04/07/11 10:50am

The New York State Legislature will repeal a saltwater fishing license enacted in 2009 and successfully challenged in court by East End towns.

New York State assemblymen Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor and Dan Losquadro of Shoreham reported that an agreement had been reached during state budget negotiations to repeal the license and instead establish a registration requirement to meet a federal mandate to track certain species of fish.

According to the budget agreement, the registration will be guaranteed to be free for the next two years, and those who already purchased lifetime licenses will be granted a refund, minus the fee for the past year.

The recreational marine fishing license, established as part of the 2009 state budget, was set to be implemented by the Department of Environmental Conservation on October 1, 2009.

The day before enactment, the Town of Shelter Island joined Southampton and East Hampton towns in obtaining a State Supreme Court stay against the enforcement of the law. The towns later won an injunction.

Southold, Brookhaven, Huntington and Oyster Bay joined the original three towns on the suit, charging that the law establishing the license violated their control of local waters and their residents’ colonial patent rights to fish them.

In December 2010, Judge Patrick A. Sweeney ruled in favor of the towns, supporting their patent rights and finding that a federal law requiring a registry of fishing data did not justify a fee-based license.

The licenses cost $10 per year for all anglers age 16 or older.

The DEC filed an appeal of the ruling, which is pending in state court. In light of legislative action abolishing the license, the DEC is expected to drop the appeal.

“The idea of a saltwater fishing license was ill-conceived from the outset,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “Not only was it a tax on one of the fundamental rights that Long Island residents have had since colonial times, but it was a burden to the recreational fishing industry at a time when the recession was taking its toll on the local economy.”

“The saltwater-fishing fee targeted the livelihood of Long Island’s sport fishermen and had a negative impact on our region’s tourism industry,” stated Mr. Losquadro. “I am pleased that this regionally biased fee is being terminated and that those individuals who purchased lifetime marine licenses will be refunded.”

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12/16/10 12:30pm

RANDEE DADDONA FILE PHOTO | Fishermen at Breakwater Beach in Mattituck.

A New York State marine fishing license was shot down in state court Tuesday, a victory for seven Long Island towns that challenged it.

State Supreme Court Judge Patrick A. Sweeney ruled that the state law requiring a fishing license for recreational saltwater anglers “is in violation of the rights of the people of the respective towns and may not be enforced upon those who seek to fish in the waters regulated by the respective towns.”

Shelter Island, East Hampton and Southampton fought enforcement of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) license from its Oct. 1, 2009 enactment, filing suit and winning an immediate stay and later an injunction against the license, which costs $10 annually and is required of all saltwater anglers 16 and older. Later the towns of Southold, Brookhaven, Huntington and Oyster Bay joined the suit.

The court rejected the state’s defenses: that it has sole jurisdiction to regulate fishing and that the saltwater license was necessary to collect statistical data per federal requirements. The 2006 reauthorization of the Magnusen-Stevens Act mandated the establishment of a federal registry of recreational fisherman angling for certain species. States with their own programs are exempt from the federal registry, which is authorized to go into effect Jan. 1.

“The towns do not challenge the state’s right to enact regulations” such as the size of fish caught or number kept, Judge Sweeney determined. “However, in this case the state is not attempting to regulate fishing but is seeking only to collect statistical data,” and a license is not necessary to do that.

“The federal government does not require individuals to be licensed,” Judge Sweeney noted, “only that each state provide certain identifying information.”

Judge Sweeney also rejected the state’s argument that its license would be less costly than the federal registry: “The rationale advanced by the state that it may issue a saltwater fishing license to apparently save the taxpayers from a federal registry fee, which may be higher than the state would charge, is not sufficient reason to interfere with the jurisdiction of the respective towns.”

The implications of the ruling may reach beyond the towns. Judge Sweeney also decided that the state exceeded the limits of the federal mandate by requiring a license for all migratory fish; the federal registry requires information on “anadromous” fish only, those that spawn in fresh water but live in saltwater such as striped bass, white perch and Atlantic salmon. Of the fishing license law, the judge wrote, “Clearly the statute went beyond the state’s jurisdiction … by including fishing which was not mandatory or contemplated by the federal registry.”

“It’s a good opinion,” Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said after the ruling. “I’m deeply gratified that Judge Sweeney upheld the towns’ rights under our colonial patents.”

