Tag Archive | "Dan Russo"

Southampton Town races confirmed

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The results are in, and it’s now official — Sally Pope and Andrea Schiavoni, Democrats both — have won their seats as Southampton Town councilperson and town justice, respectively.

A mandatory machine recount was ordered after election night results left Pope in the lead over Republican incumbent Dan Russo by just 740 votes. Late Friday afternoon, the official results of that recount — which gave Pope an 832 vote margin — were sent to new Southampton Town board member, Sally Pope. Pope said Russo’s lawyer decided not to challenge the results and Pope was declared the winner.

After Election Day, the two candidates also had to await results from town absentee ballots. The official numbers came in on Friday — 12,582 votes for Remsenburg resident Pope and 11,750 for Russo, who resides in East Quogue. Pope earned 11,025 votes from registered Democrats and 1,009 from Independence party voters while Russo had 10,269 votes from Republicans and 1,481 from registered Conservatives. Another 548 votes came in for Pope from The Working Families Party, who endorsed her.

Russo was appointed to the town board earlier this year and replaced the seat vacated by councilwoman Linda Kabot when she was elected supervisor.

Now that she has won, Pope said she is looking forward to the experience of being part of the Southampton Town Board.

“As one of my first tasks, I want to look at how we perform and how we manage with scarcer resources,” Pope said.

As her first duty as an elected official, Pope said she will attend a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new store in Hampton Bays this Saturday, called Geek Hampton.

January 5 will be the first organizational meeting for Pope who says she is busy collecting information for that date.

Schiavoni, a Sag Harbor resident, ran against Westhampton incumbent Republican Tom DeMayo for the town justice position. Earlier this fall, DeMayo challenged Schiavoni to primary races for the Working Families, Independence and Conservative parties endorsement. DeMayo won the Conservative party line, which had previously been given to Schiavoni while Schiavoni took the other two endorsements.

By last Friday, with all the absentee votes counted, Schiavoni led DeMayo by 3,257 votes totaling 13,974 to DeMayo’s 10,717. Of those votes for Schiavoni, 11,733 came from registered Democrats, 1,462 came from Independence voters and 599 from the Working Families party. DeMayo gained 9,392 votes from registered Republicans and 1,325 from Conservative Party voters.

Schiavoni will take her seat on January 1.


Thiele Stands Alone; Russo, Pope Debate Finances At Debate

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. stood alone at the podium at a League of Women Voter’s sponsored debate in Bridgehampton on Thursday, October 23.

“If I put up a wild card and start debating myself, stop me,” he joked to the crowd of roughly 40 people.

Thiele’s dilemma was that his opponent W. Michael Pitcher did not attend the debate, to the surprise of league members and Southampton Press executive editor and debate moderator Joseph Shaw. According to published reports, Pitcher was detained at a family emergency and planned on attending a second debate at the Hampton Bays Senior Center on Thursday, October 30 at 7 p.m.

Despite Pitcher’s absence, Thiele was given an opportunity to address the audience and field a handful of questions by league members.

Thiele, a Sag Harbor native, has served on the New York State Assembly for 15 years. He is running on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Working Families line in his bid to keep that seat following Election Day next Tuesday.

Pitcher is the Democratic challenger, a former reporter and newspaper editor on the East End and now legislative aide to Suffolk County Presiding Officer William J. Lindsay.

On Thursday night, Thiele said the State of New York was looking down the barrel of “one of the most serious financial crisises since the Great Depression” – a national crisis he said will hit New York particularly hard due to our reliance on Wall Street revenues. Governor David Paterson, a Democrat who was praised by Thiele, has already said the state is looking at a budget deficit as much as $2 billion as a result.

“And what that means is we are going to have to spend less, tax less and we are going to have to borrow less,” said Thiele.

One issue that is front and center for Thiele, especially in light of the hard financial times to come, is his quest to reduce real property taxes for New Yorkers.

“We need to reduce our reliance on the property tax to fund education,” said Thiele. “People should not have to decide between a college education for their children and whether or not they can keep their homes because of property taxes. New York needs to be fair and more equitable in how we fund education.”

