Even in a year with no Democratic incumbents on the ballot, the Southold town committee has assembled a slate of candidates with familiar names. READ
Even in a year with no Democratic incumbents on the ballot, the Southold town committee has assembled a slate of candidates with familiar names. READ
More than 100 local men and women will board buses and head to our nation’s capital Jan. 21 for the Women’s March on Washington.
“This bus trip is about making sure that voices are heard,” said Damon Rallis, a Southold Town Democratic Committee member and co-president of the Southold Democratic Club. The town committee is sponsoring the two buses, which filled up quickly.
Speaking before the Southold Town Democratic Committee Tuesday evening, Greenport Village Trustee Jack Martilotta gave a presentation on expanding the village’s sewer district into some unincorporated parts of Greenport.
Thirty years after Al Krupski was first elected to the Southold Town Board of Trustees, his son is looking to follow in his footsteps.
Nick Krupski, 26, has screened with the Southold Town Democratic Committee to run for an open seat on the board and he appears likely to receive a nomination tonight. (more…)
On my seventh birthday, my family took a vacation to Florida.
For most kids the time we spent at Disney World would have been the highlight of that vacation. For me, it was the day we saw the Mets play a spring training game in St. Petersburg.
I remember how up close we could get to the players and all the optimism on the field that spring. Of course, it was 1986.
One other detail I can recall was being overwhelmed by all the unfamiliar faces playing for the Mets that day. Many players I’d never heard of before subbed into the game, wearing uniform numbers like 84 and 92.
Over the years, I’ve grown to root for this type of young prospect, holding out hope that one day I’ll see one of them wearing a single-digit number in a regular-season game and I’ll know they’ve made it.
My affinity for the underdog carried into my earlier career as a sportswriter, as I’d sometimes find myself pulling for the team nobody would expect to win.
I felt the same way when I moved back home and began covering local politics in Brookhaven Town. I’m as apolitical as they come, but every so often I’d meet an emerging candidate with a good story and an inspiring vision. It would be hard not to root a little for that candidate on election night.
Maybe I’ve felt this way in my career because I know the underdog tale makes for a better story. Or maybe it’s just a natural human instinct to pull for the little guy. It’s so seldom anyone beats the odds in this life.
This past week I met some of the biggest underdogs around — the Southold Town Democrats — after the committee invited myself and Town Hall reporter Cyndi Murray to the committee’s meeting last Thursday. I’m told there were some concerns about having us there — some strategy and other issues were discussed — but in the end they felt our presence would do more good than harm for their campaign.
The event, which was held at First Universalist Church on Main Road in Southold, was an opportunity for the slate of Democratic town candidates to discuss their platforms with committee members and campaign volunteers.
Southold Democratic Committee chairman Art Tillman kicked off the evening by saying this year’s slate featured an eclectic arrangement of candidates he’s feeling very optimistic about.
But with Town Justice Bill Price, a longtime Republican spurned by his party this year, representing the only incumbent on the ballot, the Democrats sure do have their work cut out for them.
The candidates are a mix of longtime local residents like Town Board hopeful Ron Rothman or highway superintendent candidate Tobie Wesnofske and transplants from other countries like Town Board nominee Mary Eisenstein or Trustee candidate Geoffrey Wells.
The common theme of all the Democratic hopefuls was a love of Southold Town. They spoke in general terms of preserving the way of life here, as opposed to any specific political issues.
In fact, save maybe a comment Mr. Tillman made about a growing number of successful tax grievances pointing to possible complacency in the assessor’s office, the candidates pretty much steered clear of taking any shots at the local GOP. That was surprising to me.
In a year in which local Democrats lost their one Town Board member, Al Krupski, to the county Legislature, and their highway superintendent, Pete Harris, who decided at the 11th hour to not seek re-election, it seems the party will need to dial up the volume in order to get any members of its slate elected. Ms. Eisenstein, whose tone came in stark contrast to the subdued nature of the rest of the candidates, seemed the most likely to command attention. And given the knock on the assessor’s office it seems Democrats are most optimistic to land an assessor’s seat, with Marie Domenici of Southold perhaps having the best shot of their three candidates, which also includes Teri Hoffer and Jason Petrucci.
