Tag Archive | "Long Island"

PSEG Phone Scams Continue on South Fork

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An ongoing scam attempting to get PSEG Long Island customers to fork over money under the threat of having electricity service terminated continued this week, with business owners on Main Street in Sag Harbor reporting they had received phone calls from an individual named “Anthony Garcia” stating they owed money to the utility and asking them to pay an outstanding bill over the phone.

On April 8, two business owners contacted Sag Harbor Village Police to report an attempted scam. According to police, while two businesses filed formal reports, other businesses reported similar phone calls with a man stating he would shut off electrical power if customers did not make payment within hours via a Green Dot Money Pak, a prepaid card available at local retailers.

This has been an ongoing scam and PSEG is aware of the situation, according to a “scam alert” section of the utility’s website. Email scams have also been reported. The utility urges any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of a call from PSEG, especially those where payment is requested, to call the company directly at 1-800-490-0025.

American Beer Giant Anheuser-Busch Purchases Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company

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BluePoint

By Tessa Raebeck

Long Island’s first microbrewery, Blue Point Brewing Company has been purchased by the American beer giant Anheuser-Busch. Founded in 1998 in Patchogue by two beer-loving friends, Mark Burford and Peter Cotter, Blue Point retains its tagline as “Long Island’s Brewery,” but is now on tap at bars across the country, brewing some 60,000 barrels a year.

On February 5, it was announced that Anheuser-Busch InBev, the country’s largest brewer and the supplier of its top-selling beer, Bud Light, as well as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, has agreed to buy the Blue Point Brewing Company.

The deal will help Blue Point expand while allowing Anheuser-Busch to capitalize on the growing popularity of craft beer, the announcement said. Blue Point will continue to operate out of Patchogue and to sell its local brews, including the popular flagship Toasted Lager, as well as Hoptical Illusion, Blueberry Ale and Toxic Sludge.

“Together, our talented brewing team and Anheuser-Busch will have the resources to create new and exciting beers and share our portfolio with even more beer lovers,” Mr. Burford said in a statement.

“As we welcome Blue Point into the Anheuser-Busch family of brands, we look forward to working with Mark and Peter to accelerate the growth of the Blue Point portfolio and expand to new markets, while preserving the heritage and innovation of the brands,” Luiz Edmond, the President of the North American branch of Anheuser-Busch InBev said in a statement.

The move will allow Mr. Burford and Mr. Cotter to spread their business philosophy, already well understood on Long Island: “Good people drink good beer.”

Barking and Basking, The Seals Return to Montauk for the Winter

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A harbor seal sunning on the jetty at Georgica Beach in East Hampton. (Photo by Tessa Raebeck).

A harbor seal sunning on the jetty at Georgica Beach in East Hampton. (Photo by Tessa Raebeck).

By Tessa Raebeck

While most visitors to Montauk’s beaches come only in the summer months, at least one group prefers to spend the off-season basking in the sun. Harbor seals, once hunted as bounty and nearly depleted in the Northeast, are now abundant on the East End each winter.

Most of the seals in local waters are harbor seals, but grey, hooded, ringed and harp seals have also been spotted. The East Hampton Trails Preservation Society hopes to see at least one type of seal this Saturday, at a guided two and a half mile hike that weaves through a wooded trail along the bluffs in Montauk and ends, ideally, with a display of seals sunning themselves by the shore.

Several Northeast states enacted seal bounty programs in the late 1800s, and substantial catching and hunting contributed to a severe depletion of the seal population in local waters. A bounty program in Massachusetts existed until 1962.

Ten years later in 1972, the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act largely prohibited the “take” of marine mammals in U.S. waters or by U.S. citizens anywhere.

The seal population began to recover following its passage, according to Gordon Waring, who leads the seal program at NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

The number of seals on the Long Island shore has continued to rise.

Dr. Arthur Kopelman, field biologist and president of the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI), has tracked changes in seal species, abundance and distribution in the Long Island Sound since 1995.

“What I’ve seen is a dramatic increase in population of harbor seals,” Kopelman said last week.

Harbor seals, Dr. Kopelman said, come down to New York from areas further North and usually stay from September to May, with the population generally peaking in late March in Westhampton Beach, his current area of research.

