09/29/12 11:00am
09/29/2012 11:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop (left) and Republican Challenger Randy Altschuler on the stage at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall Thursday evening.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and his Republican opponent, Randy Altschuler of St. James, debated Thursday night at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead.

The debate, moderated by Suffolk Times editor Tim Kelly, can be seen below in three parts.

09/27/12 12:00pm
09/27/2012 12:00 PM
Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, Randy Altschuler, Tim Bishop, Congress

xBARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Peconic Avenue in Riverhead is modeled after the Ford Theater in Washington D.C.

The first of a pair of 90-minute Times/Review Newsgroup co-sponsored debates between Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler of St. James is set for 7 p.m. tonight in downtown Riverhead.

Suffolk Times editor Tim Kelly will moderate the debate at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead. Vail-Leavitt will seat up to 250 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Audience members will have an opportunity to submit questions for the candidates at both debates.

The first 45 minutes of the debate will focus specifically on health care reform, Mr. Kelly said, and then be opened to general questions.

The second debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 15, at Bridgehampton School. The first 45 minutes of that debate will focus on jobs and the economy.

The Bridgehampton debate will be moderated by Joe Shaw, executive editor for The Press News Group, publishers of the Southampton Press, Southampton Press Western Edition and Easthampton Press newspapers, as well as 27east.com.

“We’re very excited to be working together to give the public more than sound bites to make a decision in this important race,” Mr. Shaw said of the partnership with Times/Review. “Our goal is to allow the candidates to more fully explore the complicated issues and give voters an opportunity to cast an informed vote.”

Both debates will be free and open to the public.

“With so much at stake, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this race,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’re proud to be teaming up with our South Fork counterparts, The Press News Group, to bring the candidates and the issues to light.”

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09/24/12 4:00pm
09/24/2012 4:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop during a press conference Monday in the Village of Old Field. Federal and state environmental officials announced that 35 municipalities and community groups in New York and Connecticut will receive grants totaling over $1.6 million

Congressman Tim Bishop and other federal and state officials announced Monday that 35 municipalities and community groups in New York and Connecticut will receive grants totaling over $1.6 million to help fund projects aimed at improving water quality within the Long Island Sound.

The grants are awarded annually through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, a public-private grant program that currently pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Wells Fargo.

Officials said the 35 projects will open up water passages for fish, as well as restore 390 acres of fish and wildlife habitat along the waterfront.  Fifteen grants totaling about $913,200 were awarded to groups in New York.

During a press conference in the Village of Old Field, officials announced that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Peconic Green Growth, and the University of Connecticut were among the winners of the grant monies.

Mr. Bishop described partnerships between governmental entities and community groups as “critical” due to the current economic climate.

“The EPA and funding are under assault,” he said. “If we are going to proceed, as we must, we need to see to it that the environment we pass on is at least as good if not better than what we inherited. [To] protect the quality of life here on Long Island, both in our surface waters and our ground water, we’re going to need partnerships.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension received a $128,000 grant to help fund a nearly $330,000 project called “Engaging Vineyards to Implement Water Quality Improvement.” According to the proposal, Cornell Cooperative will develop a state-of-the-art pest and nutrient management pilot program aimed at improving water quality through reducing pesticide use at six wineries.

Becky Wiseman of Cornell said her group is in the process of finalizing a list of wineries that will participate in the program.

“We created this comprehensive idea for the vineyard industry, because it will dovetail nicely with other sustainability projects on Long Island,” she said.

In addition, Cornell Cooperative received a $95,000 grant to help pay for its “Marine Meadows Eelgrass Restoration Program.” The nearly $200,000 project includes organizing 400 volunteers to transplant eelgrass at different locations along the Sound.

The Peconic Green Growth, a not-for-profit organization focused on issues that integrate environment and community, received a $60,000 grant to help fund a nearly $150,000 decentralized wastewater treatment pilot project. The group has proposed that a solution to treating wastewater without the fear of high-density development is a “cluster” approach to sewering as opposed to a running a massive centralized system. The group is in the process of finding communities interested in taking part of a decentralized pilot program through Natural Systems Utilities, a New Jersey-based company that specializes in alternative wastewater systems.

The University of Connecticut received a $40,000 grant to help fund a more than $70,000 project to develop a management plan to remove invasive plants from seven acres at Great Gull Island, which is part of Southold Town, in order increase nesting habitat.

EPA officials said there is a review process associated with each project in order to monitor progress and success rates. Those reviews are expected to take place within the year.

