05/16/14 3:10pm
05/16/2014 3:10 PM
Times/Review Newsgroup's headquarters on Main Road in Mattituck. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Times/Review Newsgroup’s headquarters on Main Road in Mattituck. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

The former editor of The Suffolk Times has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the newspaper’s parent company, claiming the news organization fired him last July because of his age, according to a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, Tim Kelly, 60, alleges that the newspaper’s executive editor, Grant Parpan, and publisher, Andrew Olsen, fired him based on “their prejudice against older workers in general, and [Mr.] Kelly in particular.”

Mr. Kelly — who had been editor of The Suffolk Times for four years at the time of his firing and had worked for the company on and off for a total of 15 years — was 59 years old when he was dismissed.

“[The] newspaper’s wrongful termination of [Mr.] Kelly based upon his age after so many years of faithful service and without basis is shocking and should be punished,” the lawsuit asserts.

One basis for the suit alleges that the company “caused the termination” of other employees in Mr. Kelly’s age range by “creating negative working conditions and/or cutting hours and benefits” and replaced them with workers under the age of 40.

Mr. Olsen defended the company’s human resources practices on Thursday.

“Times/Review is committed to being an equal opportunity employer,” he said. “Staffing decisions within the company are not based on race, gender, age or any other similar characteristic. Rather, all such decisions are based upon the business needs of the company.”

In the suit, Mr. Kelly pointed to past accolades he had won personally, and that the paper had won under his tenure, as evidence that his “work was always of excellent quality.” The claim states that Mr. Parpan was promoted to executive editor over Mr. Kelly in July 2012 “despite the much greater knowledge, experience, and education of [Mr.] Kelly.”

Mr. Parpan, who previously served as editor of Times/Review’s North Shore Sun for three years and later as the company’s web editor, declined to comment on the suit, referring questions to attorneys for Times/Review Newsgroup.

“All allegations about the lawsuit are denied in their entirety,” said Matthew Wolin, an attorney representing Times/Review.

Before his most recent stint with Times/Review, Mr. Kelly served for three years as public relations director for Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, according to the lawsuit. He also previously worked as a press secretary for former congressman William Carney and as editor of the Traveler-Watchman newspaper.

Mr. Kelly said Mr. Parpan, 35, had called him an “old man” in the year before his firing, according to the lawsuit. The suit further alleges that although Mr. Kelly was informed of issues related to his performance a month before his firing, those “purported issues were entirely false.”

In July, Mr. Parpan and Mr. Olsen told Mr. Kelly that the company was “going in another direction” and that he was being fired, according to the suit.

Shortly thereafter, court papers state, Mr. Olsen told Mr. Kelly his position had been eliminated, that his firing met “business needs” and that he was dismissed based on “performance issues.”

The lawsuit states Mr. Kelly is seeking $3 million for each of his three claims, alleging that he suffered economic harm and “anguish, embarrassment, suffering and humiliation.”

Given that the Times/Review is a party to this lawsuit, it was determined that it would not be appropriate for the Times/Review staff to reach out directly to Mr. Kelly or his lawyer for comment.

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04/06/13 8:00am
04/06/2013 8:00 AM
Greenport Temple

JULIE LANE PHOTO | The Congregation Tifereth Israel building in Greenport.

Did you know that the Beatles were not Catholic? It was a shock to learn that fact, which, as I recall, a sibling shared with 10-year-old yours truly on the way home from a trip to the barber shop one Saturday morning. Given that the old man served in the Army Air Corps in World War II and never gave up his GI style, our hair was about as long as the grass on a putting green and Earnie, the one-legged Austrian (I’m not making that up) was done with us in no time flat. Buzz, buzz, buzz. Next!



I secretly longed for long hair just like the Fab Four, who I had assumed were Catholic. Since we were Catholic, wasn’t everybody?

They’re not? Really? Wow! Well, obviously they’re not going to heaven. It’s as simple as that.

A few years later my hairstyle, if you could call it that, remained crew cut, which was just as well given that my Boy Scout cap just fit and a new one appeared as unlikely as my becoming an Eagle Scout. Our troop met in the Methodist church hall and you should have seen the look on Ma’s face when I passed along the good reverend’s invite to attend an ecumenical service.

Oh, no, you can’t go, said she. Why not? I asked, not at all unhappy at avoiding another hour in uncomfortable clothes sitting in a butt-numbing wooden pew. Why? Because they’re not Catholic. To be fair, Ma loosened up considerably over the years and without losing her faith became quite critical of the many blatant examples of hierarchical hypocrisy.

