Tag Archive | "New York"

Hampton Jitney: On The Road for 40 Years

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Biz Jitney 40th

By Stephen J. Kotz

It was during the deep recession of 1973-74, a downturn made all that much worse by the emergence of a little understood force called the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, that Jim Davidson had an idea.

“He bought two vans with bike racks and envisioned an intra-town service for people who didn’t want to drive from East Hampton to Montauk or Southampton to Sag Harbor during the oil crisis,” said vice president Andrew Lynch.

And so, the Hampton Jitney was born 40 years ago.

To celebrate the milestone, the company, whose dark green coaches are now a regular sight from the Montauk Highway to the Long Island Expressway and beyond, is planning a number of promotions this year kicking off with a “Design a Jitney” contest.

Artists have been invited to submit plans using the company’s logo and celebrating its anniversary. The winning design will be used to wrap one bus in the company’s fleet. And the winner will get complimentary tickets for use on the company’s Hamptons to New York City line.

It didn’t take long for Mr. Davidson to realize that a localized bus service wouldn’t cut it. “That fall, he quickly realized he wasn’t going to be able to make the payments on his vans because there was no business,” Mr. Lynch said. “One of his customers asked him to take him and his family back to the city, so he started doing that.”

For years, Mr. Davidson, a former Madison Avenue advertising executive, ran his company from a potato barn on his Bridgehampton property. In 1982, he was successful enough that he was able to purchase the Omni Building, a former catering hall and roller rink, on County Road 39 in Southampton.

Mr. Lynch’s parents purchased the business from Mr. Davidson in 1988, shortly before his death. Today, their son, Geoffrey Lynch, is the company’s president.

Andrew Lynch said that over the years, several competitors have challenged the company on its turf, but none have been able to make a serious dent in its business. “Our biggest competition has always been cars,” he said. “A key to our success is frequency, running a frequent schedule even when it doesn’t pay to do so.”

Besides its bread-and-butter business moving weekenders back and forth between the city and providing a convenient link during the week for business travelers, the Hampton Jitney has branched out in several directions.

In 2006, the company purchased the Sunrise Coaches and began providing service from the North Fork to the city. It also offers a popular airport connection service to MacArthur (Islip), Kennedy and LaGuardia.
“Charters are a really big part of our business,” said Mr. Lynch. “We do school trips, corporate events, weddings, ski trips and Broadway show day trips.”

The Jitney even provides excursions to Mets and Yankees games. “We do a lot of Yankees games,” Mr. Lynch said. “We had tickets for the last home game this year, which will be Derek Jeter’s last game, and they sold out in two days.”

The company even offers a Florida service that spares snowbirds from the need to drive to their winter homes. They simply drop off their cars, which are loaded on a car carrier, before boarding a bus that will take them to their destination.

The company continues to expand. It recently acquired a maintenance facility in Calverton that will also allow it to provide better service to the North Fork and Riverhead, Mr. Lynch said.

“We been positioning ourselves for the long haul, not the quick dollar,” Mr. Lynch said of the reason for the company’s success. “We really have become part of the history and social fabric of the community.”

For more information, visit hamptonjitney.com.


Jonathan Glynn Withdraws From Sag Harbor School Board Race

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Jonathan Glynn has withdrawn his name from contention for one of four Sag Harbor School Board seats up for election on May 21.

Glynn announced his decision on Thursday morning, after being asked by Sag Harbor School District Clerk Mary Adamczyk for documentation showing his full time residence has been within the district for one year prior to the budget vote and trustee election — a district requirement.

This leaves six formal candidates for school board — incumbents Ed Drohan, Susan Kinsella and Chris Tice will seek re-election and former board member Daniel Hartnett, audit committee member David Diskin and attorney Thomas Re will also seek seats on the board.

According to Adamczyk, the deadline for petitions nominating candidates for office has been extended to Friday, May 10 at 5 p.m. Those petitions can be obtained at the district clerk’s office.