The matter is already on appeal, Mr. Dougherty said, adding, “Obviously, the DEC is taking this very seriously.”

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06/11/10 12:00am

The honor guard stands ready to bear Lt. Joseph Theinert’s
casket at Our Lady of the Island cemetery on Shelter
Island.

An estimated 2,000 people gathered under and around a large tent on the Shelter Island School grounds today, Friday, June 11, to bid a final farewell to son, brother and friend, Joe Theinert.

The morning was cool and a gentle breeze fluttered the many flags surrounding the gathering. There were nearly as many people in uniform as in Sunday clothes as active military, veterans, fire and police department members came out in force to honor one who served.

Others were there to remember their high school friend with a big grin.

Those two themes ” that Joe was a selfless hero and that he was just a decent, hardworking, hard playing young man ” predominated the remembrances by his coach, Mike Mundy, and brothers Billy and Jimbo.

The funeral mass conducted by Father Peter DeSanctis, with an unexpected assist by Father Chris Cleary, formerly of St. Gabe’s Retreat House on Shelter Island, was followed by a burial with military honors. It featured a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and a flyover by a police chopper and an Air National Guard helicopter.

In addition to active Army participation, the American Legion Mitchell Post presented the colors and marched in honor of the young soldier who would never be a veteran.

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06/10/10 12:00am

A solidarity movement is afoot on eastern Long Island to demand a change in new helicopter regulations recently proposed by the federal government.

Officials from the East End found a unified voice when they met at East Hampton Town Hall last week, only days after the Federal Aviation Administration had filed notice that it would regulate helicopters flying from New York City to the Hamptons. The new rules, they complained, would do nothing to solve noise problems on the North Fork and Shelter Island.

The regulations would make the New York-North Shore Route, an established air traffic corridor, a mandatory offshore pathway for helicopters, requiring them to fly one mile seaward of the shoreline at an altitude of 2,500 feet.

Although the proposed rules were touted as a victory in the battle against helicopter noise over Long Island when Senator Charles Schumer announced them May 24, they would not alter current air traffic patterns over the East End. They have spawned complaint hotlines in nearly every community since they were established as part of a voluntary program in 2008.

The new rules would allow pilots to veer off the pathway over the Sound in order to reach their destinations. That means helicopters could continue to cross the region on their way to East Hampton Airport, Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and the Dune Road helipad in Southampton.

The East Hampton meeting, which was not open to the press, included officials from Southold, Riverhead, Southampton and East Hampton, two Shelter Island residents and representatives of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tim Bishop.

“What was really great was that we all pretty much agreed about the core issues,” said John La Sala of Shelter Island.

Those points of agreement will be the basis of a joint petition to change the proposed rules, to be filed within the federal government’s 30-day comment period, which expires June 25. The petition would point out that the proposed rules would not restrict the paths helicopters take now to their Hamptons destinations. Approximately 70 percent of eastbound helicopter traffic from Manhattan heads to East Hampton Airport, officials told participants at Tuesday’s meeting. Those flights cross the North Fork at some point.

The officials listed the following areas of agreement:

* Traffic should be divided equally between North Shore and South Shore routes. The South Shore route is similar to the north corridor; traffic there could also be restricted to one mile seaward of the shoreline and then transit to Hamptons airports from the Atlantic Ocean.

* East Hampton-bound traffic on the North Shore route must stay on that route past Orient Point and Plum Island. Unanimous agreement was not reached on the exact path south to East Hampton, but it would be primarily over water. Traffic to Gabreski would fly over the pine barrens.

* Airspace issues at JFK should be explored for access from Manhattan to the South Shore route. Pilots working out of JFK have stated that helicopters can pass through JFK airspace without conflict at altitudes below commercial traffic.

* The minimum cruising altitude for helicopters should be increased from 2,500 feet to 3,000 feet.

Joseph Fischetti, a pilot who represented Southold Town, called the outcome “a good first step,” but added that no change is likely for this summer season.

The problem won’t be solved unless the FAA requires pilots to avoid flying over land as much as possible, he said. At present, helicopters can leave that airspace and turn inland at any point.

“What are they giving up? They’re giving us nothing,” Mr. Fischetti said of the FAA. “It’s not elimination, it’s mitigation. Three or four helicopters an hour is not a problem. But 20 helicopters an hour is a problem.”