Mr. Tillman said Thursday he was pleased to still have Mr. Krupski’s name on the ballot as he seeks re-election to the Legislature post he won in a landslide this January, something he believes will help to get town residents to vote Democrat.
The party could certainly use the help after no Southold Democrat secured more than 38 percent of the vote in the 2011 general election.
Thursday’s committee meeting was a lot like a spring training game, as the candidates practiced their pitches and all remained hopeful for the coming season. The slate was certainly an energized group of long-shot candidates hoping to earn your vote.
Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see one of them wearing one of those single-digit uniform numbers.
The author is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-354-8046.
Here’s some bad news for those of you hoping I would flunk my boating safety test: I passed. I — and all of my classmates, I am pleased to report — are now the proud possessors of a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety certificate and “license.” (It’s actually just a laminated wallet card, but let’s call it a “license.”)
Also, in the days following the final exam, our little 18-foot runabout passed the Auxiliary’s boat safety inspection, which it would not have done had I not taken the course. (Not enough life jackets, no throwing rescue cushion, no fire extinguisher.) And throughout the process, Auxiliary member Ted Webb of Orient could not have been more helpful or informative. And the same is true of his fellow Auxiliary members who instructed us: helpful and informative to a man and woman.
Having said that, I stick by my original assertion that the Suffolk County Legislature overreached in passing the new boating safety law. Licensing is a good thing and should be required, but there needs to be some sort of mechanism for exempting experienced boaters from taking the 11-hour course before they take the exam. In my opinion, only if they flunk the test the first time around should they be required to take the course.
Meanwhile, those of you out there who live in Suffolk and operate a motorized craft better get a-crackin’. The deadline for getting a license is Friday, Sept. 13. After that, without one, you will be breaking the law every time you operate your boat.
Note: This column was published before it was reported that a bill in the state Legislature would supercede county law.
And here’s another update to an earlier column, the one about my grandson receiving the gift of an expensive baseball glove from Major League pitcher Heath Bell, then of the Florida Marlins and currently of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In this day and age of pampered, over-compensated (and occasionally criminal) professional athletes, Mr. Bell appears to deserve his reputation as “the nicest guy in baseball.” Case in point: as this is written, Tyler, his mother and grandfather (that would be me) are preparing to drive into Manhattan to be Health Bell’s guest at lunch. After that, we’ll be Heath Bell’s guest as the D-backs take on the Mets at Citi Field. Of course he can afford it with a contract that pays him $9 million a year, but no one is paying him to be so very nice to a 12-year-old baseball fan from eastern Long Island.
I would never be so bold as to suggest that there is a major shift in the air, politically speaking in Southold Town, as there was when United Southold vaulted into power in the early 1990s. Although the Republicans still have a stranglehold on Town Hall, there isn’t a sense that it’s their way or the highway. And Supervisor Scott Russell’s quiet style of leadership and communication deserves much of the credit for that.
Still, there was a sense that this could be an unusual year, politically speaking in Southold Town, based on my observations at County Legislator Al Krupski’s fundraiser Friday night at the Pequash Club in Cutchogue. As you would expect, most of the usual subjects were in attendance. But it was the unusual suspects who caught my eye. As in Town Justice Bill Price Jr., a lifelong Republican who this year is running for re-election as a Democrat. (See earlier editions of The Suffolk Times for details.) Then there was Conservative (with a capital “C”) Town Board member Jim Dinizio, whom I would not normally have expected to see at a Democratic event, even though, as a friend of mine reminded me recently, “everybody loves Al Krupski.” It turns out the Conservatives have endorsed Krupski, but still …
And that got me to thinking the following: with the very-popular Al Krupski at the top of the ticket via his special election bid for a full term, Scott Russell not on the ticket because he’s in the middle of a four-year term, and Bill Price drawing Republican and independent voters to the ticket as he undoubtedly will, maybe, just maybe, some change will be in the air come Nov. 4.
(Disclaimer: Al Krupski’s was the first local political fundraiser that we’ve ever attended as paying customers. That’s because the former Joan Giger Walker and I no longer are owners of this newspaper, whose long-standing policy prevents editorial staff members from supporting or contributing to local campaigns.)
