10/16/13 4:19pm
10/16/2013 4:19 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Town board candidates debate winery regulation and deer management during Tuesday's forum.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Town board candidates debate winery regulation and deer management during Tuesday’s forum.

Town finances, winery regulations and deer management were among the issues discussed at a Southold Town Board candidates forum sponsored by The Suffolk Times and hosted at Peconic Landing in Greenport Tuesday night.

Democratic challengers Mary Eisenstein and Ron Rothman asked voters to elect a different voice to the all-Republican board, while incumbent Town Board member Jim Dinizio, a registered Conservative, and Republican challenger and current town Trustee Bob Ghosio touted their experience and working knowledge of the issues facing Southold.

Here’s what the candidates had to say about the issues:

DEER MANAGEMENT

When it comes to Southold Town’s current deer management plan, Democratic hopefuls said there is none.

Mary Eisenstein, who has been diagnosed with Lyme disease four times during her 21 years on the North Fork, said the Town Board hasn’t been working hard enough to lobby Albany for more effective means of controlling the deer population.

“If I’m on the board, the first thing I’m doing is getting a busload of people to go to Albany,” she said.

The Republican candidates agreed deer management is a major issue in Southold Town. Mr. Ghosio pointed to Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) for letting legislation that would relax hunting regulations in Suffolk County and across the state to stall in committee.

“The problem is we are ready to address it, but the state is not,” Mr. Ghosio said. He believes when the North Fork’s vacant state Assembly seat is filled in November, Southold’s deer management issue will be better represented and more progress will be made. All the candidates said they would support Republican Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s proposal to allocate $75,000 in the 2014 town budget toward deer management.

TOWN FINANCES

Every candidate spoke in favor of Mr. Russell’s proposed budget for 2013-14 and supported the way the town manages its finances.

The proposed $41.6 million 2014 spending plan includes a 1 percent spending increase over the current year and would result in a 1.17 percent tax hike.

Mr. Dinizio said the town does a good job of limiting expenses and spending wisely, citing the Town Board’s recent authorization of a $3.5 million bond for construction improvements to the town’s highway facility. The proposed upgrades include demolition of existing fuel storage tanks and construction of a consolidated fueling station, he said.The consolidation would allow the town to store more fuel in the event of a natural disaster like superstorm Sandy.

“There are places were you can spend money to gain efficiency,” Mr. Dinizio said.

Democrats agreed the current Town Board handles its finances well.

“It is a well-managed town,” said Democrat Ron Rothman. “We are fiscally in good shape.”

Ms. Eisenstein said, “As I’m out speaking with people, they say how they like how Scott Russell manages our town and I concur with that.”

She agreed with Mr. Dinizio’s suggestion that the town could gain efficiency.

WINERY REGULATIONS

Any discussion on how to strike a balance between meeting the needs of agricultural businesses and maintaining the rural character of Southold Town will eventually turn to Vineyard 48’s controversial business practices. Tuesday’s debate was no exception.

The Cutchogue vineyard’s business practices have prompted investigations by both the town and the State Liquor Authority following a host of complaints, including reports of loud music and patrons allegedly wandering onto neighboring properties and engaging in illicit behavior.

While board members have traditionally taken a strong stance against the vineyard, Democratic hopeful Mr. Rothman said the winery is being stifled by the town’s excessive legislation, pointing specifically to the newly enacted special events law.The law and the winery use review were a response to residents’ complaints about such events — most notably at Vineyard 48 — and concern about the town’s options in addressing code violations.

Mr. Rothman, owner of Rothman’s Department Store in Southold, said the town should have enforced the laws already on the books rather then passing new regulations to restrict all of the town’s agricultural businesses.

“It’s overkill for the problem,” Mr. Rothman said. “I’m for agriculture and promoting the businesses that are zoned for these area. It is a good-neighbor policy.”

Mr. Dinizo said the need for the legislation stems from some operations not following a “good-neighbor policy.”

“If you mention [Vineyard] 48 you have to mention what goes on there; this establishment breaks the law every week,” he said. “That is a safety problem and a police problem.”