They have a cute, dog-like appearance and when flared, their nostrils resemble a cartoon heart. About six feet long, harbor seals are various shades of blue-gray, white or brown and covered in speckled spots.

If you’ve seen a seal on the East End, chances are it was a harbor seal.

They represent 95 percent of local seals. Dr. Kopelman counted 55 seals in Westhampton just last week, the vast majority of which were harbor seals.

Montauk has more grey seals than Westhampton, the population ecologist said, although the majority are still harbor seals. He has seen the rocks in Montauk filled with hundreds of barking seals in the past.

If harbor seals look like dogs, grey seals look like horses. Grey seals, larger and more aggressive with long faces and large snouts, account for four percent of the local seal population.

Adult males can weigh as much as 700 pounds; double the size of adult male harbor seals.

Dr. Kopelman said according to anecdotal evidence, the grey seal population in local waters is increasing. Typically classified as seasonal visitors like harbor seals, it appears grey seals – like many before them – have become attached to the area and are staying on the East End year round.

“In fact,” Dr. Kopelman said, “there are some folks who seem to indicate that there’s a year round presence of grey seals out here. Although, again, that’s somewhat anecdotal – but probably correct.”

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation has rescued and rehabilitated many newborn seals recently, but it is not officially confirmed the pups were born in the area.

According to Dr. Kopelman, female harbor seals are often pregnant while here but typically head back North before giving birth to their pups, which can swim minutes after being born. It is “likely,” however, that grey seals are giving birth locally.

The remaining one percent of local seals – harp, hooded and ringed seals – come from as far north as the Arctic.

“They are less frequently encountered,” said Dr. Kopelman, “but they are encountered.”

The Seal Haul Out Hike will take place on Saturday, December 28 at 10 a.m. at Camp Hero Road in Montauk. For more information, contact Eva Moore at the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society at (631) 238-5134 or sharstat@yahoo.com.

South Fork Gas Prices Drop

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

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

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

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

East End Winemakers Call 2013 Best Vintage Yet

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Grapes being picked at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. Photo by John Neely.

Grapes being picked at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. Photo by John Neely.

By Tessa Raebeck

As if anyone needed another reason to drink wine, the 2013 vintage is the best local winemakers on both forks have ever seen.

“It’s really spectacular,” said Roman Roth, winemaker for the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. “You hear about these fabled vintages like ’76 and ’45 – this is one that we have.”

“The entire East End is producing great wines,” agreed winemaker Juan Micieli-Martinez of Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead.

Winemakers were nervous last spring, when May was a particularly rainy month and June was the second wettest on record. They soon found their worry was preemptive.

“Then came the most fantastic summer,” said Roth. A heat wave in July followed by a generally dry, long summer helped the winemakers to overcome the wet spring.

The summer was good, but the fall was better.

“What almost always makes a fine harvest – an excellent harvest – is a sunny, dry fall,” explained Larry Perrine, winemaker at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton. “It doesn’t have to be hot, but it’s sunny and dry. And basically from Labor Day on, it didn’t rain. It rained the day after Labor Day and then it didn’t rain for the next seven weeks.”

The dry weather moves the ripening schedule of the fruit forward, preventing any rot. Because the fall was dry without being too hot, the tender varieties were not adversely affected. The yields were substantial and the quality superior across the board, ensuring that the 2013 vintage is excellent for whites, rosés and reds.

“All conditions were great,” said Lisa Freedman, a PR representative for Martha Clara Vineyards, “as far as weather and Mother Nature – and there were no hurricanes.”

Regions renowned for wine, such as Friuli, Italy or Bordeaux, France, have heavy rainfall during the growing season and a dry end of season. This year, the East End of Long Island got a taste of that perfect wine weather.

2010 previously held the crown as the best year in local winemakers’ memory and 2012 was also a landmark year, but it just keeps getting better, they say.

“There’s a lot of great wines up in the pipeline,” said Roth. “But it will all be topped by this 2013 – that’s for sure.”

The sun rises over the harvest at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack.

The sun rises over the harvest at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack.

Since he started making wine in 1982, Roth has seen maybe three lots (batches separated by varietal, date picked or vineyard section) “that are really special” each year.