But if the reverend invited the Beatles? They could go.

I offer this slice of personal history to give an idea of my state of mind when attending a recent Passover Seder — my first — at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Greenport. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased and honored to take part in the Seder, the service commemorating the Jewish people’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. But I’m always nervous at religious observances, especially one totally foreign to me.

I think I knew one Jewish kid growing up. That number wouldn’t have been so ridiculously low had my folks never left Yonkers, but that’s how it was out in the sticks.

My apprehension was fed by the knowledge that a Seder is an interactive affair, parts of which date back thousands of years, so the prime directive coming from either the emotional or rational part of the brain was simple: Don’t screw up, don’t screw up.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Buddy, you’re not 10 anymore. Shouldn’t you be beyond that? Well, I’m not, OK? So sue me, whydoncha.

Fortunately, everyone at the Seder table received a copy of the Haggadah, the book read on the first night of Passover. (Haggadah means “telling.”) It covered everything. Ah, this is a piece of cake. During Mass we all had missals, the books with all the text and instructions, so with a Seder guidebook I had nothing to fear.

I perused the Haggadah before Rabbi Gadi Capela, a very energetic young man in his first year with the congregation, got things going. But just a few pages in, right on top of the page, it said, “Our Seder now has ended” and several lines below that, “La-shana haba’ah birushalayim,” meaning, Next year in Jerusalem!

Uh, OK, where’s the rest of the text? Good lord, I’m in trouble. It wasn’t until just before the start that it hit me. Dummy, like Hebrew, the book is read from right to left, not the other way around. Whew!

With the unjustifiable panic in remission, I could finally enjoy the not-unfamiliar trip through what some call a crash course in Jewish history. Indeed, the rabbi noted that to forget or forgo the story of slavery under Pharaoh or the freedom through Exodus is to lose faith and an identity maintained, often at great cost, since antiquity.

So I happily did the reading when my turn came around, even though my silent practicing went for naught when the Rabbi skipped some pages. I shared in the matzoh, tried the horseradish, the “bitter herb” recalling the bitterness of slavery and drank the four cups of wine representing the four promises of redemption. OK, it wasn’t really four cups, because at that point I might have decided I could sing in Hebrew as well as the rabbi. It was more like four small portions.

As a recovering Catholic who’s about as religious as the Kremlin, it was humbling to witness a community of faithful folk who embrace tradition in an active, endless effort to fend off the dark powers of mindless modernism. And who were kind enough to let a big Irisher share the special evening.

Did I mention the real, not ceremonial, food available in abundance at the Haggadah’s end? Incred-i-ble.

Could not have been a better evening, even if the Beatles had showed.

Tim Kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at [email protected]   or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.

01/27/13 8:00am
01/27/2013 8:00 AM
 TIM KELLY PHOTO | Greg Blass on the front porch of his Jamesport home last week.

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Greg Blass on the front porch of his Jamesport home last week.

How Greg Blass made me a big, fat liar

I found Greg Blass on his front porch in a pea coat reminiscent of his Navy days, scribbling on a note pad in a lattice-back chair Monday afternoon. The snow had yet to fall.

Before we exchanged greetings I reached into a pocket, pulled out a package of M&Ms and tossed it his way. He smiled, his eyes sparkling.
Old habits die hard, for both of us.

Back when my beard was red and my temples gray-free, I worked in an office at One East Main in Riverhead for a publication now but a memory and my job included covering the county Legislature. Actually, our county legislator, who at the time was Mr. Blass, was based just up the road on Second Street next to the old post office.

Snooping for news — actually, I prefer the more genteel term “sourcing” — involved a call or a walk up to the legislator’s office. Invariably that involved bringing an offering of chocolate, preferably a huge Hershey bar, because to come empty-handed was to leave empty-handed.

I’m not kidding, the guy had and/or has a serious chocolate jones. And in the search for newspaper fodder, I gladly became an enabler.

During such meetings I’d often speak in disparaging terms about this official or that, and he’d say “never take pleasure in the misfortune of others” and mention some stuff about karma. Back then I missed the obvious irony.

The occasion for this week’s unforced offering of the processed seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree was the news of Mr. Blass’s retirement from public office. I’m not one to quote The Grateful Dead, but, in Mr. Blass’ case, “what a long, strange trip it’s been” seems quite an accurate description.

