Categorized | Letters To The Editor

Letters to the Editor 9/13/12

Posted on 14 September 2012

Debate Clarifications

To the Editor;

Last week I had the pleasure to debate before the voters in Southampton, my original hometown. The debate between my primary opponent and myself served to aid the voters in determining which Democrat is best qualified to represent us in the State Senate. I want to take this opportunity to clarify some of the points made in the recent Sag Harbor Express article about the debate while also pointing out some candidate distinctions that the voters should be aware of.

First I will state that the article was correct to point out that my opponent, Ms. Fleming, offered no solutions or insight on the issue of underwater mortgages. Long Island leads the state in mortgage foreclosures. Any State Senate candidate should be aware of this issue and the possible solutions as I pointed out in the debate.

Additionally she stated during the debate that underwater mortgages are not really an issue in Southampton. On the contrary, there have been over one thousand homes in distress in the Hamptons this year in addition to actual foreclosures. This indicates that she is out of touch with the realities of her own backyard as well as the entire district. I have lived in this district my entire life, I understand the challanges we all face here in Suffolk County.

Furthermore Ms. Fleming lacked knowledge of a number of important State Government issues including Hydro-fracturing. She responded that an opinion on that issue was not necessary because it is not a Long Island issue. What she fails to understand is that not only does that issue have a potential collateral economic and environmental impact on Long Island; as a State Senator, many of our decisions will impact ALL of New York.

With respect to my energy platform I stated that we need to continue to pursue opportunities for alternative energy options including solar. However I want to clarify that this is not how we will break up National Grid’s monopoly. Just the opposite. Breaking up that monopoly will help provide fertile ground for these alternative solutions while reducing energy rates under our current energy generation options.

The most direct way to break up this market control is through the recent FERC action against National Grid which I have been advocating is support. LIPA restructuring and the PSC audit could play a role as well.

The article correctly pointed out that we disagreed on the use of polling data in response to a marriage equality question. It is important to note that Ms. Fleming argued that if a majority of voters were NOT in favor of a basic civil right, such as marriage equality, that she would “adjust” to their position. That kind of pandering to voters at the expense of equal rights is not what our nation is about.

President’s John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson did not “adjust” their position on the Civil Rights Act despite popular opinion.

Likewise, I will not adjust when it comes to any civil rights issues.

Voters are not looking to elect a political fundraiser, they are looking to elect a State Senator. That is why these debates are about the issues and our qualifications to handle important State Government matters once elected. I only wish my opponent’s understanding of the issues during both debates was as focused as her obsession with her bank account. The voting booth is not an ATM. Her unusual and shocking suggestion that voters should base their decision at the ballot on the size of a candidates bank account rather than the substance and character of the candidate is an affront to the democratic process.

While I am also disappointed that Ms. Fleming decided to immediately renege on her express commitment to Southampton voters to serve a full term before she was even sworn into her first full term on the Town Board in January, I do genuinely appreciate the work that she has done on the town board and I look forward to seeing what she can do if she decides to continue in that elected position.

I will note in conclusion that our educational qualifications are similar, we are both attorneys. However I also hold a Masters of Business Administration Degree (MBA). Knowledge of business and economics are important in these difficult economic times especially considering the budgetary issues we face.

While I proposed a number of State budget reform measures during our second debate, Ms. Fleming was unable to state a single specific state budget reform initiative that she would propose. Any State Senate candidate should be able to discuss, with some specificity, this essential function of our State Government.

These are some of the fundamental differences between both candidates that can be observed from viewing these debates.

I ask Democrats to vote for me, Jennifer Maertz, on Thursday September13th so that I can work for a better future for Long Island as our next State Senator.

Jennifer J. Maertz

Candidate for NY State Senate


Critical Response


To the Editor:

This is in response to a series of public remarks made by Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point. Ms. Maertz’s comments pertain to the debates between herself and Bridget Fleming of Sag Harbor in the run-up to the September 13 Democratic primary for state senate. I have recently watched the SEA-TV tape of the Southampton debate, taking careful notes, and have identified several serious inaccuracies in Ms. Maertz’s account.