“But this year,” he said. “We have thirty lots. The lots came in with the highest color, the deepest color, so it’s an amazing opportunity where you have lots of options for great wines.”

The first 2013 wines released will be the rosés in the early spring, followed fairly quickly by the aromatic, fresh white wines, such as sauvignon blancs. Fermented in stainless steel and bottled early, those white wines will be released by the spring or summer of 2014. Other whites fermented in oak, like Chardonnays, could take as long as 2015.

The reds take the longest, spending at least a year in the cellar. Channing Daughters is just now bottling its 2012 reds, so 2013 reds won’t be available for over a year, most likely two. At Wölffer, the top 2013 reds won’t be released until 2016. As Roth said, “good wine takes time.”

The goal of the North Fork’s Lenz Winery in Peconic is to release wine that “will be among the very best of its type, made anywhere in the world.”

Several years ago, that would have been a bold claim for a Long Island winery to make, but these days, it appears to be quite realistic.

Micieli-Martinez calls it the “Napa-fication” of Long Island’s wine industry, referring to the initial disregard of Napa Valley wines. It was believed California couldn’t compete with French and Italian wines, but today Napa Valley is considered to be one of the world’s premier wine regions.

“I think it contributes to the growing really positive perception…of the quality of Long Island wines and of New York wines in general,” Perrine said of the 2013 harvest. “It does improve steadily the reputation of the wines as being first-rate, world class wines.”

“It’s truly a special year,” the 30-year winemaker continued. “We’ll always remember.”

“It’s just perfect,” said Roth. “It’s a dream come true, basically.”

Plum Island: Sitting Duck

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By Karl Grossman

The National Research Council issued a report this month identifying “a number of deficiencies” in an “updated risk assessment” done by the federal government for the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) it wants to build in Kansas to replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center just off Long Island.

Congressman Tim Bishop, who has been challenging the project, issued a statement praising the report because “it bolsters” his view “that building NBAF in America’s agricultural heartland…is unacceptably risky.” He cited “the potentially devastating consequences of a release of the most virulent animal diseases in the heart of cattle country.” The Southampton Democrat also cited, as he has repeatedly, “the jobs of over 100 Long Islanders” threatened by the closure of the Plum Island center, and the NBAF’s $1 billion cost.

Randy Altschuler, a St. James Republican now in a second run to replace Mr. Bishop, although differing with him on most issues, on this agreed. He said in an interview last week that building the NBAF in Kansas to replace the Plum Island center “doesn’t make any sense.”

The National Research Council report, done by a variety of experts in veterinary medicine, engineering and other fields, said the “updated risk assessment” was an improvement over a 2010 “version.” But it still “underestimates the risk of an accidental pathogen release.” It said “the updated probabilities of release are based on overly optimistic and unsupported estimates of human-error rates” and “low estimates of infectious material available for release.”  Of great concern is the impact of a release on the many livestock, notably cattle, in the region. The malady on which most research on Plum Island is done, to be taken over by the NBAF, is foot-and-mouth disease which affects cattle.

But a release from Plum Island could impact on the many people in this region — and there have been releases at the Plum Island center. While Kansas is a center for cattle-raising in the United States, Plum Island is in close proximity to a national center of human population — a mile-and-a-half off the North Fork of Long Island with crowded Long Island and then New York City to its west, Connecticut, Rhode Island and then Boston to its north, .

Untrue is the claim — repeated this month by CBS News’ “Sunday Morning” which presented a segment on Plum Island — that there isn’t a link between diseases studied there and people. CBS reported that “the government says the germs stored on the island only affect animals.”

As noted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in its 2003 report about the danger of terrorism and the Plum Island center, a camel pox strain researched at it could be converted into “an agent as threatening as smallpox,” and the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus worked on could be “developed into a human biowarfare agent.” The GAO declared that there is a substantial risk that “an adversary might try to steal pathogens” from Plum Island and use them against people or animals in the U.S. Further, it said, the center “was not designed to be a highly secure facility.”

And it can never be. Plum Island sits exposed amid busy marine traffic lanes. The main Plum Island laboratory sits astride a beach.

