Tag Archive | "Fred Thiele"

Lyme Disease Bill Advances

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced this week that the New York State Assembly has passed a bill he co-sponsored which would protect licensed physicians who prescribe long-term antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease from disciplinary action by the New York State Board of Professional Medical Conduct.

Throughout New York and East End of Long Island, there has been a dramatic increase in Lyme disease cases, which are often difficult to test for and even harder to treat. The bill would protect health care professionals with the authority to prescribe medication from disciplinary action against solely for prescribing, administering or dispensing long-term antibiotic therapy to a patient clinically diagnosed with Lyme disease.

“The extent and severity of the Lyme disease cases on the East End has escalated to the point of a public health crisis,” said Mr. Thiele in a press release. “Physicians should not be afraid to offer proper treatment. Early treatment can save lives.”

A senate version remains under review in that chamber’s Health Committee.

New Affordable Health Care Clinic Opens in Southampton

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and HRHCare President and CEO Anne Kauffman Nolon officially opened the Kraus Family Health Center of the Hamptons at Southampton Hospital on Wednesday. Photo by Mara Certic.

 

By Mara Certic

“The face of healthcare is changing and the County of Suffolk is at the forefront of it,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. at the grand opening of the Kraus Family Health Center of the Hamptons on Wednesday, May 21.

Hudson River HealthCare, a not-for-profit health care system, had an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new center at Southampton Hospital. Construction of the almost 10,000 square foot clinic began in October of 2013.

HRHCare’s mission is “to increase access to comprehensive primary and preventive health care and to improve the health status of our community, especially for the underserved and vulnerable.”

Its first center opened in Peekskill in July 1975; it now has 22 centers in New York, which provide care for more than 90,000 patients. English and Spanish are spoken at every site, and six other languages are spoken at specific HRHCare clinics.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said that the new clinic offers “significantly more” than what the urgent care clinics in both East Hampton and Southampton previously provided.

The new center will offer affordable health care, including family medicine, behavioral health services, dental care and women’s health services.

The clinic unofficially opened its doors on March 17 to provide family medicine services. Since then nearly 800 patients have made 1,200 visits to this site, according to HRHCare President and CEO Anne Kauffman Nolon. In the first month the clinic was open, 60 percent of its patients were uninsured and 182 of them were homeless. “It’s good to know that we’re really meeting a need here,” Ms. Nolon said.

Robert Chaloner, President and CEO of Southampton Hospital, announced that the Kraus Family Health Center already has its first six resident doctors, who will start in July. “As your landlord, we promise to be kind,” he said to Ms. Nolon on Wednesday.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, the day’s keynote speaker, said that the new facility is a “major advancement” for Suffolk County and thanked Hudson River Healthcare; he said that its hard work is the “main reason” that the clinic is open today.

Mr. Bellone also thanked local government officials for their dedication in seeing this project through: “If I had one word to describe Jay it would be relentless,” he said of Mr. Schneiderman. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for his tenacity.”

“And our great partners at the town level,” he continued. “Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, on this issue and so many others, you’re a great leader. And all of our partners in Southampton, thank you.”

The Kraus Family Health Center of the Hamptons is located at Southampton Hospital at 330 Meeting House Lane, Southampton. For more information visit hrhcare.org or call (631) 268-1008.

 

East End Heroin Task Force Formed to Battle Growing Threat

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By Kathryn G. Menu

State government leaders announced this week an initiative aimed at combating heroin abuse on the East End, as law enforcement, public health and court officials acknowledged the growing threat the drug—and other opioids—in Suffolk County.

On Monday, New York State Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo announced the formation of the Heroin Addiction Legislative Task Force, or HALT.

The legislators said the group was created to identify causes of and solutions to fight the growing heroin epidemic. The task force will specifically look at the five East End towns, according to Assemblyman Thiele.

The creation of the task force was spearheaded by Senator LaValle, after Senate leaders formed a statewide task force in March.

On Wednesday, Assemblyman Thiele said state officials representing the East End recognized approaches to battling the epidemic would need to be tailored for the region—a region with many law enforcement jurisdictions, local court systems, and its own set of obstacles when it comes to mental health care and treatment.

“The increase in heroin use has reached alarming levels and we need to take action to address this critical situation,” said Senator LaValle. “A broad based East End approach will help us to identify areas where we can be productive in combating the scourge of heroin and other opiates. The initial meeting will be the first in a series that will assist us in determining the types of resources that are needed on the East End.”

