Here’s a story about what the rising water level in our bays has managed to do in just the past few years. READ
Here’s a story about what the rising water level in our bays has managed to do in just the past few years. READ
Southold Town is considering a pair of amendments to the town code that could affect waterfront property owners.
The changes were among the topics discussed at Saturday’s meeting of SoutholdVOICE, a nonprofit promoting awareness of issues affecting shoreline and marine resources.
Newly elected Southold Town officials were sworn in last Thursday during an inauguration ceremony held at Town Hall.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell greeted the newly elected officials, who took their oath of office led by Southold Justice Rudy Bruer.
Town Board members James Dinizio and the newly elected Robert Ghosio, formerly a town trustee, were among those sworn in. Mr. Ghozio said he was excited to get involved in issues beyond environmental sensitivity and wetlands.
“I think we have a few good issues this year,” Mr. Ghosio said. “Certainly we hope to resolve the issues with Vineyard 48, which seems to be moving along … and trying to start working towards a resolution to the problems that we have with the amount of deer that we have in town.
“It’s going to be a learning curve for sure. Even though I have been working in the town for seven years, now I get to learn about the other departments I never had anything to do with,” he added.
The Town Board will need to appoint a new trustee to replace Mr. Ghosio. A special election for the final year of the term will then be held in November, said Peter McGreevy. Mr. Russell said the Town Board could even appoint an interim trustee who would then step down to let all non-incumbents vie for the seat in the election.
Incumbent Republican trustees John Bredemeyer, Mike Domino and Charles Sanders were all sworn in, as was assessors Bob Scott and Kevin Webster.
Betty Neville was sworn in as town clerk, a position she has held since 1997.
Justice William Price was sworn in for his ninth term as Southold Town Justice. Fishers Island Justice Louisa Evans was also sworn in.
In a past interview, Mr. Price said this will be his last term serving as town judge.
Former councilman Vincent Orlando was sworn is as highway superintendent just in time for the impending snowstorm.
“I’m looking forward to getting the first snowstorm under my belt,” Mr. Orlando said.
Democratic Trustee challengers took aim at their Republican opponents Tuesday on the issues of water pollution and public beach access at a candidates’ forum sponsored by The Suffolk Times and hosted by Peconic Landing in Greenport.
Democratic challengers Geoffrey Wells, Joseph Finora and William Funke are opposing incumbent Republican Town Trustees John Bredemeyer and Mike Domino and Republican challenger Charles Sanders for three open seats on the board.
Here’s what the candidates had to say about the issues.
All the candidates agreed that water pollution, specifically nitrogen loading, is a major and ongoing issue facing Southold Town.
When nitrogen gets into streams, ponds, Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay, it causes an overgrowth of algae, which sucks up oxygen in the water, the candidates said.
Mr. Bredemeyer and Mr. Domino said the board is keenly aware of groundwater conditions and, as a waterfront community with a strong agricultural industry, monitoring nitrate levels is a top priority.
Mr. Bredemeyer said the Trustees base permitting on science and work with sister regulatory agencies, such as the state Department of Environment Conservation, to control water contamination.
It’s a system Mr. Domino says doesn’t need fixing.
“Things are getting better in Southold Town,” he said. “We have to use scientific data to find out what we need to address first.”
Mr. Finora said he believes Southold Town does a better job than municipalities further west, but he suggested there’s room for improvement.
He and Mr. Wells said the primary source of Southold’s nitrate problem is not the farmer, but failing residential septic systems.
“Leaching is happening on a daily basis,” Mr. Wells said. “It is a very serious situation.”
Mr. Wells suggested that the Trustees revisit the manner in which town septic systems are monitored and reach out to other communities dealing with the issue of nitrate pollution, giving Cape Cod as an example. In recent years, several towns on the Cape have adopted legislation to oblige homeowners to purchase new septic systems to reduce nitrogen output, according to news reports.
While stating that nitrates are “the single worst problem” facing the Trustees, Mr. Funke said it would be unfair to ask residents to pay for expensive upgrades to their septic systems.
Mr. Finora disagreed sharply with his fellow Democrat.
“Little by little, we are losing the battle,” he said. “People will realize it’s better to have clean water than green grass.”
PUBLIC BEACH ACCESS
Where does waterfront beach property cross over to public land?
The Democratic challengers argued that the present town government hasn’t been doing enough to protect Southolders’ right to walk along local beaches.
The issue was brought to the forefront of the campaign two weeks ago, when the full slate of Democrats running for town offices — all currently all held by Republicans — purchased an advertisement in The Suffolk Times claiming that “some people” want to take away residents’ beach access.