According to a press release issued by the district on Monday, the district reopened the timeframe to submit nominating petitions because Glynn had chosen to withdraw his nomination.

“Earlier this month the District Clerk received nominating petitions from candidates interested in running for the School Board,” reads the school district release. “She examined those petitions and attempted to verify that each of the candidates met the qualifications to be a member the Board of Education. One qualification for being a member of the School Board is that the candidate must be a resident of the Sag Harbor School District for at least one year prior to the election day of May 21, 2013. When attempting to confirm that candidate Jonathan Glynn met this qualification, it was discovered that he only recently became a registered voter in Sag Harbor School District on March 26, 2013.  Based upon that, the District Clerk contacted Mr. Glynn and requested verification of his residency status. With the assistance of the School District’s attorney, a letter was sent to Mr. Glynn requesting documentation of his residency. Ultimately, Mr. Glynn decided to withdraw his candidacy.”

According to a letter sent to Glynn by Adamczyk, Glynn was registered with the New York City Board of Elections from a Bleeker Street address through March of 2013. Glynn’s license, according to the correspondence, was also only recently updated as of April 2013 to reflect his Sag Harbor address.

According to the letter, all of Adamczyk’s research was based on public information gathered from various bodies in an effort to establish Glynn’s residency, a requirement of the district clerk.

In the letter, Adamczyk indicates she had asked Glynn to furnish tax returns showing a Sag Harbor address, but was told those too would be registered to the Manhattan address.

She asked Glynn provide written proof of his residency, based on the advice of the school district attorney, in order to provide Glynn every effort to verify his status as a resident of the Sag Harbor School District.  Adamczyk asked he provide that documentation by Friday afternoon.

In a response to Adamczyk, Glynn states his 2012 taxes are legally extended and in process to be filed from his Sag Harbor home, and that he has shown he was active year round resident for the last three years, a homeowner for 17 years. He noted his name was under consideration to fill the board position left with the resignation of Walter Wilcoxen nine months ago, but given the situation, had chosen to withdraw his candidacy.

“As a concerned citizen of the community I think I have been and will be effective as a full time resident from outside the board looking in and would not want to take up any more of your time, your lawyer’s time, or mine responding back and forth to questions and accusations concerning my residency that are unfounded and without merit,” said Glynn. “My central position is to not waste resources whether they be mine at home here in Sag Harbor or yours at the school.  I remain consistent with that position.”

According to state education law, if a candidate withdraws a nominating petition, the time for filing petitions should be extended to the 15th day after the day in which a candidate withdraws their name.

“This was required even though there were more candidates who initially filed petitions than vacancies on the Board,” reads the district’s press release. “Anyone interested in filing a nominating candidate petition should contact the District Clerk Mary Adamczyk, at (631) 725-5300, x1411, or madamczyk@sagharborschools.org.”



Bridgehampton Voters Approve $1.5 Million Capital Reserve Fund

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By Amanda Wyatt

Bridgehampton residents took to the polls last Wednesday, March 20, voting 49 to 21 to approve the creation of a $1.5 million capital reserve fund to finance repairs and maintenance to school facilities over the next five years.

The fund, which comes from unexpected savings and revenues received by Bridgehampton School, will be put towards the repairs outlined in the district’s five-year plan. Some items in the plan include repairing fire escapes and making other safety updates, as well as modernizing outdated heating systems and making the school more energy efficient.

While $1.5 million was approved by voters on March 20, school administrators currently estimate that only $1.35 million is needed to make these repairs.

This year, Bridgehampton has a fund balance of $604,000. Much of this fund comes from transportation savings realized after last year’s budget vote; savings from repairing instead of replacing its gym floor; collecting past-due payments from other districts; overestimating health insurance based on state numbers and planning for out-of-district student placements that did not come to pass.

In related news, Bridgehampton was recently awarded a Virtual Advanced Placement (AP) grant from the New York State Department of Education.