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03/26/11 3:29pm
03/26/2011 3:29 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop (right) makes a point during his Saturday morning breakfast meeting with the LIFB.The planting season is only days away, but farming was just one of several topics discussed when Congressman Tim Bishop shared coffee and bagels with growers during his annual breakfast with the Long Island Farm Bureau Saturday morning.

Federal spending and how or where to cut it dominated the hour-long meeting at the LIFB’s Calverton headquarters. That’s also the top topic in Washington, Mr. Bishop said.

Trimming the federal budget won’t be easy, Mr. Bishop said, since Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, payments on the national debt and the armed forces account for two-thirds of all federal spending.

“You want to shut down Social Security? Fine. Come with me to a senior citizen center and explain it,” the congressman said.

He also said Congress needs to take a close look at agricultural subsidies, none of which are enjoyed by Long Island farmers.

“Can we continue to spend tens of billions of dollars on farm subsidies?” he said. “That’s the issue. The whole issue of what we can afford has to be on the table. It has to be.”

The congressman also discussed pesticide regulations and immigration reform. He said he sees no reason to believe that Congress will seriously address the immigration question anytime soon.

“If we could address the issue without all the hatred, anger, emotion and demagoguery we’d be a lot better off,” said Mr. Bishop. “But right now, emotion is carrying the day, not facts.”

12/08/10 2:12pm
12/08/2010 2:12 PM

While Congressman Tim Bishop now knows that he has retained his seat — due to the concession of his Republican opponent, Randy Altschuler — he also knows that when he goes back to Washington it will be as a member of the minority party. Republicans captured the House majority in November.

“I now have a different job,” Mr. Bishop said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Now, he said, “I must do the best I can to influence legislation written by my friends on the other side of the aisle,” rather than being part of a Democratic majority that wrote the legislation and guided the House’s agenda.

The biggest difference could be in earmarks, projects congressmen can get for their local district.

For instance, he said Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy asked him in late October to try to deliver $400,000 more to add to the $4.3 million Mr. Bishop had already secured for the Calverton rail spur restoration project.

“I would say my ability to get that done is now non-existent,” he said.

Riverhead Town was hoping to extend the rail spur, which leads into the former Grumman naval weapons plant property, so that it could accommodate more businesses in the Enterprise Park at Calverton industrial park.

Mr. Bishop also pointed to a $7 million project requested by Southampton Town to raise the roadway along Dune Road. He said that’s similarly doomed because earmarks were the only way that project could be funded.

But, the congressman said, two things that won’t change are how hard he and his staff will work for their constituents and his resolve to form working partnerships will all local officials, regardless of political party.

He believes these strengths enabled him to “withstand what was essentially a Category 5 hurricane levied against Democrats” in the November election.

Mr. Bishop also still believes his support for two controversial measures ­— the so-called banking bailout, or TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), and health care reform — will prove to be justified.

“There’s no doubt we would have seen the collapse of the banking industry” without TARP, he said.

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12/01/10 2:04pm
12/01/2010 2:04 PM



Randy Altschuler



With Republican Dan Losquadro declared the winner in the state’s 1st Assembly District race, the prolonged battle between Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop and his Republican challenger, businessman Randy Altschuler, remains the only undecided race in the region. And the last undecided congressional race in the country.

At last report Thursday, Mr. Bishop was leading Mr. Altschuler by 259 votes.

The race will likely be decided by a state Supreme Court judge who arrived at the Board of Elections in Yaphank about 3 p.m. Wednesday to start making calls on contested absentee ballots sent to the district by mail.

Some 71 military ballots, which had to be in officials’ hands by Nov. 24, were counted Tuesday, which narrowed Mr. Bishop’s lead over Mr. Altschuler’s by 20 votes. The candidates’ camps then agreed to concede a total of 418 previously contested absentee ballots — 209 each — and that ended up adding 32 votes to Mr. Bishop’s lead, according to the incumbent’s spokesman, Jon Schneider. Mr. Bishop then picked up an additional 12 votes after the judge made his first ruling Wednesday, allowing 161 paper ballots that for various reasons weren’t scanned on Election Day to count in the race.

Both sides have had a roller coaster ride since election night, when preliminary tallies had Mr. Bishop up by about 3,500 votes. Then a re-canvassing of the optical voting machines, used for the first time in a Suffolk County general election, put him behind his challenger by 383 votes. But Mr. Altschuler watched that lead vanish after the week-long process of counting some 11,500 absentee and affidavit ballots wrapped up last Tuesday, leaving Mr. Bishop up by 235.
Both camps agreed Thursday to allow an additional 52 ballots be counted, 29 that were being contested by Mr. Bishop and 23 by Mr. Altschuler.
Of the 1,473 still-contested ballots that were awaiting the judge’s review, 1,123 were being challenged by the Republican side and 510 by the Democrats.