Republican Town Justice William Price, who was denied the GOP nomination to run for a new term in the fall, has agreed to accept the Democratic Party’s endorsement, town Democratic leader Art Tillman said this week.
Mr. Tillman said he spoke to Judge Price, who is in his 32nd year on the bench, Tuesday morning. The Democrats will hold their nominating convention in Cutchogue Wednesday evening.
“He’s got an excellent reputation for fairness and non-partisanship,” said Mr. Tillman. “Often we didn’t even field a candidate against him. We’re looking for the best candidates. If they happen to be Republicans we don’t mind.”
Regarding a registered Republican running as a Democrat, Mr. Tillman added, “Everybody in our party is quite happy about it.”
Aware of the coming floor fight between the incumbent and Mr. Goggins, the Democrats offered the nod to Judge Price before last week’s GOP convention, Mr. Tillman said. “All along he said, ‘Not at this time,’ ” the chairman said.
Judge Price was out of town and unavailable for comment this week.
In a move that rocked the Southold political establishment, the town GOP selected Mattituck attorney William Goggins over the incumbent during the party’s May 21 convention. The party also snubbed incumbent Trustee Dave Bergen, going instead with political newcomer Dave Zuhoski of Cutchogue.
Mr. Tillman said he could not comment on whether his party might extend a similar invitation to Mr. Bergen, other than to say several party members have expressed an interest in running.
“It should be an interesting convention,” he said.
The Suffolk County Legislature is scheduled to vote Tuesday to confirm County Executive Steve Bellone’s choice of Bob Meguin of Southold as the new commissioner of consumer affairs.
Mr. Meguin, a defense attorney and former advisor to county judges, ran unsuccessfully for Southold supervisor on the Democratic line last fall, losing to Republican incumbent Scott Russell.
His appointment won the unanimous approval of the legislature’s government operations committee on March 22.
With the Democrats holding a 12 to 6 advantage on the full legislature, Mr. Meguin’s appointment appears all but certain.
Mr. Meguin’s résumé also includes serving as Babylon budget director and a military policeman. He is currently deputy leader of the Southold Town Democratic committee.
The legislature meets in Hauppauge, beginning at 4 p.m.
Southold’s Democrats are pushing for a major change in the way Town Board members are elected and serve by creating councilmatic districts, in which board members represent specific communities rather than running at-large.
The change wouldn’t be easy to accomplish, requiring an act of the state Legislature followed by approval in a townwide referendum.
The town’s Democratic Committee voted without objection during a special meeting at the Red Rooster restaurant in Cutchogue Saturday afternoon to ask the Town Board to set the change in motion.
But the only Democrat on the Town Board, Councilman Al Krupski, opposes the change, which he called unnecessary and divisive.
Town Democratic Chairman Art Tillman said there’s ample precedent for the district system.
“Basically we’re asking for a Town Board similar to the county Legislature, state Legislature and Congress,” he said.
He argued that making the switch to councilmatic districts will improve local representation as well as increase his party’s chances to cut into the GOP’s lopsided Town Board majority.
Under the at-large system, Town Board candidates must aim their message at all of Southold’s 16,000 registered voters, Mr. Tillman added.
“That’s daunting, if not impossible to do, and expensive,” said the chairman.
Running in smaller districts, candidates would need to reach only 4,000 voters.
Democrats also believe they could pick up a seat in the Greenport, East Marion and Orient parts of town, which lean Democratic.
The political downside is the potential for creating heavily Republican districts.
“Is it a risk? You’re darn right,” Mr. Tillman told party members. “But the opportunities and benefits far outweigh the risks.”
Committee member Dan Durett of Greenport said council districts “bring democracy, the Democratic process, to my front door, to your front door.”
“I think it’s going to stir the pot a little bit,” said Benja Schwartz of Cutchogue, filling in for his wife, a committee member. “Who knows? If we succeed, this may break the Republican stranglehold.”
(All town offices to be decided in this year’s elections are held by Republican incumbents. See separate story.)
Councilman Krupski, one of only two elected Democrats in Southold, said he sees no benefit in the district approach.
