06/27/14 5:00pm
06/27/2014 5:00 PM
Congressman Tim Bishop and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pitch the new high-tech startup bill at a press conference Friday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Congressman Tim Bishop and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pitch the new high-tech startup bill at a press conference Friday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said New York research facilities and nonprofits receive about $6 billion in federal investment — the second-most in the nation.

Yet fledgling businesses out of those research labs get about 7 percent of the nation’s venture capital, something Ms. Gillibrand said needs to change.  (more…)

05/28/14 4:06pm
05/28/2014 4:06 PM

east-end-helicopter-noise-long-island

A temporary Federal Aviation Administration requirement that helicopters fly over Long Island Sound rather than homes on the North Fork is set to expire on Aug. 6, according to Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton). Mr. Bishop and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-Brooklyn) are now working on a bill to make that requirement permanent and to also extend the area where helicopters must stay over the water.  (more…)

05/01/14 11:30am
05/01/2014 11:30 AM
Work was completed March 27 on the Mattituck Inlet dredging project. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Work was completed March 27 on the Mattituck Inlet dredging project. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A couple of months after a long-awaited dredging project at Mattituck Inlet was completed, numbers show the project ran about $300,000 over budget, costing $2.5 million in total.

According to the office of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), the overrun stemmed largely from the project running two weeks over schedule.

At the time, the extension was attributed to the need for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which completed the project, to dredge the inlet deeper than previously anticipated. Engineers had expected to dredge the inlet 11 feet deep in order to haul 100,000 cubic yards of sand to re-nourish nearby beaches, though they had to dig down to 14 feet.

In total, corps engineers removed over 108,000 cubic yards of from the inlet, with 98,251 cubic yards of that sand was placed on the easterly side to restore the sand-starved beach, according Mr. Bishop’s office.

[SEE PRIOR COVERAGE]

“There simply was not enough material in the inlet at the depth and width they had previously been authorized to do,” Mr. Bishop said in early March.

Despite the excess costs, the project — spearheaded by Ron and Doris McGreevey, whose beach had been eroding over the years and had been calling for the dredge work for over a decade — was still a much-needed success, Mr. Bishop said.

“The inlet will be easier to navigate and the beach will have been built up to a level that better protects coastal assets and recreational opportunities,” Mr. Bishop said. “Further, we will now have an established project from which to work should the beach need repair in the future.”

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09/12/13 2:00pm
09/12/2013 2:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tim Bishop at a debate in Riverhead.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tim Bishop at a debate in Riverhead.

A congressional ethics report has recommended further investigations into allegations Rep. Tim Bishop violated House rules and federal law last year, saying there was a “substantial reason” to believe Mr. Bishop broke federal campaign finance rules.

The report, released Wednesday by the Office of Congressional Ethics, found that Mr. Bishop helped a constituent get permits to hold a fireworks show, then had his staff ask the man for a campaign contribution as a quid pro quo.

The probe also found that Mr. Bishop’s campaign committee may have misreported a $5,000 contribution from the constituent’s company that broke the $2,500 per election limit.

“There is a substantial reason to believe that Representative Bishop sought a campaign contribution because of or in connection with an official act in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” according to the 117-page report.

The Office of Congressional Ethics has advised the House Committee on Ethics to further review the allegations.

Mr. Bishop has denied the allegations; his lawyers filed a response to the probe that called the allegations “deeply flawed.”

“The report released today confirms that the allegations made against me last summer were politically orchestrated and I am confident that the ongoing review of this matter will show that I acted in good faith to assist a constituent in need,” Mr. Bishop said in a statement.

Mr. Bishop allegedly helped Eric Semler, a Sagaponack hedge fund manager, get the necessary permits to hold a fireworks display for his son’s bar mitzvah on May 26, 2012, according to email evidence in the report.

After the permits were believed to be cleared, Mr. Bishop wrote an email to a close friend, Robert Sillerman, asking him to ask Mr. Semler for a contribution.

“We are all set with Eric Semler,” the email from Mr. Bishop detailed in the report states. “Hey, would you be willing to reach out to him to ask for a contribution? If he donates before June 26, he and his wife can each do 5 large – if it is after June 26, they can each do a max of 2500.”

Mr. Bishop’s response says that Mr. Semler was under no pressure to give a contribution, notes that Mr. Bishop did not personally contact him about a donation, and noted that Mr. Semler said in an interview in the report that he made the contribution because Rep. Bishop is a “stellar politician.”

The report also states that Mr. Bishops campaign misreported a $5,000 contribution from Mr. Semler’s company TCS Capital Management LLC as being two $2,500 from Mr. Semler and his wife. The campaign also reported the date of the contribution as June 26, not July 9 when the contribution was actually received, the report states.