“I can’t control OPEC, I can’t control international politics, but when I notice that gasoline out here is 20 cents higher I do want to do something about that,” said Thiele, referring to the recent legislation he spearheaded that outlawed zone pricing of gasoline in the state.

Thiele also touched on recent revisions to the Community Preservation Fund, a two percent real estate transfer tax that allows for the purchase and preservation of open space, farmland, recreational space and historic buildings, as well as his work to ensure the Southampton College campus remains a viable center for higher learning. This year, Thiele said he helped to secure funding for a new marine science center at the university, which is now a part of the State University of New York system.

Thiele said he would also continue to strive for mass transit on the East End.

Southampton Town Council Debate

While the Thiele-Pitcher debate may have proved anticlimactic, the debate between current Southampton Town Councilman Dan Russo, and Democratic challenger Sally Pope proved more eventful, with the two sparring primarily over fiscal issues.

Russo, the Republican incumbent, was appointed last winter to finish the council term of newly elected Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot. He and Pope, the Democratic challenger, are vying for the last year of that term.

A Remsenburg attorney, Pope opened the debate stating Republican rule in Southampton has left a municipality in both a financial and environmental crisis. In her opening statement, Pope called for control over development in the town, and said workforce housing, a Noyac community center, implementing the Sag Harbor Gateway Study and ensuring the protection of historic buildings in Bridgehampton should be priorities in the town.

Russo, also an attorney who hails from East Quogue, countered that had Pope attended town board meetings regularly, she would not see a Republican-dominated town board. Curbing development, he said, is being addressed in a multitude of ways, including through moratoriums the board has enacted in Hampton Bays, East Quogue and on County Road 39 in Southampton.

The Southampton Town Board passed a green energy building code this year – a code that mandates environmental initiatives in new building projects or large renovations. While Pope said she supported the green energy codes, she criticized the board for going back and making revisions to the code that pushed back the dates of compliance and reduced requirements for the biggest homes in the town.

 “We scaled it back for certain sized homes, but in the spring we hope to bring them back,” said Russo, noting the town’s adoption of the green building codes and creation of a green advisory committee are both initiatives the board is proud to have accomplished in the last year.   

The Sag Harbor Gateway Study is a town planning department study that recommends re-zoning over half a dozen parcels on the Sag Harbor Turnpike from highway business to hamlet office, which would mandate less intensive businesses for new developments in the area.

Russo said he was “looking forward to enacting the zoning changes” and was “ready, willing and able to enact those codes.”

“The residents of Sag Harbor do not want it to become another County Road 39,” explained Pope to the crowd. “I know the residents of Sag Harbor do want this enacted … to really make sure Sag Harbor has the kind of entrance it deserves rather than a commercial strip leading into town.”

The $82.5 million dollar proposed budget presented by Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot will result in a five percent tax increase. The town is prevented, by law, to raise taxes more than five percent.

Russo said he supports a hiring freeze and said there are cuts that still need to be made to the spending plan. He added he has asked department heads to cut their budgets by 15 percent.

“This is the single most important issue the town board is going to face,” he said.

Pope said she believed it was the town’s one-party Republican rule that has resulted in financial mismanagement, specifically in the police and waste management departments.

Town Justice Race

Prior to the town board candidates squaring off incumbent Southampton Town Justice Tom DeMayo and challenger Andrea Schiavoni were invited to give five-minute presentations on why voters should select them for office next Tuesday.

DeMayo, who lives in Westhampton, opened by detailing his decades of experience in law and on the bench, which included time as a Suffolk County District Attorney assigned specifically to the East End courts.

“I am the only judicial candidate in this race who has been certified by the Suffolk County Bar Association as qualified to serve as justice for the Town of Southampton,” said DeMayo, adding he has been told that the justice court in Southampton is currently one of the busiest in the state, earning $2.3 million. 

DeMayo said he also wanted to clear up some “misstatements that have been made throughout the campaign.”

He said the addition of the fourth justice was made possible by the town board after Assemblyman Thiele passed legislation making it possible, and was not a decision made by the justices themselves.