Moreover, the Plum Island center has been on the target list of al Qaeda. In 2010, Aafia Siddiqui, dubbed “Lady al Qaeda,” was convicted in Manhattan of attempted murder. Among the documents in her possession when she was captured in Afghanistan in 2008 were hand-written notes about a “mass-casualty attack” and targets including: the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty—and the Plum Island center. Also found with Pakistan-born Dr. Siddiqui (who has a doctorate in neuroscience from MIT) were jars of poisonous chemicals and details on chemical, biological and radiological weapons. A relative of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, she was found guilty of trying to kill Americans who came to question her. In 2002, U.S. Army commandos and CIA agents found a dossier on the Plum Island center in a raid on the Afghanistan residence of nuclear physicist Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, an associate of Osama bin Laden.

Plum Island is a sitting duck for terrorists. That’s a major reason why the Department of Homeland Security, which after 9/11 took over running the center from the Department of Agriculture, wants it replaced by the NBAF. But can’t the proposed NBAF be put in a highly-secure location that is not in a center of cattle or of people?

Long Island: One State…Three Counties, Not One County

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By Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

Government can be too small, but it can also be too big.

During the Great Recession we have looked for chances to consolidate government where it would be more efficient. We should be equally diligent in looking at government entities that have become too large, expensive and unaccountable. The perfect example is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) which seems to constantly cost more and more in taxes and provide less and less in service. We would be better served on Long Island by the break up of the MTA into smaller more efficient and accountable units.

This brings me to the recent proposal by the Long Island Association (LIA) to study the concept of consolidating Suffolk and Nassau County into one county to be known as Long Island County. While I never oppose the concept of a study, this just seems inherently to be a bad idea.

First, from the perspective of the East End, if you think County government is already too big and far away and indifferent to our region, how can doubling its size and moving the center of power even further to the west be a good thing? Attempting to address the unique needs of the rural East End with its farms, fishing and tourist based economy would be that much harder as part of a county that would have more than 2.8 million people. If there were a 22 member Long Island County Legislature, the East End would have one member.

From a broader perspective, County government was not meant to serve 2.8 million people. It is local government. Nassau and Suffolk are already the two largest counties in the State outside of New York City, which does not have County government. Thirty-nine of New York’s 57 counties outside of New York City have 150,000 people or less. This new mega-county would become just as large, inefficient, and unaccountable as the MTA.

If we really want to improve government efficiency on Long Island, we should pursue the concept of the State of Long Island with three counties, Nassau, Suffolk and Peconic. State Senator Ken LaValle and I are the sponsors of A.1406/S.1453 which would establish a bi-county commission to study the feasibility of the State of Long Island, and A.2082/S.1312 which would establish a procedure for the creation of Peconic County.

Long Island is larger in area than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware. Our population is larger than 19 states. For the years 2002-2004, Long Islanders paid $8.1 billion in State taxes and received back only $5.2 billion.

As for Peconic County, it was confirmed long ago, that smaller Peconic County could better focus County resources on East End needs and reduce the County share of the property tax by 50 percent.

Admittedly, the creation of new states or counties of any sort is a long shot in the current climate. Nevertheless, it is always a fruitful exercise to focus attention on the East End as we fight for our share of government resources on the Federal, State, or County level.

However, let’s focus on what alternatives provide more efficient government. Bigger is not always better.

Thiele Secures East End Forum on Stimulating the Local Economy

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This summer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of regional councils statewide that will vie for funding for projects aimed at stimulating local economies.

And New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. wants to ensure the East End gets its own fair shake at the funding.

After issuing a statement last week with New York State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Dan Losquadro calling for the Long Island Regional Economic Council to host a public forum on the East End, Thiele’s request was quickly approved by the Governor’s office.

On Wednesday morning, Thiele announced that the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council — one of 10 councils in the state charged with creating economic plans for their regions — will host an East End forum. The event will take place October 3 at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on East Main Street in Riverhead.

A time for the forum has yet to be announced, said Thiele.

Asking for the special session, said Thiele on Wednesday, was an effort to ensure the East End’s needs don’t get lost in the shuffle as the region’s economy differs from the remainder of Long Island.

“The regional council hosted public forums in Nassau County and the council had one in Melville, in western Suffolk, but we haven’t had one on the East End and they don’t call Long Island ‘long’ for nothing,” said Thiele.

