Tag Archive | "Bridget Fleming"

Sagaponack Offers to Share Bridge Renovation Costs

Tags: , , , , , ,


By Stephen J. Kotz

It might not look like much to most people, but the low-slung bridge across Sagg Pond that connects Sagaponack and Bridgehampton is apparently worth a lot to the Sagaponack Village Board.

On February 27, Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim, accompanied by three village board members, told the Southampton Town Board the village would be willing to chip in up to $500,000 to renovate the span—provided the town abandoned plans, proposed by Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, to redesign it meeting federal standards so the town could qualify for a matching grant of a similar amount.

“We feel quite passionately that the bridge should, as much as possible, be repaired and maintained as it is,” the mayor said. He called the bridge “an important centerpiece” between the village and Bridgehampton, which got its name from an earlier span at the same site on Bridge Lane.

Mr. Louchheim said the design, first unveiled in December by Mr. Gregor at a community input meeting at which little input was sought, would result in a bridge with “industrial, galvanized steel railings” that would lead to slightly narrower lanes and a narrower pedestrian walkway and eliminates an existing curb separating foot traffic from vehicles.

“We have had no progress trying to have a dialogue with the highway superintendent on this,” Mr. Louchheim said. He added that Mr. Gregor had told village officials the design specifications were required for the town to qualify for the federal grant money.

Mr. Gregor did not return calls seeking comment, but in his official capacity as highway superintendent he has the authority to oversee design plans, with the town board limited to choosing to fund or not fund projects he wants to pursue.

Before coming to the town board, village officials had mulled annexing the 35-foot section of the bridge that lands on the Bridgehampton side, but Mr. Louchheim said such a procedure “would be messy.” Instead, he said, the village had decided the easiest route would be for it to “step in and take the place of the federal government and provide matching funds for this project.”

The village, he added, “would agree, effective immediately to fund 50-50 any repairs, maintenance, or capital improvements to the bridge that both boards agree to for now and in the future.”

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, who had obtained the federal funding for the town, had assured her that the town, which has already earmarked $500,000 of its own money for the project, would be able to apply the federal grant money to another transportation-related infrastructure project elsewhere.

She pressed Mr. Louchheim to agree that the village would pay for any additional design work that would be required as part of the new project. Such an agreement might make the project “more palatable” for taxpayers elsewhere in town, she said.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming also endorsed the scaled back plan, saying that pedestrian use of the bridge, whether for fishing, crabbing, walking or biking should be preserved. She also said the town should consider seeking landmark status for the bridge and asked Sally Spanburgh, chairwoman of the town’s Landmarks and Historic District Board, to look into that possibility.

Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, who on February 24, voted to support Sagaponack in its efforts, also attended last week’s meeting.

Mr. Louchheim urged the town to act quickly before work is begun on the bridge. “I think what we are proposing would be a better outcome,” Mr. Louchheim said, “certainly on how people feel on both sides of the pond. We would make the taxpayers whole on the cost of this project. Plus you’d have the option of using that funding for another town project.”

Southampton Town Board Says Yes to Political Limits but No to Fleming’s Committee Member Ban

Tags: , , , , , , ,


By Stephen J. Kotz

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday unanimously adopted an amendment to its ethics code that seeks to balance the number of political party members who can serve at any one time on the planning, zoning or conservation boards.

The proposal, introduced by Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, just two weeks ago, with the backing of Councilmen Brad Bender and Stan Glinka, replaced a measure long championed by Councilwoman Bridget Fleming that sought to ban members of political party committees from serving on the town’s land-use boards.

Ms. Fleming’s resolution died on the vine, as she was unable to muster any support from the rest of the board to even bring it to a vote. She later tried to amend the Scalera-Throne-Holst measure to include language banning committee members, but that too died for lack of a second to her motion.

On Tuesday, Ms. Fleming, who sought the committee member ban twice last year, said she was disappointed her effort to end what she said was a widespread perception that political insiders dominate the process in Southampton had failed, but she joined the other board members in approving their alternative measure.

Under the ethics change, no more than three members of any one political party will be allowed to serve on any of the seven member land-use boards at any one time. On boards that have more than that number of members from a single party, the town board will be required to seek balance as it appoints new members every year.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence it will be effective,” said Ms. Fleming, who argued that it would limit the political involvement of regular citizens more than prevent any conflicts of interest. “While it put me in a tough spot to vote for it, it is ethics reform and it will move the ball forward.”