At a board of education meeting following last Wednesday’s vote, Dr. Favre said the school was “fortunate” to be a part of the grant, which is meant to provide students from low-income families greater access to online AP courses.

The school is one of 13 districts on Long Island that will benefit from the roughly two million dollar grant spearheaded by Nassau BOCES, in conjunction with Eastern and Western Suffolk BOCES. Southampton was the only other local district that received the grant.

Bridgehampton is expected to receive 20 licenses for their students to access online courses, 20 mobile learning devices and 16 laptops. The school will also receive a wireless access point and printer, online training for teachers and registration fees for ninth grade students to take the PSATs.

Thiele Named to Farm Bureau’s “Circle of Friends”

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Last week, the New York Farm Bureau (NYFB) announced it has named New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. as one of its “Circle of Friends.”

This legislative award is based on Thiele’s “demonstrated understanding of the importance of agriculture on Eastern Long Island, as well as how the industry impacts the economy and the future of New York State.”

“I am honored to receive this recognition from the New York Farm Bureau, the State’s largest general farm advocacy organization,” said Thiele in a press release issued September 27. “Throughout my political career, I have remained deeply committed to supporting and protecting New York’s family farms. Agriculture and its related industries are an integral component of the East End economy, so we must help farmers in managing their daily operations in an environmentally conscious and economically viable way.”

The “Circle of Friends” award is determined by a legislator’s voting record on issues of importance to New York agriculture, as well as evidence of other legislative support during the 2012 Legislative Session.

Among recent key pieces of legislation that strengthen New York agriculture , Thiele was the prime sponsor of the proposal to exempt farm wineries and craft breweries from a tax-filing requirement.

“I commend Governor Cuomo for signing this bill so that small farm wineries and craft breweries no longer need to struggle to comply with a needless filing requirement,” said Thiele. “Now, our wineries and breweries can better use their time to grow their businesses and promote their product.”

As a multi-sponsor of the “Let New York Farm Act, Thiele pledged to reduce farm-based taxes, fees, and regulatory burdens to help grow the agricultural economy.

“While this bill remained in committee at the adjournment of the 2012 Session, rest assured that I will continue to work with my legislative colleagues to pass this important measure which will benefit our local family farms and communities,” Thiele said.

Marriage Equality Act Yields 25 Registrants

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By Claire Walla

As of Monday, July 25, New York is all systems go. Just 30 days after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the marriage equality act into legislation, same-sex couples can now officially apply for a marriage license and be legally wed in the state of New York.

While some gay couples living in New York have already tied the knot in one of the five U.S. states where same-sex unions are already legal, and though some couples will opt to wait a bit before they listen to the wedding bells ring, the clerks’ offices in East Hampton and Southampton Towns are already seeing requests for the paper contracts.

Glenda Hayes of the East Hampton Town Clerk’s office said their offices had received three requests for marriage licenses from same-sex couples on Monday, July 25 and one request the following day. The numbers in Southampton Town are a bit higher. According to Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer, the town issued 19 marriage licenses just this past Monday, in addition to one on Tuesday and another on Wednesday.

Though the office seems to have been inundated at the start of the week, Schermeyer explained, “that was really because we were gathering applications from the week before. We allowed people to begin filling out their paperwork early on,” she said, adding that all of the applications that were started last week could only officially be filed on Monday. So, in that sense, the number of licenses she issued was pretty on-target. “We kind of had an idea [of how many we would be issuing] based on the number of phone calls we had coming in,” she said.

Though any couple that obtains a marriage license through a New York clerk’s office is free to marry in any part of the state, Schermeyer explained that she herself officiated ceremonies for three of the gay couples who had requested marriage licenses this week.
For the Reverend Katrina Foster, pastor of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett and Incarnation Lutheran Church in Bridgehampton, the first wedding with two men she will preside over will take place this Saturday, July 30. She added that her first wedding with two women will be held in October.

