Tag Archive | "Congressman Tim Bishop"

Fishermen Support Altschuler for Congress

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Just a week after incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop earned the endorsement of Montauk political heavyweight John Behan, his challenger Randy Altschuler announced on Monday that he has reeled in the support of a number of fishing associations.

Altschuler has earned endorsements from the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), the Montauk Boatman & Captain’s Association (MBCA) and the New York Fishing Tackle Trades Association. Leaders from those groups joined the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party candidate at the Montauk Yacht Club Marina on Monday afternoon.

“Representative Bishop has not been a consistent voice for the needs of our Long Island recreational fishermen, and has been a strong proponent of the Pelosi-Obama doctrine which has not been good for our coastal constituents,” said RFA Managing Director Jim Hutchinson, Jr. “RFA is hoping that Speaker John Boehner can get Randy on the House Resources Committee in 2013, we need a Long Island representative on that committee.”

“I’ve met with Randy numerous times and spoken to him about how fishing is part of the fabric of who we are out on the East End,” said Captain Joe McBride. “His willingness to truly learn about these issues and not just pay us lip service is very important to me. I feel very good about this endorsement and about having Randy as our next Congressman.”

“As president of the MBCA, I know that my members feel that the East End does not currently have someone in Washington who is truly willing to fight for us during a very critical time for our industry,” said Captain Rick Etzel. “We have an opportunity to change that by sending Randy to Congress and I, for one, will work hard to see that it happens.”

“I could not be more proud to stand here and accept these endorsements today and cannot overstate how important this is to my campaign,” said Altschuler on Monday. “Fishermen, boatmen, marina owners, and bait and tackle shop owners are integral to our local economy. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 291,000 saltwater anglers help to contribute more than $645 million a year in total economic impact to New York State. Open public access to a healthy and sustainable population of fish represents both a significant jobs issue for New York’s First Congressional District and part of Suffolk County’s rich history.”

He added that his 10-point jobs plan includes a plank dedicated to federal fisheries reform.

“Randy Altschuler went to a yacht club to receive an endorsement engineered by Republicans,” said Congressman Bishop’s campaign spokesman Robert Pierce. “The Congressman has repeatedly delivered for the fishing community across Long Island, including securing funds to dredge Lake Montauk and Shinnecock Inlet. Congressman Bishop is also working to get New York a seat on the New England Fishery Management Council and he has introduced legislation to allow for the recreational fishing o striped bass in federal waters off Montauk where it is now prohibited.”

Lighthouse to be Designated as a National Historic Landmark Today

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According to a spokesperson for New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the United States Department of the Interior will designate the Montauk Point Lighthouse – New York State’s oldest lighthouse and one of the first seacoast lighthouses authorized by Congress —as a National Historic Landmark some time Monday afternoon.

Since last year, Senator Gillibrand has urged Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar and the National Park System (NPS) Advisory Board Landmarks Committee to designate the site as a National Historic Landmark.  The Lighthouse would be the twelfth place in Suffolk and Nassau counties to achieve landmark status.

“This is great news,” said Senator Gillibrand in a press release issued Monday morning. “The importance of this iconic lighthouse, which helped make New York Harbor the nation’s premier port, is indisputable. Montauk Point Lighthouse can finally take its rightful place as one of our National Historic Landmarks.”

Last November, Senator Gillibrand wrote in a letter to Ronald James, Chair of the NPS Advisory Board Landmarks Committee, “I strongly encourage you to recommend that the Montauk Point Lighthouse be designated as a National Historic Landmark to Secretary Salazar after the Advisory Board’s upcoming meeting… The Montauk Point Lighthouse has a rich history and continues to serve as a vital navigation feature to this day.  In 1969, the lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and the time has come for this iconic structure to be designated as a National Historic Landmark.”

The designation was also strongly supported by Congressman Tim Bishop, a native of the East End.

With Montauk Point Lighthouse becoming an iconic part of Suffolk County’s landscape, Senator Gillibrand pointed out that the landmark status would have the potential to greatly enhance tourism and economic activity in the surrounding area. The National Historic Landmark designation would provide greatly needed resources to preserve this site, which played a pivotal role in America’s history, guiding ships from Europe to New York. Built in 1796, the Montauk Point Lighthouse promoted New York as the receiving port for British manufactured goods in America.