She added that she was not happy that Ms. Throne-Holst and Mr. Bender who had previously offered support for the committee ban abandoned her.

“I’m still disappointed Anna switched her vote,” Ms. Fleming added, “and certainly, Brad had pledged his support in the past.”

After a public hearing, at which little support for the Scalera-Throne-Holst measure was offered, with some speakers saying Ms. Fleming’s resolution was better and still others saying both were bad ideas, board members engaged in a little sparring.

“This prohibition on committee membership is a conflict-of-interest control,” Ms. Fleming said of her own measure, “it’s not about political balancing.”

The Scalera-Throne-Holst amendment would place “a much greater restriction on folks’ political participation,” she said, because once a quota of members from a given party was named to a land-use board, “others from that party would be barred from serving.”

Her measure, she argued, has a “rational basis that is based on the circle of influence that comes when committee members nominate candidates for the town board who are then charged with turning around and appointing members of the boards.”

“I feel I have made my position clear on a number of occasions,” countered Ms. Throne-Holst. “I am not comfortable under any circumstances, curtailing anyone’s rights of association or activity or involvement in anything civic, and being active in a political party is just that.”

The supervisor added that it was the responsibility of the town board to monitor the performance of the people it appoints to the boards and step in if there is any sign of wrongdoing. She also argued that someone who was prone to unethical behavior would not be able to so easily change their stripes.

“I do not believe that asking someone to resign their membership on a political committee will in fact translate into a change of behavior,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

Ms. Scalera reiterated her opposition to Ms. Fleming’s measure, saying it was politically motivated and a violation of one’s Constitutional rights.

“The sponsor is unable to articulate any instance of what is targeted here — and let’s be clear, it’s corruption,” she said “That’s what we’re saying.”

During the hearing, John Bennett, a Southampton lawyer and former Republican committee member, attacked both measures. “I see this law as a subversion of the political process, usurping the voice of the people,” he said. “I didn’t like Ms. Fleming’s law, and I like this even less.”

John Ziccarelli of Southampton also said he opposed both measures. “Both laws politicize the independent boards themselves,” he said.

“One thing I hate is when anyone tells me I can’t serve on any board,” said Dieter Van Lehstem of North Sea. “I like the freedom and the freedom of association. As far as I know the American Constitution guarantees it.”

Julie Penny of Noyac supporting Ms. Fleming’s measure, said Southampton Town’s history was full of examples of a land-use board making decisions “that weren’t based on the facts, weren’t based on the town code, weren’t based on planning documents but were instead based on political reasons.”

But Liz McMillan of East Hampton, who said she had worked on a video with Ms. Fleming to gain support for the committee ban, said she had a change of heart after seeing the evidence. “It did not change a thing in East Hampton” or other towns that had similar legislation.

Steve Halsey, a Republican committeeman and former town board member from Bridgehampton, also spoke against both measures. When he was on the board, he said, it was difficult to find people to serve on land-use boards. “The board had to reach out to attempt to fill spaces,” he said. “Not everyone wants to immerse themselves in government.”

He urged the board to “pick the best person if they are a Republican, Democrat or a Communist. If they don’t do their job….  Remove that person.”

Mr. Halsey said being a committee member is not all it’s cracked up to be. “What it does is cost a lot of money,” he said. “I get to go to the same parties, see the same people and eat the same horrible hors d’oeuvres.”

Southampton Board Members Offer Dueling Proposals to Rein in Political Influence

Tags: , , , , , ,


DSC_0035
Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, left, discusses a proposed ban on political committee members serving on land-use boards as Superivisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Christine Scalera listen.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming’s effort to ban members of political committees from serving on the town’s advisory boards—an effort that had fallen short twice before but seemed close to finding majority support just last month—was derailed again this week.

The latest setback came when the other members of the town board joined on Tuesday in co-sponsoring an alternate resolution that was put forth by Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

Instead of calling for an outright ban on committee members, their resolution would limit to three the members of any one political party who would be allowed to serve on the planning board, the zoning board of appeals and the conservation board, all of which have seven members.

