Tag Archive | "Brookhaven"

Oh Deer! East End Wildlife Groups Plan “No Cull” Rally for Saturday

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By Tessa Raebeck

Plans to unleash federal sharpshooters on the East End deer population have been met with bureaucratic setbacks and vocal opposition, but are moving forward nonetheless.

In coordination with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Long Island Farm Bureau (LIFB) plans to hire USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) sharpshooters to kill deer with high-powered rifles to cull the local herds.

In addition to carrying tick-borne illnesses, causing car accidents and adversely affecting other animal habitats, deer destroy an estimated $3 to $5 million worth of crops annually on the East End, according to Joe Gergela, LIFB executive director.

Gergela said the cull, which will be largely funded by a $200,000 state grant, aims to kill 1,500 to 2,000 deer. All processed meat will go to Island Harvest to feed the hungry on Long Island.

“We felt whatever we did with the grant should be for community as well as farming benefit,” Gergela said Wednesday, adding a cull is crucial to having a successful agricultural industry.

LIFB has asked that villages and towns who want the sharpshooters sign onto the program by committing $15,000 or $25,000, respectively.

The DEC has yet to reveal whether it will require a single permit for the program or make each municipality signing onto the program file individually. Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said Tuesday although many municipalities have expressed interest in joining the program, they don’t want the legal liability of having the permit in their name.

So far, East Hampton Village, Southold Town and the eastern part of Brookhaven Town have signed on.

North Haven Village opted out, but is pursuing its own organized cull.

Sagaponack Village’s participation is contingent on the participation of both East Hampton and Southampton towns.

Southampton Town has thus far stayed mute on the subject — which has been under public discussion since September. Calls to Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst were not returned as of press time.

The East Hampton Town Board, under the previous administration, adopted a deer management plan that included plans for a cull. On Tuesday, however, newly elected Supervisor Larry Cantwell said he was unsure if the town would, in fact, join the LIFB in this initiative.

“At the moment, it’s up in the air,” Cantwell said, adding he would like to see culling on a limited basis and there are advantages to participating, but the town’s decision will be based primarily on the opinions of its residents.

“To some extent,” said Cantwell, “this is happening fairly quickly in terms of building a community consensus moving forward.”

The East Hampton Group for the Wildlife, the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons and 13 individuals have filed suit against East Hampton Town, East Hampton Village and the East Hampton Town Trustees.

The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order against the town’s deer management plan and specifically, any proposal that calls for an organized cull.

“The lawsuit,” Cantwell said, “is certainly a factor in the decision-making process about this.”

Critics contend little information has been provided to show the cull is truly necessary.

“Killing other beings as a way of solving the problem is abhorrent, unethical and monstrous to me,” said East Hampton Group for the Wildlife President Bill Crain. “These are living beings with families and social lives and emotions, so to kill them just seems like a moral outrage.”

“It’s not about animal cruelty and all the nonsense that the Bambi lovers are spouting,” Gergela said. “If they would sit down and listen to people, they would realize there are no practical solutions other than to hunt or to cull.”

A petition on change.org to stop the “stealth plan to brutally slaughter 5,000 East End deer” had garnered over 10,600 signatures as of press time. In addition to local residents, activists from as far away as Belgium have signed the petition, which calls for the “unethical, ‘quick-fix,’ non-science-based plan” to “immediately cease and desist.”

A rally in protest of the cull will be held Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. at the Hook Mill in East Hampton.

Gergela dismissed the opposition as a “vocal minority” of non-locals with “no vested interest other than they enjoy animals and they enjoy their peaceful weekend on Long Island.”

“That’s very nice,” he added, “but for those of us that live here, whether you’re a farmer or a general citizen that’s had an accident, that has Lyme Disease or whatever, everybody says to me, ‘You’re doing a great thing.’”

Local hunters have also expressed their opposition to the cull, arguing if state and local governments lessened hunting restrictions, they themselves could thin the deer population.

Terry Crowley, a lifelong Sagaponack resident whose family has been hunting on the East End for generations, called the cull “a little ridiculous.”

“They should just change a few laws so more deer can be killed,” Crowley said Tuesday.

Thiele is working on legislation that would implement the state deer management plan, which has a number of recommendations to increase hunting opportunities, including expanding the January season to include weekends and allow bow and arrow hunting.

Cantwell voiced his support of such legislation.

“I certainly want to work with the local hunters who want to take deer,” the supervisor said Tuesday, “because I do think that removing some deer from the population on an ongoing basis is necessary to control the population.”

Nuzzi to Challenge Schneiderman in Suffolk County Legislature Race

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi announced this week he is interested in seeking the Republican nomination for Suffolk County Legislature this fall.

Nuzzi made the announcement during a screening in front of the Southampton Republican Committee Tuesday night.

If endorsed by the Republican committee, Nuzzi would be running against incumbent Jay Schneiderman, a member of the Independence Party, who is seeking his sixth and final term with the legislature.

On Wednesday, Nuzzi, a Republican, confirmed he has expressed an interest in running for county legislature and said he hoped to have the Republican Committee’s support. Their response to his interest, Nuzzi added, was “positive.”

Rumors first began swirling that Nuzzi would seek a seat on the legislature after Schneiderman was nominated by the East Hampton Republican Committee to run for supervisor, a candidacy Schneiderman ultimately turned down.