Sights are Set on Bishop’s Seat

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by Karl Grossman

Election 2011 is over, and on eastern Long Island the activity has already begun in what will surely be the mostly hotly fought contest here in 2012: the race in the lst Congressional District.

Democrat Tim Bishop of Southampton was first elected in 2002 to represent the five East End towns, all of Brookhaven and part of Smithtown in Congress. Competing — and aggressively so — to be the GOP candidate to oppose him are Randy Altschuler of St. James and George Demos of Ronkonkoma.

Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle and Suffolk Conservative Chairman Ed Walsh, along with several GOP town leaders and all the Conservative town leaders in the lst C.D., have already announced their backing of Mr. Altschuler to take on Mr. Bishop again.

Mr. Altschuler lost narrowly to Mr. Bishop last year. It took weeks, but after errors were found in the reporting of votes, a recount and tallying of absentee ballots, the incumbent was credited with winning by 593 votes out of 196,039 cast — the closest Congressional race in the U.S. in 2010. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put Mr. Bishop on its endangered list for 2012.

Mr. Demos, who tried to be the GOP nominee in 2010, is pushing hard again to be the candidate. An attorney, he has been zeroing in on a sensitive area for Mr. Altschuler: outsourcing.

Mr. Altschuler’s greatest vulnerability last year was a business he founded, through which he made millions, that outsources jobs to India and other foreign countries. Mr. Bishop made it the major election issue. Mr. Demos recently blasted Mr. Altschuler “for lamenting the loss of American jobs after personally exporting thousands of those jobs to India….Randy Altschuler demonstrated once and for all why he has zero credibility as a candidate for U.S. Congress.”

Mr. Bishop, former Southampton College provost, has kept it up on outsourcing. In Congress this year he sought, as his office describes it, “to prevent the federal government from contracting with companies that outsource American jobs.” His move was defeated by House Republicans.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bishop could have something else to worry about — protest votes election day against members of Congress.

A New York Times/CBS poll in October found, as the Times put it in its headline: “Americans’ Approval of Congress Drops to Single Digits.” Only nine percent of respondents approved “the way Congress is handling its job.” Some 84 percent disapproved. (Seven percent weren’t sure.) It was the lowest approval rating for Congress ever recorded in the poll’s history. Both Democratic and GOP incumbents are being blamed.

An expose last month by “60 Minutes” revealing how former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now Democratic minority leader, and GOPer and current House Speaker John Boehner, and other members of Congress, took advantage of insider information to buy stock that benefited from Congressional action (and inaction) has likely boosted the negative perception.

Being in Congress is a “venture opportunity…to enrich yourself, your friends, and your family,” said Peter Schweizer on “60 Minutes.” He’s the author of a new book, “Throw Them All Out.”

Making the rounds on the Internet in recent times has been the suggestion: “Members of Congress should be compelled to wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we could identify their sponsors.” And the posting: “Now I understand! The English language has some wonderfully anthropomorphic collective nouns for various groups of animals. We are all familiar with a herd of cows, a flock of chickens, a school of fish and a gaggle of geese….Now consider a group of baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not—a congress. I guess that pretty much explains the things that come out of Washington!”

This low opinion of the Congress isn’t new. Mark Twain a century ago wrote that “there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.” And Will Rogers said: “The country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

With Congress having gone to its lowest point in citizen satisfaction, how will this play out nationally and in Suffolk in Election 2012?


Everything’s on the Table: Congressman Tim Bishop says Government Needs to abide by Fairness and Sacrifice

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By Claire Walla


Seated at several tables inside Page, Main Street’s newest addition to the restaurant world, roughly 40 members of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce sat down last Thursday, April 28 with U.S. Congressman Tim Bishop to talk shop.

Over plates of steak and monk fish, the crowd asked a handful of questions ranging from health care to oil subsidies. And Bishop — a Southampton native — answered them all.

As to be expected, he said everything comes back to the country’s most prominent issue: the deficit.