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter agreed the solution lies in prohibiting helicopters from flying over land except when they’re on final approach.

“We can’t allow three or four commercial carriers to put an undue burden on East End residents,” the supervisor said. “Riverhead doesn’t want to be burdened by East Hampton’s helicopter traffic. All the FAA has to do is set the flight path, that’s it.”

Mr. Walter strenuously objected to diverting air traffic over the pine barrens. There is no way for the helicopters to take that path without crossing populated areas, he said

Participants also discussed giving East Hampton Airport, which has no control tower, more power to direct air traffic in order to mitigate noise.

Last year, airport manager Jim Brundige said he preferred to divide incoming helicopters so that half would approach from the south and half from the north to spread out the noise burden. Currently 85 percent take the northern approach over South Ferry. The southern approach directs choppers flying along the Atlantic Ocean to turn inland and limit their overland portion to just two miles. That path takes them over upscale homes on Georgica Pond.

“No one had any patience with the helicopters,” Mr. La Sala said. “There was a lot of good humor in this meeting at the other side’s expense.”

The issue was to be on the agenda for the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association meeting in Southampton yesterday (Wednesday).

Tim Kelly contributed to this story.

06/10/10 12:00am

CHRIS HONDROS PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
A soldier of the 10th Mountain Division bows during a memorial service for Lt. Joseph Theinert, killed on June 4 by an insurgent attack during a routine mission. His death is the company’s first since it arrived in Afghanistan three months ago as part of a troop surge.

“There is nothing glorious about war, but I will go to it to keep the people I love away from it.”

That message from First Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert was pencilled in the back cover of a picture album found by his older brother Billy on Sunday, the day after his family learned that the 24-year-old Shelter Island soldier had died while saving the lives of his men in Afghanistan. Beneath it, he’d written, “9/11 — never forget.”

Lt. Theinert, the first serviceman from Shelter Island to be killed in combat since the Vietnam War, is the son and stepson of Chrystyna and Frank Kestler of Mattituck and Shelter Island, and James and Cathy Theinert of Sag Harbor.

On Friday, June 4, Lt. Theinert was leading his platoon on a mission in Kandahar Province when the unit came under hostile fire, forcing it toward an area mined with improvised explosive devices. As reported to the family, Lt. Theinert disabled one IED and approached a second one when the trigger mechanism sounded. He warned the 20 men under his command to get back. Thanks to that warning, none were harmed when the device exploded. He was the only soldier killed in the incident and is expected to posthumously receive the Purple Heart.

“He was always thinking of his men,” his stepfather, Frank Kestler, who served in the Army Reserve in Iraq in 2008, said Sunday as friends and neighbors gathered outside his Shelter Island dental office to console the family. They had just returned from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the day before Army soldiers had carried Lt. Theinert’s flag-draped casket off a transport plane. His remains were scheduled to arrive at Gabreski Airport Wednesday afternoon at about 3:30 p.m. A procession escorted by military and police personnel were to bring the Shelter Island native home that evening.

A maritime honor guard of U.S. Coast Guard and other vessels were set to line the ferry channel and escort the Southern Cross, soon to be officially renamed the Lt. Joseph J. Theinert, to South Ferry, where the soldier and his brother Jim worked summers.

Lt. Theinert had been in Afghanistan for a month leading the 2nd Platoon, Bunchee Troop, 1-71 Cavalry Battalion of the 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. He had left Sag Harbor, where he lived with his father, Jim Theinert, for Fort Drum about three months ago.

“What I want for him is for no one to ever forget him — what he did for Shelter Island, what he did for his country,” Mr. Theinert told Shelter Islanders gathered at the American Legion Hall Sunday to plan a funeral that is expected to be attended by as many as 1,000 people.

His mother, Chrystyna Kestler, had received one handwritten letter from her son since his deployment. “This letter means everything to her,” said friend Paula Daniels of Southold. Writing was not his strong suit, as evidenced by a family story: Upon returning from Shelter Island School one day, his mother asked what he had learned in Ms. Corwin’s English class. “I learned not to look at the clock before the class was over,” he answered.

“Knowing he might not return, Joe only looked at the mission ahead of him,” Ms. Daniels said.