“The issue of heroin abuse certainly became more high-profile after [the actor] Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death, but if you talk to people in drug treatment programs and law enforcement, this has been a growing problem in the state for several years now,” said Assemblyman Thiele in an interview Wednesday.

“We don’t have a county police department or district courts, we have town and village police departments and town and village courts, so from a law enforcement perspective, dealing with this issue on the East End is different than the rest of Long Island,” he continued.

According to Assemblyman Thiele, the first meeting will be held on May 16 at 10 a.m. at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on Main Street in Riverhead. That session, he said, will focus on bringing together law enforcement officials, counselors, representatives from treatment groups, as well as town and village justices and government leaders to talk about the epidemic before the task force begins to look at targeted solutions that can aid the East End.

On Wednesday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said he expects the village will be represented at the forum.

“I think this is a great initiative because this is a problem and it seems to be growing at a crazy pace and is affecting a lot of people,” he said. “Either myself of one of the members of the village board will attend that first session.”

“This first meeting we largely expect it to be us as legislators doing a lot of listening,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “Before we can decide what government can do from a policy perspective we have to talk to the people on the ground dealing with this issue.”

The creation of the task force comes on the heels of two major heroin arrests by the East End Drug Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional agency led by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office that includes officers from town and village police departments across the North and South forks.

In February, nine men—six from the Riverhead area—were charged with multiple felonies for their alleged involvement in the sale of “Hollywood” heroin, a particularly potent brand of the drug that was sold to residents on the East End, including Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. During the course of a years long investigation into that ring, police said they confiscated 2,000 bags of heroin and thousands of dollars in cash.

In April, Suffolk County Police announced the arrest of 14 individuals in connection with an alleged sales ring that ferried heroin from Brooklyn throughout Suffolk County. According to Mr. Spota, that ring had flooded Suffolk County with 360,000 bags of heroin with a street value of $3.6 million.

The arrests come at a time when law enforcement and mental health care professionals are reporting an increase in the amount of heroin and opioid abuse in Suffolk County.

According to a report issued in 2012 by a special grand jury empanelled by Mr. Spota, heroin use between 1996 and 2011 accounted for a 425-percent increase in the number of participants in the Suffolk County Drug Court Program. Opioid pill abuse, according to the report, accounted for a 1,136-percent increase in the number of drug court participants. According to data issued by the county medical examiner’s chief toxicologist Dr. Michael Lehrer, there were 28 heroin related deaths in Suffolk County in 2010, which increased to 64 in 2011 and to 83 in 2012 with 82 deaths officially reported for 2013, although that figure is expected to rise as investigations into other deaths are completed.

 

 

 

 

Thiele Proposes Larger Penalties for Code Violations

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. is co-sponsoring legislation with State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski of Rockland County that would increase the penalties for building code violations when the condition is deemed an imminent threat to the safety and welfare of the building’s occupants by the local government.

The bill provides for graduated penalties for repeat offenders. A first-time violation would carry a fine of no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000. A second violation would carry a fine of no less than $5,000 and no more than $10,000. A third violation would result in a fine not less than $10,000 per day of violation or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.

“The current law allows for a wide range of discretion in handing down penalties for failure to correct building code violations,” said Assemblyman Thiele, a former Southampton Town supervisor and town attorney. “The penalty structure is often viewed by violators as nothing more than a cost of doing business. However, some violations create an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants and emergency responders. These violations must be taken more seriously in order to deter this conduct and protect the public safety. This bill will implement minimum fines for violations that put lives in danger and will make property owners more accountable.”

In addition to the new legislation increasing penalties, Mr. Thiele also has sponsored a bill that would give local justice courts the power to issue injunctions to stop serious building and zoning violations. Currently, local governments must go to state Supreme Court to obtain such relief.

New York Legislators Call For Two-Year Delay on DEC Plan to Eradicate State’s Mute Swan Population

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Virginia Briggs photo.

A mute swan swims in East Hampton. Virginia Briggs photo.

Editorial note: an updated version of this post can be found here.

By Tessa Raebeck

New York officials have introduced legislation that would impose a two-year delay on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) plan to eradicate the state’s mute swan population by 2025.

Co-sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. of Sag Harbor and state senators Tony Avella of Queens and Steve Cymbrowitz of Brooklyn, the bill would halt the DEC plan, which was completed and introduced in December 2013. The legislation would require the DEC to illustrate the “actual damage” the mute swan population causes to the environment or other species before exterminating the species.