“A year ago, there was nothing else being discussed in Washington but health care, and now there’s nothing else being discussed in Washington but our debt and our deficit,” he said.

Bishop explained that the United States is now operating with a $3.7 trillion budget, $1.6 trillion of which is borrowed.

“Anybody who tells you we can balance our budget by simply reducing our spending is either being delusional or dishonest, because it simply cannot happen.”

“What we have to do is recognize that everything has to be on the table,” he continued. “I also hope that we will be guided by two fundamental principals, one is fairness, and the other is shared sacrifice.”

The idea of making carefully crafted cuts in order to maintain funding in certain areas was at the heart of Bishop’s message that night.

Bishop highlighted programs like Medicaid, for example, which he said the budget aims to cut by $80 billion, pointing out that one in three children receive health care benefits from this federally financed program. As for spending cuts, Bishop explained in a follow-up interview that the nation needs to curb farm subsidies.

“We’re spending billions of dollars a year to stop farmers from farming their crops,” he said. “This money does not go to the mom-and-pop farms, but the large agro-farms in the U.S.”

He also said defense spending — which he noted has more than doubled in the last eight years — needs to be reduced.

A point of contention for many small business owners at last week’s dinner was the tax credits and subsidies currently afforded big oil companies. Oil companies save around $5 million every year in tax breaks and subsidies, Bishop continued, “which they simply don’t need.”

In a question-and-answer session after his speech, local mortgage banker and broker Judy McDowell asked the congressman why Washington has allowed for such large tax breaks when local business owners are suffering to stay afloat.

Bishop noted at the event that he planned to introduce legislation this week, which seeks to eliminate tax breaks for the top five oil companies. (Similar legislation was brought up in Congress in 2005 as part of an energy bill policy, but Bishop noted it didn’t pass.)

Barbara Frerichs, who owns a business called the Mosquito Squad, asked Bishop why the money used for the bank bailout in 2008 went exclusively to large firms, rather than to the small business owners who have suffered in the wake of the economic collapse.

“The money that we were providing to the banks should have been much more actively loaned out, particularly to small businesses. That was a big mistake,” Bishop said. “They got burned very, very badly, in my opinion, because of their own policies and because of their own greed-driven approach, and now they’re holding back.. We have to get banks lending again.”

The last question of the night came from Louis Grignon of the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard who complained of paying steadily increasing fees each year for health insurance.

“I’m 100 percent behind health care reform,” he said. “But it doesn’t address the cost.”

By 2014, Bishop said, the health care reform bill will introduce the concept of state-based exchanges, which will bring small business owners to the bargaining table.

“What we’re trying to do is take the power of who gets to ration care, and who gets to buy out of the health insurance companies and provide it to businesses and individuals.”

In the end, Bishop concluded, “I hope we’re guided by this really simple principal of shared sacrifice. I’m not prepared to ask the less fortunate among us to take all of the burden while we ask the most fortunate among us that their only contribution is to get yet another tax cut. I’m not prepared to do that.”

Bishop Forum Underscores Healthcare Divide

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The debate over federal health care reform has found its way to the East End, with a rally held last night in East Hampton and another planned for Saturday at Marine Park in Sag Harbor. The division among residents of Long Island over the issue was clear at a town hall style meeting held by Congressman Tim Bishop last week at Sachem East High School.

Moderated by Southampton Town Justice and Sag Harbor resident Andrea Schiavoni, the forum was attended by a rowdy crowd of just under 900 that booed, hissed, cheered and interrupted speakers and the congressman during an over two-hour session devoted to the controversial debate on Capitol Hill. That debate is expected to resume when Congress returns to session later this month.

Similar to an event held in Setauket earlier this summer, crowds of protestors with placards in hand, protested President Barack Obama’s initiative to reform the nation’s health care system with an equal amount of supporters of the plan lending their voices to the debate at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the House Committee on Education and Labor website, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, the legislation Congressman Bishop has supported, would seek to set coverage standards for insurance companies on a state-by-state basis and would aim to curtail double digit percent increases in the cost of private health care. A public health insurance option is also a key portion of the bill. The legislation would also seek to prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing health conditions, although that practice is already illegal in the State of New York. Medicaid eligibility would also be expanded if the bill were passed, which would be federally financed and employers would be required to either provide health care to their employees or pay into a fund on their behalf. Small businesses with payrolls that do not exceed $250,000 would be exempt from that provision.

