Tag Archive | "Jay Schneiderman"

Suffolk County: Schneiderman Earns Sixth and Final Term

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Incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman Celebrates his Victory at a Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton November 5.

By Kathryn G. Menu

Jay Schneiderman has earned a sixth and final term on the Suffolk County Legislature handily defeating his Republican challenger Chris Nuzzi during Tuesday night’s election.

Schneiderman — an Independence Party member running with the support of the Democratic and Working Families parties — earned 11,329 votes or 60.34 percent of ballots cast, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE). Nuzzi — a Southampton Town Councilman running with the support of both the Republican and Conservative parties — earned 7,444 ballots or 39.64 percent of the vote.

With absentee ballots, and the results of three election districts not yet reported, Nuzzi conceded the race to Schneiderman in a phone call just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.

“I want to congratulate Jay, a long serving elected official,” said Nuzzi Wednesday morning. “It is not an easy thing to do and despite our disagreements on the campaign trail I respect his win.”

“I want to reiterate my thanks to Southampton residents, in particular, for all the support they have shown me in my two terms on the Southampton Town Board,” added Nuzzi, who will step down from that board due to term limits in January. “I value that experience more than anyone knows.”

“To the residents of the second legislative district, of course, I was in this to win it — we all are,” said Nuzzi. “But it is bigger than just the election. You can make a point and force conversations about important issues regardless of the election outcome.”

As to whether or not he would seek another run for public service, Nuzzi said it was simply too early to speculate on his political future.

“It takes an awful lot of any person, and their families for that matter, to put themselves through the election process,” he said. “Right now I would be purely speculating and it would be premature. At the same time, I love public service, I love serving in office and I would certainly consider public service in the future.”

On Wednesday, Schneiderman said he was pleased with the outcome, and in particular was satisfied with the large margin of approval given he was running on his record of service.

“The race is over,” he said. “Chris called and conceded last night and we had a very nice conversation. I credited him on a well-run race. I think he was a formidable opponent.”

Schneiderman added he was pleased to have the opportunity to work with incumbent Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who appears to have secured a third term, as well as Larry Cantwell, the Democrat-elect to the town supervisor’s seat in East Hampton.

“I want to assist the towns in tackling regional issues in any way I can,” said Schneiderman who added he plans to hit the ground running on issues like tick borne illness abatement.

Schneiderman recently passed legislation requiring the county to develop a comprehensive plan to address tick abatement and tick borne illnesses through its division of vector control.

“Over the last few weeks, so many people have reached out to me that I believe it is a more prevalent issue than I initially believed it to be,” he said. “That will be a central issue I focus on, and in particular having the county step up to secure resources from state and federal officials to bring attention to this health epidemic we are facing on the East End.”

Revitalizing the Riverside area in Southampton, and looking at water quality issues are also at the top of Schneiderman’s agenda, he said.

“I don’t know exactly what the next two years will hold,” he said. “I know the next big fight will be who will be the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. I am interested. Whether that comes to pass, we will see, but I am a senior member of the majority, so it is possible despite the power center of the legislature being in western Suffolk.”

Schneiderman Praises County Budget as “Good for the East End”

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At the November 20 meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said lawmakers were surprised to learn that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had not vetoed a single budget amendment proposed by the legislature for the $2.8 billion 2013 budget.

In previous years, according to Schneiderman, former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy vetoed many changes proposed by the legislature to the budget submitted by the county executive.

“Not this year,” said Schneiderman. “There is a much greater level of cooperation between the two branches of government. We have come together to tackle the fiscal challenges that face the county as a team, and it’s paying off.”

Schneiderman said the county’s financial situation has improved greatly, in part because of what he called “difficult choices” the legislature has made including significant reductions in the county workforce. This year alone, Schneiderman said he and other lawmakers agreed to eliminate 700 positions from the county workforce.

Legislator Schneiderman served as a member of the Legislature’s Budget Working Group.

“The approved budget is good for the East End in many ways,” said Schneiderman who said this is the ninth county budget he has participated in without a general fund property tax increase.

“These are challenging times for everyone,” said Legislator Schneiderman. “It is our responsibility as elected officials to find ways to operate government without asking residents to contribute more.”

The county also increased dredging by $5 million for next year and increased the sales tax revenues distributed to East End police departments by $3.5 million while also decreasing the amount given to western Suffolk County by $17.2 million. Schneiderman said he has also secured an additional $113,500 in hotel tax revenues for East End museums and cultural centers, including Guild Hall, Bay Street Theater, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center and the new Parrish Art Museum.