Mr. Bishop’s attorneys said in his response that while the finding allege the campaign misreported the contribution, the re-election campaign “took reasonable steps” including hiring a FEC compliance official to report the contribution correctly.

House Committee on Ethics said in a statement that it will “continue to gather information necessary to complete its review” of the allegations against Mr. Bishop.

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07/16/13 3:10pm
07/16/2013 3:10 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop announces his new bill to lift the congressional mandate to sell Plum Island.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D- Southampton) Tuesday announced the introduction of “Save, don’t sell Plum Island,” a bill designed to overturn the 2008 congressional mandate for the federal government to sell the island, for decades the home of an animal disease research laboratory, at public auction.

The bipartisan legislation would help prevent non-research development on the 840-acre island, preserving what Mr. Bishop called a biodiversity “treasure.”

The federal General Services Administration recently released an environmental impact statement supporting construction of up to 500 dwellings on the island, which in addition to animal disease center is home to an abandoned military installation.

The congressman was joined at a morning press conference on the beach in Orient by state Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and representatives of several environmental groups, including the Group for the East End, the Nature Conservancy and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Connecticut Democratic Congressmen Joe Courtney and Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, have signed on as cosponsors. Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

Its purpose is to reverse the 2008 bill requiring the island’s sale to help finance a new $1.2 billion animal disease research center in Manhattan, Kan.

Mr. Bishop’s bill contends cleanup costs from past island activities, including the operation of Fort Terry, a WWI-era Army base, coupled with Southold’s pending island zoning prohibiting new development, would dramatically reduce the island’s commercial value.

Mr. Bishop said the Kansas research facility would “duplicate many of the research functions currently served well by other research facilities, including Plum Island,” and would be unaffordable given the nation’s budget constraints.

According to Mr. Bishop’s bill, the Plum Island facility has been well maintained.

He added that more than $23 million in federal funds have been invested in laboratory upgrades since January 2012, with additional significant expenditures likely in the future.

“If the federal government did not already own Plum Island, it would be seeking to purchase it for conservation,” Mr. Bishop said.

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07/12/13 12:45pm
07/12/2013 12:45 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Tim Bishop, holding microphone, will introduce legislation regarding Plum Island next week.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Tim Bishop, holding microphone, will introduce legislation regarding the sale of Plum Island next week.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) will hold a press conference on the beach in Orient on Tuesday, July 16, to announce the introduction of “Save, Don’t Sell” Plum Island legislation seeking to overturn the 2008 bill mandating the sale of the 840-acre island to help finance a new $1 billion animal disease research center in Manhattan, Kansas.

Mr. Bishop is to be joined by representatives of several environmental groups, including the Group for the East End, the Nature Conservancy and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is working on a companion Senate bill, said Oliver Longwell, Mr. Bishop’s spokesman.

An environmental impact statement completed by the federal General Services Administration recently supported the construction of up to 500 dwellings on the island, which in addition to animal disease center is home to an abandoned World War I military installation.

The Town of Southold is working on new zoning for the island that would prevent large-scale residential or commercial development.

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06/25/13 8:00am
06/25/2013 8:00 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop discussing various issues with members of the Times/Review Newsgroup’s editorial board Monday.

Immigration reform and its anticipated effect on the local agricultural work force was among the many topics discussed during a Times/Review editorial board meeting with Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) Monday morning.

“Currently the [immigration] system, from almost every vantage point, is broken on Eastern Long Island,” Mr. Bishop said. “It has to do with access to a work force that our economy demands.”

About 60 percent of local farm workers are undocumented, Mr. Bishop said. Nationally, the number is 75 percent.

The congressman said he supports a comprehensive immigration reform bill pending on Capitol Hill.

“It would fix the visa system for farm workers,” he said. “The workers would basically have the status they need to come here and work.”

But the prospects for Congress passing such sweeping legislation are uncertain at best, the congressman added.

“It is the right thing to do and the Senate has worked very hard at it,” Mr. Bishop said. On the other hand, he said chances that a bill will make it through the House of Representatives “grow dimmer every day.”

If the bill dies in the Senate, the congressman said he would support a piece-by-piece approach to solve individual concerns, such as the workforce problems the agricultural market faces.

Other topics of discussion included increased boarder protection (the interview occurred before news broke that the Senate had approved such a bill), the recently defeated farm bill, and the Common Core program designed to set minimum education standards across the country. The Common Core effort is aimed at ensuring that high school graduates are fully prepared either to continue their education in college or find employment.

While saying the implementation of the Common Core standards has been “chaotic,” he praised states for coming together to press the issue.

“I think it’s admirable and it shows real leadership on the part of the governors,” Mr. Bishop said.

It’s less of an issue in New York, which has high education standards, he added, but in some states “it’s a sea change.”