Several versions of the bill have been debated with final legislation yet to be hammered out.

Bishop opened the meeting noting he has spent “90 percent” of his recess talking with residents of the First Congressional District about health care. He said without exception he has found the discussions to be “productive, informative and civil” and had similar hopes for Thursday’s event.

“This is an incredibly important issue that affects each and every one of us,” said Bishop.

When asked how he could consider supporting the bill with the country in such dire financial straits, Bishop vowed he was “committed to not support a bill that is fully paid for,” but added it was crucial to move the bill out of committee and into the full consideration of the House of Representatives.

“Taxpayers should not have to pay for insurance company profits,” added Bishop, noting private insurance companies receive subsidies from the federal government despite profit increases in the face of premium increases.

During the meeting, Bishop noted that premiums have increased at a rate small and large businesses alike are unable to contend with. He said premiums for the average private insurance family plan has increased 100 percent in less than a decade, a burden the nation’s residents will not be able to accommodate in another decade.

Smithtown resident Lucia Cassidy charged that the bill would allow the government, in the form of a health care commission, to decide the benefits and treatment she received.

“Where are my choices, my freedoms,” she asked. “This is America.”

“You have asked if I support the government choosing what doctor you should have,” replied Bishop. “I absolutely do not. I should also tell you there is not a single word in the bill that tells you what doctor you can have.”

“New York State has minimum standards for what constitutes minimum coverage for private insurers,” explained Bishop, noting the commission would have the ability to define what minimum coverage is in all states. Breast health exams and colonoscopies, for example, have to be covered by insurance in New York, said Bishop and this would expand that requirement to the rest of the country.

With Schiavoni often needing to interrupt speakers and the congressman attempting to gain control of the floor, Bishop continued to be peppered by questions — from whether the bill would force a Wading River 11-year old’s grandmother off life support, to the lack of current health care coverage for those who have lost work in the face of debilitating medical conditions. Several speakers demanded the federal government keep its hands off health care, while others praised Bishop for trying to find a solution to the health care problem facing the country.

On the East End, residents are also organizing to keep the debate about health care reform raging, with two events planned locally this week. Last night, East Hampton residents gathered for a vigil on Main Street in East Hampton calling for a public health care option. According to Sag Harbor resident and activist Michael O’Neill, this is one of several planned nationwide.

On Saturday, residents in Sag Harbor are hosting a Health Care Walk and Rally. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. at Long Beach in Noyac and travel to Marine Park in the center of the village where a rally will be held at 11 a.m.

The debate over federal health care reform has found its way to the East End, with a rally held last night in East Hampton and another planned for Saturday at Marine Park in Sag Harbor. The division among residents of Long Island over the issue was clear at a town hall style meeting held by Congressman Tim Bishop last week at Sachem East High School.

Moderated by Southampton Town Justice and Sag Harbor resident Andrea Schiavoni, the forum was attended by a rowdy crowd of just under 900 that booed, hissed, cheered and interrupted speakers and the congressman during an over two-hour session devoted to the controversial debate on Capitol Hill. That debate is expected to resume when Congress returns to session later this month.

Similar to an event held in Setauket earlier this summer, crowds of protestors with placards in hand, protested President Barack Obama’s initiative to reform the nation’s health care system with an equal amount of supporters of the plan lending their voices to the debate at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the House Committee on Education and Labor website, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, the legislation Congressman Bishop has supported, would seek to set coverage standards for insurance companies on a state-by-state basis and would aim to curtail double digit percent increases in the cost of private health care. A public health insurance option is also a key portion of the bill. The legislation would also seek to prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing health conditions, although that practice is already illegal in the State of New York. Medicaid eligibility would also be expanded if the bill were passed, which would be federally financed and employers would be required to either provide health care to their employees or pay into a fund on their behalf. Small businesses with payrolls that do not exceed $250,000 would be exempt from that provision.

