People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.
-- A. J. Liebling (1904 - 1963)
The journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
-- Hunter S. Thompson (1939 – 2005)
As the apparent economic implosion arrives with full force more and more businesses are reading the tealeaves and what the facts portend.
It is already March and in the Hamptons real estate-driven economy – where the only form of financial engine pays for everything from summer rentals, to hamburgers, to newspapers – desperation has begun to set in.
This is playing itself out in a few ways. The election process, which has always been a Republican fait accompli at the polling stations, is now seeing inroads from a previously dysfunctional Democratic Party. That is no longer true and there have recently been real challenges and successes – including Sally Pope on the Town Board and possibly Anna Throne-Holst as Supervisor in November.
Many New Yorkers have moved from Manhattan, relocated to the East End, and become more involved in Hamptons politics along with the artists of previous decades. With them has come a more progressive view of how business should be done at Town Hall.
What cannot change overnight, is a response to the Wall Street debacle initiated by the creation of a derivatives market which has poisoned the well for everything from corporate debt and mortgages, to bonds and credit-default swaps for esoteric debt instruments. As this plays out on the economic stage, the Hamptons will suffer more than the canyons of SoHo, Tribeca and Wall Street where condos and coops will first experience defaulted common charges (to be assumed by the others in the building), and then move on to actual foreclosures.
Right now, the outer boroughs are contracting at an alarming rate and the default and foreclosure rates are soaring. The SoHo Journal has been writing about this for several years as Wall Street plumbs the depths of the Dow.
In the Hamptons, the big lie is that it is just going to be a “later season.” In fact, many real estate brokers are saying that the lack of phone calls is scary.
Where will this lead? Well, everyone will be cutting prices on everything. There will be a summer but you know that things are difficult when lawyers start calling for business. Many lawyers and brokers no longer do any closings because there are simply no mortgages, no customers (above the $350,000 range) and more than two year’s worth of product sitting in the pipeline. This will lead to layoffs at Town Hall, in the police departments, at local stores and at many real estate agencies. When the money runs out and the flood of tourists dwindles because they have lost their jobs, the economy WiLL contract. That is already happening.
How is this reality being handled?
Well, among the die-hard Republicans and old boy network, they try to protect their friends.
Instead of reaching out to New Yorkers, where the money has always kept this Ship of State afloat, those who criticize the local economy and lack of foresight – as well as the corruption among the politicians who have brought us to this place in time -- it has always been popular to attack the opposition.
The only source of Hamptons news has traditionally been the Southampton Press, a Louchheim publication that has always taken its direction from the Republican Party, Town Hall and Law Enforcement (whom they fear) operating on instructions and fealty to its advertising base – the Republican Party regulars. They employ inexperienced “reporters” who take direction on the slant that the publication should produce for so-called public servants, like Town Attorney/Assistant District Attorney Joe Lombardo (who has been sued in Federal Court for his irresponsible and unconstitutional behavior) and conducts smear campaigns on assignment from Loucheim.
Since there is no real news organization in the Hamptons, efforts by the likes of Jessica DeNapoli, a “reporter” whose journalistic expertise rises to the level of “What I did on my summer vacation” and who apparently follows instructions to target political opponents of the Loucheim dynasty and its political handlers. Joe Lombardo, who works for the Town and its Heaney holdovers as well as his boss Spota call the shots and provide the leads. No matter that they are criminals hiding behind a political appointment.
The search for reasons why the derivative market is THE reason for killing the world economy (all $700 Trillion of the bets that are burying us); the Wall Street boiler rooms which created the foreclosure meltdown by securitizing and selling off worthless debt; the fact that mortgage brokers were psychologically beaten and threatened to create more and more product – is nowhere to be found in the local press. What this “news” organization focuses on is the DWI’s in local police blotters, dogs being brought into Town Hall, and noise violations in Westhampton Beach. Instead of bringing New Yorkers closer to the Hamptons, targeting and attacks are the new “journalism.” The institutional racism, which has spawned numerous Federal lawsuits, against Town Attorneys and politicians, has received little or no follow-up.
Where are the reports about the true costs for legal fees due to the unconstitutional actions that hide behind the Towns legal decisions? Where is the investigation of Code Enforcement personnel that target landlords who rent property to immigrants – under the direction of the Town. Why are there no apologies for targeting landlords in news pieces that are completely false and pander to Town officials?
Why? Because it is too dangerous to the ad budget and would displease the Republicans. It would also open up the Loucheims to unwanted scrutiny and lawsuits. Best not to go there.
Watch for more “leaks” and attacks against political opponents or New Yorkers via DiNapoli which the Press despises and tries to pass off as “investigative reporting” from a “news” organization that cannot even spell-check its articles properly. The Southampton Press is a throwback to the type of local targeting mechanism-for-hire that takes orders from its political handlers who have a lot to hide.
The Howell Raines imbroglio at the New York Times comes to mind – but, of course, even those fictitious journalistic entries by Jayson Blair were not ordered by the local political party in power.
Let’s see how this plays out.