Rona Smith of Greenport will challenge Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo in November’s election. READ
Rona Smith of Greenport will challenge Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo in November’s election. READ
Southold Town, Suffolk County and environmentalists have a new ally in their fight to preserve Plum Island: New York State.
Albany is in need of serious reform. It’s been known for years, even decades, and is obvious to anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention to our state government.
There appeared to be hope with the 2010 election of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who ran on a reform agenda. But he ended up shutting down his own highly touted investigative body, the Moreland Commission, when its members began to hone in on the root of all problems in Albany: outside money earned by lawmakers, and specifically lawyers who have long claimed they couldn’t disclose details of their work — including their clients — because that would be a breach of lawyer-client privilege. (more…)
Tom Schiliro, the Democratic candidate for the Second New York State Assembly District in the Nov. 4 election, will now also be the Independence Party candidate, if the results of Tuesday’s primary hold up. (more…)
Harsher punishments for those who flee the scenes of serious car accidents will have to wait another year, lawmakers say, after a pair of bills — one passed by the state Senate, another by the Assembly — failed to get enough support in the opposite house.
The legislative session in Albany ended last week with no agreement on the bills.
In May, the Senate had approved legislation — co-sponsored by state Senator Ken Lavalle — that would have increased penalties across the board for those who flee from accidents, minor or serious. That bill died in the Assembly transportation committee.
Meanwhile, the Assembly passed their own bill last Thursday night, with just hours left in the legislative session.
That legislation was co-sponsored by local Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, and would have created a new charge for those who flee serious or fatal accidents while driving with a suspended license or a prior conviction for drunk driving or leaving the scene of an accident.
In an interview this week, Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said there wasn’t enough time left to compromise on the differences between the two bills. The Assembly’s bill also lacked support in the Senate.
A new state law has spared teachers from being judged based on their student’s Common Core test results — at least not yet. (more…)
Since the moment I was sworn in as your assemblyman, the one topic that seems to come up in just about every conversation is the implementation of Common Core. I have listened to parents, educators, students and taxpayers about the myriad Common Core issues and problems that plague our children and schools. The Common Core mandate provides for a series of new national education standards administered at the state level through a series of federal mandates and grants. Though well-intentioned, the rollout and implementation of Common Core has been acutely fl awed, raising the ire of most parents and stakeholders in the education system. (more…)
Speaking with The Suffolk Times shortly after the Southold Town Republican Committee opted not to endorse senior judge William Price, GOP chairman Peter McGreevy said it was time to make a change.
“While no one doubts that [Judge Price] has served this town well,” he said in May, “the committee thought it was time for a change and acted upon that.”
The voting public disagreed.
Mr. Price, 62, still a registered Republican but running on the Democratic ticket, won overwhelmingly Tuesday, capturing 60 percent of the vote in his highly anticipated race against Mattituck attorney William Goggins.
“It feels great to have the people of Southold to put me back in office,” said Mr. Price of Greenport, who was first elected to his seat in 1981. “It feels good. I was hoping for that. I was thankful that the Democrats asked me to run for them so the people of Southold could choose who could be judge.”
When it comes time for him to be sworn in for his ninth term as Southold Town Justice this January, Mr. Price will be the only elected town official backed by Democrats. Republicans ensured as much by winning the other 11 seats up for grabs Tuesday, including two contested seats on the Town Board, three contested Trustee seats and all three Assessor posts.
So at the same time Mr. Price was smiling over his victory at the Democratic gala at Touch of Venice in Cutchogue, his old friends in the GOP were celebrating at the Republican party nine miles up the road at the Soundview Inn in Greenport.
“I’m very positive about the way the campaign was handled,” Mr. McGreevy said. “We worked hard and we had great candidates.”