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05/09/13 8:00am
05/09/2013 8:00 AM

Mattituck Inlet

In 1998 Mike Forbes was the area’s congressman, Jean Cochran was town supervisor and Doris and Ron McGreevy, who live in a house overlooking the Sound in Mattituck, began pressing the federal government to do something it rarely does: take responsibility for a problem it created and take steps to rectify it.

The East End has been represented by two other House members and Southold has had two more supervisors since then, but the McGreevys are still in Mattituck and and have never given up their quest for the Army Corps of Engineers to admit that the huge stone jetties on either side of Mattituck Inlet have caused and continue to cause significant erosion on the downdrift side to the east.

The McGreevys’ persistence paid off this week with Congressman Tim Bishop’s announcement that the Army Corps has accepted responsibility and will dredge the inlet, eliminating a navigational hazard as well, and pump the sand east to rebuild the damaged beach. The $3.4 million project is to start in the fall.

If there’s one immutable truth about how things are accomplished in Washington, it’s that the squeaky wheel may not always get the grease, but the quiet wheel gets nothing. A dredging project isn’t the most exciting of issues, especially in D.C., and in a time of diminishing federal resources it would be easy for lawmakers and the administration to follow another tried and true government policy and shelve the idea.

But the McGreevys didn’t give up, nor did town officials or Mr. Bishop, who not all that long ago took considerable heat locally after the Mattituck dredging was stripped from the Army Corps’ budget. But he pressed for and succeeded in gaining an emergency allocation to dredge Montauk Harbor. Thanks to the perseverance of all involved, the Army Corps admitted what had been clear for decades: The jetties trap sand on one side and cause significant erosion on the other. Congratulations to all involved.

Now that this issue’s settled, perhaps it’s time to take another look farther east, along the Sound in Peconic, where there’s a significant buildup of sand on one side of Goldsmith Inlet and continuing erosion on the other. The problem is clear — and so is the solution.

05/07/13 3:19pm
05/07/2013 3:19 PM

The federal government has agreed to dredge Mattituck Inlet this fall — a project 15 years in the making — and to use the dredged material to rebuild the heavily eroded Sound beach to the east of the stone jetties on either side of the inlet.

The work, which calls for removing close to 100,000 cubic yards of material from the inlet, where shoals pose a threat to commercial fishing boats, is to begin in October at a price of $3.4 million, said Congressman Tim Bishop.

Nearby residents and town officials have been calling for the dredging since 1998.

The inlet is a federal waterway and as such the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for routine dredging. But the new project comes under Section 111 of the 1968 federal River and Harbor Act, which requires the corps to mitigate erosion caused by its projects.

In this case, the culprit is the stone jetties, which by extending out into the Sound interrupt the natural west to east movement of sand, known as the littoral drift. As a result a large amount of sand has collected against the west side of the west jetty. But with currents starved of sand, the Sound has scoured away the beach to the east.

In agreeing to the dredging, and the price tag that comes with it, under Section 111, the Army Corps is conceding that the jetties cause the downdrift erosion, said Congressman Tim Bishop.

“That is one of the reasons why this was so hard to get,” Mr. Bishop said. “This is the Corps acknowledging that they have an obligation if there is an ongoing need to replenish the beach east of the inlet.”

The dredging work will both widen and deepen the inlet channel to a depth of 11 feet below mean low water. The dredged sand will be placed on the beach in a 20-foot-wide strip of about 4,500 feet long from the eastern jetty.

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01/03/13 4:33pm
01/03/2013 4:33 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | A ferry on its way to New London passes near the Plum Island animal disease research lab.

Although Kansas officials paint a rosy picture on the progress of a planned billion-dollar animal disease research lab to replace Plum Island, Congressman Tim Bishop says that optimism is misplaced.

On Wednesday Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback joined members of that state’s congressional delegation in saying that the agreement by the City of Manhattan, Kansas, to transfer title to 46 acres to the Department of Homeland Security signals the federal government’s commitment to build the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facity (NBAF).

The governor’s statement is more about public relations than public policy, said Oliver Longwell, Congressman Bishop’s spokesman.

“It’s an effort to create a sense of inevitability about the construction in Kansas that does not exist,” Mr. Longwell said. “The future of that facility has yet to be determined.”

Mr. Bishop has long opposed closing the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and replacing it with the Kansas lab, calling the proposed NBAF a unnecessary pork barrel project.

In its own risk assessment, the Department of Homeland Security said there’s close to a 70 percent chance of an accidental release of the foot-and-mouth disease virus during the NBAF’s anticipated 50 years of operation at that the resulting economic impacts on a facility in the heart of cattle country could reach $50 billion. The National Research Council, an advisory group affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences, has said the federal government has underestimated the risk.

Mr. Longwell noted that Congress has not funded the $1.14 billion project beyond an initial allocation of $90 million. President Obama is expected to release his spending outline for the next federal fiscal year in February, Mr. Longwell said.