The board agreed to hold a February 25 hearing on the Scalera-Throne-Holst alternative, while also agreeing to continue its consideration of Ms. Fleming’s proposal.

After several members of the public came forward to offer their support for her original resolution, Ms. Fleming, a Democrat, said, “I see these two resolutions as apples and oranges,” adding that the second resolution, rather than seeking to remove politics from the process, actually caters “specifically to political parties” and not the needs of the people.

On Wednesday, Ms. Fleming said she had been assured by Councilman Brad Bender, an Independence Party member, that he would continue to support her resolution. Although Supervisor Throne-Holst, also an Independence Party member, is now co-sponsoring a competing resolution, Ms. Fleming said the supervisor had voted for her measure in the past and had recently pledged her support for the resolution and that she hoped she could continue to count on her support.

“I have no interest in seeing this turn into a fight,” she said on Wednesday. “I’m interested in working as a team.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said that she had, indeed, supported Ms. Fleming’s proposal earlier but that her position had evolved after listening to testimony at public hearings.

“I supported it in spirit, but like everyone else I have the right to change my mind if I think there is a better way to achieve what we are looking for,” she said on Wednesday, adding that she too was interested in working across the aisle to achieve consensus.

Both Ms. Throne-Holst and Ms. Scalera said they had floated their ideas for ways to achieve a political balance on land-use boards to different town attorneys without knowing what the other was doing.

On Wednesday, Ms. Scalera, a Republican, reiterated her opposition to Ms. Fleming’s resolution, saying that it raised the Constitutional issue of whether the town board had the authority to limit one’s right to associate with a group of their choosing. She also said that nobody had accused committee members of using their positions on advisory boards for political advantage other than Ms. Fleming.

“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” Ms. Scalera said. “I’ve always said it was politically motivated.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said the resolution she and Ms. Scalera are pushing would follow similar limits imposed on members of the town’s ethics board. At the end of the day, she said, the board “is trying to reassure the public that there is a level playing field.”

Ms. Scalera said it would not prohibit people from joining a political party or group, but would “leave it to us to make sure there is balance.”

But Ms. Fleming said Ms. Scalera and Ms. Throne-Holst’s legislation would punish rank-and-file party members. “You’d be disqualified from serving if the quota was already met,” she said.

“In the bill I propose,” she added, “if you are a party official, if you have special responsibilities and authority connected to that specific position in the party, then you’d be required to set aside that authority while serving. You can’t answer to two masters.”

Both East Hampton and Southold Towns currently ban members of political committees from serving on advisory boards.

Ms. Fleming said she was moved to propose a ban on committee members last year after learning that 10 of the 21 members of the planning, zoning, and conservation boards were members of either the Republican or Conservative committees.

When she brought her amendment to the town’s ethics code to the board last spring, the Republican-Conservative majority blocked it, refusing to allow a public hearing.  She introduced it again this fall, and although the board agreed to hold a hearing on the resolution, it was voted down.

This year, the board did not reappoint two Republican Committee members, Ann Nowak and David Reilly, to the ZBA. Larry Toler, a Republican committee member on the planning board, retired. John Bouvier, a Democratic committee member, was appointed to the conservation board.

Meeting with members of the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee last Friday, Ms. Fleming held out hope that her resolution would pass, despite Ms. Throne-Holst’s decision to work with Ms. Scalera. The handful of committee members who met at Pierson High School, agreed to write a letter to the town supporting Ms. Fleming’s legislation.

“It makes sense to us as community minded folk that politics should not cloud in any way our very important land use boards,” the CAC wrote. “We long to join the communities of Southold and East Hampton who have already enacted this common sense legislation and we are grateful for your efforts this same end.”

“A lot of people, not just us, feel that politics has interfered too much in the way of progress for the citizens here,” said Mike Piliero of Southampton at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It seems to me it’s talking about divvying up positions between political parties,” said Anne Hastings of Hampton Bays, referring to Ms. Scalera and Ms. Throne-Holst’s measure. “I think that it is a tacit admission that there is a conflict of interest.”

Joyce Roper of East Quogue said, “I don’t think Ms. Fleming’s resolution needs to be sacrificed in order for the other resolution to pass.”

But Elaine Kahl of Southampton objected to Ms. Fleming’s proposed committee ban.