During the debate, Mr. Finora said the ad was designed in response to an issue the public was bringing up “time and time again.”
The New York State Public Trust Doctrine says that anything seaward of the mean high water mark on the beach is public land and anything landward of the mean high water mark on the beach is private property. The wrack line, where debris washes up on the beach, is often considered an informal high tide mark, but it can change from day to day.
Mr. Finora and Mr. Wells said the town is responsible for drawing the line in the sand.
“We need to create a system where the community is involved in deciding were the mean high water mark is,” Mr. Wells said.
Republican hopefuls said the law is on the books and it is an enforcement issue outside the town Trustees’ purview.
“If you are doing something inappropriate, the bay constable should show up,” Mr. Bredemeyer said.
Mr. Funke said beach access “doesn’t seem like it is that much of a problem” and agreed with the Republicans’ stance on enforcement.
“I’m not sure what we can do with the wrack line, we certainly can’t monument it,” he said. “The people that are involved should just step down and stop fighting.”
TRUSTEE REPORT CARD
The current Board of Trustees is doing fairly well, according to hopefuls on both sides of the party line.
When asked to give current Trustees a letter grade, Mr. Wells gave a “B” rating.
“They uphold code and work hard,” he said. “However, they don’t reach out to the community.”
Mr. Wells feels the Trustees need to step up communication efforts with the public and make the process of applying for permits more transparent and easier for the average citizen to follow.
Incumbent Mr. Domino disagreed, saying members are accessible to the public and rewarding the board an “A+” grade.
“We hit all the bullet points in the mission statement,” he said.
Mr. Sanders echoed Mr. Domino’s response, while Mr. Finora and Mr. Bredemeyer said the voters would answer that question on Nov. 5.
Mr. Funke declined to respond.
“How am I supposed to know?” he said.
Nearly a year after he was appointed to the Southold Town Board of Trustees, Mike Domino has been elected to serve another year.
Mr. Domino of Southold secured 59 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Jeri Woodhouse of Orient. He received 5,826 votes to Ms. Woodhouse’s 4,083.
Mr. Domino, who was appointed to the seat in January, will serve the year remaining on former Trustee Jill Doherty’s term. She left the Trustees after a winning a seat on the Town Board last November.
Mr. Domino is a retired high school science teacher who owns a deli in Greenport. He also served as president of the North Fork Environmental Council.
To stay on the board, Mr. Domino must run again in 2013 for a full four-year term. The former high school teacher said he’ll run again “if they’ll have me.”
A Democrat in a Republican town, Ms. Woodhouse said the odds were stacked against her.
“It’s hard to make inroads in established voting patterns,” she said. “I think we ran a great campaign but there’s a lot of work to do.”
With reporting from Beth Young and Tim Kelly
First Congressional District
Tim Bishop (D-Southampton)
Five-term incumbent Tim Bishop, 62, worked at Southampton College for 29 years, starting as an admissions counselor and serving for many years as provost, the chief administrative post. He left the college when first elected to Congress in 2002, defeating incumbent Republican Felix Grucci.
Mr. Bishop says if re-elected his legislative priorities will include job creation and economic expansion, protecting the environment, working for seniors and the middle class, providing access to affordable health care and supporting veterans.
A twelfth-generation Southampton resident, Mr. Bishop received his bachelor’s degree from The College of the Holy Cross and his master’s from Long Island University.
He serves on the Committee on Education, the Workforce and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Congressional Arts Caucus.
Mr. Bishop voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, and his voting record reflects that he votes with the majority of House Democrats on almost every key issue.
Randy Altschuler (R-St. James)
Randy Altschuler, 41, is currently the executive chairman of CloudBlue, which recycles electronic equipment. Prior to that, he was the CEO of OfficeTiger, a company that provided office support services with employees around the world.
Mr. Altschuler ran for Mr. Bishop’s congressional seat in 2010, losing by 263 votes after an intense recount that proved to be the longest in the nation that year.
Mr. Altschuler attended New York City public schools, received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, studied abroad as a Fulbright Scholar and received his MBA from Harvard University.
If elected, Mr. Altschuler pledges to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, work for the Republican plan for Medicare and Social Security reform, reform teacher tenure requirements and support school voucher programs.
First New York Senatorial District
Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson)
Incumbent Ken LaValle, 73, has held the 1st District state Senate seat since 1977, having been elected in November 1976. He has been chairman of the Senate committee on higher education since 1979 and is chairman of the Senate Majority Conference. He was a teacher before entering politics. Since he’s been in office, he earned a law degree from Touro College and is now a practicing attorney as well.
Mr. LaValle said he continues to receive support from his constituents, which is why he has won his re-election bids by overwhelming margins.
