In this week’s edition of our North Fork in the News podcast, we look at two extremes. (more…)
In this week’s edition of our North Fork in the News podcast, we look at two extremes. (more…)
For President: Barack Obama
A given during presidential campaigns is that candidates never fail to tell the electorate that their choice will be one of historic magnitude. This time Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are not just using rhetorical embroidery to fire up their bases but are speaking the truth.
It’s possible that the 2012 election could be closer than 2000, when the Supreme Court had to decide it. Some projections — not all crackpot — caution this November may be such an Electoral College squeaker that Congress will be called on to pick the president. Heaven help us all.
This election is a crossroads, an opportunity to continue slow but steady economic growth away from a financial collapse. It’s a choice between continuing a sure-handed, compassionate and strong foreign policy or reverting to a strategy that resulted in pointless, expensive wars while reducing America’s prestige to hollow chest-beating.
Mr. Romney has many admirable qualities and successes, not least his prosperous business career. But a cautionary note: The last three presidents from the world of business were Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.
Early in the campaign, President Obama and his staff were inexplicably quiet about his many accomplishments, preferring to instead cast a negative image of Mr. Romney.
But the president’s very real accomplishments include Obamacare, a historic achievement securing insurance for tens of millions of Americans that allows children up to age 26 access to their parents’ plans, bans insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and will rein in out-of-control costs.
The president’s stewardship of the economy has been sound, with unemployment dropping and housing starting to move up along with consumer confidence and a robust stock market. At the edge of the cliff in 2009, the president spearheaded a bold stimulus that saved and created jobs, rescued the American auto industry and began to build a road out of the catastrophic Bush era.
The president has done his duty as commander-in-chief, keeping the nation safe. He’s ended the Iraq war and ordered America out of Afghanistan. With his secretary of state, a person universally respected, he’s negotiated the tricky shoals of the Middle East with great skill.
Mr. Romney has proven to be a political weather vane, and that cynicism toward American voters is disheartening.
President Obama has proven to be a strong, sensible and farsighted leader who deserves to be re-elected.
For U.S. House of Representatives: Tim Bishop
Two years ago Tim Bishop won one of the closest congressional elections in the country. The court fight stretched into December before the Southampton Democrat’s victory over Republican Randy Altschuler, a successful businessman making his first run for public office, was certified by a scant 263 votes. But the razor-thin margin of victory didn’t really tell the whole story. That election, the first midterm vote of the Obama presidency, was not kind to Democrats.
On the national level the GOP wrested away control of the House of Representatives and came oh-so-close to taking the Senate. Through all that, though, Mr. Bishop held on to become the longest-serving eastern Suffolk congressman since Riverhead’s Otis Pike, who held the office for 18 years before retiring in 1978.
He did that by laboring long and hard for a district — encompassing a slice of Smithtown, most of Brookhaven and all five East End towns — that by voter registration is heavily Republican.
Mr. Altschuler, on the other hand, has virtually no connection to eastern Suffolk beyond moving into the district’s westernmost area in 2007 when his wife opened a local medical practice. That, we believe, is the most damning aspect of his bid to skip the political minor leagues, such as the county and state Legislatures, and jump right to a far more prestigious seat in the House of Representatives.
More damning even than his hypocritical campaign message on the need to create local jobs when his claim to fame is creating a company that outsources jobs overseas. True, he also launched a separate company with the laudable mission of recycling electronic parts, but those jobs are in Georgia, and we can’t help but wonder why Mr. Altschuler didn’t seek a congressional seat in the Peach State.
Mr. Altschuler’s campaign is indeed all about him. We can’t help but think that his four-year drive for a House seat, during which he spent over $2 million of his own money on the 2010 race alone, is about fulfilling his personal ambitions and that standing up for this unique area as one of 435 members of a bitterly partisan group is at best secondary.
The nature of Tim Bishop’s 2010 victory made headlines, but a closer look at that election shows his surviving the tea party tsunami was far from a political anomaly. There’s only one explanation for that: Tim Bishop gets the job done, and for 10 years now voters have consistently recognized and rewarded that effort. He deserves another two years and he gets our endorsement without hesitation.
New York State Senate: Kenneth LaValle
Longtime Republican Senator Ken LaValle’s challenger this go-around, Bridget Fleming, has a résumé that indicates she would be an effective voice in Albany.
Ms. Fleming, now a matrimonial lawyer in Sag Harbor, led a unit in the Manhattan DA’s office that prosecuted fraud in public assistance programs such as welfare, public housing and Medicaid, and before that, she prosecuted sex crimes.
She’s in the right to go after Mr. LaValle’s office spending, which at $510,598.26 is the highest among Albany lawmakers. (Democrat Richard Gottfried of Manhattan comes in second at $488,359.44.) Mr. LaValle blames the figures on having to move offices, but we don’t buy it; being top spender is a dubious distinction.
We hope Mr. LaValle, if re-elected, takes measures to keep his spending in check. It makes him look arrogant and is a poor reflection on us, the district.