DeMayo said while Schiavoni would like to see the hours of justice court extended, he was able to bring night court to the town on Wednesdays, although night court only looks at town code violations currently.

DeMayo also criticized Schiavoni’s experience.

“We deal with every day problems,” he said. “I am the candidate uniquely qualified to serve and I will stand by my reputation.”

Schiavoni, a Sag Harbor resident, has a career that spans 19 years in law, where she practiced civil litigation against large corporations carrying what she admitted was a hefty caseload.

“That brings someone up to speed in terms of court procedure,” she said, adding she learned to be a great litigator “from judges who demanded I be a great litigator.”

Currently working as a private mediator, she said she is honored to have varied legal experience.

“I believe justice can be served if all involved are committed to protecting it,” said Schiavoni.

Schiavoni said she would like to see hours expanded at justice court and night court made into a revenue producing entity. She would also like to make use of satellite courts, see justices work longer hours, implement an e-filing system and make use of video arraignments.

“Most importantly we need to being transparency to the administration of town court,” said Schiavoni. 

Top photo: Southampton Town Council candidates, Democrat Sally Pope and Republican incumbent Dan Russo, prepare for battle before last Thursday night’s League of Women Voters sponsored debate in Bridgehampton.

Middle photo: Incumbent New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. addresses the crowd of roughly 40 people on issues like the financial crisis, the use of Community Preservation Funds and mass transit on the East End.               photos by k. menu


East End Digest – October 30

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Southampton Hospital Honors Hughes

Evelyn Hughes, a lead housekeeper in the Environmental Services Department has been chosen as the hospital’s Employee of the Quarter for the third quarter of 2008. Hughes’ selection was celebrated at a luncheon in her honor, where Human Resources Vice President, Paul Davin, presented her with a trophy recognizing her achievement. A resident of Riverhead, Hughes has been an employee of the hospital for nearly 38 years.

Suffolk County: Cavett Property Purchase

The Suffolk Legislature last week approved the county’s $6 million share in the $18 million purchase of 76.8 acres of oceanfront land in Montauk owned by television personality Dick Cavett. The state and the Town of East Hampton will complete the purchase.

Although the final tally of the Suffolk Legislature was robust —12 to 6 — there was a close vote on having the vote.

William Lindsay of Holbrook, presiding officer of the legislature, sought to table a vote on the resolution citing the Wall Street financial crisis and what he said would be its impact on the interest rates that might be charged for money to finance the purchase.

His motion came two votes away from being passed.

The stand at a legislative meeting October 14 came against the backdrop of a critical study of Suffolk County’s open space program done by the Long Island Economic and Social Policy Institute at Dowling College in Oakdale financed by a group of real estate and pro-development groups. Lindsay and Alden attended the unveiling of the report at Dowling on October 10, four days before the legislative action on the Cavett property. The report was titled “Long Island Government Land Acquisition: Can Long Island Taxpayers and the Regional Economy Still Afford It?”

The report issued at Dowling College criticized the cost of open space acquisitions by Suffolk County. It concluded that “There has to be a serious discussion of whether we are buying too much land, with the economic impact on the regional economy factored into any decision made regarding purchasing more open space …. Inescapable is that the more land that’s preserved, the less that is available for affordable housing and the less land that is available to contribute to the tax burden of government.  Furthermore, the more open space that is purchased removes from the tax rolls a vital stream of government revenue that will ultimately have to be subsidized by the remaining taxpayers.”

The $20,000 cost of the report was paid for by a recently formed coalition called Long Island Real Estate Organizations.

“This acquisition will not increase county indebtedness by one penny since it [the funding] comes from the self-contained quarter-cent sales tax [for open space preservation] which was overwhelmingly approved by the electorate,” countered Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. “Defeating the measure would not have changed our financial picture in any way. As for the worthiness of the acquisition, the Cavett property was one of the first parcels to be included in my comprehensive inventory of environmentally sensitive lands.”                                              Reporting by karl grossman

Southampton Hospital: Blood Drive

Southampton Hospital is sponsoring a blood drive on Thursday, November 6, to help boost blood supplies on Long Island. Donations can be made from 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. in the teaching center, located on the hospital’s third floor. Anyone between the ages of 17 and 76, in good health and weighing at least 110 pounds is eligible to donate.