Nuzzi is prevented from seeking another term as a Southampton Town councilman due to term limits. On Wednesday, he said he believes he could bring a lot to the table as a member of the legislature and despite reaching his term limit on the town board felt his career in public service was far from over.

“I am still very interested and committed to public service,” said Nuzzi. “I would like to explore moving on to a different position with different challenges and one that expands the area that I serve.

In addition to Southampton and East Hampton towns, the county’s second legislative district extends to Shelter Island and into a portion of eastern Brookhaven town.

A resident of Southampton, Nuzzi grew up in East Hampton and said the South Fork as a whole is precious to him.

“The finances and the structure of county government is something that clearly remains a pressing issue,” said Nuzzi. “We have to ensure its financial solvency is maintained. We have made some very difficult decisions in Southampton that has caused a lot of debate but our government is working and we have not had to raise the tax levy in three years, we cut staff through attrition and we have been able to reorganize government where the community is well served through common sense solutions.”

Ensuring the county maintains its support of environmental initiatives on the South Fork, particularly with funding cuts, is critical, added Nuzzi.

On Wednesday, Schneiderman said that while no formal endorsements have been announced, he expects the support of his own party, as well as that of the Democratic Party.

Schneiderman added he would also seek the endorsement of the Working Families party. He was not asked to screen by the Republican committee.

“I will be running on my record which I believe is a strong record of achievement,” said Schneiderman, pointing to the widening of County Road 39 in Southampton, the new sidewalk on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike and the creation of Sunday bus service as examples of local initiatives he championed in the legislature.

“I am in my tenth year and in 10 years I have been able to get resources for this district without increasing county property taxes,” he added.



Thiele Deflects Conflict Charge from Opposition

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Richard Blumenthal, the Republican and Conservative Party candidate vying for incumbent New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.’s seat this November charged last week that the Sag Harbor native risks a conflict of interest in serving both as the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees’ village attorney and as a state assemblyman.

Thiele, a former Republican who switched his party loyalty to the Independence Party last October, is seeking re-election on that party line, as well as the Democratic and Working Families lines. He has been a member of the state assembly since 1995.

“Assemblymemeber Thiele and Sag Harbor Village Attorney Thiele are the same person,” stated Blumenthal in a press release issued last week. “That’s two taxpayer-salaried jobs, two different government constituencies, two loyalties, one person.”

Blumenthal cited a recent Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting where the issue of a commercial mooring field operating without regulation in state waters off Sag Harbor Village’s waterfront as an example of a “risk for a conflict of interest,” noting Sag Harbor Deputy Mayor Tim Culver had said he would work with Thiele as a village attorney to try and find a solution to the problem.

At a village board meeting earlier this month, residents John Brannen and Anita Rainford raised the issue of the non-regulated mooring field, saying it has created a safety hazard and presented issues with navigation.

“Mr. Thiele owes an explanation to both of his public employers as to how he can represent both sides at the same time without a conflict of interest,” said Blumenthal. “Additionally, both the people of Sag Harbor and Assembly District 2 have a right to know if a conflict has occurred before, in order to determine if the conflict outcome was damaging to the interests of one or both.”

On Monday, Thiele denied any conflict of interest, calling the press release one in a series from “the candidate backed by the Crookhaven Republican machine, and this is what they do.”

Noting that he is not in fact salaried by the Village of Sag Harbor, but a contract employee, Thiele said seven years ago, when serving as the village attorney for Westhampton Beach, he approached the state ethics committee and they rendered the opinion that he could in fact operate as both a village attorney and state assemblyman.

“I am a good enough attorney to know to get an official opinion,” he said.

Thiele added that as an independent contractor in village government, he does not collect health insurance coverage or pension credits, and said in his tenure as village attorney not a single conflict has arisen, particularly because Sag Harbor Village has a second village attorney, Anthony Tohill. Tohill, he said, would represent the village in front of any state agency should that need arise.

“All that really was, with the mooring field, was determining who has jurisdiction,” he added. “For the record, it is in state waters and Mr. Brannen will have to raise that complaint with the office of general services. Tim has been advised of this as well.”

“There is absolutely no conflict here,” continued Thiele. “My position with the village is completely transparent and disclosed and if there ever is a possible conflict, Tony Tohill would handle that. That has been the agreement from the beginning – that I would not appear before any state agency on behalf of the village.”

Thiele added it is common for state assembly members to have positions elsewhere, and often it is in the legal field with undisclosed, private clients.

“The only client I have is the Village of Sag Harbor and everyone knows it,” he said, adding that while Blumenthal incorrectly stated Thiele receives two government salaries — one from Sag Harbor and one from the State of New York — should Blumenthal be elected he will leave a six-figure guidance department job, for which he took a four percent raise this year, and collect his retirement along with his pay as a state assemblyman.

“I don’t want to throw rocks, but if you throw rocks at me, I am going to throw them back,” he said.

In related news, this week the New York State Supreme Court has rejected Blumenthal’s appeal to remove Thiele from the Independence Party line for the November election. Blumenthal objected to Thiele’s petition before the Suffolk County Board of Elections, with that board disagreeing with Blumenthal and finding Thiele’s petition signatures valid.

Blumenthal then brought the matter to the State Supreme Court with Justice Kevin J. Kerrigan rejecting his claim that Thiele’s petition did not meet state laws.