Several versions of the bill have been debated with final legislation yet to be hammered out.

Bishop opened the meeting noting he has spent “90 percent” of his recess talking with residents of the First Congressional District about health care. He said without exception he has found the discussions to be “productive, informative and civil” and had similar hopes for Thursday’s event.

“This is an incredibly important issue that affects each and every one of us,” said Bishop.

When asked how he could consider supporting the bill with the country in such dire financial straits, Bishop vowed he was “committed to not support a bill that is fully paid for,” but added it was crucial to move the bill out of committee and into the full consideration of the House of Representatives.

“Taxpayers should not have to pay for insurance company profits,” added Bishop, noting private insurance companies receive subsidies from the federal government despite profit increases in the face of premium increases.

During the meeting, Bishop noted that premiums have increased at a rate small and large businesses alike are unable to contend with. He said premiums for the average private insurance family plan has increased 100 percent in less than a decade, a burden the nation’s residents will not be able to accommodate in another decade.

Smithtown resident Lucia Cassidy charged that the bill would allow the government, in the form of a health care commission, to decide the benefits and treatment she received.

“Where are my choices, my freedoms,” she asked. “This is America.”

“You have asked if I support the government choosing what doctor you should have,” replied Bishop. “I absolutely do not. I should also tell you there is not a single word in the bill that tells you what doctor you can have.”

“New York State has minimum standards for what constitutes minimum coverage for private insurers,” explained Bishop, noting the commission would have the ability to define what minimum coverage is in all states. Breast health exams and colonoscopies, for example, have to be covered by insurance in New York, said Bishop and this would expand that requirement to the rest of the country.

With Schiavoni often needing to interrupt speakers and the congressman attempting to gain control of the floor, Bishop continued to be peppered by questions — from whether the bill would force a Wading River 11-year old’s grandmother off life support, to the lack of current health care coverage for those who have lost work in the face of debilitating medical conditions. Several speakers demanded the federal government keep its hands off health care, while others praised Bishop for trying to find a solution to the health care problem facing the country.

On the East End, residents are also organizing to keep the debate about health care reform raging, with two events planned locally this week. Last night, East Hampton residents gathered for a vigil on Main Street in East Hampton calling for a public health care option. According to Sag Harbor resident and activist Michael O’Neill, this is one of several planned nationwide.

On Saturday, residents in Sag Harbor are hosting a Health Care Walk and Rally. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. at Long Beach in Noyac and travel to Marine Park in the center of the village where a rally will be held at 11 a.m.


Starting a Dialogue on Immigration Reform

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In recent years, immigration on the East End has become a contentious, and often polarizing, issue. Each side — whether it be those who wish to see every undocumented immigrant deported or those who wish to see amnesty for all undocumented immigrants — continues to fight a fierce rhetorical argument against one another. Hoping to bridge the gap between these two groups, US Congressman Tim Bishop, Southampton Town Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst and New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele teamed up to host a forum titled “Immigration in the Hamptons: Beginning a Community Dialogue” on Friday, March 13, at the Southampton Senior Center in Hampton Bays.

While people waved American flags and held up signs saying “Deport Illegals” outside, Bishop told the audience the current status quo of community relations towards immigrants residing in the East End was “unacceptable.”

“I hope we can come to an understanding … and cut through the ugliness [surrounding this issue] to talk in a civil and respectful fashion,” continued Bishop.

He went on to say that while the federal government has focused much of its efforts on border patrol, internal enforcement of immigration laws have been neglected and the visa program is in disrepair. Bishop hopes the federal government will adopt an “earned citizenship” program for the 12 to 15 million undocumented workers currently living in the country.

Creating a path to “earned citizenship” is a bipartisan solution to the problem, said Bishop, and is an idea which has received backing from Senator John McCain and former President George Bush, Jr. After the forum, Thiele added that this policy of “earned citizenship” would make undocumented workers pay back taxes and other various fines.

There were many people in the audience, however, who criticized this plan saying deportation of all undocumented immigrants was still a viable option. Others said that while the nation waits for a full revision and update of immigration laws, the presence of illegal immigrants creates an economic strain on local residents.