“Wildlife experts, rehabilitators and environmentalists do not unanimously agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified,” Mr. Thiele said in a statement. “In addition, there is debate amongst such experts about whether the planned eradication of the mute swan population is even minimally beneficial to the eco-system or to our environment. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Department of Environmental Conservation to illustrate the necessity of eradicating this non-native species by demonstrating the actual damage to the environment or other species caused by mute swans.”

Mute swans are an invasive species of swan named “mute” because they are less vocal than other swans. Native to Europe and Asia, they were brought to North America in the late 1870s due largely to their aesthetic appeal. Initially introduced in New York as ornaments on the estates of the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island, mute swans were present in the wild by the turn of the 20th century.

According to the DEC, the mute swan population had increased to about 2,000 statewide by 1993, peaked around 2,800 in 2002 and is now estimated at about 2,200. The swans, says the DEC, are still most heavily concentrated on Long Island and in the lower Hudson Valley, although they are also present in the Lake Ontario region.

“On the East End of Long Island, the mute swan is often visible in local ponds and waterways,” stated Mr. Thiele. “My office has not received one report in all my years in office that the mute swan is a nuisance or an environmental problem. This legislation will require all concerned to take a step back and take a hard look before any irrevocable action is taken by the DEC.”

A mute swan on the East End. Zachary Persico photo.

A mute swan on the East End. Zachary Persico photo.

The DEC says the non-native species causes a variety of environmental problems, “including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”

To express your comments to the DEC on its draft mute swan plan, email fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us with “Swan Plan” in the subject line or send letters to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway in Albany, NY 12233-4754. The deadline for submitted comments is February 21.

To express your comments to Mr. Thiele, call his district office in Bridgehampton at 537.2583.

South Fork Gas Prices Drop

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.  announced late last week his most recent survey of gasoline prices. According to that survey, South Fork prices have declined $0.08 since the last survey late in October.

Long Island prices have increased by $0.09 cents during the same period. South Fork prices are now $0.03 cents above the state and Long Island average. South Fork gas prices were $0.20 cents higher than the Long Island average in October. That differential has decreased by $0.17 cents since October when it was $0.20 cents.

The Automobile Association of America (AAA) provides for a regional survey on New York State gasoline prices. However, there is no survey solely for the South Fork. Thiele’s survey also includes prices in western Southampton along Montauk Highway.

“The average price for East Hampton and Southampton along Montauk Highway excluding Amagansett and Montauk is now $3.69,” said Thiele.  “The average price for Amagansett and Montauk is $4.09. A gallon of gas on the North Fork is now about $3.59. The LI average is $3.66 and the State average is $3.66.”

Veterans Day Events Planned in Sag Harbor

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By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

Two hundred years after British troops attempted unsuccessfully to invade the small coastal village during the War of 1812, Sag Harbor will celebrate those who have defended it ever since with several events around town this Veterans Day.

At 9 a.m. Monday, November 11, the annual Veterans Day Parade will head from the Civil War Monument down Main Street and onto Bay Street, with an observance at the American Legion Hall immediately following.

The featured speakers, Roger King, Marty Knab and Robert Riskin, range in age from 28 to 86, but, having served in our armed services, they share an experience few can understand.

After graduating from Pierson High School, King served in the Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009, during which he completed two combat tours in Iraq. In 2012, he became the youngest commander ever appointed to lead Sag Harbor’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9082.

Marty Knab is the Commander of the American Legion Chelberg and Battle Post 388 and an organizer of the Veterans Day commemorations. He served for 20 years in the Coast Guard.

The final veteran speaker is Robert Riskin, 86, who was drafted to World War II when he was 18 and completed basic training, although he was fortunate enough not to see combat firsthand.

Following the speakers, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. will present a proclamation to Mayor Brian Gilbride and Dockmaster David Thommen honoring Sag Harbor’s heroic moment in the War of 1812 in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the battle that took place in Sag Harbor, which was celebrated this July.

According to an official report written by General Abraham Rose, five barges carrying British troops landed in Sag Harbor on July 11, 1813. The barges were positioned off Long Island’s coast with the intent of blocking trade coming out of New York City. Lacking supplies on the stationed barges, the British troops would routinely invade, pillage and burn villages across Long Island.

When the British approached Sag Harbor’s shore, according to General Rose, they were greeted with “a reception so warm and spirited from our militia that they abandoned the operation and retreated.”

Due to the heroism of its residents, Sag Harbor was spared the fate endured by the island’s other villages.

Also on Monday, a different 200-year anniversary will be commemorated. North Haven Village historian and Vietnam veteran Joe Zaykowski will celebrate his restoration of the Ferry Road Cemetery, and the anniversary on which John Payne, Sr. was laid to rest in it.