Schneiderman said money was also allocated for the renovation of the John A. Ward Memorial Windmill in Sag Harbor. A total of $218,500 was given in cultural funding to East End organizations.

The budget also established a $5 million emergency fund for Hurricane Sandy related repairs.

 

Schneiderman: Village Should Budget for Long Wharf

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Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said this week he planned to reach out to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride and suggest the mayor incorporate monies to care for Long Wharf into his 2012-2013 spending plan.

The suggestion comes mere weeks after the latest meeting between Suffolk County and Sag Harbor Village officials over the fate of Long Wharf. For over a year and a half village and county officials have bandied back-and-forth over the ownership of Long Wharf. A 10-year lease between the village and the county expired over a year ago. Since then, while the village has continued to maintain Long Wharf on a daily basis, long term repairs were stalled by the county, which technically owns the facility as a county road.

However, with a new Suffolk County Executive – Steve Bellone – and a county budget facing a potential $200,000 deficit, Schneiderman said he believes he now has the votes to move forward with the sale of Long Wharf to the Village of Sag Harbor. This would mean the village would assume responsibility for budgeting for long term repairs of the wharf.

According to Schneiderman, Suffolk County traditionally counted on setting aside $100,000 annually to pay for long term repairs to Long Wharf.

Now, it appears, that responsibility could lie with the Village of Sag Harbor, which has just begun its budget talks for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

On Monday, Schneiderman said he has taken the first step by re-filing a bill that transfers ownership of Windmill Beach and the sliver of land hosting the Windmill itself into village hands. That bill could be decided on as early as March 13, he said. After that, Schneiderman said he or Suffolk County Executive Bellone will introduce a bill to transfer ownership of Long Wharf to the village.

“I am hoping we can wrap this whole thing up by June,” he said. “I would advise the mayor to plan for this in his budget.”

While Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride had yet to hear formally from Schneiderman by Monday afternoon, he said he was willing to take on the burden of Long Wharf and will discuss the matter briefly at Friday’s budget meeting at 4 p.m. in the Municipal Building.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman

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The Suffolk County Legislator talks about how Suffolk County wound up with an estimated $200 million hole in its 2012 budget and some of the tough choices – including possibly raising sales tax revenues on some goods – government leaders are going to have to make to ensure Suffolk County can continue to operate.

Suffolk County is facing about a $200 million deficit in its 2012 spending plan. How did we get here?

There are people who will argue what the exact size of the deficit is, but I do believe it is close to $200 million. We got here a few ways. First, we haven’t raised revenues and taxes have stayed the same, so we don’t have more income coming in. We lost close to $100 million annually in sales tax revenue when the recession hit and the state has placed a lot of extra burdens on the county. In particular, the state changed the funding formulas for health care and social services, so that things we are mandated to provide we no longer are reimbursed for by the state. At the same time, health insurance costs went through the roof, and the state pension program requires us to make up any deficits when their portfolios are not performing well in the market, so that is another $40 to $50 million we need to find each year. Contractual obligations, like salary raises, add tens of millions of dollars more to what we need to make up.

In essence, what you are saying is that Suffolk County doesn’t have a spending problem, but cannot meet its non-discretionary obligations?

Discretionary spending we have actually been reducing. The county budget itself has been growing at less than one percent a year, which is less than the rate of inflation, but this $200 million hole has been forming since we hit the recession. When that happened, at first, we had economic stimulus monies to help us – $40 million for Suffolk County alone. That helped fill the hole. We also sold things, and we used our rainy day funds so that we would not have to use property taxes to raise revenues. One of the biggest ways we filled that deficit was through our tobacco money.

Tobacco money?

There was a national lawsuit settled several years ago with the big tobacco companies and the county got about $25 million year for 40 years under that settlement. We decided instead of waiting the next 30 years, and collecting annually, that we would sell the right to collect that money in exchange for a big chunk of it upfront. We got several hundred million dollars and paid down the county’s debt.

I think we were all hoping the recession would end, the economy would bounce back and we would see an increase in our sales tax revenues. That just didn’t happen, and we ran out of things to sell and no one wants to raise property taxes, including me. I would rather us look at other revenue sources.

The other side of the coin is, as the county has seen an decrease in our sales tax revenues and increase in our non-discretionary expenses as the economy has worsened, the demands on the county have also increased. Our homeless population has skyrocketed, crime has increase, more people rely on our health care clinics. We have less money, and more demand. We have reduced our workforce, eliminated positions that were budgeted and the county did not fill when people retired. This budget we have passed for 2012 has an immediate 80 positions being eliminated. About 700 positions will be eliminated late this year if we cannot find the money to fund them.

