Tag Archive | "Kenneth P. LaValle"

Zeldin Easily Defeats Bishop in 1st District Congressional Race

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Voting in the 2014 Midterm Elections on November 4th, 2014

Voting in Sag Harbor. Michael Heller

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

With a jubilant crowd cheering and chanting, “Lee! Lee! Lee!,” State Senator Lee Zeldin claimed victory Tuesday night in the 1st Congressional District, where he handily defeated six-term Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop.

Although many projected a tight race that might take days, or even weeks to resolve, the contest was over early, with Mr. Zeldin’s lead steadily growing to 55 percent of the vote to Mr. Bishop’s 45 percent by night’s end. According to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Mr. Zeldin received 89,564 votes to Mr. Bishop’s 73,860 votes.

“We can’t change Washington unless we change who we send there to represent us,” Mr. Zeldin told the crowd that had gathered to watch the returns at the Emporium in Patchogue. “And that’s what you did tonight!”

“Across our nation, we took decisive action to fix America,” he said, noting that Republicans had won a majority in the Senate and added to their majority in the House to provide a “much needed check on the agenda of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.”

Mr. Zeldin, who thanked his supporters and party regulars, began his speech with a simple, “Victory is sweet, isn’t it?”

He said he was able to maintain the grind of the campaign trail large part because of the of the focus and drive of his supporters.

Mr. Bishop conceded shortly after 10 p.m. from the Islandia Marriott, where he and his supporters gathered.

“A few minutes ago, I called Senator Zeldin and I offered him my congratulations and I pledged to him the full cooperation of my staff and, of course, me as we go through this transition over the next several weeks,” Mr. Bishop said. “It is a very important job. The people of this district deserve that it be done at the highest possible level. I think we have done that over the 12 years that I have had the good fortune to serve you.”

He added that he and Mr. Zeldin had had a “very gracious conversation.”

“I believe I and my staff have done this job in a way that characterizes or defines professionalism, so we are going to transition from this job in the same way,” he said.

“I want to thank all of you. I got to stand where I am standing 12 years ago in many cases because of the exact same people who are standing here tonight,” Mr. Bishop said.

There were no surprises in other races, although Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., who won his 12th term, received most of his votes as a Democrat, even though he is a member of the Independence Party.

Mr. Thiele received 18,346 votes, or 60.3 percent of the vote on the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families lines, to turn back Republican Heather Collins, who received 9,898 votes, or 32.5 percent of the votes. Brian De Sesa, a Sag Harbor attorney, received 2,162 votes, or 7.1 percent, running on the Conservative line.

But 14,852 of Mr. Thiele’s votes were as a Democrat, while he received only 1,991 from those voting Independence Party and 1,503 on the Working Families line.

“I am extremely grateful to East End voters for their continued confidence in me,” Mr. Thiele said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “I look forward to continuing to advocate for the East End in Albany and improving our quality of life and the outlook for our future.”

Republican State Senator Kenneth P LaValle also cruised to victory to win his 19th two-year term. He received 53,220 votes, or 70.4 percent of the total, to easily defeat Democrat Michael Conroy, who received 22,297 votes, or 29.5 percent of the vote.

In other races, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy C. Hochul turned back the challenge of Republican Rob Astorino and Chris Moss. The Democrats received nearly 54 percent of the vote to 40.5 percent for Mr. Astorino and Mr. Moss.

Also sweeping to victory in state races were Democratic Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who received 60 percent of the vote, to best Republican Robert Antonacci, who received 36.6 percent, and Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who received 55.5 percent of the vote to defeat Republican John Cahill, who received 41.6 percent.

Judith A. Pascale, who was cross-endorsed by Republicans and Democrats, was elected Suffolk County clerk, and Republican John M. Kennedy defeated Democrat James F. Gaughran to win the county comptroller race, receiving 53.2 percent of the vote to Mr. Gaughran’s 46.8 percent.