Mr. Dinizio, who has served for more than two decades on various Southold Town boards, said he’s seen the town’s need for more extensive regulations grow.

“In 1988 it was cheese and crackers and sipping wine and it was fine, but things are changing and that’s why we have a Town Board so we can all sleep at night,” he said.

Viewing the issue on a broader scale, Mr. Ghosio said his priority was to maintain the rural charm of the town.

“Riverhead used to be a rural town and we all see what’s happening out west and we don’t want that to happen here,” he said. “If we need to create laws to maintain that from time to time, so be it.”

[email protected]

03/08/13 8:00am
03/08/2013 8:00 AM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO  |  Deputy Town Clerk Linda Cooper administering the oath of office to new Councilman Jim Dinizio last month.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Deputy Town Clerk Linda Cooper administering the oath of office to new Councilman Jim Dinizio last month.

As a newspaper editor, you often have to set aside your own opinions to allow others to use your pages to express theirs.

Then you sit back and take the beating right alongside them when people in the community disagree.

It’s a difficult spot to be in, but one I found myself in yet again following Troy Gustavson’s column in The Suffolk Times last week.

For those who didn’t see last week’s piece, Troy is none too happy with the appointment of Conservative Jim Dinizio to replace Democrat Al Krupski on the Southold Town Board. Troy’s argument was that appointing another right-leaning member of the Town Board to replace the one representative from the left is not in the best interest of the residents of the town.

But in the days that have followed, just about everyone in town has visited our website to let us know how much they disagree with Troy.

One person who didn’t comment on our site, but certainly doesn’t share Troy’s opinion, is me.

While I get the importance of preserving a “modicum of ideological balance on the board,” as Troy wrote, I’m not so sure that’s what the Town Board had in the Krupski era. I also don’t believe political parties at the local level mean much more than jobs for friends.

Sure, Al Krupski was a Democrat and everyone else is a Republican, but how much does that matter at the town level?

Town Boards vote on land use, waste management and highway issues. Sometimes they waive fees, other times they raise them. It’s hardly the stuff of Roe v. Wade, the death penalty or gay marriage. Al has always been a conservative with a small “C” and almost always voted with the GOP majority.

Jim Dinizio could be a member of the United States Pirate Party or a good old-fashioned Whig for all we should care, because none of the issues he’ll be voting on have any Republican or Democratic consequences.

People didn’t vote for Al Krupski because they saw him as the town’s liberal savior, they voted for him because he’s a nice guy who genuinely cares about the people in his town. They believed he was the best man for the job.

In November, they’ll likely re-elect Mr. Dinizio for the same reasons, not because of the “C” or “R” next to his name.

And for those Republicans who truly believe appointing a Republican means less spending and lower taxes, show me when the town’s budget or tax bills went down over any extended period of time.

Perhaps the best thing about the Southold Town Board in recent years is that party affi liation hasn’t really mattered. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Speaking of Troy, some of the comments on our site this week implied that he still makes the editorial decisions at our publications. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Occasionally, myself, Tim Kelly or one of our other editors might pick up the phone to ask him his opinion on something, and sometimes he’ll share it without us before we ever ask. But the only editorial decisions Troy, who is retired as publisher and no longer owns the papers, makes on a regular basis have to do with what topic he’s going to write about in his column.

[email protected]

03/07/13 6:00am
03/07/2013 6:00 AM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Deputy Town Clerk Linda Cooper administering the oath of office to new Councilman Jim Dinizio last month.

To the editor:

Troy Gustavson just cannot wait to be critical of newly appointment Councilman Jim Dinizio. Why? Because he’s a member of the Southold Conservative Party? Because he was chosen by Republicans?

In Mr. Gustavson’s eyes, does that make Jim Dinizio unqualified? He’s been in office for less than two weeks and he’s prejudging him. What a shock.

Jim Dinizio has been involved in Southold Town government for 25 years and has served us well as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He was even appointed chairman by the board’s Democratic majority. Mr. Gustavson says a Democrat should have been appointed. Find one more qualified and honorable than Jim Dinizio.

