As repressed sadists are supposed to become policemen or butchers so those with irrational fear of life become publishers.
--Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)
Fires have always been a big story in the Hamptons. In fact, during the 1970's, on the few channels that you could watch (there was no cable and only 3 stations that you could actually watch without going blind from the snow), fires were the main attraction. They still are. Since there weren't that many fires occurring locally, Connecticut channel 8 was a big hit in the 60's and 70's. Entertainment-wise, fires were the Hamptons version of Farmer Gray cartoons, in which mice interminably flowed from a kitchen faucet in television's first cartoon offerings.
But, this was no simple fire. Apparently, this was an attempted murder, suicide and fire that occurred at Len Conway's estate in Westhampton Beach. Conway is a hedge-fund, takeover celebrity with a large residence on Seafield Avenue. The information that could be gleaned has it that the couple living in the Conway estate guest house had a big fight, she was beaten nearly to death, the house was set afire and he ran away only to be found dead by his own hand nearby. Suffolk Police, Westhampton Village Police and even Southampton Town Police were on the scene.
Photos of the crime scene and interviews of the police were refused. No access was permitted and the Police would not allow Press to visit the site. It was so difficult to gain access that a real estate showing was interrupted. Of course, the Police Commissioner, Mayor Conrad Teller, was just re-elected. He's the former Police Chief of Westhampton Beach Village. No doubt he is feeling his oats after his win and residents can expect fewer solved crimes in the Village and less information from his office (if that is possible). There were three major robberies last winter in Westhampton Village that were never solved and the trend is clear. No doubt, he's decided, the best way to avoid any criticism, is to completely prevent any press coverage for any but the most complimentary reports from the non-existent neutral media in the Hamptons.
News anchor John Roland lost his bid for Village Trustee by two votes. Jim Kametler, his opponent, the police officer who nailed a possum in his backyard with five shots from his service revolver apparently still has the support of the local NRA contingent and the Police State mentality continues. Makes you wonder if Kametler knows the Quogue cop who shot a Latino for defending himself with a tree branch. Possums are even less likely to fight back.
Speaking of the Press, Suffolk Life, operated by Dave Wilmot, reportedly is shutting down the publication this coming week. It passed as a media source for decades which Wilmot used as a bully-pulpit for right wing law enforcement Republican enthusiasts. The success of the publication was based upon a Supreme Court ruling that mail recipients could not stop someone from mailing shit to you in the form of a newspaper -- if you didn't want it. While Wilmot, known as a heavy boozer who is arrogant and a little crazy, and who managed to intimidate his way into a level of modest importance, his reporters were basically lackeys who were told what to write. Few of them had any journalistic education but knew how to take orders from a drunk. "News" stories were dictated by people like Joe Lombardo of the Town Attorneys office when the object of a recent interview cooked up by the Town and Suffolk Life by Wilmot's "reporter" -- was created to support the phony propaganda plan to put landlords who rent property to Latinos out of business. Ridding the Town of either legal or illegal Latinos is big business now. With the economy about to go into the dumper, any competition is anathema -- even if no one wants the jobs that are left behind.
Wilmot turned down $4.5 million for a deal for the paper and his plant less than two years ago. The Media source who was interviewed thought Wilmot was nuts but the deal failed anyway. The most recent rumor has been that Lowe's wants the property for $10 million. However, lawsuits for defamation may eat into that substantially. That may not sit will with Wilmot, Jr., who was "Skip" Heaney's campaign manager in a failed bid to win another term as Supervisor of Southampton Town.
Wilmot, in his 70's, is said to be suffering from a heart condition, bleeding intestines, and has been in and out of the hospital. He is known as a right-winger and a right-to-lifer, whose personal predilections have never had anything to do with what was good for the masses or the paid-for political assassinations he promulgated for his politician friends in Suffolk Life. Rumor has it that he badgered and threatened anyone with his "pennysaver" if they were not a supporter; personal abortions had little to do with what was good for everyone else. He did favors for politicians in targeting enemies and in turn got deals on advertising as well as a long-term illegal tax abatement for his plant location in Riverhead -- which he proceeded to sublet for a nice income. No one in the County looked at it twice. No one wanted to screw with him, even while his "newspaper" screwed them.
One of the few news sources in the Hamptons that shows any respect for the truth, if there is such a thing in politics is Dean Spier, whose On the Beach Blog, talks about things that many local politicians would wish would go away. Especially, in Westhampton Beach Village. The other media source, Southampton Press, the newspaper of choice for Republican "News" has improved lately. It does do a little fact checking -- even when Linda Kabot, the Supervisor, Cheryl Kraft and David Betts of Code Enforcement "leaks" information to them after Marcus Stinchi, Chairman of the Republican Party approves it. But, they still do the right spin on any facts so that they are "neutral" on anything that the Republicans are embarrassed by -- gotta keep them ad dollars flowing.
Hamptons.com, a storefront operation out of Southampton which is strictly online has created a presence but is still a succubus. Its prime "writer," right now, Andrea Aurichio, is a real estate agent who passes herself off as a reporter while trying to make a living in real estate. Two professional endeavors that don't pay very well right now. While this online publication provides listings, it is known by residents as a site that will steer you in the wrong direction on news and has a high anti-Latino, anti-landlord stance -- in order to be popular enough to get ad dollars. They follow the Town of Southampton Republican party line -- meaning to not insult the Republicans, Town Attorneys, Town Board members, or Code Enforcement office at Town Hall. The operation is looking a little thin and may not be far behind Suffolk Life. Don't expect them to endorse Obama. Senator Craig or Mike Huckabee is more likely.