Three propositions on the state ballot, one aimed at removing politics from the redistricting process; one to allow bills in the state legislature to be sent to members electronically; and another to borrow $2 billion for school technology projects, all passed.

Two county propositions, one that eliminates the office of treasurer and one that repays money borrowed from the county’s clean drinking water fund and tightens rules for how money can be borrowed from the fund in the future, also passed.

A proposition in Southampton Town that would allow the town to swap a parcel of land purchased with money from the Community Preservation Fund with another parcel owned by the county, so improvements can be made to the Riverside traffic circle also passed.

 

Election 2014

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Although the ballot contains a number of state and county races and several propositions, Tuesday’s election is really about the race in the 1st Congressional District, where incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop of Southampton, who is seeking a seventh term, is being challenged by State Senator Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Shirley.

 

In an earlier contest between the two, back in 2008, Mr. Bishop easily turned back the then inexperienced Mr. Zeldin in a race that was no doubt influenced by the surge of support for Democrats nationwide, led by President Barack Obama, in the wake of the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression.

 

Today, with public opinion of the president at low ebb and Mr. Zeldin polishing his campaign skills, Mr. Bishop faces a much tougher test. That’s a pity because in an age when the public’s attention is typically limited to digesting sound bites, Mr. Bishop is a thoughtful candidate who addresses the issues not only in complete sentences, but in full paragraphs.

 

That means when Mr. Zeldin shouts, “Cut spending!”, Mr. Bishop points out that with 75 cents of every federal dollar already earmarked for senior citizens, the military or payments on the national debt, simply targeting welfare fraud—one of the few specifics, Mr. Zeldin has offered as a way to cut spending—is not going to go far in the absence of a true bipartisan approach.

 

When Mr. Zeldin says simply secure the border to deal with illegal immigration, Mr. Bishop counters that a bipartisan Senate bill, which would have done just that as well as deal with the millions of illegals already in the country by giving them a path to citizenship, has been ignored in the fiercely partisan Republican-led House of Representatives.

 

When Mr. Zeldin says Obamacare is a disaster, Mr. Bishop acknowledges that the Affordable Care Act, while having its faults, is a work in progress that has resulted in millions of Americans, who were previously uninsured, having access to that most vital of safety nets. And he accurately points out that despite Mr. Zeldin’s lip service to retaining portions of the law he supports, the Republicans are interested in nothing less than full repeal.

 

In the end, while Mr. Zeldin talks a good game and has mastered the ability to sound like all things to all people, he offers an overly simplistic conservative worldview that does not jibe with the pro-environmental, pro-equal rights views of East End voters.

 

Mr. Bishop’s attention to constituent service and his well earned seniority, which has allowed him to bring home funding for items as diverse as Brookhaven National Laboratory in Brookhaven to the erosion-control project slated for downtown Montauk make him too valuable of a legislator to turn out of office.

 

It appears obvious that Governor Andrew Cuomo, Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will all easily win reelection, but a pair of longtime state legislators, Independence Party Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Republican State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, are also worthy of voters’ support. Both legislators have played critical roles in helping to protect the East End’s environment, and they have always been there to support local libraries, schools, and other issues of importance to their constituents.

 

Voters will also be asked to weigh in on six ballot propositions (seven for Southampton voters). A county measure that would restore funds taken from the drinking water protection program and establish more stringent guidelines for how money could be borrowed from the fund deserves support. At the state level, a measure providing for $2 billion in borrowing to beef up technology in the schools is worthy of support. Another measure that aims to take the politics out of election redistricting efforts likely falls short of what is needed, but is a start in the right direction.  A Southampton Town measure to allow for the swap of land preserved with CPF money so work can be done on the Riverside traffic circle should be passed as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LaValle & Fleming Debate in East Hampton

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By Amanda Wyatt; Photography by Michael Heller

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming – both vying to represent New York’s First District in the race for State Senate – locked horns in a debate on Monday night in East Hampton.