Despite her strong points, the big problem for Ms. Fleming is that replacing such an elder legislator in the Senate majority, which looks out for Long Island’s interests, with a freshman Democratic lawmaker who will likely be in the minority does not benefit the region. We all saw what happened when the Democrats controlled the Senate for a short while (read: MTA payroll tax) just a few years back.
Ms. Fleming has asserted that the city-centric Democrats have “learned their lesson” and would back her votes that support the interests of her suburban constituents over city residents. But that simply would not hold true if she indeed found herself as a swing vote on key legislation. While we hate to put party politics over the individual candidate, the real world gets in the way. And the Republicans’ Senate majority is too valuable to the North Fork and all of Long Island to risk losing.
Mr. LaValle can point to individual accomplishments that tinker with the system here and there, but he says he’s running on jobs, taxes and education. Last we checked, jobs are scant for young people on the North Fork, we pay some of the highest taxes in the region and school districts are reeling as state aid to school districts becomes less and less of the overall budget pie.
True, these are issues much bigger than Mr. LaValle in many ways, but it does show how vulnerable he should be.
But he’s not vulnerable. As the longtime chairman of the Senate committee on higher education, he’s bolstered educational institutions in the district like Suffolk County Community College and Stony Brook University. Expansion and improvement at SBU helps create regional jobs and bolsters health care services, as well as providing top-notch educational opportunities for East End residents that are not too far away. He’s engaged with our agricultural communities and promises progress at the Enterprise Park at Calverton if he’s re-elected.
We can’t pass up the muscle he brings to Albany and we endorse him for the First Senatorial District seat.
New York State Assembly: Dan Losquadro
First-term Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) is running virtually unopposed, as Democratic nominee Nicholas Deegan’s campaign has been nonexistent save for a showing at a Mattituck Chamber of Commerce event in Mr. Deegan’s own hometown.
According to Newsday, Mr. Deegan ignored requests from its editorial board to show for a candidate interview.
That’s a shame, because putting up a fight with the chance of getting a North Fork representative in the Assembly majority would be beneficial to the region, and Mr. Deegan’s work as a Mattituck Parks District commissioner has been admirable (though a recent issue over whether or not he swore an oath of office has him off the board).
It’s hard to imagine Mr. Losquadro, a freshman lawmaker, would be a lock against a viable candidate, as the former Suffolk County legislative minority leader’s first two years in office have been underwhelming. Real leadership — not mere lip service — on issues such as helicopter noise or state-versus-local jurisdiction over vineyard activities would aid his constituents on the North Fork.
After he’s re-elected, Mr. Losquadro’s biggest challenge will be to help push proposed legislation that would create a state commission to oversee and fast-track development proposals at EPCAL.
Senator Ken LaValle introduced the same legislation and was able to pass the bill in the state Senate this past session. If Mr. Losqaudro accomplishes this feat, it will be a huge feather in his cap — especially if the Calverton Enteprise Park becomes the economic generator everyone in the region is hoping for. But Mr. Losquadro will undoubtedly need help from longtime Assemblyman Fred Theile (I-Sag Harbor), who caucuses with the Democrats.
Here’s hoping partisanship in the Democratic-controlled Assembly doesn’t block progress, even if it boosts a Republican’s career.
It’s a battle between an eight-year Democratic incumbent and a newcomer carrying the Republican endorsement to represent eastern Long Island in Congress.
In a year when neither Democrats nor incumbents are expected to have a cakewalk, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) was targeted early on by national GOP leaders, who have poured money into the already well-endowed campaign of 39-year-old challenger Randy Altschuler. Mr. Bishop, like Democrats around the country, is charging that a lot of the money flowing to Republican and Tea Party candidates comes from foreign sources and is being contributed illegally.
The campaign has centered as much on the candidates’ backgrounds as on the issues.
Mr. Bishop, 60, a lifelong Southampton resident, came to Congress after serving in the administration of Southampton College for 29 years, many of them as provost. He started at the school as an admissions counselor and retired in 2002.
Mr. Altschuler grew up in New York City and moved to St. James in 2007. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. He was co-founder and CEO of CloudBlue, an electronics recycling company, and OfficeTiger, an outsourcing company.
While he is executive chairman of CloudBlue, he has suspended any active involvement with the company during the campaign, his spokesman Rob Ryan said.
Mr. Bishop has charged him with outsourcing jobs to other countries and boasting about its benefits. Mr. Altschuler answers that he has created more than 700 jobs for Americans.
Mr. Altschuler claims Mr. Bishop has voted in lockstep with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and criticizes him for supporting the Democrats’ health care bill and taking stands on economic issues that Mr. Altschuler says will slow the recovery.
He favors lowering taxes and reduced spending. He pledges to lower corporate taxes; support a southern border fence to improve security; repeal the health care bill; issue tax credits to students attending non-public and charter schools; support domestic energy production, including oil drilling, coal mining and natural gas extraction; and invest in creating alternative energy sources.
Mr. Ryan said Mr. Altschuler not only favors retaining the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, but would favor cutting taxes further to give small businesses and individuals more money to invest.
“In tight economic conditions, you can’t raise taxes,” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Altschuler is pro-life on the abortion issue.
