Tough Hamptons Winter: Tax Bill Fail, Snow, Swan Cull, Greenportly

Mute swans.
Mute swans. Photo credit: Tony Hisgett

Everyone who lives in these parts looks forward to getting their annual real estate tax bill. It’s a treasured historic document, a badge of honor that residents here have received to start the new year in the fabulous Hamptons for hundreds of years. It gives you the amount to pay and the date of when it’s due. Alec Baldwin receives such a document. Billy Joel receives it. Marilyn Monroe, when she lived here one summer, received one.

This year, in East Hampton Town, many residents did not receive their tax bills. How do we know? Dan’s Papers has exclusively learned that many such residents, with $50 bills sticking out of their pockets, stormed town hall to demand their tax bills last Wednesday. The authorities, taken aback, said they had sent them all out. The bills were folded up, put into envelopes and sealed. Stamps were supposed to have been affixed. Trucks were to have hauled them to the post offices. What had gone wrong?

Employees in town hall are aflutter. Had it been the fault of the person who was head of the tax receiver’s office? Had it been the truck driver delivering them to the post office? Had it been the stamp licker? Had it been the envelope stuffer? The town board voted to replace the tax receiver and town accountant Neide Valeira was voted in as the interim tax receiver. There’s an investigation underway. The investigators will explain all. Whatever the case may be, the town is eager to learn more about who, what, when, where, how and why.

And no, it’s not legal to bring those bags of cash to East Hampton Town Hall and insist that the tax bill be issued and paid just because ‘here you are with the money, just tell me how much it is.’ And those who did this, and after being told they could not do this left the bags of money on the counter anyway, should come back and take their stuff home.

Last month, the Bridgehampton Fire District called the DA’s office to ask that their financial operations be investigated. They feared there might have been hanky-panky in the bookkeeping department and funds missing. A few years ago, the Montauk Fire District called the DA’s office to ask that their financial operations be investigated. They also feared there might have been hanky-panky in the bookkeeping department and funds missing.

What’s going on here? Is this an epidemic? In a small town, where everybody knows everybody, maybe it’s just too embarrassing to check up on a friend of yours doing the bookkeeping to see if they’re following proper procedures? You might peek in and say “everything okay?” But going in to a bookkeeper and doing a full-blown audit…well, Henry wouldn’t steal. We know he wouldn’t.

Can this be true? It is!

The Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing that all of the gorgeous mute swans in the State of New York be killed or otherwise gotten rid of by 2025. This includes the loving pair of swans in East Hampton Town Pond and the loving pair of swans in Lake Agawam in Southampton.

Has the DEC gone mad? This is the same outfit that has offered to send dozens of sharpshooters with high-powered rifles to our community in order to spend weeks murdering up to 3,000 helpless little doe-eyed deer to “thin the herd.”

About 300 people marched in opposition to the deer cull a few weeks ago, with one marcher carrying a sign WHAT NEXT? THE SWANS IN TOWN POND? Yes. They want to shoot the swans in Town Pond. They want to shoot the swans right between their beady little eyes and haul them away one after another for the next dozen years, until there are no more. Kaput. Gone.

Why? The mute swans are bullies. They drive away other species. With their long graceful necks, they can feed on the bottoms of the pond where other uglier birds cannot get. They peck at people’s car tires when they have babies to protect. They’ve even pecked at people. And most important, they are not from around here. They are an “invasive species,” brought to this country as illegal aliens without papers. They don’t fly, so they came here tramp, tramp, tramp, on their little grey webbed feet from far-off Eurasia and even farther off. Or they have come here shivering and cold in the wheel wells of 747 airplanes, having hopped on board as these planes left far-off Eurasia, only to leap out as the planes landed on the runways at JFK to waddle off to safety in the bushes.

They are a menace, these swans. And though they cannot speak for themselves, if they could, they would undoubtedly agree.

Or maybe they waddled across the ice bridge connecting Siberia with Alaska way back with the Eskimos—another illegal alien group coming to America that later begat the original citizenry of North America—honking happily along knowing that some day, after the dastardly removal of vocal cords by angry librarians—we’re talking swans here, not Eskimos—their progeny would conduct the mayhem that will now do them in.

What’s next? Piping Plovers? Humans? We’re told that the DEC is now looking for a new public relations director. Interested?

What is going on in the Village of Quogue? On Dune Road, in Quogue, between the road and Shinnecock Bay, the Village owns a 1.3-acre parcel of wetlands. You can’t build on this land, because it’s soft, gooey wetlands, but you can trudge upon it in rubber waders, because it’s public land and there are no “No Trespassing” signs. Hunters and fishermen sometimes hide out in wetlands to do their thing.

Now, however, the Village has indicated it will consider an offer from two homeowners who are willing to pay $250,000 to take ownership. They plan to build a low elevated wooden walkway that would extend several feet over the wetlands out from near the road to the waters of the bay, where they would then be able to tie up their boats. There would be a boat dock. This would seem to greatly enhance the value of their landward property, certainly far more than the $250,000 they would spend.

As private property, as I understand it, the only folks who could use the wooden walkway would be the owners and their families and friends. Right?

They might be nice people to get to know.

Some people who work for the State up in Albany got the idea to gather the data on what the students in the state each weigh—you recall they measure height and weight of each student every year—and see which school districts have the fattest kids.

Long Island school districts as a group have an obesity level slightly below the state average. About 17 percent are obese on the island, and about 18 percent is the state average.

On Long Island, though, the number one school district with the most obese kids is Greenport, at about 34 percent. Waddling slightly behind this are #7 Bridgehampton, #10 Riverhead and
#12 Springs. All these are among the districts with the poorest kids. Could it be possible that poorer kids eat a high-calorie-cheap-processed-food diet that’s more likely to make them obsese? What a discovery!

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