So far, he said, the regional council has heard from communities that are largely suburban and densely populated, while the East End remains an agricultural Mecca, with an economy tied to the fishing industry and certainly, tourism and second homeowners.

“They are different issues at hand here, but no less important,” said Thiele.

At the forum, he said he expects local chambers of commerce to attend, as well as the Long Island Farm Bureau and the Long Island Wine Council, as well as representatives from the commercial and charter boat fishing industries.

“I just want to make sure our part of this region doesn’t get ignored, and I have to say, the governor’s office has been completely responsive to our requests.

Thiele has also asked the Long Island Development Council to revive the East End Economic and Environmental Task Force first created by Governor Mario Cuomo in 1994 to come up with new economic strategies for the East End.

Additionally, Thiele said he believes the council should consider specific policy initiatives, which could improve the East End economy, focusing on transportation, education, agriculture, fishing and the tourism industries.

Specifically, he would like the council to revive the repaving of Route 27 from County Road 39 to Montauk, and wants the council to explore the institution of a five town coordinated rail/bus shuttle system. Thiele also advocated the re-opening of the Southampton campus under the State University of New York (SUNY) banner, as well as the creation of a Regional Sustainability Institute.

To promote local farming and fishing industries, Thiele called the elimination of what he called “excessive paperwork” for local wineries and the promotion of aquaculture in general. He also called for state advocacy to revise fishing quotas that he deemed unfair for New York fishermen.

Thiele also said the council should revive a commitment in investing in land preservation and environmental infrastructure to protect the tourism and second homeowner industry, create a sales tax exemption at the pump for commercial fishermen and charter boats and revise the Resident State Income Tax on second homeowners.

All of these initiatives, argued Thiele, will benefit the East End economy as a whole.

Locals Feel the Earth Move During 3.9 Quake

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Image credited to the U.S. Geological Survey.

By Kathryn G. Menu


Around 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning, public relations consultant Robbie Vorhaus was sitting in his office at his North Haven home when his house began to shake.

His wife, Candace, didn’t feel the rumbling from beneath and passed it off as “just a truck on Ferry Road.”

In fact, Vorhaus was correct in his initial feeling that the ruckus “came from inside the earth,” as many residents on the East End reported what the United States Geological Survey confirmed: that a 3.9 magnitude earthquake occurred 135-miles south southeast from Southampton in the Atlantic Ocean.

Vorhaus, who responded to the United States Geological Survey’s request for information from those who felt the quake, said he was queried to whether he was scared or excited about the experience.

“I was definitely excited,” he said. “It was a wonderful experience.”

Over 1,000 people across Long Island and into New Jersey and Connecticut reported feeling the tremors to the United States Geological Survey as of Tuesday afternoon.

Five people responded from Montauk, 14 from East Hampton, six from Sag Harbor, and 18 from Southampton. According to a dispatcher with the East Hampton Town Police, that agency received just one call about the quake, which they forwarded to Southampton Town Police believing that agency was handling the breadth of calls revolving around the incident as that township was expected to feel the quake more than residents in East Hampton.

Kathleen Vonatzski, a dispatcher with Southampton Town Police, said that as of Tuesday afternoon she had received just two calls, but that the Hampton Bays police station shook for seven solid seconds when the quake hit the area.

No injuries or damages have been reported as a result of the quake.

“Most people didn’t even feel it,” said Vonatzski.

Some did, however. Bonnie Hoye of Southampton reported feeling the tremor, as did East Hampton’s Jeanie Strong, who lives in Springs. Strong said there was no damage to her home, but that the residence shook, dishes rattled and her young son was scared by the incident.

Adam Flax, a resident of Northwest Woods in East Hampton said he was getting ready to leave his house between 10:30 and 11 a.m. when he decided to turn down his thermostat to save fuel.

“A second after I hit the button there was this rumble, which didn’t seem normal when you are shutting the heater down,” said Flax. “So I walked around kind of startled and thinking something must be wrong with the boiler, but it is a new boiler. I contemplated going downstairs, but nothing was amiss so I left.”

Later, Flax ran into a friend who asked him about the earthquake.

“Then I realized, that’s what it must have been,” he said.