So that’s a lot of bad news. Are there cuts that can be made?

I don’t believe we can continue to contract the county workforce because there are demands on the county that are mandated to be met and we need people to deliver those services. For example, in our health department it will come back to haunt us if people cannot get approvals to set up a new business or if people are getting sick because we are not inspecting restaurants. I believe we are already operating on a skeleton crew level, so reducing the size of government is not the solution.

So if cutting is not the answer, what is?

We are going to need to increase revenues by either successfully stimulating the economy, providing incentives for new businesses to come to Suffolk County and create the infrastructure that will lead to economic growth.

We have to look at things like how we can bring money into the economy and keep it from leaving. For example, most of our waste is trucked to other states and processed there. If we could find a way to cleanly recover and process waste, sell the reusable material and convert leftover waste into energy that could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars and lower the cost of running the county as well.

Another option, and I know a lot of people may not like this, is gaming. I have never liked gambling – I have seen it destroy lives. I don’t do it. However, a lot of people are going to Connecticut and hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent there at gambling facilities, helping Connecticut’s educational system. I would rather they spend that money here. Obviously, I would not want to see it on the South Fork, but I believe we could find an appropriate location and it could add $100 million in revenue to the county alone. When we have something like that, we are not talking about raising taxes.

The other piece is, of course, tourism. We have done such a good job preserving our natural resources on the East End. Tourism is an important job generator and stimulates the economy helping local businesses, restaurants and hotels. We have the open spaces that bring people here, but we may need more hotel rooms. The revitalization of Riverhead and Riverside will be a major priority of mine in this term.

In terms of tourism, we have often talked about the viability of a passenger water taxis.

That is certainly another idea I have had. I would like to see a small, 20-person water taxi start with a leg from Sag Harbor to Greenport as a pilot program. Then we could expand it to Riverhead, Orient Point and Montauk. I think a lot of people would come here, without their cars, if we had that kind of service available. It could be tied into environmental tourism, hiking, biking, using our beaches. The idea of being able to see all of the Peconics by water is just awesome and it is those kinds of ideas that are going to help us get to where we need to be.


What about sales tax revenues?

Sales tax, in general right now is at 8.625 percent, and of that four-percent goes to the county, four-percent to the state and the rest to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – that is a whole other issue. So if you spend $100, you are charged $8.62 in sales tax. If weadded $0.25 to that it would cost you $8.87 in sales tax for every $100 you spend. That would generate about $70 million for the county, which would really help close this budget hole. It would keep things from falling a part. Do I like the idea of raising sales tax, no. I would much rather create a luxury tax, so I would look at ideas if we did raise sales tax to eliminate all sales tax for clothing under $100, for example. Right now, the county only exempts food sold at grocery stores. If we were to raise sales tax I would also like to have it be a one-year authorization. It wouldn’t be permanent, but an emergency measure and if in doing that we take away sales tax altogether for clothing under $100, we are shifting the burden towards luxury items. I also like the idea of sales tax free days to help boost business. Too much merchandise is being purchased on the internet and if we can create an incentive to buy locally it would help local merchants and it would keep money in Suffolk County, which is what we need to do.












Schneiderman Re-elected Legislator; Bellone Elected New County Executive

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For incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, winning re-election on Tuesday night was certainly something to celebrate, but so was the election of Steve Bellone into the Suffolk County Executive’s seat.

“That is a big thing for me,” said Schneiderman on Wednesday morning. “I am looking forward to what I think will be my best term yet on the legislature. I have a great relationship with Steve Bellone. I have big coalition to work with in the legislature, so we should be able to get a lot done.”

Schneiderman, an Independence Party member who was cross endorsed by the Democratic Party and Working Families Party, sailed to a comfortable victory over his Republican challenger, Cornelius Kelly, on Tuesday night.

According to unofficial results posted by the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE), Schneiderman nabbed close to 66 percent of the vote, earning 11,260 ballots before absentee votes were counted. Kelly, an East Quogue businessman, earned 5,882 votes in his favor.

The race for Suffolk County Executive was a closer call, but just after 11 p.m. Bellone — the Democratic candidate —announced victory. The Babylon Town Supervisor will replace Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a Democrat turned Republican who pulled out of the race for another term at the helm of the county amid an investigation into improprieties in his campaign fundraising.

According to unofficial results out of the Suffolk County BOE, Bellone earned 130,607 votes, about 57-percent of the ballots cast. Republican candidate Angie Carpenter trailed with 100,119 votes in her favor.

On Wednesday morning, Schneiderman said he was grateful that residents on the South Fork appreciated the work he has done on the legislature over the last eight years.