He says he’s working to get approval for the commission that Riverhead Town has advocated as a way of fast-tracking projects at EPCAL and, among other things, has been instrumental in establishing the Stony Brook Business Incubator in Calverton; has secured grant money for the J. Kings food processing facility in Baiting Hollow; and has helped to create a synergy among the three East End hospitals.
Mr. LaValle also lauds the 2 percent government tax levy cap.
“We’ve also reduced taxes for every tax category, with the majority of it going to the middle-income taxpayers,” he said.
Republicans currently have a majority in the state Senate, while Democrats control the Assembly.
Mr. LaValle is the father of two grown children and lives in Port Jefferson with his wife, Penny.
Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack)
Challenger Bridget Fleming, 52, is a matrimonial attorney who has been a Southampton Town councilwoman since March 2010.
Prior to that, she has served as chief of a Manhattan district attorney’s office unit that prosecuted fraud in public assistance programs such as welfare, public housing and Medicaid. Before that, she said, she prosecuted sex crimes.
As a Southampton Town Board member, Ms. Fleming says she’s helped to eliminate a budget deficit, thereby restoring the town’s credit rating; focused on proper staffing and controls in the town finance department; and spearheaded economic initiatives such as the Farm Fresh Market in Flanders, which is run by teenagers and sells local produce, and the Youth Build Project in Riverside, which teaches young people about sustainable building methods while restoring blighted homes.
She claims Mr. LaValle has not been effective in bringing the East End its fair share of school aid and says the amount of money East End residents pay in state taxes is more than what they get back in state services.
“Money comes out of our district, goes up to the pot in Albany and then doesn’t come back with us getting our fair share,” she said a recent debate. “We need somebody who is fighting for our local needs.”
A resident of Noyac since 2001, Ms. Fleming lives with her husband, Robert Agoglia, a general contractor, and their 9-year old son, Jai.
First New York Assembly District
Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham)
Making his first bid for re-election, Assemblyman Dan Losquadro is opposed by Nicholas Deegan, a Mattituck carpenter.
Mr. Losquadro’s introduction to politics came in 2003, when he was elected to the county Legislature representing the 6th District. In 2006 he was named minority leader. He had previously worked as a senior property claims estimator for State Farm Insurance.
He won his Assembly seat in a very close race against Democratic incumbent Marc Alessi. Although Mr. Losquadro’s margin of victory grew in subsequent weeks, on Election Night the two were separated by only 40 votes.
Raised in Wading River, he currently resides in Shoreham.
He opposed the effort to shift Southold and Shelter Island to the South Fork’s Assembly district and supported the rollback of the MTA payroll tax on East End businesses and taxing entities.
Mr. Losquadro has said the region’s high taxes are a drain on business.
Nicholas Deegan (D-Mattituck)
Nicholas Deegan is a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, and ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the Southold Town Board. His first experience with local politics came in 2007 when he won a seat on the Mattituck Park District board of commissioners, running on a reform platform. He claimed park district cellphone and gas credit cards had been misused, and both were discontinued after he took office. He won a second term in 2010.
But in a move he believes is invalid, the park district recently told Mr. Deegan that he cannot serve as commissioner because he failed to take the oath of office at the start of his second term.
During a recent Mattituck Chamber of Commerce candidates luncheon, Mr. Deegan voiced support for strengthening women’s rights, increasing government efficiency and raising the state’s minimum wage.
Southold Town Trustee
Michael Domino (R-Southold)
Michael Domino, a former president of the North Fork Environmental Council, is running in a special election against Democrat Jeri Woodhouse of Orient.
He was appointed to his seat for one year after former Trustee president Jill Doherty won a seat on the Southold Town Board last November. Mr. Domino is a retired high school science teacher who owns a deli in Greenport. He also served as president of the North Fork Environmental Council.
In particular, Mr, Domino and Ms. Woodhouse diverged in their views on issues related to nitrogen levels in septic systems and their impact on the Peconic Bays.
Regarding the continuing debate on efforts to reduce levels of nitrogen entering local waters, Mr. Domino is not a proponent of a removal system known by the brand name Nitrex recently approved by the Suffolk County health department for use in residential septic systems.
Some environmental advocates have been pushing the county to mandate use of the system, while critics say it is too expensive and may not be effective.
“The problem is funding, as usual,” said Mr. Domino. “You don’t just throw money at a problem. In many cases, there’s no need to change the [septic] systems we have now. The discussion now is being driven by a company that has a technology that they are pushing. It may or may not work. I’m not advocating a real quick jump on very costly solutions. I would take a go-slow approach with something like that.”