A required audit of 3 percent of voting machines has revealed no problems with the equipment, officials said.

And while Mr. Bishop appeared ready to declare victory, the rival camp’s suspicions of voter fraud have prompted Republicans to stay and fight — leaving the outcome up to the judge and the court system.

Rob Ryan, Mr. Altschuler’s campaign spokesman, said the courts have subpoena power to require that a voter prove his or her residency in the district, something Board of Elections commissioners can’t do.

Mr. Ryan estimated Mr. Bishop’s lead to actually be closer to 150 votes, considering the Democrats have challenged the votes of some 94 Republican poll inspectors who voted outside the district.

“We should get them back,” Mr. Ryan said of those votes, adding that he expected to see “a lot of contested ballots” end up in the hands of the judge.
He said that, above all, Mr. Altschuler wants to be sure that only the votes of people who can legally vote in the district are counted.

“The Bishop campaign put out their stuff yesterday saying they wanting to close things down,” Mr. Ryan said. “But two short weeks ago [when Mr. Bishop appeared down], they were calling for a hand recount of every single ballot. And now for some reason they don’t want to wait until this residency issue is dealt with, and the possibility of widespread fraud.”

Potential voter fraud was outlined by FoxNews.com writer Eric Shawn in a report earlier this week. According to the FoxNews story, 48 of the 438 absentee ballot voters “reviewed” by the Fox News Voter Fraud Unit were cast via absentee ballot in Suffolk by people who “are also listed as ‘active’ voters on the New York City rolls. Being registered in two separate jurisdictions is illegal and is a felony in New York State.

“In addition, our investigation reveals that one absentee ballot was apparently submitted in the name of a Democratic voter enrolled in Suffolk County, while election records at the Board of Elections in New York City show that the same voter voted, on Election Day, in Manhattan.”

The story did not name the voter in question. Mr. Altschuler’s campaign circulated the FoxNews report by e-mail Tuesday.

Mr. Bishop’s spokesman called the fraud allegations “nonsense.”

“We’re not saying Altschuler should concede,” he said. “We’re just saying let’s open the ballots and count the votes,” Mr. Schneider said. “And this FoxNews thing is nonsense. Great, you found one guy who voted twice, but let’s move on. Show me two, show me 10, show me 50 who voted twice.”
He said that no votes had been counted on Thursday, and that the judge wouldn’t be back to the Board of Elections until Wednesday, “so there goes another week.”

“I’m sure there’s not going to be any movement unless they start dropping [contested] ballots,” he added. “We want to all get on with our lives. I’m not worried about the outcome of this election; I’m worried that I’m going to be here on Christmas.”

Mr. Bishop, of Southampton, is seeking his fifth two-year term in office. No 1st District congressman since Otis Pike of Riverhead, a Democrat, has served more than four terms. Mr. Pike served nine terms before retiring in 1978.

As for the state Assembly race, which dragged on exactly three weeks after Election Day Nov. 2, Democrat Marc Alessi conceded to Mr. Losquadro last Wednesday after it appeared he could not make up the more than 800 votes by which he trailed. Both men are residents of Shoreham.

“It has been an absolute privilege to serve the residents of the First Assembly District over the past five years,” Mr. Alessi said in a statement sent just after 4 p.m. last Wednesday. “I’ve taken the state’s problems home with me, internalized them and tried to help — both on the large scale and individually — one constituent at a time.”

In his statement, Mr. Alessi blamed Albany dysfunction for his loss and touted his record in office.

“For five years, I worked tirelessly for the hardworking families of Suffolk and kept my pledges to the people who elected me. I will forever be proud of that,” he said. “While I accomplished much of what I set out to do for Suffolk, there is still more work to be done.”
The attorney said he would focus on his family, as his wife, Gretchen, is expecting the couple’s third child in January.

The two candidates were separated by just 40 votes on election night but Mr. Losquadro increased his lead after election night results were verified and corrected and also during the absentee ballot count.

Mr. Losquadro’s win sets up a special election to finish out the final year of his term in the county Legislature, where he serves as minority leader. Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner has been reported as a possible Republican/Conservative nominee to replace Mr. Losquadro, whom she served four years as a legislative aide before seeking her first public office in 2007.

A source in the Democratic Party did not rule out the possibility of Mr. Alessi pursuing the county seat.

The third local race this year was not a close one, with longtime incumbent Republican state Senator Kenneth LaValle of Port Jefferson trouncing Democratic challenger Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, taking 67 percent of the vote.

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