“This is America,” she said. “You have a right to choose what group you are going to belong to and what group you aren’t going to belong to. It’s very political in nature. The whole thing is political.”

Southampton Town Proposes Political Party Ban for Committee Members

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck

Hoping to stem what she sees as unbalanced Republican influence, Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming has again sponsored legislation to bar members of a political committee from also serving on the town’s land use boards.

After discovering last year that 10 out of the 21 members on the three influential boards, the planning board, the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) and the conservation board, were members of either the Republican or the Conservative Party committees, Fleming sponsored a resolution to ban members of such a committee from also serving on a board.

“I think,” Fleming said Monday, “it’s a really important measure to advance fairness in land use decisions and to make sure that people in the community feel that all voices are being heard and that land use decisions are being made in a fair and even handed way.”

Both East Hampton and Southold have similar legislation in effect. The resolution would require a political committee member who also wished to serve on a town board to resign from their political post for the time they serve as a board member.

Fleming believes the law would limit the “lopsided representation” of the current boards, noting out of seven members on the ZBA in 2013, five were Republican committee members and one was a Conservative committee member.

There are no members of the Democratic Committee on the town boards, Fleming said Monday

The law, she said, is “in order to open up public participation, so people feel that it’s not an insider’s game, that they can serve, that they can have their voices heard.”

“And,” she added, “in order to remove any conflict of interest that’s created when people are responsible both to the community and to their political parties.”

Fleming first introduced the bill last spring, but it was blocked from having a public hearing. She introduced it again this fall and although it was granted a public hearing, the bill was defeated September 24 by the then Republican-Conservative majority on the board.

At the public portion of the board’s meeting October 8, Mike Anthony of Westhampton, a member of the Democratic activist organization Organizing for America, spoke in support of the resolution, stating that many see government as an insider game and that people in Southampton cannot be part of local government without feeling they have to also be part of a political party.

Also at that meeting, George Lynch of Quogue said the Republican majority on public boards is trampling on proper procedures and stifling public discussion. Residents Dianne Rulnick, Mike Axelrad, Sally Pope and several others called on the board to have a public hearing on the ethics of removing political committee members from land use boards.

On Tuesday, the board hosted a public hearing on the proposal. While supporters voiced their concerns over lopsided legislation and perceived unfairness, opponents said the bill would discourage residents from participating in government and inhibit free speech.

Republican Party committee member Bill Hughes voiced his opposition to the bill at Tuesday’s hearing, saying it limited “freedom of association” and that being elected to a political party committee is a form of free speech.

Republican Councilwoman Christine Scalera has been vocal in her opposition to the bill since it was first introduced. Scalera has called the legislative intent offensive and questioned Fleming’s political motives behind introducing such a bill on Tuesday.

Despite Scalera’s opposition, Fleming is hopeful the bill will move forward and that it will be passed at the next town board meeting February 11.

With “Painful Awareness” of Federal Inefficiency, Southampton Town Leaders are Sworn in Monday

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, new Councilman Stan Glinka, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, new Councilman Brad Bender and Councilwoman Christine Scalera at the first organizational meeting of the town board's new term Monday.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, new Councilman Stan Glinka, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, new Councilman Brad Bender and Councilwoman Christine Scalera at the first organizational meeting of the town board’s new term Monday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

The leaders of the Town of Southampton trumpeted collaboration across party lines Monday as town officials, including new councilmen Brad Bender and Stanley Glinka, were officially sworn in to office.

The meeting room at Southampton Town Hall was filled to capacity with over 70 friends, family and staff members in attendance, with still others watching through a live video stream in an adjacent room.

Representatives from the Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Council were in attendance, as were county and state officials. Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman sat in the third row while Congressman Tim Bishop presided over the event.

Following a procession with bagpipes, Father Michael Vetrano of the Basilica of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary opened the annual ceremony with a simple prayer, “God help us,” asking that the elected officials have the “courage and integrity to always stand up for the truth.”

After being sworn in, Bender waited for Glinka and the pair — a Democrat and Republican, respectively — made consecutive and similar speeches.

“I think,” said Bender, “we’re turning a new page here in the Town of Southampton. I think we’re going to do a lot of good things for the town.”

Glinka thanked his friends, family and co-workers at Bridgehampton National Bank, where he serves as vice president, and said he looked forward to working for Southampton, his hometown.

New Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka is sworn in by Justice Deborah Kooperstein Monday.

New Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka is sworn in by Justice Deborah Kooperstein Monday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

In a longer speech than those given by her colleagues, re-elected Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst — an Independence Party member — emphasized the commitment to collaboration in coming years and outlined several areas where the new board is hopeful it will instill progress through a bi-partisan effort.

“I know we all recognize how privileged we are,” said Throne-Holst, “to not only live and work in this wonderful town, but to have been bestowed the even larger privilege — rather, the trust — to serve and safeguard what makes our town so special and that is, most of all, the wonderful people and constituents who make our community and our precious environment.”

“I think,” continued Throne-Holst, “we all share a painful awareness of the conspicuous and poor example of gridlock, partisan and narrow-minded government that has plagued our country over the last several years and where true public service has been too often stymied.”

The supervisor said the history and tradition of American government was “built by healthy discourse” and “joint commitment to serving the people.”

She said with this legacy in mind, members of the new town board have met and discussed a joint vision on how to best serve Southampton residents moving forward.

Throne-Holst outlined five areas of priority the town board has already decided on for 2014: water quality; affordable housing; police, public safety and code enforcement; addressing the needs of “aging and increasingly inefficient” infrastructure (a list she said is “dizzyingly long”); and having conversations with neighboring governments to “explore efficiency and cost savings to possible shared services, joint projects, emergency management,” among other initiatives.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst addresses the crowd at Southampton Town Hall Monday.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst addresses the crowd at Southampton Town Hall Monday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Throne-Holst said Larry Cantwell, the newly elected East Hampton Town supervisor, has already expressed his interest in such a “two town initiative.”

Throne-Holst underscored the new town government has “a commitment to representing in a cohesive and productive way where we will strive to exemplify government the way we believe it should be.”

“We have together,” she added, “stated a commitment to working together to see our goals move forward, with each of us focusing on several specific projects or areas as part of seeing them all done.”

Throne-Holst asked for the public’s involvement in outlining goals and moving forward, as well as holding the elected officials accountable in their commitment to put party and individual interests aside.

“Hold our feet to the fire,” she said.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst with her children, Nick, Sebastian, Karess and Max (from left to right). (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst with her children, Nick, Sebastian, Karess and Max (left to right). (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Also taking the oath of office Monday were four Southampton Town Trustees, incumbents William Pell IV and Eric Schultz, who were sworn in together by Justice Steven Lynch, as were newcomers Scott Horowitz and Raymond Overton. Trustee Edward Warner, Jr. could not attend the ceremony but took his oath beforehand.

Entering her third term as town clerk, Sundy Schermeyer, accompanied by her grandfather, who turned 95 on Saturday, was sworn in by Councilwoman Christine Scalera.

Southampton Town Justices Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson also took the oath of office Monday and re-elected Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor was sworn in to his second term.

“We’re no supermen or superwomen,” Gregor said to the room of elected officials, “we’re just men and women — part of our community that want to help it.”

“I love the people of Southampton,” he continued, “because they have no problem telling me what they think at any time…To our fellow elected officials, we’re all stuck with each other, so maybe we oughta [sic] try to make it work.”

LaValle & Fleming Debate in East Hampton

Tags: , , , , ,


By Amanda Wyatt; Photography by Michael Heller

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming – both vying to represent New York’s First District in the race for State Senate – locked horns in a debate on Monday night in East Hampton.

Approximately 50 people turned up at the Emergency Services Building to hear the candidates spar over a variety of issues. Bryan Boyhan, publisher of The Sag Harbor Express; David Rattray, editor of The East Hampton Star and League of Women Voters of the Hamptons member Judy Samuelson served as panelists.

Fleming, a Democrat from Noyac, opened the debate by suggesting it was time for a change of leadership, pointing out that LaValle has served in the state senate for 36 years. She also noted that if she wins the election, she would be the first woman senator from Suffolk County.

“I’m running because business as usual has failed us in Albany,” she said.

LaValle, a Republican from Port Jefferson, cited his long record in the state senate as reason to keep him in his position.

“My motto is, First District first,” he said. “…I want to talk about my record, because it’s a distinguished record and one that has served the people of this district.”