Think of it, a young guy from Freeport takes on Suffolk’s GOP and Conservative power brokers in winning his first term in the Suffolk Legislature and then goes on to challenge LIPA’s predecessor, the Long Island Lighting Company, over a multi-billion-dollar nuclear plant and Brookhaven National Laboratory, not to mention various elected officials of varying political pedigrees. And always with a smile on his boyish, all-American face. Drove the old guard absolutely nuts.

During his legislative years this guy was a reporter’s dream. Thank you, Mr. Blass, for saving me from the mind-numbing monotony of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Uh, not that they don’t do wonderful work, of course. God bless ‘em.

I later learned what it was like to face the indomitable Mr. B in the political arena. In the mid-1980s I worked on Capitol Hill as press secretary to Congressman William Carney, then representing this fair district. In 1984 Mr. Blass challenged us (yes, we always said “us,” even though it was someone else’s butt on the line every two years) in a GOP primary. A three-term incumbent against some guy from Jamesport? Get outta here, will ya?

We didn’t take Gregory seriously, which was a mistake. He came within 500 votes of wresting away the nomination and that scared the hell out of us.

And so it was that the job of dealing with the media on primary night fell upon yours truly. Lord forgive me, but I lied through my teeth, to none other than Doug Geed, then a reporter with WALK radio in Patchogue.

“Well, it went exactly as we expected,” said I. “We knew Greg was popular on the East End and that he’d do well there and we counted on our base in the western side of the district. Don’t forget, a primary is an interesting political dynamic…”

Had no idea what that meant, but hey, I was on a roll.

To this day whenever I see good ol’ Greg he screws up his face and through gritted teeth says, mockingly, “A primary is an interesting political dynamic…”

Hey, that was a lifetime ago, right? It’s all water under the bridge, or over the dam or through the hose or out the hydrant or whatever.
In discussing his future he told me he plans to write a book, maybe not quite “Politics for Dummies,” but close. And he said it would be sprinkled with anecdotes about his experience.

Ah, a politician who gets to be a writer. Sure hope there’s nothing to this karma business.

[email protected]

11/10/12 12:05pm
11/10/2012 12:05 PM

In the six months following the end of my formal education (no, it wasn’t sixth grade; it was seventh), I challenged myself to read everything Ernest Hemingway ever wrote. Yes, I was an English major, hence the prolonged lack of employment.

Some years later, I was flipping channels when the title “The Hemingway Play” flashed across the screen. It was a televised play with just four characters, each one Hemingway from the various stages of his life, from the World War I ambulance driver to “Papa,” the old man who would soon take his own life.

Not a Tony-winner by any means, but interesting in the way the different versions of the same man played off against each other.

Now I’m told by them what knows that I tend to engage in a less than stage-worthy inner dialogue called cognitive self-talk. No, I don’t hear voices in me head — well, except the one saying “turn the channel, idiot!” when there’s a skin flick on cable and The Mrs. is walking up the hall. But I do tend to discuss things with meself.

Which brings me to this year’s presidential election. In recent days I held many such discussions. It may not be “The Hemingway Play,” but here’s a sample:

Please tell me you’re not voting for Obama.
—Actually, I haven’t made up my mind yet.

What a crock. There ain’t nobody in these United States who’s still undecided, no matter what they say.
—I like to think that I’m keeping an open mind.

Since when? That hardly sounds like you.
—Well, OK, I know the guy made a ton of promises he didn’t keep …

And added $5 trillion to the national debt. Five freakin’ trillion!
—And you believe that with a nod of his carefully coiffed head Romney will make everything right? You shouldn’t be drinking so early in the day.

I haven’t been, wiseguy, nor have I gulped down the “Obama is God” Kool-Aid.
—His political allure is in the stuff he represents — you know, change, moving forward and the like. Wasn’t that Ronald Reagan’s MO? Romney just comes across as too damn slick and I fear the far right has his ear and many of those guys scare the hell out of me.

And the far left doesn’t? Don’t you worry about the skullduggery those guys are capable of?
—Ooooh, “skullduggery.” Fancy word. You were an English major, right? Minoring in chronic unemployment.

Look who’s talkin’. By the way, you realize this has all the makings of a repeat of the Clinton era, right?
—Obama’s got a girlfriend? Wow! Is there no end to his talents and energy?

