Tag Archive | "government"

League of Women Voters to Host Discussion on Voting Issues

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By Tessa Raebeck

The League of Women Voters will sponsor  program on voting regulations in New York State and debate their merits on Monday, July 14.

The discussion, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hampton Library, located at 2478 Main Street in Bridgehampton, will focus on two issues: term limits and ballot access.

Anne Marshall and Carol Meller, co-chairs of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters’ voter services committee, will lead the discussion. League of Women Voters chapters across the state are studying these issues and the league plans to come to a statewide consensus on whether they are beneficial or harmful to New York voters by the end of the fall.

The discussion on ballot access will explore the practice of “fusion voting” and the New York State statute “Wilson-Pakula.”

“Fusion voting,” or electoral fusion, is an arrangement where two or more political parties list the same candidate on a ballot, resulting in a cross-party endorsement and pooled votes for that candidate. The practice enables minor parties to influence election results and policy by offering to endorse the candidate of a major party.

The “Wilson-Pakula” statute allows candidates to appear on the ballot of a different party than their own with the permission of party officials.

The discussion on ballot access will also consider the rules by which New Yorkers are permitted to vote in state primaries and compare that eligibility to different procedures used in other states.

The second discussion on term limits will focus on the question of whether there should be a cap on the number of years elected officials and state legislators in New York State can serve.

For more information on the voting issues presentation, visit lwvhamptons.org or call (631) 324-4637.

Update: Stein and Schroeder Sweep to Victory in Sag Harbor

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Heller_Sag Harbor Village Board Elections 6-17-14_0475_LR

Robby Stein and Sandra Schroeder congratulate one another after being elected to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday night. Michael Heller photo

 

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Incumbent Robby Stein was the top vote getter on Tuesday to win reelection to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees with a total of 308 votes.

Sandra Schroeder, a former village administrator who last year challenged Brian Gilbride for mayor, came in second place with 270 votes.

John Shaka, a member of the group Save Sag Harbor, who has become a familiar sight at the Municipal Building, where he has been an advocate for a traffic calming project, missed out on a seat, receiving a total of 219 votes. Former Trustee Bruce Stafford received 124 votes.

In North Haven, Mayor Jeff Sander, incumbent Trustees Dianne Skilbred and James Davis, and first-time candidate Tommy John Schiavoni, who all ran unopposed, were reelected.

“I’m just so thrilled,” Ms. Schroeder said on Wednesday morning about her election. “I’m really a happy camper about that today.”

The newly elected trustee said she looked forward to getting to work, and said she did not expect to have any problems working with her fellow board members.

“I can work with anyone,” she said, adding that people run for office because they have a sincere desire to make the village a better place to live. “It’s not a personal thing, it’s issues,” she said. “You don’t have to agree on everything to get along.”

Mr. Stein said he was pleased to be the top vote-getter. “I feel I can continue the work I’ve started,” he said. “I look forward to working with Sandra on the board.”

“I’m really proud of the campaign we ran,” said Mr. Shaka. “We ran on the issues and got the news out.”

Although he said he was disappointed that he failed to win, Mr. Shaka said, “The good news is that Sag Harbor has two really good people going in who will take care of the business of the village.”

It took about an hour for the results to be announced as election workers first cross-checked 43 absentee ballots against voter registration rolls and counted them individually before announcing the results from voting machines.

A crowd of about 40 people who had gathered at the Sag Harbor Firehouse on Brick Kiln Road waited quietly for the results.

“I had a wonderful life last week and I will again next week,” said Ms. Schroeder as she waited. “I’m really hoping to be elected, but if not, I’m not going away.”

When it became clear she would be one of two winners, a small group of supporters who had gathered around her cheered. Mr. Shaka, a first-time candidate for village office, offered his congratulations to the winners. Mr. Stafford left shortly after the results were announced, offering a “night, night” to those nearby.

A total of 511 votes were cast. Four write-in votes were cast, with two for Scott Smith and one each for Mary Anne Miller and Margaret Bromberg.

North Haven Village Clerk Georgia Welch said a total of 97 ballots were cast, 92 by machine and five absentee ballots.

Mr. Schiavoni received 89 votes; Mr. Sander, 88 votes; Ms. Skilbred, 87 votes; and Mr. Davis, 86 votes.

Ms. Welch, who said North Haven had about 700 registered voters, described turnout as good for an uncontested election.

“It is nice to be officially elected,” said Mayor Jeff Sander who completed the unfinished term of Laura Nolan. “I hope the fact that no one opposed us is indicative of how people think we are doing.”

Mr. Sander said he looked forward to working with Mr. Schiavoni and added that he would miss Trustee George Butts who did not seek another term.

 

 

More information on the Sag Harbor candidates can be found by clicking here.

For more information on the candidates in North Haven, click here.

East Hampton Holds off on Aviation Fuel Hike

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A resolution to double the fuel fees at the East Hampton Airport was tabled by a unanimous vote of the East Hampton Town Board on Thursday, June 5.