“I had a real opponent this time and he campaigned hard,” said the Montauk resident. “The results show that doing a good job still matters and people want to keep public servants who are delivering results for them”

Come January, with Bellone’s help, Schneiderman said he would seek to have sex offender trailers in Riverside and Westhampton permanently shut down. Jump starting the economy, and ensuring the South Fork is given its fair amount of sales tax revenues to support its local police forces are also top priorities, as is settling the ownership issue of Long Wharf with the Village of Sag Harbor, said Schneiderman.

“Bellone was a town manager,” he said. “He is going to have a strong relationship with towns and villages, where Levy took a more adversarial role. I think Bellone will be interested in what is best for the village and what is also good for economic development.”

Looks to be Wins for ATH and Fleming, Scalera Leads Bender By 85 Votes

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By Claire Walla


For the duration of the night of Tuesday, November 8, Independence Party candidate Brad Bender and Republican candidate Christine Preston Scalera were neck-and-neck in the race for Southampton Town Council. And though by the end of the evening Scalera edged Bender out of the number-two spot behind incumbent Bridget Fleming, the race has not officially been called.

Incumbent Bridget Fleming (D.) maintained a steady lead as voting results continued to pour in from districts throughout the town, and she ultimately ended the evening with a predicted 27 percent of all votes cast (excluding absentee ballots). Republican candidate Bill Hughes, on the other hand, remained at the tail end of the competition, trailing Fleming by three percentage points and garnering approximately 24 percent of the votes.

While the gap between Fleming at the top and Hughes at the bottom was arguably close — representing a difference of only 655 votes — the competition between Preston Scalera and Bender was even more intense. The two candidates swapped places in the race on more than one occasion, at one point divided by a scant three votes, or .02 percent.

Though Bender showed an early lead — edging out Preston Scalera by almost three percentage points — Scalera was soon ahead by a nose. But by 10:53 p.m., with 41 of the town’s 42 voting districts accounted for, it looked to be Bender ahead by 68 votes. Finally, at 11 p.m., the competition flipped for he last time.

The unofficial results as of Tuesday night showed Fleming in the lead with 26.97 percent, Preston Scalera in second with 24.72 percent, Bender in third with 24.32 percent, and Hughes rounding off the competition with 23.94 percent of the overall vote.

“This is not over,” said Southampton Democratic Committee Chair Gordon Herr at the Democratic committee gathering, held in the large auditorium of 230 Elm in Southampton Village. “We still have 791 absentee ballots. I’m still convinced Bradley’s going to win.”

In an email response Wednesday night, Preston Scalera wrote that she is “cautiously optimistic” that the results reported Tuesday night will remain.  ”I look forward to the opportunity to be able to serve the residents of this town,” she added. Hughes did not respond to a request for comment on the election results.

But in an interview on Wednesday, Bender said a margin of 85 votes is still too small to make a final call on the race. With 271 absentee ballots yet to be counted, he added that it’s anyone’s game.

“I wouldn’t want to concede or congratulate a victory with 85 votes,” Bender stated. Now it’s just a waiting game, which Bender said he’ll take one day at a time.

“For a virtual unknown to poll within 85 votes on my first time shows how well a race I ran and what the people actually think of me,” he said. “However the people decide is how the people decide.”

Standing on the stage against a patriotic backdrop lined with her running mates, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst (a member of the Independence Party who also was endorsed by the Democrats) offered similar sentiments.

“What you’re looking at here is the new majority of the town board,” she declared to much applause from the audience composed of Democrats. The supervisor continued by saying to her constituents that while watching the election results as they were projected against the wall of the building, “a moment of true emotion came over me.”

“[I thought about] what the last two years have been,” she added, referencing the fact that she has been the supervisor in the political minority on the town board. “And I’m confident that they’re over.”

“We’re only a few votes away,” Bender added from the stage.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming also said she felt assured Bender would pull ahead and become the newest member of the town board. But she also made sure to congratulate the election of her fellow Democrat Steve Bellone who was voted the new Suffolk County Executive, replacing Steve Levy.

“I’m looking forward to working with him and not being ignored by the county executive’s office anymore,” she declared to the sound of much applause.

By the end of the night, incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst — the only supervisor candidate officially on the ballot — gained 63.43 percent of the total votes for supervisor, while 36.56 percent of votes were recorded for write-in candidates. Presumably, the vast majority of those write-in ballots went to former Southampton Supervisor Linda Kabot who waged a strong write-in campaign against the current supervisor.

In an email response Wednesday morning, Kabot wrote, “I am proud of all the grass-roots campaign efforts and the percentage points I garnered … without even having my name listed on the official ballot line-up.”