According to Hospital organizer Gerry Minerva, “More blood donors are always needed. Right now, only about four people out of 100 who are able to donate blood do so, but blood supplies need to be replenished constantly.”

She also stressed that it is absolutely safe to donate blood as many as six times per year.

As an incentive to attract donors, the hospital will provide a voucher for a free lunch in the hospital cafeteria as well as a ‘pint for a pint’ certificate to the Southampton Publick House to all successful donors.

Walk-ins are welcome. It only takes approximately 10 to 12 minutes to donate, but participants should allow one hour to complete the sign-in and donation process. An ID with a signature and a social security number will be requested of each donor.

For those who would prefer to make an appointment, please contact Gerry Minerva at 726-8336.

East Hampton: Moran House Gifted

Guild Hall of East Hampton, Inc. has donated the Moran House property to The Thomas Moran Trust. Guild Hall presented the Deed of Gift to the Moran House which is appraised at $4 million to the trust and also delivered to the trust the full $500,000 Community Preservation Fund payment for the historic preservation easement purchased by the town and village of East Hampton and restricted for use toward the restoration of the property.

 “This is a successful and happy event and represents a win, win, win for the community, the Thomas Moran Trust, and Guild Hall,” said Mickey Straus, Chairman, Guild Hall Board of Trustees.

The Moran House is the East Hampton historical residence and art studio of the 19th century world-renowned landscape artist, Thomas Moran. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Thomas Moran spent each summer from 1884 until 1926 in this home and did much of his painting in its spacious two-story studio. Architecturally, the house is a significant example of a Queen Anne artist’s studio, which is rare design.

“Obtaining ownership and the generous Community Preservation Funds are the first steps among many the Thomas Moran Trust  will be taking to restore  the Moran House and assure its place as a significant part of the nation’s and the east end’s cultural heritage.” said Peter Wolf, Chairman of the Thomas Moran Trust. “Many dedicated individuals and organizations both inside and outside of local government have worked tirelessly for several years to bring this to fruition.”

“This gift represents the joint efforts of Guild Hall and the Moran House Trust to allow the preservation and restoration of this important National Historic Landmark” said Bill McGintee, East Hampton Town Supervisor.”

In 1990, Elizabeth and David  Lamb gave The Moran House to Guild Hall, reserving a life estate, which expired upon Mrs. Lamb’s death in 2004. In the two years following, Guild Hall’s trustees formed the Moran House Committee. Moving forward, in collaboration with the village and town of East Hampton, Guild Hall, and many other civic organizations and individuals, the Thomas Moran Trust will initiate the studies, the capital campaign, and the subsequent work necessary, in order to revive this property of significant national and local importance, which, overlooking Town Pond, is the gateway to the historic district of East Hampton.

League of Women Voters: Riverhead Resorts Forum

To enable the public to learn more about Riverhead Resorts, the 755-acre multi-resort and hotel/convention facility planned for the former Grumman site in Calverton, the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons is hosting “A Public Forum on the Riverhead Resorts Plan in Calverton” on Monday, November 10 at 7 p.m.

All points of view will be presented by the panel which includes: Phil Cardinale, Supervisor of the Town of Riverhead; Robert DeLuca, President of the Group for the East End; Patricia Manzi, Pine Barrens site director for The Nature Conservancy; Mitch Pally, attorney representing Riverhead Resorts; and Brenda Prusinowski, Deputy Commissioner of Planning for the Town of Brookhaven.

The panelists will make opening and closing statements and answer questions from the audience. Maps will be available, showing the eight planned theme parks that feature a fitness/aquatics facility, a wilderness resort, equine area, spa facility, indoor ski mountain, heritage/entertainment area, water adventure resort, and a conference center, all surrounding a 90-acre lake. Details have been posted by the planners at www.riverheadresorts.com.

The forum takes place at the Southampton Town Senior Center in Hampton Bays, 25 Ponquogue Avenue, across from the Hampton Bays Post Office.

For further information, call the League’s Natural Resources committee at 283-2638. To join the League, call 324-8662.

