09/19/14 1:39pm
Howard Meinke of Laurel, shown in a headshot that appeared with his guest columns in The Suffolk Times, died Thursday night.

Howard Meinke of Laurel, shown in a headshot that appeared with his occasional guest columns in The Suffolk Times and News-Review, died Thursday night.

The North Fork is a better place today thanks to the work of Howard Meinke, fellow environmental advocates and colleagues say.

He was a tenacious champion for the environment and for the quality of life issues affecting his neighbors. He always educated himself on the problems the North Fork faced before backing a solution.

Pine Barrens Society executive director Richard Amper said the North Fork might have become developed like Brookhaven Town had Mr. Meinke not been around.

“The problem with Brookhaven was that they didn’t have Howard Meinke,” Mr. Amper said. ”I don’t believe [the North Fork] would be the wonderful place that it is without him. He is the model, the consummate community advocate and I don’t know what we’re going to do without him.” (more…)

09/19/14 11:00am
Greg Fischer (left) once worked on a campaign with Rent is Too Damn High party candidate Jimmy McMillon. The two, seen here in an undated photo, now share the same party line as Mr. Fischer runs for state comptroller. (Courtesy photo)

Greg Fischer (left) once worked on a campaign with Rent is Too Damn High party candidate Jimmy McMillon. The two, seen here in an undated photo, now share the same party line as Mr. Fischer runs for state comptroller. (Courtesy photo)

It’s September and Calverton resident Greg Fischer is breaking out the campaign signs again.

He used some of them during his unsuccessful run for Riverhead Town supervisor in 2012. A small section of the signs showing the office he ran for then have been cut away.

They’re the same signs he used in campaigns for town tax assessor in 2013 and the Riverhead school board this year. And they’re the same ones he’ll now use to run for New York State comptroller on the Rent is 2 Damn High party line.

Mr. Fischer’s running mate is two-time gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan, the YouTube sensation from New York City who wears black gloves and famously debated Andrew Cuomo in 2010 by answering questions with the response, “The rent is too damn high.”

It’s a race Mr. Fischer fully admits he is destined to lose.

“If you don’t have a major party endorsement, you’re not getting elected,” he told the Riverhead News-Review. “It’s mathematically impossible … I cannot possibly win.”

That won’t stop him. In fact, Mr. Fischer says he’ll never stop running for office. “I’m going to run at least once a year forever,” he vowed.

The goal, he says, is to eventually prove that someone who “refuses to play the game” with political parties can win the public’s vote.

“I’m playing by the real rules,” he said. “[The parties] are not playing by the real rules. They’re playing by some corrupt, under-enforced, secret government game.”

Mr. Fischer is actually surprised he’s made it this far into his most recent campaign. Some of his previous electoral runs were derailed by allegations of improper petition signatures and court decisions against him.

Mr. McMillan, his running mate, said Mr. Fischer was a “breath of fresh air,” though he took issue with Mr. Fischer’s assertion that he could not win.

Mr. Fischer, he said, “needs to understand my issues are not games or jokes.”

According to a biography on his campaign website, Mr. Fischer founded Micro Perfect, a strategy and software consulting firm that has “thousands of clients worldwide,” though he said the company’s website is <z9.940>now defunct and that he operates his company through “word of mouth.”

“I’ve got a backlog that could last me years and years,” he said.

He also ran The Political Patriot, a free newspaper that printed briefly in 2009, though he said he intends to restart the venture soon.

“Most of my days are filled with politics and being a single dad,” Mr. Fischer said.

09/19/14 10:00am
A pedestrian was killed crossing Sound Avenue Thursday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A pedestrian was killed crossing Sound Avenue Thursday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

UPDATE (6:40 a.m.): Southold police identified the victim of Thursday night’s accident as 86-year-old Howard Meinke of Laurel.

Police said Mr. Meinke was attempting to cross Route 48 in Greenport in a marked crosswalk when he was struck by a vehicle headed east driven by 41-year-old Eric Melrose of Greenport. Mr. Meinke had been leaving the Soundview Restaurant with family after attending an Italian dinner fundraiser for Eastern Long Island Hospital Auxiliary, family members said.

Mr. Meinke was transported to Eastern Long Island Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

No criminal charges have been filed, and the case is pending further investigation. Mr. Melrose’s vehicle was impounded for a safety inspection.