The two Republican choices for Town Board, Jim Dinizio and Bob Ghosio, were elected with a combined 58 percent of the total vote — a drop from 2011 when the party secured close to 64 percent of the Town Board election, but more than enough to maintain a 5-0 Town Board majority. Mr. Dinizio, 59, of Greenport, a registered Conservative who was appointed to the Town Board in February to replace current County Legislator Al Krupski, a Democrat, was the top vote getter with 4,135 votes. Mr. Ghosio, 50, of Greenport, who will now be replaced on the town’s Board of Trustees, received 3,567 votes, 615 votes ahead of opponent Mary Eisenstein of Mattituck. Southold department store owner Ron Rothman, the other Democratic challenger, received 2,475 votes.
“You will never know how much I appreciate this and I will do the best job I can,” Mr. Dinizo said to his supporters following the announcement of the results from all 19 Southold Town election districts.
“It was an awful lot of work,” Mr. Ghosio added. “The Republicans are well appreciated in this town and it shows tonight.”
Ms. Eisenstein, 64, who said she continued her campaign through Election Day, starting her day outside Wendy’s Deli and Handy Pantry in Mattituck before knocking on doors and then making phone calls with the help of her husband, was feeling “neutral” as the results were being announced.
“It’s neat being here and being able to appreciate the process,” she said. “I think I have learned what it means to be a candidate.”
“No matter the outcome, it’s a positive experience,” said Mr. Rothman, 58. “I met a lot of great people.”
The last time Southold Republicans walked away from an election night with a 5-0 majority on the Town Board was in 1999 under the leadership of Supervisor Jean Cochran. The GOP had held that unanimous majority from 1997 to 2001, before Supervisor Josh Horton and Councilman Tom Wickham both claimed victory with Democratic backing in the 2001 election.
One of the first actions of the new Town Board will be to appoint a new trustee to replace Mr. Ghosio, when he joins the Town Board in January. A special election for the final year of the term will then be held in November, according to Mr. McGreevy.
Mr. Ghosio, who will replace Republican Chris Talbot on the Town Board, was far from the only candidate to win an open seat Tuesday. Former Councilman Vinny Orlando, a 52-year-old Republican from Southold, won the Highway Superintendent post vacated by 12-year incumbent Democrat Pete Harris, who like Mr. Talbot opted to not seek re-election this year. Assessor candidate Rich Caggiano, 64, of Southold will fill the two-year expired term of fellow Republican Darline Duffy, who retired June 1. And in the closest race of the night, Republican trustee candidate Charles Sanders of Greenport was elected to the seat left open when two-term incumbent Dave Bergen did not receive the Republican nomination this time around. Mr. Sanders edged Democrat Geoffrey Wells, 60, by just 578 votes.
“I’m excited,” said Mr. Sanders, 45. “This was my first time putting my hat in a political race.”
Incumbent Republican trustees John Bredemeyer and Mike Domino both won re-election easily, as did Assessors Bob Scott and Kevin Webster. Town Clerk Betty Neville and Fishers Island Justice Louisa Evans, both Republicans, ran unopposed and were also re-elected.
Republicans also scored a major win in the special election for the North Fork seat in the New York State Assembly, with Anthony Palumbo, 43, of New Suffolk, a law partner of Mr. Goggins. Mr. Palumbo won with 58 percent of the vote over 28-year-old Democrat John McManmon of Riverhead.
Despite his party winning just one town and one county race — Mr. Krupski was re-elected in a landslide to the county Legislature — Southold Town Democratic Committee chairman Art Tillman was positive when speaking of the Democrats’ campaign in his post-election speech to supporters.
“While this may seem like a loss it really isn’t,” he said. “This was the best run campaign I have ever worked on. We’ve got everything to be proud of.”
And among all the celebrating at the GOP gala, there was still that one town candidate who went home without a victory Tuesday.
“Life goes on,” said Mr. Goggins, 53. “I’ll continue to practice law. I met a lot of nice people on the campaign trail. It was a good experience.”
“He ran a good campaign and he will make an excellent judge one day,” Mr. McGreevy said.
