quality of life, great schools, and diversity of beliefs, ideas, and people. We purposefully moved when the kids were small so that they could grow up in the environment Sag Harbor provides.
Ron Reed is offering himself to help bolster our fantastic community, working for inclusion for all, and I enthusiastically encourage everyone to vote him in.
Keep It Up!
Over the last three months, my weekly trips to Schiavoni’s has become the highlight of my week. Surprisingly, I find myself looking forward to my short drive to town, wondering if this is the week I will find flour, yeast or TP.
Donning my gloves and mask, each week I enter the store, to be greeted by soft rock music and smiling employees. Seeing Michael and his staff busily working together to restock the shelves gives me hope; together, we will get through this!
One time, I witnessed Michael exclaim in delight to the cashier, “Now we are ready for the weekend!” as he finished installing the Plexiglas barrier at the front of the store. I was most impressed the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, when I walked into a fully stocked store.
My favorite moments in the store are when I happen upon the singing butcher. Last week, as I rounded the corner, I found him singing “Strangers in the Night” along with the radio. It brought tears of joy to my eyes.
Josiai and Michael, whatever you are doing, keep it up! You are getting us through these strange times.
Thank you from the O’Brien family
Start On Main Street
I was proud to see our community come together this past weekend to march against racial inequality, injustice and division in this country, and to honor the lives of George Floyd and others who have suffered at the hands of police brutality and violence against black individuals.
Like so many others, I have been inspired to listen, learn (or, in many cases, unlearn), and support where I can. One small way that many have found to show some of this support is to patronize black-owned businesses.
But I am disheartened that in our village — one known for its historically and culturally significant black communities — I do not know of, or cannot think of, a single black-owned business here to support. Are there any black-owned business-members of the Chamber of Commerce? What does this say about our community?
And so I encourage us all to ask how we, as residents, as well as our village leaders, can facilitate and foster a more diverse business community?
Similarly, we should be aware of the lack of diversity in leadership across all of our village departments. I hope that we are all motivated to find ways to harness the momentum of this movement to make a long-term difference.
One place to start is right here on Main Street.
The Best And Noblest
“Salt of the Earth” was the first phrase that came to mind when I first met Tommy John Schiavoni. And as I got to know him, I realized, yes, he’s the Everyman candidate, intensely committed to public service: 32 years as a successful public school teacher, Southampton Town Board member, former vice president and Sag Harbor School Board member for years, total immersion in community education, as well as many years in the Southampton Town and North Haven Village Zoning Board of Appeals.
As a working teacher, he also got his master’s degree at Stony Brook University. Suffolk County born and raised, he represents the best and the noblest in our community.
At the Town Board, he has worked effectively to keep our local finances in great shape, while fighting for our water quality, perhaps the No. 1 issue, and working to bring affordable housing to the community. On the state level, he will continue his tireless efforts to raise funding for public education, lower taxes, and improve New York health care services and lower drug prices, in addition to his commitment to water quality in our region.
I personally know him from his volunteer work at Southampton High School, his dedication to the students, including my own son, how well he has taught them about the nature of government, how it works, and how to use it, including trips to Albany to get live-action experience that makes the subject more alive and powerful. I feel blessed to have him guide my son.
Not the least, he is a devoted father to two young children and a devoted husband to Andrea, a Family Court judge.
Tommy John is known for his great history of service, and he will represent us well with the lifetime experience, commitment and knowledge he has gained for our benefit.
Let’s vote our values. Let’s vote for Tommy John in the primary.