Ms. Maertz states that Bridget Fleming “refused to answer a direct question about hydro-fracturing.” This is untrue. Ms. Maertz may have misinterpreted Ms. Fleming’s remark that hydro-fracturing (fracking) will not take place on Long Island, but Ms. Fleming answered the question, saying “we need proper DEC funding,” and “if we are going forward with fracking, we need to ensure that it’s understood, monitored and mitigated,” for which she maintained such funding is vital.

Ms. Maertz charges, incorrectly, that Bridget Fleming would compromise on marriage equality “if a majority of voters were not in favor.” In fact, Ms. Fleming said at the debate, “I support marriage equality unqualifiedly … we all have a moral obligation to do what’s right, though you’ve got to take into account at some level what the constituents say.”

On funding, Jennifer Maertz, who has been out-raised almost 7-to-1 by Bridget Fleming, claims that Ms. Fleming is “heavily supported” by outside interests. In debate, Ms. Fleming stated that most of her financial support comes from within the district, and more than 80 percent of it is in donations of $250 or less.

Jennifer Maertz, who is not an elected official, complains that Southampton Town Councilwoman Fleming has “reneged on her commitment to the voters” by running for the state senate. Ms. Maertz ignores the fact that, unlike herself, Bridget Fleming has already scored many real achievements for her community, among them helping to restore Southampton’s surplus and credit rating, fostering youth training in construction and retailing, securing health insurance for fire and ambulance volunteers, keeping local jobs through a utility poles law, and working to attract green industry with sustainability measures.

I believe that Ms. Maertz has simply been carried away by her enthusiasm for the race. With experience, she will no doubt learn the importance of accuracy. Jennifer Maertz may someday be a strong voice for the Democrats, but Bridget Fleming is that strong voice now. If the question is who will give Ken LaValle a real contest, Bridget Fleming is the only answer.

The Democratic primary is on Thursday, September 13. Voting is from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at all the regular polling places.

George Lynch




Showing Character

To the Editor,

There’s a saying that “character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” In politics, character is doing the right thing even when it goes against your self-interest.

The Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees public sector union recently screened Congressman Tim Bishop and his opponent Randy Altschuler. In exchange for their endorsement, they pushed the candidates to take a stand against my proposal to sell the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility to a private buyer; despite the fact that my plan will reduce next year’s deficit by $30 million, keep all the patients at the facility and require the buyer to offer union jobs to all the current employees.

Congressman Bishop has a nearly 100 percent pro-labor record and is the only federal official who attempted to stem the losses at the facility, when he allowed veterans on Tricare to be eligible to be placed there. However, he understands that the county has an enormous deficit and that we cannot afford to raise taxes on Suffolk County residents above the tax cap. Even though it would have been easy for him to have just said, “Sure, I’m against selling Foley” in order to get an endorsement, he chose to stay out of this non-federal issue.

Randy Altschuler is a self-proclaimed tea party conservative. While approximately 85 percent of the patients at the Foley facility rely on Medicaid, Altschuler supports the Paul Ryan budget which would cut Medicaid by $810 billion, forcing millions off the program and cutting rates to facilities like Foley. Altschuler tells tea party groups he wants to cut the size of government and then tells public sector unions he opposes efforts to reduce the size of THEIR government. He claims to respect local government yet when his own self-interest is at stake, inserts his opinion into a non-federal issue.

This week, Randy Altschuler received the endorsement of the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees because he spoke out against the sale.

Two candidates, two choices which speak volumes about their character. Suffolk County deserves to be represented by people who do the right thing when no one is looking and are willing to do the right thing for the people, even when it goes against their own self interest. This is just one more example of why Tim Bishop has the character to serve Suffolk County and why his opponent does not.

Steve Bellone

Suffolk County Executive

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