“Both of my churches are excited to host the weddings for both couples,” she said. In fact, the passage of the Marriage Equality Act came nearly two months after Incarnation Lutheran Church officially adopted a statement of public welcome to all “regardless of age, race, gender identity, marital status, sexual orientation,” etc.

In light of the fact that the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Center has barred its priests from presiding over gay ceremonies, Reverend Foster is working to get the word out to the community that she can do the job.

“I’ve done some outreach to gay-specific communities” to get the word out that there is a pastor in the local community who can officiate a Christian service for a gay couple, she said. “I was just at a professional meet-and-greet [put on by the East End Gay Organization] the other night and I said, ‘If you need someone to officiate, I’d be happy to speak to you.’”

While Pastor Foster said her office hasn’t exactly been inundated with requests from gay couples, she said she’s not exactly surprised. While it may be the case that some couples feel strapped for options, she said it’s also very likely that there are a number of gay couples who will choose not to marry.

“More and more, a lot of people [gay or straight] are choosing not to engage in a hetero-normative construct,” i.e. marriage, she said. While that may sound overly complicated, when it comes down to it, it’s really very simple. “They just want to be themselves,” she said. “However they choose to be.”

New York’s Bad Voting Machines

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By Julie Penny

Tens of millions have been spent — a hundred million — to go on a pig in a poke.

This summer, with a gun held to its head by the Feds, New York State was forced into buying new voting machines. Counties selected their choice from a short-list provided by the state. They are not ready for prime time. In fact, they are the usual junk that vendors have been passing off on the rest of the country for all these years.

Upon delivery, Nassau found a high failure rate amongst them, as did many other counties throughout New York State. Suffolk machines fared better, so I was told by Anita Katz, one of the two Commissioners at Suffolk’s Board of Elections. You would think that since the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed in 2002 that by now these companies would have improved their wares, or, at least, seek to impress its latest customer—New York—with a decent, even superior product. But, no!

Luckily, we’ll be voting on the levers for ’08, but, along with them, each polling place will be sporting one of the new voting systems for use by disabled voters, or, by anyone who so wishes to do so. Ralph DiSpigna, a poll worker for Noyac, warns: “Don’t even bother with them, they take 20 minutes to use—Go with the levers.”  As our counterparts across the nation have been experiencing for years: be prepared, in the future, to wait in long lines for hours on end to vote on error-prone machines that lack security, and take too much time to vote on. That’s if poll workers can even get them to turn on. (Another frequent cause of delay.)

An article in “Scientific American,” that came out in February stated: “Whereas certain technology—such as pacemakers and other medical devices—are heavily regulated and must adhere to strict design and construction standards, voting machines are still mostly unregulated. ‘There’s no validation of how the software for these systems is designed and built…surprising given the importance of voting machines to our national infrastructure.’” 

Additionally, Long Island’s new Sequoia-Dominion Voting systems that comes with a ballot marking device (BMD) where you mark your choices and feed your ballot into an optical scanner also comes additionally equipped with a “convenient slotted hole that allows anyone to stuff ballots directly into the locked ballot box.” I watched a video by an activist attorney on how easily it was done. She was able to stuff several ballots at a time directly into the locked ballot box without having to pass the ballots through the scanner first. This ballot stuffing feature would foil any manual audits because a discrepancy would then exist between the paper ballot count and the tally on the optical scanner’s memory card. If the machine says 300 people voted and poll workers find—when thy open the locked box at the end of the night, 315 ballots—How will they know which are the “real” ballots?  While vendors have lessened the slotted gap, or sealed it, it is unclear at this time just how many of the new machines, in actuality, have had this problem rectified. NYS election workers still have qualms.

These new machines also come equipped with USB ports that illegally facilitate network, internet and wireless access. New York law calls for “no connectivity.”

Although hundreds of discrepancies with these machines have already been documented which would prevent their full certification for counting the 2009 votes, and, although the lab approved to certify these voting systems is being investigated for shoddy methodology and collusion with vendors, the Feds want New York to lower its own certification standards to accommodate these substandard, security-compromised voting systems. New York better fight the Feds tooth and nail.