A veteran of both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, Payne was a resident yeoman (gentleman farmer) in North Haven. His father was among the first settlers of North Haven and his grandson built the hamlet’s first bridge.

“[Payne’s] stone was broken in half and it was quite illegible,” said Zaykowski, adding that due to his restoration, the cemetery is “quite spiffy now.”

Starting at 10 a.m., Zaykowski will give a brief talk on Payne, as well as his connections to those buried around him. Refreshments will be served and period music from the Revolutionary War days will be played.

Payne died on November 1, 1813, so “the timing is really awesome,” said Zaykowski, who was born and raised in Sag Harbor and co-authored a book on the early history of North Haven with his mother, Dorothy Ingersoll Zaykowski.

The celebration will also honor two other North Haven veterans from the period: Joseph Trowel, who was captured and held prisoner during the Revolutionary War, and Constance Havens II, who, along with Payne, is one of only two veterans from the hamlet to fight in both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.

“I know the Payne family history and the Trowels and Havens as well as I do my own genealogy,” said Zaykowski, who first became interested in Payne while working on the cemetery restoration.

“Just discovering who’s stone that was over there that was so neglected and forgotten,” he explained, “I thought it would be nice to bring that to the surface again. Being a veteran myself, I thought that would be cool.”

Investing in Public and Private Education — One Charitable Contribution at a Time

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By Annette Hinkle

In recent years, the recession has taken a heavy toll on many businesses, individuals and institutions throughout the state — both public and private. Along the way, New York’s schools have not been immune to the effects of the struggling economy.

In order to keep property tax increases in check, the state has instituted the two percent tax cap levy, which limits the dollar amount public schools may raise their budgets in any given year. But it’s not just the recession — educational institutions are also being effected by changing demographics as well as cost of living increases, and private schools have taken a hit too, with a number of parochial schools on Long Island closing, including Stella Maris in Sag Harbor which shut its doors at the end of the school year in 2011 after 134 years.

But a new bill introduced by the state assembly could change the way many aspects of educational programming is financed in the future — both for public and private schools.

Bill A.1826, known as the Education Investment Incentives Act, seeks to reduce the tax burden for state residents by allowing a tax credit for individual and corporate charitable giving to non-profit organizations that support educational programs and initiatives.

This could be anything from after school arts programming for public schools to scholarships for students attending private or parochial schools. As drafted, the bill would be capped at $300 million in tax credits per calendar year. It also provides the state’s teachers with an annual $75 tax credit for out-of-pocket expenses related to supplies and materials they purchase for use in their classrooms.

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), a co-sponsor of the bill, feels at a time when both public and private schools on Long Island are feeling the pinch of the tax cap and declining enrollment, this bill goes a long way toward supplementing the ability of schools to serve their students.

“On the public school side, with the tax cap in place while we’ve been increasing funding for education for the last couple years, it’s been tough with the recession,” said Thiele. “Though a lot of the focus with this bill has been on the private schools, this can be used to augment public education.”

“The whole idea is to encourage charitable giving to education in general,” he adds.

Though the bill is expected to give a huge boost to private and Catholic schools, Thiele notes because public schools also benefit, it does not violate issues of constitutionality like school vouchers, which have come under fire parts of the country where they are used.

“People who don’t like the bill like to say it’s vouchers or supportive of parochial or private education,” says Thiele. “But this is very carefully drafted in that what it does is provide a tax credit to those making a contribution to education.”

“It’s broadly drafted, so it’s not focused on Catholic or private schools — its focused on education,” he adds. “That’s why it passes constitutional muster. It clearly supports education across the board. Why wouldn’t we want to support charitable giving to supplement whatever support we get from local tax dollars?”

Thiele explains the range of educational initiatives the Education Investment Incentives Act could support include everything from local educational foundations, like the Reutershan Trust in Sag Harbor which supports art programs at Pierson Middle/High School, to scholarship programs for students attending private schools.

“During these times every bit helps. It’s getting the private sector involved and replacing money lost through the tax cap,” said Thiele who notes that 103 of the state’s 150 assembly members have already signed onto the bill.

“Judging from the number of sponsors, it demonstrates a great deal of interest. There are few bills that have had this kind of support,” said Thiele who adds, “No money goes directly to a public or private school, it goes to not-for-profit entities that support education.”

On Long Island, one organization that would likely benefit should this bill become law is Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation, which provides scholarships for Catholic school students. Sag Harbor’s Michael Taglich is on the board of Tomorrow’s Hope, and he sees this bill — and the resulting choices in educational options it might bring — as a way of raising the bar for all students and schools in the state.