LaValle brought up his past efforts in environmental conservation, education and health care, specifically highlighting his role in the recent partnership between Stony Brook University Medical Center and Southampton Hospital.

While much attention was paid to hot-button issues like campaign finance reform and government spending during Monday’s debate, issues particular to the East End were also in focus. The ongoing dispute over the perceived increase in noise from The East Hampton Airport came up, with candidates asked whether it was time to take legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Fleming said she had approached the Southampton Town attorney about the possibility of initiating a lawsuit against the FAA, and that the town council had “met ad nauseum,” she said, with other government leaders over the issue of aircraft noise.

Additionally, said Fleming, she believes enforcing flying curfews and implementing altitude requirements for aircraft could be key components in reducing noise.

LaValle, on the other hand, believed he had “a good disposition to get people to find common ground.”

He suggested the use of a proposed Atlantic Ocean route, which would bring helicopters over the Georgica section of East Hampton, as a way to alleviate residents in Noyac, North Haven and Sag Harbor, as well as the North Fork, of incessant helicopter noise.

“I believe that that is a viable alternative that has to be pursued with all of our vigor,” he said.

Earlier this month, LaValle was joined by a cadre of government officials in signing a letter to the FAA demanding it implement that southern flight path.

The candidates were also asked whether the state should play a role in controlling Lyme disease, as well as managing the deer population.

Calling deer “very formidable,” LaValle said he helped fund the 4-Poster program that has been implemented in Shelter Island as well as other communities like Fire Island to stop the spread of ticks.

The 4-Poster Program, licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), is a feeding station for deer equipped with a strong tickicide.

Implementing a 4-Poster program has most recently been debated in North Haven Village, although it appears that village board is looking towards culling the herd as a means of relief.

“Yes, there are times when I’ve used leadership to steer things in a particular direction, but local people have to be in favor of whatever you want to do,” said LaValle.

Fleming also mentioned using the 4-Poster program, as well as the need to find ways of “humanely reducing” the deer population.

The two-percent property tax levy cap was another topic of debate. While LaValle voted for the cap, he said he had “pushed for the maximum state aid that we were able to generate.”

He added, “sharing services is probably the first step that needs to be taken. I think all levels of government need to share the taxing resources that they have.”

LaValle mentioned he had already supported the consolidation of two school districts on the North Fork and supported the reorganization of schools on the South Fork.

Like LaValle, Fleming expressed the need for mandate relief.

“We’ve got to look at the places where our budgets are leaking, and the state, as sort of the bully pulpit, can induce local municipalities and school districts to lower their costs,” she said. “And that is what the point of the two-percent tax cap really should be, if it stays in place.”

The ever-present issue of jobs was also touched on.

“I don’t think anyone has worked harder to deal with introducing jobs here,” said LaValle, noting that protecting the environment was key to creating jobs and sustaining tourism.

For Fleming, the loss of local jobs is due to the fact many companies cannot afford to stay in the area. She pointed out that Long Island has the highest electric rates in the continental United States, which was a turnoff to corporations.

In her closing statement, Fleming noted that the election has gained national attention.

“If I win, I’ll be the first senator who is a female from eastern Long Island, and the first from all of Long Island since 1984,” she said.

“We can’t let this moment pass,” she added. “We have the opportunity to break into the boys’ club.”

In his closing statement, LaValle brought up his accomplishments in health care, among other things.

“This area will no longer be medically underserved,” he said, speaking to the potential in the partnership between Stony Brook Southampton and Southampton Hospital. “This area will receive the best health care and specialists, so that you don’t have to travel long distances.”

“I believe that over the years in my career that I have been a leader in many, many different areas,” LaValle added. “And I think that’s why the people of the first district have returned me to office.”

Primary Win Pits Fleming vs LaValle

Tags: , ,


By Kathryn G. Menu

Noyac resident and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming was a hardy victor in the Democratic primary for the 1st District New York State Senate race against Rocky Point litigation attorney Jennifer Maertz last Thursday. The decisive win gives Fleming, an attorney with offices in Sag Harbor, the Democratic line this November in the New York State Senate race against veteran Republican State Senator Ken LaValle.

Unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections showed Fleming earned 2,031 votes in the primary, 79.08-percent of voters supporting her bid for the Democratic nomination.

