File photo: Denise Civiletti

On behalf of those of us who have spent their time trying to balance the long term public interest with short term individual economic gain, I want to thank you for your coverage of the recent planning consultant debacle in Southampton. (Editorial: “When dereliction of duty is a public official’s best defense, you know constituents are in trouble,” Aug. 26.)

For decades, we have all seen how the consulting industrial complex can run interference for both government and individual developers with virtually no consequence for getting it wrong. When was the last time you saw a traffic “study” ever conclude that there would be an unmanageable traffic impact – yet here we sit, bumper-to-bumper, paying the price for shoddy, slanted half-truths masquerading as objective analysis.

Maybe Southampton Town did us all a favor by failing to scrub a public contract specifically designed to denigrate and “neutralize” opposition instead of working to understand and address the legitimate objections of taxpayers and residents. At least the contract said what we have long known to be true.

Unfortunately, every town on the East End is being hammered with an ever-increasing number of development projects that they are simply not prepared to handle — or worse, complicit in the promoting ahead of the public good. This has to change, and though I know it’s a long road back to an even playing field, the very first step is raising awareness (as RiverheadLocal did) about the issues that ultimately shape the fabric of our towns, and reminding our elected leaders that we all understand the game, and will still hold them accountable for the actions of their surrogates.

We are at the thin end of the wedge here on the East End and if we don’t make an unprecedented stand to protect the resources and character that define our region, it will be gone in a decade. Let’s do better.

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