“There are 11 states that already offer educational tax credits, and they are seen as effective and popular,” notes Taglich. “This bill is critical for Catholic schools.”

For Taglich, this is an issue that hits close to home. A strong supporter of Catholic education, all four of his daughters attended Stella Maris Regional School in Sag Harbor until it closed in the face of financial and enrollment pressures. At that point, he moved his children to Our Lady of the Hamptons (OLH) in Southampton, the next closest K-8 Catholic School.

“Stella Maris didn’t close for lack of demand, but because lower and middle income people couldn’t afford the $4,000 Stella Maris was charging,” says Taglich. “That decline coincided with the recession, which hit hard out here among the working folks.”

“My frustration as a Sag Harbor resident is that we had a wonderfully effective school system that was shut down,” he explains. “We’ve had to close schools that are very efficient for lack of an extremely small amount of money and it’s hurting our society.”

Taglich explains that at Our Lady of the Hamptons, close to 20 percent of the students currently receive scholarships from Tomorrow’s Hope. But he feels should the Education Investment Incentives Act become law, it has the potential to do far more for East End students.

“Generally these are kids from lower income, or middle income families whose parents think it’s in their kids best interest to go to OLH,” says Taglich. “If approved, this bill will greatly expand the amount of help we give these people.”

“That is very good for these children and for the taxpayers.”

While there are those who worry that programs which help private schools have the potential to siphon resources away from public education, Taglich feels the focus should really be on ensuring New York State has a range of high quality schools — whether they be private or public.

“Our state and our community are attractive to the extent we have good schools that are easily accessible to our community’s children,” says Taglich. “It’s important to make these kinds of schools available to all.”

“Good, private school alternatives raise the bar for all schools,” he says. “Left wing bill, right wing bill — it’s a center bill. It already enjoys broad sponsorship by legislators who put the education of children first.”

“This bill will have a positive effect on the state and help public schools too.” He adds. “It’s not designed to be bureaucratic, it’s designed to be democratic — and help local people fund public schools.”

“This is a well designed bill because there’s something in it for everybody and in the end, society really wins by helping schools,” adds Taglich, “especially private schools.”

Thiele says the Education Investment Incentives Act will likely be included in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget when he puts it together next January, and he expects the legislation to be in place for 2015.

Senator LaValle to Host Environmental Roundtable Thursday in Riverhead

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New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle will host a two-hour-long environmental roundtable to discuss issues impacting the First Senate District this Thursday, February 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Suffolk Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center in Riverhead.

This year’s participants will help Senator LaValle chart a legislative agenda regarding the environment that LaValle said is aimed at preserving the character and quality of life on the East End.

More than 65 participants are expected at Thursday’s forum, including representatives from town and village governments, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, environmental groups and concerned citizens.

New York State Assemblymen Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Dan Losquadro will join LaValle at this event.

Sag Harbor Native Jeremy Brandt To Challenge Thiele

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By Claire Walla

The bid to represent the second district in the New York State Assembly will be fought right here in Sag Harbor.

Native Sag Harborite Jeremy Brandt, 36, who now lives in Hampton Bays, this week announced he will run with the Republican endorsement against incumbent Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. — also a Sag Harbor native.

This is Brandt’s first foray into public office.

“Fred [Thiele] has done some good things, but he’s been in Albany for 18 years,” Brandt said on Wednesday. “He’s lost touch.”

The owner of a small plumbing company based in Hampton Bays, Brandt Plumbing Corp., Brandt said the primary focus of his campaign would be small businesses, which he said are struggling to survive. His goal would be to cut taxes for small businesses and streamline the amount of time it takes for a business to get up and running, which he hopes will bring more businesses to the area.

“I want to be the voice for my generation,” Brandt continued. “Albany needs a true conservative Republican who’s on his hands and knees, working.”

Though he’s new to the political system, Brandt said his uncle — who just so happens to be Brian Gilbride, mayor of Sag Harbor — is getting him accustomed to the run of things.

“He’s a good man and he fights like hell for Sag Harbor,” Brandt said. “He’s keeping me focused, telling me about the pitfalls and how words can get minced. I’m just an ordinary guy who’s going to fight for the small companies. We all got it rough.”

Thiele, a former Republican and now a member of the Independence Party, said he is not commenting on the challenge. Coincidentally, Thiele also serves as Sag Harbor Village attorney, sitting alongside his competitor’s uncle during board meetings.