Southampton Town: Sag Student Honored

At the beginning of each day since 1988, pupils at Sag Harbor Elementary School have gathered in the gymnasium for the “Morning Sing.” A session begins with the Pledge of Allegiance, a rousing hymn of salute to the American Flag, and continues with a number of other songs. However, today brought a celebration of citizenship and community, as well as a Southampton Town Councilman.

Speaking before children and teachers from grades Kindergarten through fifth, Councilman Dan Russo sang the praises of Noyac’s Gabriel Martaron for his “dedicated civic involvement” that led to the installation of additional signs on Whitney Road and Crescent Street.

“The Town Council decides the rules for Southampton, but your parents and grandparents get to decide on us,” Russo began. “You may not be old enough to vote, but there are a lot of other ways to get involved.”

 Martaron, who is a third grader in Mrs. Deyermond’s class, circulated a petition to the area’s residents with the help of his neighbors. The signatures were then presented to the councilman. At Russo’s urging, on September 17, the Town’s Highway Department placed “Children at Play” and “Dead End Signs” along the requested roads.

 “Gabriel wanted something changed, he got involved, and made a difference in his community,” said Russo.

Two for Council Seat

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While the Southampton Town Board is considering making more changes to the stringent green energy legislation they adopted in July, Republican councilperson Dan Russo is campaigning in a special election this fall to keep his seat against Democratic nominee, Sally Pope.

This was Russo’s first year as a councilman on the town board, and this will be Pope’s first run at a political position.

Earlier this year, Russo was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy left by Linda Kabot when she was elected as the town’s supervisor. Members of the board interviewed candidates from all parties before settling on an applicant. Russo says his appointment went across party lines because he even received a vote from the Democratic party’s endorsed candidate, Anna Throne-Holst.

“At the time it was really not a concern to me what they wanted to do; an appointment or wait for a special election,” says Russo. 

The board chose to appoint Russo to the position in a 3-1 vote. Nancy Grabowski did not vote for Russo because she believed the board should wait for a special election. Throne-Holst says if they waited for a special election for six months or longer it would be problematic in that there could be numerous four way ties on votes and that each board member already had a slew of legislation assignments. Without a person in that seat, the workload for each trustee would have increased significantly.

Russo says the appointment has given him a few months to tackle things that he wanted to as well as the opportunity to show voters what he is capable of doing. But he says, “As confident as I am I don’t take anything for granted.”

Pope says her biggest concern is the financial situation of the town. She says she can see “that there is a large deficit with the majority falling into two categories; the Police Department and Waste Management.”

“We have only hit the tip of the iceberg [within the town’s financial situation],” she says.

Pope was nominated by the Democratic Party and is endorsed by the Independence Party, Working Families and Integrity Parties. She has never run for a political position but says her past experience has prepared her for this opportunity.

Pope began her career as a corporate attorney on Wall Street and then moved into her own private practice. She taught mediation for the New York City Bar Association and in corporate settings and law schools. She says she believes her work in mediation has helped her understand people on a local level.

Pope has lived in Remsenburg for 25 years and commuted into New York City where she worked closely with the community groups and police officers to help improve community relations.

Pope believes that board reform is also very important to her.

“I hope to reform the various boards within the town,” Pope said on Wednesday, “like the planning board and the zoning board of appeals that make critical decisions and are caving into major developers,” Pope says her campaign plans will include meeting as many people as she can.

“I hope to understand the concerns of the citizens of my town.”

Russo lives in East Quogue and is a partner in a private practice law firm there. His family has also been residents of the Town of Southampton for 25 years. His work practice includes experience in the Major Crime Bureau of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office handling cases from arrest to trial. He is also a former U.S. Naval Reserve member.

Russo says he has spent a lot of time working on affordable housing for young families and says that voters will see some changes before the November elections.

“The major issues are the same as this past year,” says Russo. He believes that code enforcement was specifically important over the summer months while they were tackling the summer share houses. “It became a quality of life issue, and there are still a number of places that are overcrowded,” says Russo. “Being responsive to the community is important also, and we have made great strides here but we have more work to do.”