One Hampton Bays resident, who is also a contractor, said he is continually outbid on projects because he uses legal labor, while, he added, other contractors employ undocumented laborers for less pay.

“A lot of people are very angry,” said Ronald Lawandowski, the director of the Patriots Border Alliance for Suffolk County.

However, other attendees, like Sag Harbor lawyer Bridget Fleming, wished this anger was tempered with words of compassion.

“There is no doubt that there is a group of people who are very angry, but I think there is a lot of misunderstanding. [Almost] every single one of those people [in that room] comes from an immigrant family, who were faced with identical challenges when they first arrived [to this country] … The solution to deport everyone is impossible,” said Fleming.

Fleming said she attended the meeting to learn how to inspire cultural acceptance in the Sag Harbor community, in order to avoid tragic situations like the murder of Marcello Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, in Patchogue this past November.

“I want to make sure that doesn’t happen in our school … Cultivating compassion is the only way we can create a safe, happy and prosperous community,” added Fleming.

Thiele reported that the forum on Friday will be one of many to come. He said the principal goal of the forums was to not only facilitate a dialogue, but to also educate the public on the key facts surrounding immigration and immigration policies.

“Obviously holding one forum in two hours, we are only able to scratch the surface of the issue … It will not be just one meeting [though], but a long process of getting information out there,” he said. “Through conversation and discussion, I do think the larger community can start to reach some kind of consensus.”

He added that in the future, the panels might devote a whole forum on one key issue, such as health care or the economics of immigration. According to Thiele, it is also imperative to discuss issues surrounding immigration today, before tensions between the various groups flare up tomorrow.

“The underlying issues that come with immigration are very much ingrained into the East End community,” said Thiele. “[Immigration] is an issue we will be confronted with for a long time.”

Above: A Southampton Town resident voiced his concerns over immigration at the immigration forum hosted by Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Congressman Tim Bishop. 

East End Digest: August 21

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Posthumous MVP Award

Brenda Siemer Scheider displays commemorative t-shirt and pendant presented to her by jewelry designer and publicist John Wegorzewski just prior to the start of the 60th Annual Artists & Writers softball game. The pendent is a 14-karat hold baseball mitt with rotating ball, designed by Wegorzewski in honor of Siemer Scheider’s late husband, Roy Scheider. Roy’s illness had prevented an earlier presentation of the honor so Brenda requested it be given on the pitcher’s mound where Roy tossed out the first ball last year. The game was played in his honor with the teams wearing commemorative t-shirts bearing his name. 

Assemblyman Thiele: East Hampton Funding

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced this week that the town and village of East Hampton will receive over $31,000 in grants funded through the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund to help them manage records and archival information.

“I am very happy to see funds distributed to educational programs,” said Thiele. “It is necessary to make sure that historical records are archived and made accessible to the public. Being educated about our past is very important, whether it be our local or national history.”

According to the New York State Archives Web site, grants and awards are offered to “support, promote and recognize sound archival and records management practices, as well as to encourage creative and valuable uses of archival records.”

“I am positive that East Hampton will put these funds to great use.  I applaud them for going through the application process and receiving the grant,” said Thiele.

Specifically, the Town of East Hampton will receive $20,000 and the Village of East Hampton will receive $11,400.

Ellen’s Run: 1,001 Participants

Ellen’s Run, the East Hampton race to benefit breast cancer patient services, attracted more than 1000 participants to this past Sunday’s 13th annual 5K race. The event raised a record $180,000 from race registration, sponsors of the run and donations related to the race. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patient services on the East End.

Luis German of Southampton won the race in 16:34 and Jessica Van Binsbergen of East Hampton was the first female finisher in 18:55. The first breast cancer survivor across the line was Karen McGlade of Amagansett at 21:27. Twenty-four breast cancer survivors finished the run.

The ages of runners and walkers in the event ranged from six to 83. The 3.1-mile course started and ended at the East Hampton High School on Long Lane.

Ellen’s Run Director Julie Ratner said the perfect weather and the first Ellen’s Run Health and Wellness Fair all added to the celebratory atmosphere of the event.