Approximately 50 people turned up at the Emergency Services Building to hear the candidates spar over a variety of issues. Bryan Boyhan, publisher of The Sag Harbor Express; David Rattray, editor of The East Hampton Star and League of Women Voters of the Hamptons member Judy Samuelson served as panelists.

Fleming, a Democrat from Noyac, opened the debate by suggesting it was time for a change of leadership, pointing out that LaValle has served in the state senate for 36 years. She also noted that if she wins the election, she would be the first woman senator from Suffolk County.

“I’m running because business as usual has failed us in Albany,” she said.

LaValle, a Republican from Port Jefferson, cited his long record in the state senate as reason to keep him in his position.

“My motto is, First District first,” he said. “…I want to talk about my record, because it’s a distinguished record and one that has served the people of this district.”

LaValle brought up his past efforts in environmental conservation, education and health care, specifically highlighting his role in the recent partnership between Stony Brook University Medical Center and Southampton Hospital.

While much attention was paid to hot-button issues like campaign finance reform and government spending during Monday’s debate, issues particular to the East End were also in focus. The ongoing dispute over the perceived increase in noise from The East Hampton Airport came up, with candidates asked whether it was time to take legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Fleming said she had approached the Southampton Town attorney about the possibility of initiating a lawsuit against the FAA, and that the town council had “met ad nauseum,” she said, with other government leaders over the issue of aircraft noise.

Additionally, said Fleming, she believes enforcing flying curfews and implementing altitude requirements for aircraft could be key components in reducing noise.

LaValle, on the other hand, believed he had “a good disposition to get people to find common ground.”

He suggested the use of a proposed Atlantic Ocean route, which would bring helicopters over the Georgica section of East Hampton, as a way to alleviate residents in Noyac, North Haven and Sag Harbor, as well as the North Fork, of incessant helicopter noise.

“I believe that that is a viable alternative that has to be pursued with all of our vigor,” he said.

Earlier this month, LaValle was joined by a cadre of government officials in signing a letter to the FAA demanding it implement that southern flight path.

The candidates were also asked whether the state should play a role in controlling Lyme disease, as well as managing the deer population.

Calling deer “very formidable,” LaValle said he helped fund the 4-Poster program that has been implemented in Shelter Island as well as other communities like Fire Island to stop the spread of ticks.

The 4-Poster Program, licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), is a feeding station for deer equipped with a strong tickicide.

Implementing a 4-Poster program has most recently been debated in North Haven Village, although it appears that village board is looking towards culling the herd as a means of relief.

“Yes, there are times when I’ve used leadership to steer things in a particular direction, but local people have to be in favor of whatever you want to do,” said LaValle.

Fleming also mentioned using the 4-Poster program, as well as the need to find ways of “humanely reducing” the deer population.

The two-percent property tax levy cap was another topic of debate. While LaValle voted for the cap, he said he had “pushed for the maximum state aid that we were able to generate.”

He added, “sharing services is probably the first step that needs to be taken. I think all levels of government need to share the taxing resources that they have.”

LaValle mentioned he had already supported the consolidation of two school districts on the North Fork and supported the reorganization of schools on the South Fork.

Like LaValle, Fleming expressed the need for mandate relief.

“We’ve got to look at the places where our budgets are leaking, and the state, as sort of the bully pulpit, can induce local municipalities and school districts to lower their costs,” she said. “And that is what the point of the two-percent tax cap really should be, if it stays in place.”

The ever-present issue of jobs was also touched on.

“I don’t think anyone has worked harder to deal with introducing jobs here,” said LaValle, noting that protecting the environment was key to creating jobs and sustaining tourism.

For Fleming, the loss of local jobs is due to the fact many companies cannot afford to stay in the area. She pointed out that Long Island has the highest electric rates in the continental United States, which was a turnoff to corporations.

In her closing statement, Fleming noted that the election has gained national attention.

“If I win, I’ll be the first senator who is a female from eastern Long Island, and the first from all of Long Island since 1984,” she said.

“We can’t let this moment pass,” she added. “We have the opportunity to break into the boys’ club.”