According to the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the quake occurred some five kilometers under the seabed, where an underwater canyon carved by the Hudson River drops off the continental slope and into deeper waters.

The United States Geological Survey reported that the earthquake was widely, but lightly felt, according to the network, and was felt at least from Toms River, New Jersey to outside of Boston, with many reports coming from Long Island.

According to Kevin Krajick, senior science writer for The Earth Institute at Columbia University, there was no indication a tsunami was generated as a result of the quake.

According to research compiled by the Earth Institute team, the area the quake originated from has produced at least five tremors in the last 20 years, including a magnitude 4.2 quake in 1992.



The State of Media

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By Karl Grossman

Media in the United States have been undergoing huge changes—and that goes for Long Island, too. Jaci Clement, executive director of the Fair Media Council and a former Newsday reporter and editor, outlined changes that have happened here at the annual meeting earlier this month of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System.

The biggest has to do with Newsday. Long Island’s only daily newspaper has “closed all foreign bureaus,” noted Ms. Clement’s PowerPoint presentation, cut its news staffs in Washington, Albany and on Long Island, increased use of Associated Press wire copy and “merged operations with News12.”

Commenting afterwards, Ms. Clement said the “basic premise” of Newsday now “is to be a local paper.” Newsday, although a regional paper, used to have major national and international reach. Also, since its purchase by Cablevision in May 2008, Newsday has increasingly, she said, blended its “content” with Cablevision’s news outlet, News12 Long Island.

The Fair Media Council was established in 1979 primarily to push for coverage of Long Island in New York City-based media. That’s still a focus of the Briarcliff College-based non-profit organization. But its broad mission these days, as noted on its website, is advocating for “quality local news coverage as vital for maintaining the community’s quality of life.”

Ms. Clement is extremely concerned about the Newsday situation saying it has “huge implications.” With a shrunken staff and coverage, readers “are receiving less information.” Highly problematic, too, is “one entity” now controlling cable TV on Long Island and owning its only daily.

As for other area dailies, the termination this year of the Long Island weekly section of The New York Times which provided “some diversity” is also “a big deal…A voice was lost.”  Meanwhile, the New York Daily News has reduced its Long Island coverage and New York Post does not “offer a lot of coverage” and tends to favor “sensation over substance.”

As for weekly newspapers, on Suffolk’s East End “the weeklies are very good. I wish they would expand.” In western Suffolk and Nassau County, the weeklies are not of such high quality. And in Nassau especially, most are owned by “chains” with an attitude of “let us put out 15 editions” with very few employees.

As to commercial radio, which used to be bustling with news operations on Long Island, she said that among the now 19 stations here there is only one full-time news reporter—David North at WALK. “In general, radio has gotten out of the news business entirely,” bemoaned Ms. Clement. “If you want radio news, it’s the city stations—880 and 1010.

Regarding the television scene, several of the New York City TV stations—which have long been heavily watched here—are now sharing their Long Island “footage” through a common news service they’ve formed.

Of Cablevision’s news coverage, News12 “is very small,” commented Ms. Clement. Further, it’s an arm of a cable TV company that  has “no mandate to work in the public interest” as do on-air television stations which must do so under licenses granted them by the Federal Communications Commission.

The Schmizzi brothers, owners of Wainscott-based WVVH-TV, “understand the importance of serving the public,” she said. (Full disclosure: I’m chief investigative reporter at WVVH.)

How does Ms. Clement see Long Island’s media future? She anticipates “more cutting back” at Newsday. The “whole concept of printing a newspaper and delivering it” is foreign for Cablevision. She predicted the departure of the paper’s editor which subsequently happened.

“If weekly papers would wake up, they’re the ones with the greatest opportunity,” said Ms. Clement, who has also worked in weekly journalism on Long Island.

On the national scene, in 1983 “50 media companies in the U.S. owned the majority of news outlets,” related Ms. Clement. “Now, it’s down to six.”  And people’s distrust of media institutions is “fueling the popularity of social networking. People are relying on social networking sites to share news and information with those they trust.”

What can you do? “Get involved,” declared Ms. Clement at the event in Bellport. “Demand more from…media outlets. Write letters. Complain directly to them or to the Fair Media Council.”