She added, “For me, this race was all about integrity and demonstrating a tireless and true commitment to public service.”

Even though she fetched an impressive 3,602 votes compared to the supervisor’s 6,349, that count was still not enough to tip the scale and oust Throne-Holst from office.

Also celebrating victories Tuesday night were Southampton Town Trustees Fred Havemeyer, Eric Shultz and Bill Pell — all Democrats — who joined Throne-Holst, Fleming and Bender on stage when the unofficial results were revealed. Across town, at the Republican celebration in Hampton Bays, trustees Ed Warner, Jr. and John Semlear cheered on victories of their own.

The three candidates challenging the town’s trustees in this year’s election race — Scott Horowitz, Janet Beck and Edmund Pavlak — were left out of the running when the final votes were tallied.

Finally, a Southampton Town proposition pertaining to PDD (Proposed Development District) legislation passed with 79 percent of voters voting “yes.” The proposition will make it so that a super majority of town board members will be required to approve all non-agrarian PDD applications in the future.

Former Police Chief Settles with Sag Harbor Village

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Former Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Joseph Ialacci has dropped a $7 million lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor and its health insurance administrators and has agreed to pay $40,000 that should have been billed to Medicare rather than the village’s health insurance plan.

That money is being reimbursed to the village through Medicare, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.

According to village sources, Ialacci used his village health insurance to cover $70,000 in health care bills that the village maintains should have been covered through Ialacci’s Medicare insurance, which was his primary insurance at the time.

Ialacci’s attorneys maintained the situation was simply an oversight on the former police chief’s part, and that he was unaware Medicare was his primary insurance carrier, not the village.

During a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting in late December of last year, the village board voted to drop Ialacci and his wife, Nancy, from village insurance after they said Ialacci failed to reimburse the village through Medicare for the alleged false charges.

In mid-January, the board of trustees re-instated Ialacci’s coverage retroactively to December, but in May, in an effort to protect his rights while the village investigated the situation, the former police chief filed a $7 million suit against the village and Island Group Administrators of East Hampton.

On Tuesday, October 11 at the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Gilbride announced the village and Ialacci had reached a settlement.

According to the settlement agreement, Ialacci has agreed to pay $40,224 back to the Village of Sag Harbor. On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said a certified check is already in the hands of Ialacci’s attorney. In turn, the village will reimburse the family for any Medicare premiums paid by the Ialaccis for coverage for the remainder of his life, as per his contract with the village when he retired from his post as police chief.

Support for Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority

At a press conference on Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Babylon Town Supervisor and Democratic candidate for the Suffolk County Executive position Steve Bellone announced their unified support for the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming also attended the press conference, which took place at the Southampton Long Island Railroad (LIRR) station. Congressman Tim Bishop has also voiced his support for the creation of the authority, which would the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on the East End of Long Island.

Suffolk County legislators Jay Schneiderman and Ed Romaine also support the implementation of the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Bellone has said enacting the authority will be one of his first goals if elected as the next Suffolk County Executive on November 8.

The Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, according to a 2009 report from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, would use a coordinated shuttle train and passenger bus service to provide for the transportation needs of those on the East End of Long Island, which Thiele says spends millions of dollars to the MTA without reaping the benefits of comprehensive service.

Repairs Slated for Route 27

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will repair several sections of State Route 27, also known as Montauk Highway, east of County Road 39 sometime in the next year, according to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

According to a press release issued by Thiele on Tuesday afternoon, the NYSDOT responded to his request back in October that the agency address sections of Route 27 that are in dire need of repair.

They will repair eastbound sections of the roadway near Deerfield Road in Water Mill, at Sayre’s Path, Georgica Drive and Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott and at Hampton Place in East Hampton. The NYSDOT will also repair the westbound portion of Route 27 at Sayre’s Path.

“The DOT has again committed to undertake repair of NY 27 and will address the most egregious pavement sections on NY 27,” said Thiele. “While the orad must still by fully resurfaced as soon as possible, these repairs will at least make the journey safer and less bone rattling for the traveling public.”

Swimming Pool and Pool House Approved by Sag ARB

In one of their shorter sessions as of late, the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) approved one application during its Thursday, October 13 meeting, granting Mike Arena approval for the installation of a swimming pool and pool house at his 97 Glover Street residence.

A second application, for a solid cedar fence along the existing driveway of Robert Fishers’ Fishers Home Furnishings on Main Street was tabled as no one was present to make the case.

The Sag Harbor ARB’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 24 at 5 p.m.