“It’s about memory and love as well as the racing and walking, she said.

Suffolk County: ADA-Compliant Buses

Seeking to make mass transit friendlier and more accessible to all passengers, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced last week that all Suffolk Transit fleet buses will be equipped with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant automated bus stop annunciators.

By the end of the year passengers riding any of Suffolk Transit’s 162 buses will be informed of what stop they are approaching, as well as the bus’s final destination, via a pre-recorded announcement. An electronic sign will also be positioned inside at the front of the bus as visual notification of the next stop on the bus’s route.

Levy secured 90 percent aid for this project from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Suffolk will be responcible for covering the remaining 10 percent of the $430,000 total cost associated with providing the automated annunciators in 55 Suffolk buses which have yet to be outfitted with the devices; the other 107 buses have already been retrofitted with the technology over the past year.

“Suffolk’s bus system has always been ADA-compliant, following all federal mandates to announce upcoming bus stops,” said Levy. “However, in the past, our bus drivers would be the ones to announce an approaching destination. Having an automated system is a more efficient system, as the automated announcer speaks loud and clearly enough for everyone to understand.”

Levy’s annunciator initiative comes just weeks after launching a progressive mass transit program to outfit all county buses with bicycle racks for those bus patrons who wish to ride their bikes to and from transit hubs.

“Tough economic times and the advent of $4 per gallon gasoline have led to an increased reliance on mass transportation,” said Levy. “That is why we must make our Suffolk bus system as accessible as possible for all people.”

Southampton Rotary Club: North Pole Journey

Southampton Rotary Club President Kevin Luss announced last week that the club has extended an invitation to the community to attend their September 4 meeting to hear the dramatic and inspirational account of 76-year-old Barbara Hillary’s quest to reach the North Pole.

In 2007, Hillary, a retired nurse, community activist and lung cancer survivor became the first African American women on record and one of the oldest people to reach the North Pole – the literal top of the world. The New York native is training and raising funds for another trip, now to the South Pole, in December. She will be the first African American woman to reach both poles, and one of the oldest as well.

The event will take place at 12:15 p.m. at the Southampton Village Levitas Cultural Center at 25 Pond Lane.

Congressman Bishop: “River Keeper”

Last week, Congressman Tim Bishop was recognized by Save the Forge River as its 2008 “River Keeper,” the organization’s highest award, for his extensive work to help clean up the Forge River in Mastic Beach.

??”The Forge’s health has been wrecked by too many chemicals and other forms of pollution and decisive action is needed,” said Bishop. “Save the Forge River has been an outstanding partner in this vital effort and I am grateful for this honor from them. The Forge has been crying out for help, and because of the community’s efforts, all the way to the United States Capitol, people are listening.”

??“Congressman Bishop has been one of the best friends to the Forge River,” said Ron Lupski, President of Save the Forge River. “Not only did he help lead the way to get the federal government involved in protecting the Forge River, he even got personally involved by participating in our cleanup. We will bring the Forge River back to health and one of the main reasons why is Congressman Tim Bishop.”??

Bishop, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, successfully passed legislation to authorize a critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reconnaissance Study of the severely polluted Forge River. Launched last year, the $100,000 study will assess environmental problems and determine if there is a federal interest in conducting an environmental restoration project, as well as what local resources are available to partner with federal agencies. In addition to his work in Congress to protect the Forge, Bishop personally took part in a cleanup of the watershed earlier this year, which was organized by Save the Forge River. ??Last week Congressman Bishop chaired a meeting with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, representatives of Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Brookhaven Supervisor Brian Foley, Legislator Kate Browning and other Suffolk County officials, and Save the Forge River to ensure that all parties are coordinating their efforts. One of the goals of the meeting was to see what could be done to expedite the process and bring help to the river sooner. Bishop is working to make sure the Army Corps has data which has been compiled by local researchers at Stony Brook University and the Suffolk County Department of Health, which can help with their study.?? Polluted by increasing runoff over several decades, the Forge River has become nearly uninhabitable to wildlife. In response, environmental advocates – led by Save the Forge River and the Peconic Baykeeper – have mobilized to protect the Forge.