In his closing statement, LaValle brought up his accomplishments in health care, among other things.

“This area will no longer be medically underserved,” he said, speaking to the potential in the partnership between Stony Brook Southampton and Southampton Hospital. “This area will receive the best health care and specialists, so that you don’t have to travel long distances.”

“I believe that over the years in my career that I have been a leader in many, many different areas,” LaValle added. “And I think that’s why the people of the first district have returned me to office.”

LaValle Bill Supporting Breast Cancer Patients Signed into Law

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A bill sponsored by New York Senator Kenneth P. LaValle that would help some breast cancer patients by requiring insurance companies to cover reconstruction for partial mastectomies has been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The bill adds partial mastectomies to law that already covers reconstruction for full mastectomies.

“This law follows my 1997 legislation, now law, requiring insurance providers to include coverage for complete breast reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy,” Senator LaValle said. “Partial mastectomy is the most common form of breast cancer surgery and should be required to be covered by insurance providers.”

“Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer should be able concentrate on getting well and recovering, not about whether insurance will pay for reconstruction if they are undergoing a partial mastectomy,” Senator LaValle added.
The law follows another LaValle measure, legislation he supported to improve early breast cancer detection that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 24. That law will increase women’s awareness of the presence of dense breast tissue found during a mammography exam. Dense breast tissue may make it more difficult to detect tumors.

“This new law will help save women’s lives by increasing awareness of a known breast cancer risk factor,” said LaValle. “Along with routine breast cancer screenings, the information provided by physicians to those with dense breast tissue can help increase early detection of the disease and give patients a greater ability to make educated decisions about their health.”

Haerter & Theinert to be Inducted into Veterans Hall of Fame Today

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Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, from Sag Harbor (above) and Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert, from Shelter Island, will be inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 22.

As the East End readies for Memorial Day weekend, there was no truer reminder that this holiday has less to do with hot dogs and house rentals and more do with honoring those who have fallen in service to the United States than what will occur Tuesday in Albany. There, family, friends and government leaders will gather in honor of two veterans from the East End who gave their lives in battle — Sag Harbor’s own Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter and Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert from Shelter Island.

Both men will posthumously inducted into the New York State Senate’s Veterans’ Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 22. They were nominated for the honor by New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.

“Joe Theinert and Jordan Haerter are true heroes who gave their lives to protecting the freedoms we treasure,” said LaValle in a statement released last week. “They should be recognized and commended by our State and community. The New York State Veterans’ Hall of Fame is a tribute to these two fine young men that demonstrates our respect and gratitude for their patriotism and sacrifice.”

Army 1st Lieutenant Theinert was deployed to Afghanistan at the age of 24. Approximately six weeks into his deployment, he was killed in action on June 4, 2010 while on patrol in the Dand District in Kandahar was investigating an improvised explosive device, which detonated. No other members of Army 1st Lieutenant Theinert’s platoon were killed or injured.

Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, who entered the Marine Corps directly out of high school, was a Platoon High Shooter in his Alpha Company platoon. On April 22, Lance Corporal Haerter was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq. Jordan, a member of the proud and storied 1st Battalion, 9th Marines also known as ‘The Walking Dead’, and fellow marine, CPL Jonathan T. Yale, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, were standing guard at an entry control point when a large truck careened off track and ignored calls to halt. Haerter and Yale opened fire to protect the checkpoint and were killed by the resulting 2,000-pound blast that came from the rigged vehicle.

Their actions saved scores of servicemen and women from both the United States and Iraq.

LCPL Jordan Haerter’s military awards include the Navy Cross Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Iraqi Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.


School Tax Law Concerns

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As school districts on the East End of Long Island attempt to tackle the conundrum of trying to provide competitive services for students, while keeping spending in line to appease taxpayers, initial proposals by state government for school-tax relief have some district’s wondering if they won’t be left at a disadvantage.