Marine Park Way is Now Veterans Way

Sag Harbor’s Marine Park will keep its name for now, but the roadway that circles the hallowed park on Bay Street will be renamed Veterans Way at the request of the Sag Harbor VFW Post 9082, according to a resolution adopted by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday, October 11.

The roadway circles the expansive waterfront Marine Park, which holds a World War II memorial plaque dedicated to the men and women from Sag Harbor who served during that conflict, as well as memorials to service men and women who served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Groundbreaking for Sidewalks Turnpike Sidewalks

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will host a ground breaking for the construction and installation of sidewalks on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike on Thursday, October 20 at 2 p.m. at the corner of Sunrise Avenue just south of the South Fork Natural History Museum.

The project was included in the Suffolk County 2011-2013 Capital Program. The Town of Southampton has contributed $100,000 to the cost.

The traffic and safety improvement, an issue Schneiderman championed as a legislator, will cover a two-mile stretch of sidewalk on the west side of the turnpike.

“The turnpike is used by many pedestrians including those who live in neighborhoods behind or along the route and is a major connector between the Village of Sag Harbor and the hamlet of Bridgehampton,” noted Schneiderman in a press release issued this week.

Bridgehampton CAC to Host 2012 Budget Talk

Just weeks before the 2011 election for Supervisor, incumbent Democratic Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst will pitch her proposed $80.3 million spending plan for 2012 in front of Bridgehampton residents at the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Bridgehampton National Bank.

Throne-Holst’s proposed $80.3 million spending plan cuts the town budget by $1.3 million, resulting in a zero-percent tax levy increase while the town is facing over $5 million in mandated increases in costs to cover programs like health insurance and pensions.

In order to accomplish this goal, in part, Throne-Holst has proposed to eliminate 28 positions throughout the town, with eight of those positions coming directly out of the senior staff of the Southampton Town Police Department.

Throne-Holst has proposed to use the town’s ability to “separate from service” officers who have worked for the town for more than 20 years. Those officers will retain full benefits upon retirement, and Throne-Holst has said she will look at those who have served at least 25 years or more to achieve the $1.7 million in cuts she hopes to make within the police department’s budget.

Following Throne-Holst’s presentation, former Southampton Town Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot is slated to speak at 8 p.m. With Throne-Holst running unopposed this fall, Kabot has launched a write-in campaign to regain her seat at the helm of Southampton Town.

Agricultural Forum to be Held in Riverhead

The New York State Senate Agricultural Committee Chairwoman Patty Ritchie will host the third of three agricultural business forums on Thursday, October 20 at 1 p.m. in Riverhead Town Hall.

According to a press release issued by the Long Island Farmers Bureau, the forum will focus on how to make New York State a better place for farmers to do business.

Farmers who cannot attend during the tail end of the harvest season are encouraged to submit their comments to the New York Senate Agricultural Committee by calling 518-455-3438.




Merchants Air Concerns

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Candidate Steve Bellone pays village a visit.

Several familiar refrains were heard last Friday when Democratic candidate for Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone, took a tour of Sag Harbor’s Main Street. Bellone was accompanied by Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Robert Evjen and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, and was later joined by County Legislator Jay Schneiderman making it a visit to several local businesses to learn about merchant’s concerns.

Chief among them seemed to be getting consumers to the village, and then providing parking for them when they arrive.

“Even in winter parking is an issue,” said Jessica Kenny, owner of Satori. “Customers can’t always find a place close to the business. People aren’t going to walk in the cold to shop.”

Acknowledging the parking problem, Schneiderman suggested the village consider developing a two-tier parking garage on the property that once housed the big blue gas ball.

Bellone added the county has resources that can be made available to small business districts, including grants for downtown development. He conceded that those resources are largely targeted at less robust business districts, but said the village would nevertheless be able to benefit from the program.

During a visit to the Variety Store, where Bellone was greeted by owner Lisa Bucking, Schneiderman announced he had hoped to start a Friends of the Long Wharf committee, which would be responsible for raising funds to maintain the wharf, which most acknowledged was key to local parking. The county, which owns the wharf, is currently debating whether to keep it or sell it to the village.

Schneiderman said a committee is already being established with representatives from the village and county administrations to negotiate a potential sale.

At the Wharf Shop, owner Nada Barry agreed with others that business is impacted by the Internet.

Thirty years ago, said Barry, the local merchants held promotions like treasure chests and drawings to attract business; but she acknowledged these kinds of events might not be successful in today’s market.

Barry also bemoaned the impending hurricane, and complained “this storm is going to cost us a fortune.”

Her grandson, she said, has a maritime-based business and speculated Hurricane Irene would cost him four days of business.