Maertz earned 531 votes or 20.67-percent of the votes cast in this race on Thursday.

“I think this race has really strengthened our resolve and given us confidence that the voters are looking for an alternative to the current leadership we have on the East End in Albany,” said Fleming around 10:15 p.m. Thursday night.

Fleming gave praise to Maertz, someone she said she hopes to work with on community issues.

“I am very pleased with the outcome and it is consistent with what we have heard from residents as we have moved through this campaign,” she added.

On Monday, Maertz noted that her defeat to Fleming coincided with the lowest voter turnout in the entire State of New York for the 2012 primary races. Maertz said she believed it was either voter apathy or perhaps local Democrats were not particularly interested in this specific race.

“Out of the voters who did go to the polls, it was a question of which candidate was able to reach the voters that would turn out for this primary,” said Maertz. “And she won that battle.”

“I do wish Bridget all the best in her campaign,” added Maertz.

Fleming will now prepare to face off against LaValle, a decades long member of the New York State Senate.

“He is a veteran state senator for 36 years and one thing I know from the work we have done talking to voters is 36 years is far too long to be in Albany,” said Fleming. “We need to convey that message first and foremost. Instead of local investment we see our tax dollars going elsewhere in New York State. Eastern Suffolk County is ready for someone who will truly represent its needs and interests.”

Two debates between LaValle and Fleming will be hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons — the first on October 15 in Hampton Bays and the second on October 22 in East Hampton with locations yet to be announced.

 

Landslide Victory for Fleming in New York Primary for State Senate

Tags: , , , , , ,


By Kathryn G. Menu

Noyac resident and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming was a hardy victor in the Democratic primary for the 1st District New York State Senate race against Rocky Point litigation attorney Jennifer Maertz last Thursday. The decisive victory gives Fleming, an attorney with offices in Sag Harbor, the Democratic ticket this November in the New York State Senate race against veteran Republican State Senator Ken LaValle.

Unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections showed Fleming earned 2,031 votes in the primary, 79.08-percent of voters supporting her bid for the Democratic nomination.

Maertz earned 531 votes or 20.67-percent of the votes cast in this race on Thursday.

“I think this race has really strengthened our resolve and given us confidence that the voters are looking for an alternative to the current leadership we have on the East End in Albany,” said Fleming around 10: 15 p.m., Thursday night.

Fleming gave praise to Maertz, someone she said she hopes to work with on community issues.

“I am very please with the outcome and it is consistent with what we have heard from residents as we have moved through this campaign,” she added.

On Monday, Maertz noted that her defeat to Fleming coincided with the lowest voter turnout in the entire State of New York for the 2012 primary races. Maertz said she believed it was either voter apathy or perhaps local Democrats were not particularly interested in this specific race.

“Out of the voters who did go to the polls, it was a question of which candidate was able to reach the voters that would turn out for this primary,” said Maertz. “And she won that battle.”

“I do wish Bridget all the best in her campaign,” added Maertz.

Fleming will now prepare to face off against a decades long member of the New York State Senate in LaValle, the Democrat remained hopeful.

“He is a veteran state senator for 36 years and one thing I know from the work we have done talking to voters is 36 years is far too long to be in Albany,” said Fleming. “We need to convey that message first and foremost. Instead of local investment we see our tax dollars going elsewhere in New York State. Eastern Suffolk County is ready for someone who will truly represent its needs and interests.”

A debate between LaValle and Fleming will be hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons on October 15 in Hampton Bays and again on October 22 in East Hampton with locations yet to be announced.

 

 

 

Fleming Announces Run For Senate

Tags: , , , , ,


web fleming

In a video announcement on Wednesday, May 31, Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming unveiled her campaign for the New York State Senate.

The seat is currently held by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, who has held the position since 1976.

In an interview on Friday, Fleming said she’s decided to make a bid for the long-held Senate seat because she wants to see change in Albany.

“From my leadership role at town government, I can see how issues in our community are being decided in Albany every day,” she said.

Significant issues include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) payroll tax and local waterways, which she said are facing a “crisis” and “need to be monitored.”

Fleming added that her strength as a town official will serve her well against someone who’s been in office for 35 years.