Cindy Herbst, of Sound Aircraft Services read a statement about the fee being raised from 15 cents to 30 cents a gallon. She said that her company had had no time to prepare for the increase, and that she thought a 5-cent increase with six months notice was more appropriate. Margaret Turner, the chairwoman of the East Hampton Business Alliance,  aired similar concerns on behalf of other businesses.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell said that he was “sensitive to the amount of the increase in one year and the need for reasonable notice.” Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc recommended that the board table this issue and come back to review it after further discussions.

The fee hike had been recommended by a subcommittee of the town’s budget and finance committee as a way to help wean the airport from the need for Federal Aviation Administration grant money.

Septic Rebates Stalled

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by Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday tabled a proposal to launch a pilot program to offer rebates for septic system upgrades after questions were raised about how the program would be funded and who would qualify for the rebates.

Trustee Robby Stein, who is typically the most vocal member of the board in supporting anti-pollution measures, questioned who would qualify.

“My concern is we’re not subsidizing the 1 percent,” he said.

“I question why myself, as a Main Street resident, would be subsidizing people who own waterfront homes worth millions of dollars,” added former Mayor and Trustee Pierce Hance.

Although Mayor Brian Gilbride said he wanted to allocate $50,000 to the project, much as Southampton Town did with a similar program last year, Mr. Hance argued that the way the law was written there was no spending cap. He also said the board should determine whether the septic rebate program should really be a top priority for the village.

Trustee Ed Deyermond asked where funding would come from, and Mr. Gilbride said it would be taken from a surplus fund of more than $1 million that the village has on hand.

“I applaud the village for taking this on,” said Bruce Tait, the chairman of the Harbor Committee, “but I was actually shocked that the harbor committee wasn’t informed.” He said because the village has a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, it might qualify for state aid.

The village program would provide rebates limited to between $2,500 and $3,000 for the replacement of old septic systems that were installed before 1981.

The board tabled the discussion until next month.

Value of Montauk Beach Work Debated

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By Stephen J. Kotz

A new economic analysis by East Hampton Town of a proposed beach stabilization project for downtown Montauk has calculated that the project’s value in total economic benefits would be more than double the amount projected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

First Coastal Consulting Corporation prepared the report at the request of the town and estimated that saving the ocean beach in the downtown Montauk area would be worth an estimated $238.9 million. URS, a consulting form that undertook a similar study for the Army Corps, estimated that the project would provide an estimated $103.9 million in economic benefits.

The finding lends support for Montauk to receive significantly more relief than what the Army Corps has already committed to the hamlet, the town stated in a press release on Monday.

The Army Corps’ latest proposal calls for only half of the Montauk project to be built this fall. A more extensive project is proposed to be built under the greater Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study two years later.

“Without the construction of a feeder beach, the emergency project as currently proposed places Montauk in a vulnerable position,” said Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

Since the economic analysis is key to the Army Corps’ justification for this project, Supervisor Cantwell has urging the Army Corps to build a much more substantial project in Montauk as soon as possible.

Pitching Playground Project

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The North Haven Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday agreed to seek proposals to replace equipment at the village playground.

The board discussed whether the playground should be expanded or remain its current side, but made no final decision. Deputy Mayor Dianne Skilbred and Village Clerk Georgia Welch will continue to seek out various proposals to improve the 20-year-old playground.

The board also passed resolutions improving the village’s annual stormwater management report to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the village’s annual auditing expenditures.

Ms. Welch presented several options of alternative machinery that might be leased to clean village Southampton Town is supposed to provide the equipment on a yearly basis, the clerk said, but North Haven is not scheduled to have its drains cleaned by the town until late August.

The meeting was George Butts’s last as a village trustee; he thanked his fellow board members for their hard work and dedication.

East Hampton Online Code Enforcement Complaint System

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The East Hampton Town Enforcement Department will offer an online form that offers the public a new way to file code-violation complaints online for submission directly to a code enforcement officer.

This new process can be used to report such violations as overcrowding, illegal summer rentals, the operation of businesses in residential zones, building without building permits, illegal dumping, illegal signs, litter and debris, for example. Noise complaints, however, should still be directed to the Town Police Department at 537-7575.

To access the form, visit the Town’s website, ehamptonny.gov. In the right column, click on “Ordinance Enforcement,” and then “Complaint Form.”

Once the form is submitted, the sender will receive written confirmation regarding the complaint submission. Town officers will then conduct an investigation of each complaint and will follow up with complainants regarding their determinations.

The public may still lodge complaints of code violations in the traditional manner—by calling Code Enforcement at (631) 324-3858, the Fire Marshals Office at (631) 329-3473 or the Building Department at (631) 324-4145 or by visiting one of these departments in person at 300 Pantigo Place.

East Hampton Sets Alternative Energy Goal

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By Stephen K. Kotz

The East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday voted to set a goal of meeting 100-percent of the community’s electricity needs with renewable energy sources by 2020.