There have been many times over the years that Jim was not supporting Republicans or had not been supported by the Southold Republican Party. Jim has twice run for councilman and, as a matter of fact, that year he was endorsed by your paper and on the same ticket as Al Krupski. He has been outspoken in support of individuals’ property rights, as Al has been, and is a fiscal conservative, as Al is and proved to be while on the Town Board.

Jim Dinizio will do what he believes is best for Southold Town and will vote that way. Yes, Jim will probably vote with the Republicans and, as Mr. Gustavson said, “in lock step with the GOP majority” just as Democrat Albert Krupski did while on the board because that what will be what’s best for the town.

The Southold Town Board made the correct and obvious choice in replacing Albert Krupski. Al will do a great job as our county representative and Jim Dinizio will do the same great job as a Southold Town councilman.

Don’t judge Jim after only two weeks on the job. The Town Board under Supervisor Scott Russell has done a great job in this terrible economy and it’s too bad all towns on Long Island have not done as well. Scott and Albert put “party” aside and put what’s best for Southold first. You’ll see that will continue with Jim Dinizio on the board, even though he’s a Conservative, not a Democrat.

Dean Blaikie, Greenport

Mr. Blaikie is the former chairman of the Southold Conservative Party

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of this week’s Suffolk Times or click on the E-Paper.

03/02/13 3:00pm
03/02/2013 3:00 PM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO  |  Al Krupski won the special legislative election Jan. 15.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Al Krupski won the special legislative election and he resigned from his seat on the Southold Town Board.

I’m beginning to have some serious second thoughts about voting for Al Krupski for Suffolk County legislator. And that’s only because if he hadn’t won, and subsequently resigned his seat on the Southold Town Board, Jim Dinizio wouldn’t have been appointed to replace him.

Is it naive to think that a Republican-dominated Town Board might appoint someone from Krupski’s own Democratic Party to replace him? (Short answer: Yes.) But appointing a Democrat would have meant preserving a modicum of ideological balance on the board, not to mention respecting the wishes of the majority of voters who have repeatedly re-elected Krupski to that local office.

Others might argue that, as a registered Conservative, Mr. Dinizio does bring balance to the Town Board, or that he’ll play the healthy role of the Town Board’s squeaky wheel. But I don’t buy it.

More likely he’ll be voting lock step with the GOP majority — and that, as we have painfully learned over the years, is a recipe for mischief. But as we also have learned from practical experience in Washington, the political pendulum usually swings in the opposite direction. So a few years from now don’t be surprised to hear complaints about too many Democrats, and too few Republicans, on the Town Board.

•••••

A month ago in this space, I raised the idea of establishing a local gun buyback program similar to those that have been established around the nation in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. More recently, the concept has been tentatively embraced by the chiefs of police of Southold, Shelter Island and Riverhead towns.

It’s too early to say exactly what form the program might take, but it seems likely to be a Second Amendment-respecting, voluntary, anonymous program aimed at getting old and surplus guns out of homes, where national statistics suggest the most accidents and suicides by guns take place. This is the last you will read about this issue in this space. Stay tuned for updates via the chiefs themselves.

•••••

Maureen Roslak of Southold is the winner of the Academy Award contest announced in this space two weeks ago. For correctly guessing all six winners (Best Movie: “Argo,” Best Director: Ang Lee, Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz and Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway), she wins a $100 gift certificate to the Mattituck Cinemas, courtesy of Times/Review NewsGroup. Congratulations, Maureen.

•••••

And some Oscar trivia: Former Greenport summer residents (they used to live on Seventh Street) Albie Hecht and Susan McLaury won Academy Awards Sunday night as co-executive producers of “Inocente,” chosen Best Short Documentary. According to the film’s website, it tells the story of 15-year-old Inocente, “a homeless, undocumented immigrant, who clings to her determination to become an artist in the face of a bleak future.”

It was McLaury and Hecht’s second Oscar nomination. Two years ago, they were nominated as co-producers of the documentary film “War/Dance.” They are co-founders of Shine Global, “a non-profit film production company dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of children worldwide.”