“I was reelected by a very healthy margin,” she said, referring to her reelection this past November for her town council seat in which she took the lead over three other opponents. “I’ve demonstrated that I can win elections.”

Fleming referred to Long Island’s delegation to the New York State Senate as a “men’s club” and added, “It’s going to take someone who comes from a position of real strength to make inroads into that club. As an elected official, I come from a position of strength.”

Fleming once worked as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, but now lives in Noyac and has a private law practice in Sag Harbor. Before taking on LaValle, she is set to run in a Democratic primary against Jennifer Maertz, an insurance litigation attorney from Rocky Point.

Maertz announced her campaign for Senate in February, after having previously run an unsuccessful campaign against LaValle in 2010.

“Of course I was surprised she would make that decision [to run],” Maertz said in an interview. She added that, based on how much time Fleming has spent in office, in Maertz’s opinion Fleming is essentially “reneging on the commitment she made to voters in Southampton.”

Fleming was reelected to her position on the Southampton Town Board this past November, after having initially joined the town board in a special election held in March of 2010. She succeeded then-councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst who vacated her seat to become Southampton Town Supervisor.

According to Drew Biondo, director of communications for Senator Ken LaValle, the senator has no comment at this time.

Thiele Proposes New Zone for Higher Ed. in Southampton

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


DSCF7403 adjusted

By Claire Walla

According to New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the fate of the college campus in Southampton has been put into question more than once in the last decade, which, in his opinion, is disconcerting.

To alleviate any uncertainty that may be swelling around that campus, especially in recent years, Thiele went to the Southampton Town Board last Friday, April 13 to propose legislation that would create a University-25 Zoning District in Southampton Town, specifically where Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus now sits.

There’s been a college campus in Southampton since 1963, when Long Island University built facilities there. And there the campus remained, relatively untouched, until 2005 when Long Island University announced it was for sale.

According to Thiele, a moratorium was then placed on the campus while a planning study was conducted. A year later, Stony Brook University stepped in and took over.

“When Stony Brook bought the campus [in 2006], all was well with the world,” he joked. “Then, of course, the sustainability program was transported to [the main campus], the dorms were closed and it was undetermined what the fate of the campus would be.”

In a surprising, last-minute decision, Stony Brook University decided to close all undergraduate operations at the oceanside campus at the tail end of the 2009-2010 academic year. The only operations that remained were graduate programs in creative writing and marine sciences.

After much debate and backlash from both students and lawmakers (Assemblyman Thiele and Senator Ken LaValle leading the fight), Stony Brook rescinded its decision in 2011, made a formal apology, and is now making plans to bring programs back to the campus.

The push to create an educational zoning district would be to ensure that the land always be used for higher education, no matter what.

It’s called University-25 because a minimum of 25 acres would be needed before the law could be enacted.  Although, at 82 acres, the Southampton property well exceeds that limitation; all 82 acres would fall under the town’s new educational zoning law, if enacted.

While Thiele said the property could theoretically be sub-divided at some point, he added that he couldn’t imagine a scenario in which that would take place.  Stony Brook University, which currently owns the land, is actually in support of the new zoning district.

Any voices of dissent could certainly challenge the new code (if enacted), Thiele continued, which would prompt the town the show that there’s “rational basis” for the zoning district to be enacted.

“I think the fact that it’s been a college for 50 years is certainly rational basis!” he said.

At the work session, Thiele said the thought of taking action to preserve this land for educational (and related) uses only came to him in a relatively random fashion.

“Quite frankly, I was doing research for something else when I came across Ithaca’s zoning ordinance,” Thiele explained. Ithaca, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, has a zoning district reserved for higher education. He continued, “I had one of those ‘eureka!’ moments and said, ‘This would be great for the Southampton campus.’”

Because this would be town-wide legislation, Thiele pointed out that it would apply to the Long Island University campus in Riverhead, as well. When asked whether or not this zoning legislation would affect Stony Brook’s ability to build a hospital in Southampton, Thiele said it would not. The hospital would be regarded as a “related activity.”

The Southampton Town Board would now have to adopt a resolution to create the proposed University-25 Zoning District.

“In my view, this is a good goal, to [also work toward] maintaining that open space,” said Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming. “I want to do whatever we can to preserve that.”

According to the town’s Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray, a public hearing on the matter will be set for May 22.