“Energy efficiency improvements and solar rooftop systems can save homeowners several of thousand dollars a year while building local solar farms can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in lease revenue for the town,” said Supervisor Larry Cantwell in a press release.

In response to several LIPA/PSEG-Long Island requests for proposals, the town has already selected a number of proposals from solar developers for large scale solar farms on town-owned land. Looking further ahead the Town Board also set a goal of meeting the equivalent of 100 percent of communitywide energy consumption in electricity, heating, and transportation with renewable energy sources by the year 2030.

“Our everyday lives are impacted by the effects of global warming. We owe it to the children of East Hampton to do something about climate change and air pollution caused by fossil fuels,” said Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby.

The move comes as the area has seen an increase in summer peak demand for electricity and PSEG Long Island began installing unsightly transmission lines which have become a point of public contention and legal action. The 100 percent goal was prompted by a unanimous recommendation from the Town’s Energy Sustainability Committee and builds on a Comprehensive Energy Vision document, adopted by the Town last October, which called for establishing specific energy efficiency and renewable energy goals and timelines.

“Establishing goals for renewable energy is the lowest hanging fruit in sustainable energy practices since the technologies have advanced sufficiently to be efficient and cost effective,” said Frank Dalene, chairman of the town’s Energy Sustainability Committee.

Hope for “Zone Pricing” Law to Lower East End Gas Prices

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The New York State Assembly Committee on Economic Development has approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. that strengthens New York State’s Gasoline Zone Pricing Law originally enacted in 2008.

“This legislation would end the unfair practice of ‘Big Oil’ companies establishing arbitrary prices for gasoline based upon geographical location without regard to cost,” Mr. Thiele said in a press release. Historically, big oil companies have charged higher prices on the South Fork as well as other areas such as Westchester County without regard to cost. The law passed in 2008 was a first step to reduce the differential in gas prices based on geography. However, the State Attorney General’s Office has requested amendments to permit him to more vigorously enforce the law.”

Mr. Thiele said he hoped for a vote on the legislation in the full Assembly by the end of June. The Assembly passed the bill in 2012, but it failed to pass the Senate. The bill is now sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Ken LaValle.

North Haven Adopts Budget with Little Fanfare

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Low budgets apparently equal low turnouts. Such was the case Tuesday in North Haven, where the village board received no comments when it held a hearing on a proposed $1.31 million budget that cuts spending by 4 percent.

Despite the reduction in spending, taxes will rise by 7 percent simply because the village, which has been dipping into its fund balance in recent years to hold taxes in check, has decided to put the brakes on that practice this year.

Last year, the village used nearly $370,000 from that balance to offset taxes. This year, it will use only $178,486.

“Over the years we have been using more and more fund balance due to lack of other revenues,” said Mayor Jeff Sander, who added that the board had decided to reduce the amount of reserve funds it was using by half. “The only other way to make up the difference is through taxes,” he said.

At a recent budget work session, Mr. Sander said the village, which is projecting a $690,000 fund balance at the end of the fiscal year, wants to maintain a fund balance of at least $500,000.

Even with the tax hike, the owner of a house valued at $1 million will pay about $56 in village taxes next year.

Mayor Sander said progress, while slow, is being made on the plan to place 4-Poster devices at various sites around the village in an effort to reduce tick-borne diseases. Four-Posters are feeding stations that require the deer to brush up against rollers that spread insecticide on their fur, killing ticks.

Installing the devices has been one part of the village’s strategy, along with the hiring of professional hunters, to cope with what officials say is a deer herd that is too large.

Mayor Sander said he has been inquiring of homeowner associations to see if any were willing to have 4-Posters in their developments and help underwrite the cost of the stations. While some have expressed a willingness to help out, the village is still awaiting a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Chris Miller, a landscaper who has been helping the mayor negotiate the permit process, said he expected it to take about two months for the DEC to issue a permit. He said the village would be better off for the full number of stations in its initial permit application, even if it did not install them all at once.

One station should be enough to service an area of 40 to 60 acres, Mr. Miller said. The DEC also restricts the stations from being within 100 yards of a house or area where there are children, although if the stations are fenced in, the DEC might allow exceptions, he said.

Mayor Sander said the village might try to rent 4-Poster stations from Shelter Island, which has used them in the past. He said the village has no place to store them if it did buy its own stations.

The board held off on accepting a bid to replant the entire Route 114 traffic circle, which Summerhill Landscaping had offered to do for $5,565. The landscaping around the circle was damaged last winter when it was run over by a vehicle during a storm. Board members agreed they wanted the damage repaired but balked at the suggestion that all the plants needed to be replaced and agreed to first review the matter before approving the expenditure.

The board also agreed to hold a public hearing on May 6 to add persicaria perfoliata, also known as mile-a-minute weed, to a list of noxious plants that homeowners can eradicate without special permits.

That elicited a comment from a member of the sparse audience, who asked if the board had ever considered banning bamboo. Although the answer was no, board members discussed the problems rapidly spreading bamboo can cause to neighboring lawns and gardens.