Jeri Woodhouse (D-Orient)
Ms. Woodhouse, who owns the food business Taste of the North Fork, chaired the town Planning Board during Josh Horton’s administration and ran unsuccessfully for a Town Board seat in 2009.
Ms. Woodhouse disagree with her opponent on the septic system issue.
“There’s a lot of new research that shows there are new kinds of septic systems that can be put in place,” she said. “The problem is they’re very costly. I believe there’s funding available that can make it possible for people to purchase them. We should see if we can bring some of that money here because it’s vital to our economy to have clean water.”
Candidates running for federal, state and local offices answered Southold residents’ questions Wednesday afternoon during the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce’s “meet the candidates” luncheon at the Meetinghouse Creek Inn in Aquebogue.
Jeff Strong, president of Strong’s Marine in Mattituck, moderated the two-hour event where nearly 20 people gathered to listen to each candidate’s platform.
State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) left after making an opening statement because he had another event to attend to this afternoon on Shelter Island. His Democratic challenger, Bridget Fleming of Noyac, was absent.
Below is an excerpt from a pair of questions asked.
Question to congressional and state candidates: Do you see the local economy getting better or worse and what are your plans to help improve it?
Congressional candidates’ answers:
Incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton): The local economy is struggling from what has been the deepest recession in our nation’s history other than the Great Depression. I think there are signs that we are recovering, but we have a long, long way to go. One of things I’m working on is trying to bring the federal government back to the table in terms of investing in local wastewater infrastructure. The second thing is dealing with environment issues. I think the environment is our economy and the economy is our environment.
Challenger Randy Altshuler (R-St. James): When you speak to people locally, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air. It’s scaring the daylights out of everybody. You see it from unemployment rates going up over the past decade to people becoming underwater with their mortgages. Some local businesses are seeing a little bit of a pick-up, but a lot of them are saying it’s still doing pretty poorly. I think we need change and the only way I think that will happen is if we have more business people in office.
State Assembly candidates’ answers:
Incumbent Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham): I don’t think the economy is doing very well at all. I think, in large part, that’s because of the burden that is placed upon businesses and residential taxes that drive up the overall cost of living. New York State spent $20 billion on Medicaid expenditures last year. We need to control spending in areas where people may not think relate to education funding. But if we save a billion dollars in Medicaid expenditures, that’s a billion dollars we can put back into education funding.
Challenger Nicholas Deegan (D-Mattituck): I think the local economy is starting on an upspring. The bigger thing out here is transportation. If we’re going to be able to sustain the agritourism and wine industries, then I think we have to deal with transportation very quickly so that by next summer we have a plan going into place. The roads can only handle so much. We need to get some of the traffic off the road.
Question to Town Trustee candidates: There are reports stating water quality is affected by stormwater runoff and septic systems. Do you agree and what’s your plan to improve water quality?
Town Trustees’ answers:
Trustee Mike Domino (R-Southold): All the trustees understand the importance mentioned about [water quality]. The problem is funding, as usual. You just don’t throw money at a problem. In many cases, there’s no need to change the [septic] systems we have now. The discussion now is being driven by a company that has a technology that they are pushing. It may or may not work. I’m not advocating a real quick jump on very costly systems. I would take a go-slow approach with something like that.
Challenger Jeri Woodhouse (D-Orient): I agree [stormwater runoff and septic systems] are contributing to what’s happening to our water. There’s a lot of new research that shows there are new kinds of septic systems that can be put in place. The problem is they’re very costly. I believe there’s funding available that can make it possible for people to purchase them. We should see if we can bring some of that money here because it’s vital to our economy to have clean water.
Check back on Election Day for full coverage.
Candidates running for state, federal and local offices will speak during the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce’s “meet the candidates” luncheon on Wed., Oct. 24 at the Meetinghouse Creek Inn in Aquebogue.
This year’s ballot includes the hard-fought contest between incumbent Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler. The North Fork’s representatives in both the State Senate and State Assembly also will be decided.
There’s also a special election in Southold Town this year pitting incumbent Republican Trustee Mike Domino of Southold against Democratic challenger Jeri Woodhouse of Orient.
The chamber’s lunch meeting begins at noon and tickets are $22. Call Pat Patchell at 722-3458.
Psssst. Can you keep a secret?
There’s another political race, other than the ones for president and congressman, up for grabs on Nov. 6. It’s a special election, in fact, for the remaining year in the term of former Southold Town Trustee Jill Doherty, who stepped down from that post when she was elected to the Town Board last year.