It’s only recently that the media has reported on the flaws of our electronic voting machines, noting that dozens of states have dumped their touchscreen systems and are embroiled in lawsuits against vendors. Yes, CBS News, CNN, the Associated Press, the NY Times have finally come out against electronic voting. But, it’s too little, too late. For years election integrity activists have been documenting, collecting, cataloging, analyzing, data and trying to get elected officials and the mainstream media to do their job of investigating the mind-numbing voting disasters and anomalies that have riddled every election and primary since 2000. This August The Washington Post reported that the Premier (formerly “Diebold”) system contained “a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point.” This problem has been part of the software for the last 10 years! The system is used in 34 states. The flaw exists in both Premier’s touch screens and optical scanners. But problems like these are endemic to all other brands of these systems as well.

The whole structure of elections in the U.S. has changed. Once reliant on local representatives accountable to the public, we have now become completely dependent on large corporations which are not accountable to the public. “Most local officials charged with running elections are now unable to administer elections without the equipment, services, and trade-secret software of a small number of corporations” like ES&S, Premier (Diebod), Hart Intervic, Sequoia. They run the show and we’re hostage. Since HAVA was instituted in 2002, they’ve gouged the taxpayer for billions. That’s one part of the equation. The other part is voter disenfranchisement that has been ramped up to unprecedented proportions for the 2008 election. The same vendors who control voting machines have also been given lucrative contracts to generate electronic poll books. It’s created an opportunity for sizeable voter disenfranchisement. I reported on this problem in this column two years ago referring to an in-depth study by NYU’s School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. Eligible voters, by and large, Democrats, some of whom had have lived in the same place and voted continuously at the same precinct for years are being thrown off the voting rolls because of typographical errors made by clerks. And now, because they lack new ID requirements. This spring, 12 elderly nuns in Indiana were turned away from their polling place across the street from their convent because they didn’t have federal or state ID with a photograph, like a driver’s license. (None of the nuns drove.) I have elderly relatives who fall into this category. The poor, people of color, and Latinos, who tend to be Democrats are particularly targeted.  The latest targets of disenfranchisement are those whose home have been “foreclosed” upon. 

A few years ago, whistleblowers, at great personal risk, started coming forward. Brave folks that were either ignored, maligned, or both. The mainstream media ignored them, but concerned citizens and the netroots followed up on their claims in great detail. By 2006 so many cracks had appeared in our ship of liberty that even the reluctant media started noticing it was splintering apart—A turning point moment, I think, was when the team from Princeton University proved how easy it was to hack these systems and change results without any detection.

The continuing voting train wrecks that appear with every primary and election as reported upon by voters, election officials and local newspapers around the U.S., and, with a new Secretary of State in California who ordered a top to bottom review of electronic voting machines and found them unworthy of certification, all goes to verify what we’ve been saying for years — along with the lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.

Over the last two-and-a-half years the body of evidence has grown to such proportions that the media could no longer ignore the problem. The voting hazards we face are best epitomized in the documentaries—“Hacking Democracy,” (nominated for an Emmy in 2007); “Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections,” and Dan Rather’s “The Trouble with Touchscreens.” They are damning.

The latest whistleblower to step forward is Stephen Spoonamore—one of our nation’s top cyber experts. He is dead set against electronic voting, asserting it’s a “national security” issue. (Interviews with Spoonamore can be seen on “YouTube.”) Among his clients are credit card companies like MasterCard and American Express. He’s consulted for the FBI, Pentagon and other government agencies on electronic data security and commerce.

In July, a motion was filed by two Ohio attorneys to have a “stay” lifted on a lawsuit having to do with election fraud in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. Mr. Spoonamore has volunteered to be one of their expert witnesses. The judge granted the lawsuit proceed and ordered depositions be taken. However, a subpoena to the information technology person most knowledgeable in the Ohio matter, Michael Connell, is now stonewalling and fighting the subpoena. Sound familiar?