At the Sag Harbor School Board’s last meeting, on September 8, the board encouraged a room full of administrators, parents and teachers to attend a meeting at the Center Moriches High School on Monday, September 22, hosted by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. The forum will focus on proposals concerning state education funding and school taxes – an issue state officials have been wrestling with in an effort to provide taxpayer relief without leaving school districts in the financial lurch.

The Center Moriches forum is the last of several meetings Thiele, and state Senator Kennneth P. LaValle, have hosted to speak with members of the community about proposed legislation to provide property tax relief. Forums were held last week in Bridgehampton and this past week in Springs on the same issue.

The legislation, which is based on a report issued in July by the New York Commission on Property Tax Relief – a commission headed by Nassau County Executive Thomas Souzzi – aims to provide property tax relief in two separate bills in the New York State Senate and Assembly.

The commission submitted a preliminary report, which was accepted by Governor David Paterson, who has been vocal in his support for the tax cap, earlier this year. The final report will be submitted on December 1, 2008. 

The commission argues that New York State has the highest local taxes of any large state in America and is 79 percent above the national average.

The state senate bill would impose a cap of four percent on a school district’s property tax increase. The district can override the cap with a vote of 55 percent majority, or a 60 percent majority if the district has received an increase of five percent or more in state aid that year. The state senate bill applies to virtually every school district in the state, save Buffalo, New York, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers.

The assembly bill, on the other hand, provides a refund based on the household income of a family and the percentage of property taxes compared to that income. The assembly bill states that families taking in $90,000 or less would be eligible for a 25 percent refund on the taxes that exceed five percent of their income. A sliding scale provides similar relief for families making between $90,000 and $250,000, although at smaller rates.

“There are certain critical issues regardless of what the final bill looks like,” Thiele said on Wednesday of the proposals. “Property taxes need to be reduced because we can’t ask people to make the decision over their home or education.”

 “The concerns of the superintendents are that they won’t have adequate funding,” Thiele continued, summing up what a number of school district administrators have expressed publicly in the last two weeks about the cap in particular. “But we will work with the state to come to a consensus during the budget next year.”

 “Property tax reform is an issue that can’t wait,” he added.

The Suffolk County School Superintendents Association expressed their concerns with the proposed tax cap last week and asked for increases in federal aid. The tax cap, they added, could become problematic in the event of large increases in class sizes and could lead to teacher layoffs.

 “I think its poor legislation and should not be adopted for several reasons,” Dr. John Gratto, Superintendent of the Sag Harbor School District said on Wednesday. “First of all it is based on false premises that school boards are unable or unwilling to provide or limit expenses.”

“I think school districts are the best example of democracy,” he continued. “This will take away local control.”

“We may need to spend more because of increased fuel costs or other transportation issues,” said Gratto of some of the situations district’s could find themselves in if faced with a four percent cap. “In that case, services to students would have to be cut to cover these costs and the impact on the students could be very detrimental.”

Bridgehampton School District Superintendent Dr. Dianne Youngblood echoed Gratto’s concerns, although she noted that she is still researching the legislation and has yet to attend a forum due to scheduling conflicts.

Youngblood cited county research that showed that a four percent cap could in reality translate to a two percent cap in spending increases after contractual increases in health insurance and energy costs are factored in.

Youngblood noted the financial crisis Wall Street has faced in the last week has painted a bleak economic picture her district has been trying to anticipate for some time now.

 “These are frightening times,” she said. “We realize that something needs to be done regarding taxes and school budgets and I think at Bridgehampton that is why our board and our administration has tried to be at the forefront of talking about choice in education on the East End. Some change is going to have to come about.”

The district has been in ongoing discussions about sharing services and has even discussed a charter-like school system on the East End on a theoretical basis.

“I think those of us at the table, we are all just wrestling with these issues,” said Youngblood. “But let’s really talk about this [proposal] and ensure whatever is put in place is not only in place for taxpayers and residents. We have to make sure students and districts don’t get squeezed in the process.”

Additional reporting by Kathryn G. Menu