Be serious. Think of it, in 1992 George Bush the Elder gets beaten by a guy who came out of nowhere …

Exactly. Clinton emerges and runs with great success, speaking his magic mantra “change” as often as the Yankees beat the Mets.
—You wanna go there, Mr. “My team spends 10 zillion dollars on payroll but still watched the World Series from a bar?”

Anyway, the first two years of Clinton’s presidency are a political nightmare and the GOP cooks up the “contract with America” BS and they kick the Dems’ butts in ’94, but the anti-Clinton fervor dies down and with the GOP putting up an old codger to challenge him, Clinton skates to a second term.
—Yawn. Are you still talking?

Anyway, Bush the Younger gets elected and after his two terms are up the Dems put up a guy from out of nowhere, who speaks his magic mantra “change” as often as the …
—Don’t say it.

Anyway, HIS first two years are a political nightmare and the tea party-ites kick the Dems’ butts in 2010, but then the GOP puts up a guy who can’t keep his foot out of his mouth.
—You’re making me depressed. Think I’ll go play Powerball and when I win buy an island, declare myself “Philosopher King” surrounded by handmaidens who …

Been watching those movies again, haven’t you? The Mrs. catch you yet?
—I’ll have La-Z-Boy throne and when not commanding the remote control clap and call, “Bathe her and bring her to my tent!”

You are one seriously deranged, pathetic old goat.
—Hey, we finally agree on something.

Tim Kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.

09/14/12 8:00am
09/14/2012 8:00 AM

Sailors have ’em, tough guys have ’em, bikers have ’em and I have one. Not being a sailor or a biker, by the process of elimination that means that I’m a, well, you know.

I’m talking tattoos or, as the cool kids call ’em, tats. By definition, then, I must be tough and cool. Well, we all knew that, right?

My tat came to mind earlier this week with the news that a Greenport bartender plans to open a tattoo parlor just off Main Street next spring. If I remember correctly — and for some reason that can no longer be taken for granted, go figure — Mattituck was home to just such a parlor in the late ’80s. Nowadays if you want to ink up the closest parlor is in Rocky Point.

I didn’t always bear the mark of a badass, of course. None of my siblings is so marked, nor was my dad, a ball turret gunner in an Army Air Corps B-24 during World War II. Or my maternal granddad, who served in the Navy submarine corps during World War I.

It became an extension of my midlife crisis of learning the bagpipes, wearing a kilt and all that Celtic camaraderie jazz. Well, not jazz, but you know what I mean. Some people I know think jazz would have been preferable. “What’s the definition of a gentleman? Someone who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.”

Many pipers and drummers have at least one tattoo, often on the thin band of exposed skin between the bottom of the kilt and the top of the wool sock. In addition to providing culturally appropriate ornamentation, it also helps cut down on the glare from chalk-white skin.

Back when me daughter was young and had yet to reach the age where being seen in public with her ol’ dad was an unendurable embarrassment, we’d often take in the Mattituck Strawberry Festival over Father’s Day weekend. There was always a booth selling temporary tattoos and I’d search for a winged fairy or other other-worldly female form in diaphanous attire. She’d be given a place of honor on the inside of my right forearm and a name. Gladys one year, Lucy another.

And by squeezing my fist I’d make her dance. She didn’t actually dance, but kind of pulsed a bit. Drove my daughter nuts. Her mother just shook her head and sighed.

Whaddaya want from me? I never crewed a clipper rounding Cape Horn or exchanged fire in the South China Sea. Did take the Staten Island Ferry once, but no one else thought that experience warranted adding a burning skull with vipers slithering out the eye sockets to my shoulder. Again, go figure.

A few years back I figured I’d go for it and get a tattoo on the outside of me right leg. After a visit to Tattoo Lou’s in Selden, I think it was, I came home with an ornate gold Celtic cross with a green shamrock in the center just below the knee. Try as I might, can’t get that to dance either. My wife just shakes her head and sighs.

Earlier this year we ran a story about the East End Seaport Museum’s exhibition on body ornamentation, “Tattoo: Art of the Sailor.”
Actually, the show highlighted the rich history of art on a sailor or, to be more precise, in a sailor. Well, the image actually resides under the sailor’s dermis, the top layer of skin, in the epidermis, the second layer.

Anyhoo, as the story was a preview, initially we didn’t have any of show’s images and so had to improvise.
Who do I know with a tattoo that we could photograph? The first name that came to mind was former Southold supervisor Josh Horton, a one-time tugboat captain with colorful images all over his arms, but he wasn’t immediately available. The second name that came to mind was, well, mine.

