The biggest issue in local affairs this past summer was East Hampton Airport and the noisy helicopters and large jets coming in and out and driving people who live near by crazy.
They’d complain to the Town, which owns the airport. But over the years, nothing happened. There were no restrictions at all. But then Larry Cantwell, a new town supervisor, came into office and this past April led the town board in putting ordinances into effect to limit the noise. In response, the aircraft interests filed lawsuits to have the laws thrown out, but a judge refused to order a temporary injunction on most of them. The airport now closes for the night at 11 p.m. and reopens at 7 a.m. Loud aircraft of 93 decibels and over must wait until 9 a.m. to use the airport and then cannot use it after 9 p.m. These laws seem reasonable to most people and certainly never caused the economic downtown, bankrupt airlines and financial ruin the aircraft interests predicted.
Last week, however, Cantwell and two of his loyal Democratic councilmen were up for re-election. And as it happened, the Republicans launched a tremendous election effort to get the evil Democrats out and get the more aircraft-friendly Republicans elected in their place.
The election is now over, but during that last week run-up to the vote, The East Hampton Star reported that wealthy people, many of whom are tied to the aircraft industry, had contributed an astonishing $380,000 to pay for a very aggressive last minute door-tag campaign to insure a Republican victory. $380,000 is a lot of money for a local election.
I don’t know about the accuracy of this report, but I can tell you that at my house on Three Mile Harbor Road during the last eight days of the campaign, 12 Republican full color campaign leaflets arrived not as doortags on my front doorknob, but as things that floated down from the sky onto my front lawn from just under a loud helicopter flying overhead. This helicopter never landed, so I guess it didn’t need a permit. But I followed it with my eye and saw it hover further up my street where more leaflets appeared from under it to float down onto the front lawns of my neighbors. This chopper, or one like it, came every morning during those last days, and on four of them also came by late in the afternoon for a second drop. The choppers made quite a racket doing all this.
I saved all these items, and I photographed them—see above—on the floor in my kitchen to let you see what got dropped. By the way, it was all to no avail. The Republican candidate for supervisor, Tom Knobel, got severely trounced by Cantwell, the evil incumbent who was causing all the trouble. Final vote was 3,611 for Cantwell, and 1,715 for Knobel.
I think this effort backfired for the Republicans because what they are dealing with, in many cases, are the descendants of the original English settlers who arrived here in the seventeenth century, about the same time that other settlers were arriving in New England. We are a hardy lot. We fought for and won our independence. And what we say goes. $380,000—it just got kissed goodbye to no effect.
Here’s what some of those leaflets—thick, two-sided museum quality, full color affairs—said:
ELECT TOM KNOBEL EAST HAMPTON SUPERVISOR – “Develop an airport management plan that protects nearby residents’ quality of life and also balances the needs of the airport operators and users”
1,000,000 REASONS AND COUNTING TO THROW THE CAREER POLITICIANS OUT. It’s time to send career politicians like Cantwell, Van Scoyoc and Overby home!
JIM O’CONNOR FOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE. Stop the Insanity. Stop Steve Bellone. Say “No” to the $227,000-a-year cop.
DO YOU RENT? Prepare to be regulated, reviewed and registered. Larry Cantwell, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc have had years to pass such a law, but they’ve chosen to push ahead now. After the election, that is. YOU HAVE A CHOICE. VOTE KNOBEL*LARSEN*TURNER.
ON THE ISSUES, STEVE BELLONE HAS FAILED. Vote Jim O’Conner County Executive. A taxpayer who’s had enough—just like you.
EAST HAMPTON DEMOCRATS TAKE CREDIT FOR AN AWFUL LOT…BUT TRUTHFULNESS ISN’T ON THE LIST. The truth is, we won’t just claim to do it, we’ll do it. Vote Tom Knobel for Supervisor and his Republican Team.
AMOS GOODMAN STANDS WITH EAST ENDERS, while Bridget Fleming’s record speaks for itself. Choose Amos Goodman for Suffolk County Legislator.
WHO RAISED TAXES BY 12% AND SPENDING BY MILLIONS MORE? TOPIC CLUE: CAREER POLITICIAN HINT: BUY AN “E” Bridg t Fl ming. Bridget Fleming raised taxes by 12% and spending by millions more.
UBER AND OUT. Safety and convenience don’t apparently mean much to bureaucrats like East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who spearheaded new laws that effectively kept Uber cars off town streets this year, leaving patrons to wait long hours on public corners for cash-only cabs or risk driving home themselves. He even had 23 Uber drivers arrested to punctuate his “my way or the highway” approach to management. Tom Knobel: the Kind of Lift East Hampton Needs Now.
This last refers to the battle this past spring between Uber and the Town about the fact that Uber was not abiding by town laws created to keep the taxicab business orderly. Uber behaved dishonorably, among other things by encouraging their nationwide user base to slam the Town with email and phone calls expressing their outrage. The town arrested some of the Uber people, including one who was sleeping in his car and another who could not pass the drunk driving test.
Anyway, in fairness to the Republicans, I should also report that during this time I also got four election leaflets from the incumbent Democrats, but these did not arrive by helicopter. They got hand delivered to my mailbox by a man on horseback who came galloping down Three Mile Harbor Road and leaned over in the saddle to deftly put the Democrat leaflets into my mailbox as he zipped by.
Hoofbeats I can deal with. A helicopter racket I cannot.
As we say here in East Hampton – Live Free or Die. – Wait. That’s the slogan for New Hampshire. Well, for us it’s something like that.
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Before departing this subject, I would like to say a few words about two other excellent local public officials in the news, both in Southampton.
Anna Throne-Holst, who served two strong terms as Southampton Town supervisor, has decided not to run for a fourth term because she wants to go to Washington and become our new congresswoman for the East End. She will challenge the incumbent, first-term Congressman Lee Zeldin in 2016 when the next election comes up. Prior to Zeldin, Congressman Tim Bishop, a Southampton resident, held this office for a decade and everything was close at hand. Zeldin is from Shirley, in the west end of the district, a more populous area, and a drive away. We don’t hear much about him out east. Throne-Holst would be a welcome voice again for the East End.
And then there is Jay Schneiderman, born and raised in Montauk, who served two terms as East Hampton Town supervisor and then for more than a decade as our popular county legislator. He could hands down win that post for the rest of his life if he wanted to, but there are term limits. And so now, living in Southampton, he’s run for Southampton Town Supervisor, and with all that experience, has just won that job.
Proven, experienced leaders are now in practically all the major government leadership positions on the East End and I think we are in good hands.