“Southold Town is one unit,” he said during the meeting. “You really have to look at the town as a whole.”
Rather than foster better communication, he added, “if anything, it would cause friction.”
Committee member Sydney Abbott said she spoke for former Democratic Councilman Tom Wickham, who also opposes the district system.
In an interview following the meeting, Mr. Wickham said the geographic divisions in the legislatures and Congress Mr. Tillman mentioned cause them to be less effective forms of government.
“I don’t want to see the Town of Southold divided into fighting fiefdoms,” he said. “There’s already too much parochialism, not just in Southold, but across the nation.”
Mr. Wickham pointed to the service of Fishers Island Justice Louisa Evans, who he said is informed and involved in issues all across Southold, not just on the island. The island’s judgeship is decided by all Southold voters, not just islanders.
Former Democratic Councilman Dan Ross’ legal challenge to the state law giving Fishers Island’s judge a seat on the Town Board will continue in Albany on April 26 when the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, will hear arguments one of two lower court rulings upholding the seat’s dual nature.
Mr. Ross maintains that it’s unconstitutional for Fishers Island to hold a dedicated Town Board seat. In a decision later upheld in the first appeal, a state Supreme Court justice ruled that given the island’s location, the judge’s special status is reasonable.
The chairman of Southold Town’s board of ethics has resigned in order to play an active role in town Democratic politics.
Robert Meguin, an attorney based in Southold, had served on the ethics board for four years and been its chairman for two. Recently chosen as a member of the town’s Democratic Committee, he had to quit the ethics board because the town’s ethics code prohibits him from serving on both bodies.
In his resignation letter, Mr. Meguin chastised the town for an ethics code that was “poorly drafted and requires substantial revision in several areas, particularly dual employment, gifts and the disclosure of other potential conflicts of interest.”
Supervisor Scott Russell said at the Nov. 4 Town Board work session that he wished Mr. Meguin had asked him while he was on the ethics board to re-examine many of the town’s ethics policies.
“Bring changes to the [town] board and we’ll hash it out,” he said at the work session, adding that he agreed with many of Mr. Meguin’s concerns.
“It’s a shame we have to wait for an exit letter to hear these things,” agreed Councilman Chris Talbot.
At least one of Mr. Meguin’s concerns has already been addressed by the Town Board. He cited the hiring of off-duty police officers as security guards for private companies as a prime example of the ethical conflict of dual employment. This past summer, the Town Board prohibited police officers from working as private security guards within the town’s boundaries.
“There are a lot of instances of problems of dual employment,” said Mr. Meguin. “You need some parameters. The ethics board should provide an advisory opinion. That’s the key to the whole process.”
Mr. Meguin formerly served on the town’s Democratic Committee and ran for a town justice seat as a Democrat in the mid-1990s.
“I wasn’t active at all. I was trying to practice law,” he said of his previous committee membership. “But I don’t like what’s going on nationally, locally or statewide. I can’t complain unless I’m part of the process.”
This fall, Mr. Meguin learned that 19 out of 38 seats on the Democratic committee were vacant and realized that he needed to step in and do what he could to help reinvigorate the party.
New Democratic committee chairman Art Tillman, who was elected Oct. 5, said Monday that 35 seats are now filled.
“We had a campaign headquarters in Southold during the election and a lot of people just ambled in,” said Mr. Tillman. “Many Democrats were concerned about the Tea Party and became active. We gave them an opportunity by working for Tim Bishop and other campaigns.”
Mr. Tillman said that many people who have joined the party have recently moved to the North Fork.
“They have varied backgrounds, are well educated and have lived in diverse places. I see these people as a real resource for our party and our town,” he said. “Most people who are natives here made up their minds about their political affiliations a long time ago.”
Mr. Tillman said he is very excited that Mr. Meguin will be returning to the committee.
“He has a wealth of talent and expertise and he knows the ins and outs of the political system,” he said.
The Town Board is now soliciting resumes from candidates to fill Mr. Meguin’s seat on the ethics board member. Resumes must be received by Nov. 29 and should be addressed to Town Clerk Elizabeth Neville, Southold Town Hall, P.O. Box 1179, Southold, NY 11971.