“We all will be affected by this,” she said.

Bellone said he would like to find ways to increase foot traffic in the village, and Schneiderman raised the proposed passenger ferry which would link Sag Harbor to Greenport and other East End villages.

“I’m all for it,” said Barry. “We’re a motorboating community.”


- Boyhan


Transit Dilemma

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by Karl Grossman

The East End of Long Island and public transportation—unlike love and marriage—don’t go together. It need not be that way. Indeed, a lesson through the years here: when public transportation is provided, riders will come.

Travel on the East End is auto-based. And there’s been mounting congestion as a result, particularly during the vacation season. This July 4th weekend featured bumper-to-bumper traffic on several area roadways, notably Route 27 between Southampton and Amagansett.

Meanwhile, on the same weekend there was a breakthrough in public transportation here: long-desired Sunday and holiday bus service. Rolling in a “pilot” program was the main East End county bus, the S-92. It winds from Orient Point along the North Fork to Greenport and then Riverhead, south through Flanders to Hampton Bays, then east to Southampton Village, Water Mill, Bridgehampton and north to Sag Harbor. Then it travels south again to East Hampton, hooking up with the 10C that goes between East Hampton and Montauk which also began Sunday and holiday service.

This took seven years of hard politicking by Suffolk County Legislators Jay Schneiderman and Ed Romaine. Mr. Schneiderman represents the Towns of Southampton and East Hampton and Mr. Romaine’s district includes Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold Towns..

“It’s off to a good start,” says Mr. Schneiderman of the service expansion to seven days a week. The S-92 has the highest Saturday ridership in the county. A $1.50 regular fare, in place for almost 20 years on all Suffolk buses, has been increased to $2 on the two lines to help pay for the new service. Other fares—including 50 cents for senior citizens—remain the same.

“It’s another step forward,” commented State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. of Sag Harbor, a champion of a broad public transportation initiative—a coordinated shuttle train and bus network—that has been sought for the East End.

Mr. Thiele said funding for the “small diesel engines” that would pull the trains has now been included in the state’s capital budget for 2013. “I’m optimistic,” he says. These shuttle trains would use the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road and the goal, explains Mr. Thiele, is to have them operated by an East End Transportation Authority,  similar to the Cape Cod Regional Transportation Authority.  

There was a change of emphasis by the Long Island Rail Road when it was taken over in 1966 by what was then called the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (now Metropolitan Transportation Authority). The LIRR’s main focus became commuter service in and out of Manhattan for what in the post World War II years became a vast bedroom community for the city on western Long Island.  LIRR service on the East End has been very limited. East Enders pay over $100 million annually to the MTA—through the sales tax, parts of mortgage recording and telephone taxes and now a major payroll tax—getting very little in return.

Jim Davidson demonstrated in the following decade that when public transportation is offered here, it will attract riders. Mr. Davidson in 1974 created the Hampton Jitney—which has become an amazing East End public transportation success story.

A former advertising art director, Jim started with two vans pulling trailers, ferrying people and their bicycles to and from beaches and other points between Amagansett and Southampton. Hampton Jitney’s service now involves 49 buses transporting folks dependably and in comfort from both the North and South Forks to and from the city. The Hampton Jitney is doing what the LIRR or MTA could have easily organized—and made money doing.  In fact, the LIRR fought the Hampton Jitney as it sought a state license for its Manhattan service.

Another example of people using public transportation on the East End when it is offered came in 2007 and 2008 with the widening of County Road 39 in Southampton. The LIRR operated a shuttle train service between Speonk and East Hampton. It was too bad that when the construction ended, the service was stopped.

Nationally, a battle is underway to get Congress to provide adequately for public transportation—which “protects our environment” by cutting carbon emissions, “reduces our dependence on foreign oil….creates jobs” and “enhances our quality of life,” says the American Public Transportation Association on its website www.publictransportation. “While Americans struggle with rising gas prices and a sluggish economy, America needs public transportation more than ever.”  That’s especially true of Long Island’s East End.

Altschuler Will Vie for Bishop’s Seat in 2012

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By Kathryn G. Menu

St. James businessman Randy Altschuler has decided to seek a rematch against Democratic incumbent congressman Tim Bishop in 2012. Altschuler lost his congressional bid against Bishop last year in one of the closest election races in the country.

Altschuler, who was the Republican and Conservative Party candidate in the 2010 congressional race, announced his candidacy in a press release and via his Facebook page on May 25. The announcement came shortly after he withdrew his name from the list of Republican hopefuls vying for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s seat this fall.