But the 4,091 Southold Town residents who voted in favor of Mr. Price Tuesday made certain Mr. Goggins will at least have to wait for that day.
Read more in Thursday’s edition of The Suffolk Times.
See the full results below:
Town Clerk, Town of Southold (Vote for 1)
19 of 19
Elizabeth Ann Neville (REP, CON, IND)
Superintendent of Highways, Town of Southold (Vote for 1)
19 of 19
Eugene L Wesnofske III (DEM)
Vincent M Orlando (REP, IND)
Town Justice, Town of Southold (Vote for 1)
19 of 19
William H Price Jr (DEM, WOR)
William C Goggins (REP, CON, IND)
Town Justice (Fishers Island), Town of Southold (Vote for 1)
19 of 19
Louisa P Evans (REP, CON, IND)
Councilman, Town of Southold (Vote for 2)
19 of 19
Mary Eisenstein (DEM, WOR)
Robert Ghosio (REP, CON, IND)
Ronald J Rothman (DEM, WOR)
James Dinizio Jr (REP, CON, IND)
Assessor, Town of Southold (Vote for 2)
19 of 19
Terry Hofer (DEM)
Robert I Scott Jr (REP, CON, IND)
Marie A Domenici (DEM)
Kevin W Webster (REP, CON, IND)
Assessor, Town of Southold (Unexpired Term) (Vote for 1)
19 of 19
Jason A Petrucci (DEM)
Richard L Caggiano (REP, CON, IND)
Trustee, Town of Southold (Vote for 3)
19 of 19
Joseph J Finora Jr (DEM)
John M Bredemeyer III (REP, CON, IND)
William C Funke (DEM)
Michael J Domino (REP, CON, IND)
Geoffrey M Wells (DEM, WOR)
Charles J Sanders (REP, CON, IND)
Click below for a recap of our live election night coverage:
In the closing moments of Thursday night’s Southold Town Deer Forum at the Peconic recreation center, a member of the audience pointed a finger at Supervisor Scott Russell and asked what the town’s going to do about the deer population.
The supervisor, echoing the sentiment of many of the approximately 250 residents in the room, said he believes there’s one obvious direction for the town to head in.
“We need to focus on culling the herd,” Mr. Russell said. “And easing the restrictions on hunters. We have to take each year far more deer than are being reproduced.”
Most of the audience and each of the 13 members of Thursday evening’s panel — which featured elected officials and representatives of the science, hunting and conservation communities — agreed hunting is the best way to control the overpopulation of deer on the North Fork. It’s a welcome transformation for Mr. Russell in a town where that wasn’t always the case.
“Twenty years ago if we were at a meeting talking about hunting on town lands, [the community would] be coming at us with pitchforks,” the supervisor said after the 2 1/2 hour forum concluded. “Today, they’re saying we’re still not doing enough. The public health crisis has a lot to do with that.”
Statistics released recently by the State Department of Health show Suffolk holds 49 percent of the state’s babesiosis cases and 44 percent of Ehrlichiosis cases. But while an increase in reported incidents of tickborne illness in Suffolk County and Southold Town has raised the volume on the need to control the deer population, many of Thursday night’s speakers said state regulations will have to be modified for any real progress to be made.
Specific suggestions included reducing the 500-foot legal distance bow hunters must be from a dwelling, allowing the use of crossbows, lengthening the hunting season in Suffolk County and expanding nuisance permit programs.
Mr. Russell even suggested the state give Southold Town the authority to issue and control its own deer permits.
However this season, the DEC did implement one change to cut down on the number of does in the field in Suffolk County, to limit reproduction of further deer: rather than receiving a bonus permit for either sex, hunters can only get an antlerless bonus permit.
About 3,500 of the 35,000 deer in Suffolk County live in Southold Town, said Joshua Stiller, a wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Only about 2,600 to 3,000 deer have been harvested across the county in each of the past three years, he said. A total of 598 deer have been killed through Southold Town’s deer management program since it began in 2008, including 212 a year ago.