So I rolled up me right pant leg and snapped the shot, thinking nothing of it until some on-staff wag commenting on the website post said, “The tattoo’s OK, but what’s the deal with all those freckles?”

I think it’s time for another. Maybe the Irish and American flags crossed and underneath the words, “American by birth, Irish by the grace of God.” That would be totally awesome!

She just shakes her head and sighs.

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02/17/11 11:08am
02/17/2011 11:08 AM

It’s official: I’m older than dirt.

OK, before any of you weisenheimers pipe in with, “You must be, Buddy, if you’re just realizing that now,” yes, that’s not entirely a revelation. What makes it official is my high school class preparing for our — gulp — 40th reunion this summer.
40 years? Why, it doesn’t seem like more than 36, 38 tops.

Our reunion website provides the opportunity to view pictures of people I haven’t seen for, well, you know how long. Sweet day in the morning, who are all these old-timers? Glad I didn’t age like that. A-hem.
What most caught my attention is the link to “Our Teachers,” on the left side of the home page, next to a photo of three barefooted nuns — at least they’re dressed like nuns — sitting at the end of a dock drinking beer. The caption reads “Ha! Didn’t we wish!”

This I had to see.

In just 20 minutes I learned more about these women than I had during my four years (yes, only four years) at Mercy High. Not that I had a burning desire back then to get to know them. Most were well into their retirement years in the late ’60s, so the updates came largely via obituaries in the Long Island Catholic, the diocesan newspaper (which, by the way, was the best source to identify the best movies. I mean, what review could top “morally objectionable for all” or “condemned?” Not that I got to see any of those.)

When sitting ramrod straight in a jacket and tie, never chewing gum and doing your utmost to stifle all yawns, many thoughts came to mind. “I wonder who Sister Mary (fill in the blank) really is?” was not among them.

It seems most of the Sisters of Mercy were Irish girls from Brooklyn. I know, not exactly shocking. Still, who knew?

Sister Mary Cleophas, who in a freshman year Latin class described me as “the stupidest boy I ever met,” was the daughter of Joseph Keegan and Bridget Donohue.
Sister Mary Leonie, fashioned entirely of nervous energy, was the former Susan O’Sullivan.
Sister Mary Eugene, who could make the strongest linebacker quake with fear, was born a Farrell.
Sister Mary Jeremiah was Catherine McDonough. Sister Mary Joachim, Mary Conway. Sister Mary Hugh, Anna McDougall.
Oh, man, even Sister Mary Carmelita, the Spanish teacher, is a Shaughnessy.

You’d think that given our shared heritage ­— I’m the product of Charles Kelly and Joan Brophy of Yonkers, with cops and firemen hanging off the family tree — the good sisters might have cut me some slack. But no.
Come to think of it, that’s exactly why they didn’t.

Nor did the Sisters of Charity, my teachers from first through eighth grade. A different order, but equally adept at inducing fear, anxiety, dread, horror, terror and panic, particularly among the ranks of under-achievers. Or so I’ve heard.

Alas, nuns have always been a part of my life. In my hometown, a wonderful old Stanford White bayfront home was for a time a summer retreat for sisters of unknown origin. Unknown to us, anyway. It was hard to miss, right across the creek from my best friend’s house. Every now and again, a group of nuns, flying full habits, would row up the creek in an old wooden boat, at least four, if not more, at the oar. Honestly. That was a sight, let me tell you. The Viking nuns, we called ’em.

One summer afternoon, we spied a solitary sister heading toward the bay. She doffed her black cloak and walked into the water in a black one-piece. Ah! Nun legs! I’m blind!

Me Ma, once a Catholic school teacher, invited the nuns from her school to our house at Christmas. They’d sip frosty whiskey sours, their cigarettes leaving curving, twisting smoke trails as they laughed in animated conversation. We watched, abashed and amazed, from a respectful distance.

You’d think by now I’d be cured of my nunophobia, but when walking down Fifth Avenue toward Rockefeller Center over the holidays my posture automatically corrected when I passed a pair of women en habit.

Still, I’m hoping some of the surviving sisters will come to the reunion. It would be nice, and novel, to interact as adults.

Hi, Sister. Long time no see. Ha ha.
Hello, Mr. Kelly. Nice to see you too. By the way, what’s that in your hand?
This? It’s a, uh, um, a piña colada.
Well, well, is that a fact?
Uh, yes, Sister, it is.
Would you get me one?
Uhhhhh, WHAT?