“After serious consideration, I have decided to run once again for Congress in the 1st District,” stated Altschuler. “With the help of all of my loyal supporters and the taxpayers of Eastern Suffolk County, I am certain we will be successful in unseating Tim Bishop in 2012 and starting down a path towards job creation, lower taxes and a robust economy.”

Last time, after battling his way through a three-way Republican primary, Altschuler narrowly lost his bid for Congress, with Bishop earning just 593 votes more than Altschuler. The race stretched weeks past election day and was ultimately decided by a significant number of absentee ballots that swung in Bishop’s favor.

Bishop, a five-term Democrat, will be seeking his sixth term.

While Altschuler appears to have Republican and Conservative parties support, both issued statements this week praising the candidate’s business experience, he will face at least one contender on his way to representing the Republican Party on the ballot. Ronkonkoma attorney George Demos has also thrown his hat in the ring to run for Congress in 2012. He came in second in the three-way Republican primary in 2010.

Schneiderman Will Face Kelly

This fall, four term Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will face off against title agency owner Cornelius Kelly, a resident of Southampton Town, after the Republican Party announced Kelly as its candidate for the second district seat last week.

A native and resident of Montauk, Schneiderman served on the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals from 1991 to 1999, the last three years as board chair. He left a career in education to seek office as East Hampton Town Supervisor in 1999 and served two terms there.

Schneiderman was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 2003 and in his last election, in 2009, won 100 percent of the vote after being cross endorsed by all parties. A former Republican, Schneiderman is now a member of the Independence Party, but will run on the Democratic Party line as well this fall.

Kelly, who is 39, is also a native of the East End having been born and raised in Westhampton Beach. He now resides in Southampton Town.

A former bond analyst, in 2005 Kelly founded Liberty Property Services, Inc., a title insurance company which he currently runs.

“I believe in a strong, efficient, limited government,” said Kelly in a press release issued after his nomination. “As a small business owner I know first hand the fastest way to promote job growth is low taxes.”

In other county election news, last week the Republican Party nominated Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter to run for county executive. She will face Democratic hopeful, Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone.

Charges of Price Gouging

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. fired off a press release this week charging that major gasoline suppliers and wholesalers price gouged South Fork residents over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in a direct violation of the state’s prohibition on zone pricing for gasoline.

According to Thiele’s office, a month ago the American Automobile Associate stated the average price of regular gasoline at $4.135. Today, it is about $4.028. Thiele noted that in every major market in New York, gas prices have declined from $0.07 to $0.15 in the past month, a trend reflective of the fact that oil prices have dropped, now stabilizing around $100 a barrel.

This week, Thiele said that while prices have dropped across Nassau and Suffolk counties, on the South Fork “gasoline prices have seemed frozen in time for the last month,” averaging around $4.25.

“It is obvious that when it came to gasoline prices in one of the most popular vacation communities in America, ‘Big Oil’ has chosen to not only ignore the zone pricing law but also repeal the law of supply and demand,” he said.

“In response to the decline in oil prices, retail gasoline prices have declined across the state and nation, except on the South Fork. Prices haven’t moved in a month,” continued Thiele who added, “It is clear that prices were kept artificially high to exploit the big holiday weekend.”

Thiele intends to contact the New York State Attorney General to investigate the matter and will pursue stronger zone pricing legislation through the State Legislature.

Passenger Ferry Discussion

On Friday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee to the Town of Southampton will host local transportation expert Hank de Cillia, who will discuss a proposed passenger ferry route that aims to use Sag Harbor as one of its hub ports.

In a letter to the editor earlier this month, de Cillia argued that traffic and parking are already issues within the Village of Sag Harbor and that the ferry could alleviate some of those issues while supporting the village’s rich maritime history and culture.

Jim Ryan’s firm Response Marina has proposed the Peconic Bay Passenger Shuttle Service, a year round service between the North and South Forks. According to a proposal submitted to the village in February, a dedicated passenger ferry route and schedule would connect Greenport to Sag Harbor, branching out later to connect to Southampton and Riverhead.

The shuttle would be a year-round, seven day a week service. The company plans to use a 40-person passenger shuttle, but said it would increase to three shuttles if demand was there.

According to the proposal, the ferry would be scheduled to arrive at transportation hubs like Riverhead in time for passengers to connect to the Suffolk County bus line, which could bring them further west or connect them to the Long Island Rail Road.

Under village code, a passenger ferry service on private property is against code and would require a variance. Ryan has said he would instead seek a public, village-owned dock space to run the operation.

Sag Harbor Village Trustees have not ruled out the possibility of the ferry shuttle service, but have continually noted it is against village code as of now.