Even the DEC says that’s not enough.
“Harvesting 2,600 deer is far off from what we need to do to stabilize or decrease the population,” Mr. Stiller said. “Our current numbers are woefully insufficient.”
The major roadblock to improving these numbers is in state laws the DEC can’t control, Mr. Stiller said.
“It’s all set through legislation,” he said of hunting regulations the DEC must enforce. “We have very little that we can do about our regulatory control.”
One name repeated throughout the forum was that of Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), who was blamed repeatedly for allowing legislation that would relax hunting regulations in Suffolk County and across the state to stall in the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, which he chairs.
“We’ve been trying to get some of the restrictions relaxed for hunters to have better access to control the population,” Mr. Gergela said. “But for whatever reason we have not been able to get statutory changes through the state Assembly. The chair of the committee is Bob Sweeney from Lindenhurst and we have still not been able to improve the regulations so the DEC, hunters and others can better manage the population in Suffolk County.”
While holding out hope legislation can move forward in Albany, Mr. Gergela said his organization has plans of its own to help reduce the deer population on the East End.
While last year the Farm Bureau secured nearly $1 million earmarked by Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) for deer fencing to protect local crops, Mr. Gergela said this year his organization has $200,000 it will contribute to expanding wildlife sharpshooting efforts on the East End through the United States Department of Agriculture — a service Southold Town has utilized in recent years. He is asking the five East End towns to contribute an additional $25,000 each toward the program, something Mr. Russell said he will ask the Town Board to support.
While it was clear from the audience reaction that most in attendance Thursday agreed that changes to state law is the best immediate course of action toward controlling the deer population, it wasn’t unanimous.
One local farmer who came forward during the community response portion of the forum to express his concern over the idea of relaxing hunting regulations was Tom Wickham of Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue. He said that while he’s had success protecting his crops through the DEC-controlled nuisance permit program, he worries how much people’s safety would be put at risk if less skilled hunters were given more access through reduced restrictions. He said he understands people’s concerns over the deer population’s impact on motor vehicle safety and the spread of tick-borne illnesses, but wonders if relaxed controls would have far worse consequences.
“What is going to happen when someone gets shot?” he asked.
Other residents to speak out Thursday included several political candidates and members of the newly formed North Fork Deer Management Alliance, which is promoting action targeted at reducing deer populations and going door-to-door to collect signatures in support of this effort.
After the last of more than 20 residents spoke Thursday, Mr. Russell said he was encouraged by the information exchanged at the forum, and the response of the community.
“Southold Town needs to take the deer crisis and make it priority number one,” he said. “The one gentlemen at the end, he may have been a little angry, but he was right. We need to raise the level of attention this issue gets.”
Who needs Albany?
Riverhead will soon have its own mini-State Legislature right on Second Street. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) has joined as a partner in the Riverhead-based law firm of Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin and Quartararo.
State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) joined the same law firm as counsel in 2003.
Mr. Thiele will join the firm effective July 1.
He has been the South Fork’s representative in the assembly for the past 18 years, and this year, he’s even been called upon informally to represent the North Fork on a fill-in basis. The North Fork’s assembly seat remains vacant after former assemblyman Dan Losquardo was elected Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent earlier this year.
Prior to being an assemblyman, Mr. Thiele served as Southampton Town supervisor, as a county legislator on the South Fork and as Southampton Town attorney.
He also is currently the chairman of the Southampton Town Independence Party.
At the law firm, Mr. Thiele will be engaged in a general practice, including real estate, estate planning, litigation, municipal and environmental law, and will work primarily in the law firm’s Riverhead office, according to a press release from the law firm.
The firm was founded in 1973 and has offices in Riverhead, East Hampton, Southampton, Southold and Hauppauge. It has 26 lawyers and a professional staff of more than 30.
Founding partner Tom Twomey has some experience with state politics himself. His wife, Judith Hope, is a former chairperson of the state Democratic Committee, as well as a former East Hampton Town Supervisor.