His mission in southern Afghanistan was a dangerous one. His deployment was part of a buildup in American forces in Kandahar to counter Taliban insurgents. He was interviewed by the foreign press at the end of May, a few weeks into the 71st Cavalry Battalion’s deployment, and spoke of the difficulty of winning the trust of Afghani villagers. “They’ll eventually come around,” he told a reporter. “They don’t know you. They don’t trust you when you first arrive.”

Lt. Theinert’s Army unit is part of the multinational force supporting the Afghan government in what the U.S. has dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom. The online casualty list for Enduring Freedom showed no deaths in the days immediately prior to the attack that proved fatal for Lt. Theinert. Since Friday, at least 20 NATO soldiers have died. More than 1,100 American servicemen have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

Joseph Theinert graduated from Shelter Island High School in 2004. He had “an impressive athletic career,” the Shelter Island Reporter wrote in its graduation supplement that year. He competed in cross country, lacrosse and basketball, was Student Council president (he and his tall brother, Jim, campaigned on a “Twin Towers” theme) and was crowned king of his senior prom. He graduated from the State University of New York at Albany in the spring of 2008 but it was his commissioning as a second lieutenant in May of that year through SUNY partner Siena College and its Reserve Officer Training Corps program that mattered most to him.

By earning his commission in the Cavalry Battalion, whose dress uniform includes a black Stetson, “Joe got to be everything he wanted to be: Cowboy Joe and GI Joe,” his mother said.

The soldier had a private moment with his brother Jim before leaving for Fort Drum and deployment to Afghanistan, Ms. Kestler recalled. “Jimbo asked Joe, ‘Are you ready for this?’ Joe looked him in the eye and said: ‘Born for it.'”

Ms. Kestler asked that the community remember her son’s comrades. “I have a community of people who are surrounding me. What about his men and fellow officers?” They had to not only see him be killed, but gather his remains and get right back to work, she said. “No one is surrounding them. Joe’s men can’t be forgotten.”

The funeral for Lt. Theinert is set for Friday, June 11, at 1 p.m. at the Shelter Island School. The family has established a website with memorial information at fallensoldiersi.com.

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06/09/10 12:00am

COURTESY THEINERT FAMILY
U.S. soldier 1LT Joseph Theinert of Shelter Island with his
father, Jim Theinert, and mother Chrystyna Kestler in May 2008.

“There is nothing glorious about war, but I will go to it to keep the people I love away from it.”
This
message from First Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert was pencilled in the
back cover of a picture album found by his older brother Billy on
Sunday, the day after his family learned that the 24-year-old Shelter
Island soldier had died while saving the lives of his men in
Afghanistan. Beneath it, he wrote “9/11 — never forget.”
On
Friday, June 4, Lt. Theinert was leading his platoon on a mission in
Kandahar Province when they were subjected to hostile fire, forcing
them toward an area mined with IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Lt.
Theinert disabled one IED and began to disarm a second one when the
trigger mechanism sounded. He warned the 20 men under his command to
get back before the device exploded, his commander told the family. He
was the only soldier killed in the incident and he is expected to
posthumously receive the Purple Heart.
Lt. Theinert is the son and
stepson of Chrystyna and Frank Kestler of Mattituck and Shelter Island,
and of James and Cathy Theinert of Sag Harbor.
“He was always
thinking of his men,” his stepfather, Frank Kestler who served in the
Army Reserve in Iraq in 2008, said Sunday as friends and neighbors
gathered outside his Shelter Island dental office to console the
family. They had just returned from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware,
where Army soldiers carried his flag-draped coffin off a transport
plane on Saturday. His remains will be officially identified by the
U.S. Army before being flown to Gabreski Airfield. A procession
escorted by military and police personnel is planned to bring the
Shelter Island native home from Westhampton. A maritime honor guard of
U.S. Coast Guard and other vessels will provide an escort at South
Ferry, where Joseph Theinert and his brother Jim worked summers. No
dates are set but two days of wake and funeral services, including an
official day of mourning for the Town of Shelter Island, are being
planned. He is the first Shelter Island serviceman to be killed in
combat since Jimmy Wilson, Shelter Island Class of 1962, died during
the Vietnam War.
Lt. Theinert had been in Afghanistan for a month
leading the 2nd Platoon, Bunchee Troop, 1-71 Cavalry Battalion of the
1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. He had left Sag Harbor, where he
lived with his father Jim Theinert, for Fort Drum about three months
ago.
“What I want for him is for no one to ever forget him — what
he did for Shelter Island, what he did for his country,” said Mr.
Theinert to Shelter Islanders gathered at the American Legion Hall
Sunday to plan a funeral that is expected to be attended by as many as
1,000 people.
His mother, Chrystyna Kestler, received one
hand-written letter from her son since his deployment. “This letter
means everything to her,” friend Paula Daniels of Southold said.
Writing was not his strong suit as evidenced by this family story: Upon
returning from Shelter Island School one day, his mother asked what he
learned in Ms. Corwin’s English class. “I learned not to look at the
clock before the class was over,” he answered.
“Knowing he might not return, Joey only looked at the mission ahead of him,” Ms. Daniels said.
His
mission in southern Afghanistan was a dangerous one. His deployment is
part of a build-up in American forces in Kandahar to counter Taliban
insurgents. He was interviewed by the foreign press at the end of May,
a few weeks into the 71st Cavalry Battalion’s deployment and shortly
after an ex-Taliban village leader quit as an informant for NATO forces
in the region. “We have no informants right now, we’re still working on
it. We have been here a month,” he told the reporter. “They’ll
eventually come around. They don’t know you. They don’t trust you when
you first arrive.”
Lt. Theinert’s Army unit was part of the
International Security Assistance Force, the multi-national force
supporting the Afghan government in what the U.S. has dubbed Operation
Enduring Freedom. When the Reporter checked the Enduring Freedom
casualties list for information on Lt. Theinert’s death, there had not
been a death prior to his in many days. Since Thursday, at least 16
NATO soldiers have been killed. Since 2001, 1,099 American soldiers
have died in Afghanistan.
Joseph Theinert graduated from Shelter
Island High School in 2004. He had “an impressive athletic career,” the
Reporter wrote in its Graduation Supplement that year. He competed in
cross country, lacrosse and basketball, was Student Council president
and was crowned king of his senior prom.
The family has established a website with memorial information at fallensoldiersi.com.
A
schedule of services for Lt. Theinert will be posted on the website when it becomes available.