Not surprisingly, given the political makeup of the current Town Board, Republican Mike Domino was appointed to replace her, and now he’s being challenged for an additional one-year term by Democrat Jeri Woodhouse. (And whoever wins Nov. 6 will likely be back on the ballot for a full four-year term next November.)
Confusing enough for you?
Truth be told, I wasn’t tuned in to the special election until Woodhouse signs began popping up around our neighborhood in Orient, which isn’t totally surprising given that Jeri and her husband, John, live about two blocks away from us. And now the ultimate truth: One of those signs popped up in our front yard earlier this week, and the aim of this column is to explain why.
But first, a disclaimer. When the former Joan Giger Walker and I were co-publishers of The Suffolk Times, we did not attend political fundraisers, make contributions to individual candidates or their parties, place political signs in our yard or affix political bumper stickers to our car. But that changed a few years ago when we retired as publishers and when I stopped actively participating in candidate interviews and endorsement decision-making at the paper.
To repeat: Op/ed page columnist Troy Gustavson will not participate in candidate interviews or endorsement decisions at this newspaper, or any other, this year.
So, back to the Domino-Woodhouse race.
I think I’ve known Mike and Jeri for about the same amount of time. And I like them both, and appreciate their various good deeds on behalf of the people of Southold Town.
In addition to his one year with the Trustees, Mike has served on the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force, as a board member with the county’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation and as president of the North Fork Environmental Council. He is a former U.S. Marine and worked 31 years as an earth science teacher in the Rocky Point School District. He and his wife, Joy, operate a delicatessen on the Main Road in Greenport.
Jeri taught high school English; served as co-executive director of folk singer Harry Chapin’s World Hunger Year; was an aide to Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger; served as executive director of The Retreat, the East Hampton women’s shelter; and founded two local businesses, A Taste of the North Fork and the North Fork Specialty Kitchen. She’s also served on the boards of the NFEC, the East End Arts Council and the Oysterponds Historical Society, and her principal public service came during her five-year stint as chair of the Southold Town Planning Board. She’s also run twice unsuccessfully for the Town Board.
So, why a Woodhouse sign and not a Domino sign in the Gustavsons’ front yard? First, although Mike is considered to be nonpartisan, Jeri would bring badly needed balance to the Trustees as the only woman and only Democrat. Second, and most important, it comes down to a question of style and energy.
In my experience, Mike is low-key and unassuming. He’s shown a willingness to dig in his heels when necessary, but the overall impression he left as head of the NFEC lacked definition or distinction, in my opinion. In fact, on his watch the organization pretty much faded from the local consciousness, no longer the forceful voice for environmental protection that it was in the ’80s, ’90s and earlier in the last decade. And that’s not the sort of leadership we need at this point in time on a board charged with the vital task of protecting Southold’s vulnerable bays, creeks and wetlands.
Jeri, on the other hand, is an effective and energetic leader. In fact, she probably has more energy than almost anyone I know, starting with her 6 a.m. daily power walk right through her routinely late nights at her place of business in Cutchogue. Jeri Woodhouse has the energy, vision and will to be an effective advocate for the environment, and I just don’t think Mike Domino has the makeup to match that.
If Mike Domino should happen to prevail on Nov. 6, Southold will not be badly served. But if Jeri Woodhouse wins — and I hope she will — the town will be better served.
Family, friends and neighbors of the Greenport woman who died in an apparent drowning Tuesday remember her as a “good person,” beloved by those who knew her.
“She was my whole life and now I’ve lost her,” said a tearful Joy Domino, her mother.
Heather Domino, 23, was found unconscious in her parents’ neighbor’s pool on Old North Road in Southold shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Southold Fire Department rescue personnel and police officers pulled Ms. Domino from the water and attempted to revive her before she was taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.
Southold detectives are still investigating the incident, police said.
The family declined to say anything further.
Ms. Domino was the daughter of Michael Domino, a Southold Town Trustee and environmental advocate.
She was an aspiring DJ and producer who went by the stage name DJ Maestro and who founded Domino Recording in Greenport, near her family’s diner.
“Anything I can help you with I will,” she wrote on the company’s Facebook page. “You make time, I’ll make it happen.”
A neighbor, Eleanor, who declined to give her last name, said Ms. Domino helped her around the house and was always considerate.
“She was a good gal, a good neighbor,” Eleanor said. “I’m sorry for what happened to her. I’m even more sorry for what happened to her parents … They adored her.”
The neighbor said the pool’s owner only used the house on the weekends, and said it was empty at the time of the accident. She said she saw sirens and thought someone’s house was on fire.
“Someone told me ‘It’s Heather,’ ” Eleanor said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Funeral arrangements for Ms. Domino are still pending, and will be posted to suffolktimes.com when they become available.