Mr. Bishop says his priorities include focusing on job creation; protecting middle-class families and seniors; controlling spending; strengthening education; and continuing to provide benefits to veterans. He supports legislation to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating alternative energy jobs. He has pledged to work to secure the United States from terrorism; to safeguard the environment; and to work toward getting Long Island its fair share of federal aid.
Mr. Bishop favors elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax; and supports expanding the Child Tax Credit and raising the maximum income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket to increase the number of people eligible to pay the lowest percentage of their personal income in federal taxes. He has promoted legislation to protect Long Island Sound and Long Island shorelines and beaches. He is pro-choice on the abortion issue and opposed the war in Iraq.
The Suffolk Times gives its picks for next week’s state and federal elections:
Tim Bishop for Congress
He’s a Democrat in a heavily Republican district, which makes every election a tough one for Congressman Tim Bishop of Southampton. But this year may well be his most difficult race yet.
Mr. Bishop hopes to make history of sorts by becoming eastern Suffolk’s first congressman since Otis Pike to serve more than four two-year terms. Mr. Pike, one of Riverhead’s favorite sons, served 18 years before retiring in 1978.
This year Mr. Bishop faces an unusually well-financed opponent in businessman Randy Altschuler, who has spent at least $2 million of his own money on the race. That’s a pittance considering the $100 million New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent to win a third term. But it offers positive proof that Mr. Altschuler, who reportedly wanted to run for Congress in New Jersey before moving to St. James two years ago, is a carpetbagger and political opportunist trying to buy a congressional seat.
One of the first people to reach that conclusion was none other than Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle. “The reality is I’ve never seen a candidate try to run for office with more flaws than Randy Altschuler,” he said earlier this year. “Absent his personal wealth, he wouldn’t even be considered for this seat.”
Mr. Altschuler created Office Tiger, a company that outsources jobs, moving them overseas where wages are cheap. That didn’t sit well with the GOP chairman, who in a pre-primary interview described outsourcing as “a death knell.” He added that Mr. Altschuler “achieved impressively, but it’s been on the backs of the hardworking men and women on Long Island.”
Mr. Altschuler is drawing from his personal fortune in the belief that a favorable alignment of the political stars — the perceived anti-incumbent sentiment and Tea Party-type anger at the Obama health care and stimulus packages, both of which Mr. Bishop supported — will secure him a coveted seat in Congress. Mr. Altschuler’s victory certainly wouldn’t come through a record of public service or an understanding of the district, its issues and its people, all glaringly absent from his résumé.
In contrast, Mr. Bishop has been an eager, energetic and successful advocate for the East End. Say what you will about his votes on those two hot-button issues, the record is clear: Tim Bishop is honest, accessible and hardworking, attributes in short in supply in Washington.
It’s a simple choice between self-aggrandizement and proven public service. Tim Bishop has earned another term and we enthusiastically endorse his re-election.
Ken LaValle for State Senate
It’s been a strange two years politically for veteran state Senator Ken LaValle.
He ran unopposed in 2008, but this year he seemed destined to face what might have been the most difficult election of his 34-year career. That fight wasn’t to be, however, as state courts ended Democrat Regina Calcaterra’s promising campaign over a residency glitch. As a result, Mr. LaValle is running against a little-known, underfunded challenger who entered the race just over two months ago.
He’s had a long and distinguished career, but the question at the core of the Calcaterra challenge was simply whether it is time for a change. Not now. Mr. LaValle’s opponent, Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, has never held political office and only stepped in to prevent the incumbent from getting another free pass. She’s failed to make the case for turning out an accomplished veteran with significant seniority. We endorse Ken LaValle.
Marc Alessi for State Assembly
We thought the 1st Assembly District fight would have rivaled the local battle for Congress, but Dan Losquadro, a Republican Suffolk County legislator, has run an uninspired campaign against incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi. At times Mr. Losquadro has seemed nonexistent.
Aside from the usual party rhetoric, Mr. Losquadro speaks of Long Islanders’ interests suffering at the hands of a Democratic Party that funnels money and power to New York City. That may be true, but he’s failed to highlight his own accomplishments and how those would translate into his becoming an effective representative in Albany; it’s as if he thinks any warm body would do, as long as that person is in the opposition party.
Mr. Alessi, on the other hand, is highly active and always at the forefront in battles for his constituents. And some of those battles have yielded real results, including helping secure the MTA’s retreat on North Fork service cuts, drawing the FAA’s attention to helicopter noise and finding federal aid for Riverhead flood victims. We need a smart hustler like Mr. Alessi representing us; that’s how our interests get heard.
Andrew Cuomo for Governor
We’ll say this much for Carl Paladino: He’s energetic and entertaining.
But he’s also scary.
His admirable energy would serve him well in Albany, but a governor must inspire and lead, not merely threaten and frighten.
Andrew Cuomo has more than proven himself as an energetic, talented and accomplished leader in his service as secretary of housing and urban development during the Clinton administration and, more recently, as the state’s attorney general.
New York needs strong leadership, not a dictatorial ideologue. New York needs Andrew Cuomo as governor.