05/27/10 12:00am

The battle against helicopter noise over the East End may be over. Or not.

For the first time, the federal government will regulate helicopter flight paths over Long Island, Senator Charles Schumer announced Thursday, and a proposed path, as depicted in Newsday, sends them from Long Island Sound, turning south at Shoreham and bypassing the northern East End entirely.

But that map is not accurate, county Legislator Ed Romaine told Times/Review Newspapers Friday, and exactly where the choppers will cross over Long Island to reach the Hamptons is not set in stone.

According to Mr. Schumer, the Federal Aviation Administration will be filing proposed regulations mandating helicopter traffic in and out of New York City to fly one mile seaward of the North Shore and maintain an altitude of 2,500 feet. When crossing over Long Island, pilots will maintain the 2,500-foot altitude but will vary their path by time and day and fly over “least populated areas,” Mr. Romaine said Friday.

Mr. Schumer said a notice of proposed rulemaking would be filed by the FAA on Monday, May 24, but a record of the notice could not be found on federal websites prior to presstime. Once the rules are posted, a 30-day comment period will open. The rules are expected to go into effect before the busy July 4 weekend.

“I think this is a tremendous first step,” Mr. Romaine said. “But I want to make sure it is enough of a step.” He will be monitoring the situation once the rules are in place to see just where helicopters cross over land.

In 2008, a voluntary path brokered by Mr. Schumer sent 85 to 90 percent of helicopters bound to East Hampton Airport over Shelter Island and the North Fork. Residents previously unaffected by helicopter noise began complaining and called for a different route or higher minimum altitudes. The FAA was asked to address the situation but federal officials said they could not regulate helicopter traffic over Long Island. That has changed.

“I want to thank Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop, who were both instrumental in pushing for new regulations at the federal level, and FAA Administrator Babbitt for recognizing the need for these new regulations,” said Mr. Romaine.

“This is tremendously encouraging news after a long slog but let’s remain vigilant,” Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said last week. He thanked an island contingent working to redirect helicopters away from Shelter Island spearheaded by resident Kenneth Winston.

Like Mr. Romaine, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he is cautiously optimistic. “I’ll wait to decide if it’s good news when the phone slows down.” The volume of complaints about helicopter noise phoned and e-mailed to the Town of Southold is lower this year relative to the prior two, he said.

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