Police Chief Martin Flatley said Mr. Meinke’s wife had already crossed the street when Mr. Meinke was hit. The driver told police that he didn’t see Mr. Meinke until it was too late.

Mr. Flatley said the straight road often makes it difficult for pedestrians to gauge vehicle’s speeds; that, combined with the darkness around the crosswalk at night, likely contributed to the accident, he said.

Mr. Meinke was a former president of the North Fork Environmental Council and a frequent contributor to The Suffolk Times’ opinion section.

His letters typically touched on topic ranging from local environmental concerns to global warming to economic inequality.

“He was probably one of the most passionate people that you’d want,” said Bill Toedter, current president of the NFEC. “Nothing flew off the top of his head, everything was very thought out. He was concerned with getting the facts right, but sometimes his heart and passion for the North Fork overrode everything.

“It’s a big loss for the East End,” Mr. Toedter said.

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski had been at the fundraiser and had spoken to Mr. Meinke just before the accident.

“We were pretty shocked, because we had just seen him,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of everyone involved.”

Mr. Krupski said the County Legislature had approved measures last year to divert the road — which has a 50-mph speed limit — further south to address safety concerns. Two other pedestrians had previously been killed in the same spot in 2007 and 2009.

Construction on the roadway is set to begin in 2016, with a divider being built in between the lanes of traffic for pedestrians to stop in.

“This is in the works,” he said. “We know it’s a dangerous part of the road.”

Mr. Krupski said he spoke with the Department of Public Works commissioner Friday morning about the plan, but added that the effort would take time since it still needed to be designed and utility poles would have to be moved.

“It’s a complicated project,” he said. “It’s not just a repaving.” Mr. Krupski said interim measures, like lowering the speed limit, may not make the area any safer.

“You can lower the speed, but that always comes down to enforcement,” he said.

Original Story: Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said a man was killed Thursday night while crossing Route 48 in Greenport as he was leaving a restaurant.

The man, whose identification is being held pending notification of next of kin, was apparently leaving Soundview Restaurant and crossing the street southbound around 8 p.m. when he was struck by the vehicle, the chief said.

Greenport Fire Department responded to the scene and transported the victim to Eastern Long Island Hospital.

Thursday’s fatality was the second one of the day in Southold. Just after midnight, a 30-year-old mother drove into the woods in Orient Point with her 18-month-old daughter. The mother was killed in the single-car crash.

Check back with more information as it becomes available.

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to the area of the accident as Sound Avenue, not Route 48.

Featured Story
09/18/14 7:27am
The scene of a crash at the end of Route 25 on Thursday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The scene of a crash at the end of Route 25 on Thursday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A 30-year-old mother was killed after driving off a private road in Orient and crashing just after midnight Thursday, Southold Town police said.

The woman’s 18-month-old daughter was in the car and survived unharmed, according to a police news release. (more…)

09/05/14 8:00am
Sid Smith, who captains The Merit fishing boat out of Greenport, believes he's being punished by village officials for being outspoken over issues concerning the village. He was told to vacate the railroad dock earlier this year for not having enough insurance. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Sid Smith, who captains The Merit fishing boat out of Greenport, believes he’s being punished by village officials for being outspoken over issues concerning the village. He was told to vacate the railroad dock earlier this year for not having enough insurance. (Credit: Paul Squire)

At a recent Greenport code committee meeting, village officials floated the idea of increasing marine insurance requirements for commercial boat owners who keep vessels at the railroad dock.

But committee members — including Mayor David Nyce and village attorney Joseph Prokop — balked at the proposal, which would raise the minimum required coverage from $1 million to $2 million.  (more…)

09/02/14 8:00am

A state mediator settling a contract dispute between Southold and the town’s civil service employee’s union has released a fact-finding report that suggests the salary increases the union is seeking would “make it difficult, if not impossible for the town to function.”

The report, which isn’t binding, also suggested employees contribute more to their health insurance policies, and that the town should institute an evaluation procedure.

The report also calls the union’s request that its president to be able to leave work for three hours each day for union business would be “excessive,” (more…)

08/29/14 8:00am
James Lawrence is escorted into town court last week. (Credit: Paul Squire)

James Lawrence is escorted into town court last week. (Credit: Paul Squire)

They find their window screens torn. They’ll notice patio furniture moved around, or broken. And sometimes, in the snow-covered mornings of winter, they can see footprints leading up to their homes.

These are the signs of a serial Peeping Tom a handful of Greenport residents say has been terrorizing them for years.  (more…)