Tag Archive | "New York State Senator Ken LaValle"

Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele Address Concerns in Noyac

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President of the Noyac Civic Council Elena Loreta, left, and New York State Senator Ken LaValle in a meeting on Tuesday, July 8. Photo by Mara Certic

By Mara Certic

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. were special guests at the monthly meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday, July 8, where they spoke to their East End constituents about local concerns.

“I have a slogan,” began the senator, who arrived wearing his trademark baseball cap. “First district first,” he said. “If you look at the legislation that Fred and I have introduced, easily 50 percent of it deals with local issues and local problems.”

Both the senator and the assemblyman said they were pleased to see so many other elected officials at the Old Noyac Schoolhouse that night; Southampton Town Board members Bridget Fleming, Christine Scalera and Brad Bender were present, as well as newly elected North Haven Village Trustee Thomas J. Schiavoni.

“We spend a lot of time talking to people and listening to people,” the senator said as he mentioned one of his mother’s favorite sayings: God gave you two ears and one mouth and he did that for a reason: so listen!”

Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele answered questions about topics ranging from gas prices to speed cameras, but most of the meeting was spent discussing taxes, education and water quality.

“One of the things I felt is that taxes are too high, property taxes in particular,” said Senator LaValle. “So we passed a multi-year plan,” he said in reference to the state-mandated two-percent tax levy cap that went into effect three years ago.

“You’re all familiar with the property tax cap and quite frankly it’s not perfect,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “But I think it’s worked very well.”

The tax cap was coupled with a tax freeze for the next two years, he explained, and residents of Sag Harbor will receive a tax rebate check this year. In future years, he explained, a tax credit will be given to those who live in a school district that does not pierce the tax cap.

Next year not only will the town, the school district and the county all have to meet the cap, but they will also have to submit a government efficiency plan to reduce the tax levy by 1 percent over the following two years. These plans will have to be approved by the state, the assemblyman said.

“Southampton and Tuckahoe are exploring the idea of consolidation,” he said of the neighboring school districts. “That might qualify for a government efficiency plan.”

“All of us agree that our schools should seek to have higher standards, we have to compete in a global economy now,” he said. That being said, Mr. Thiele quoted a colleague of his in the Assembly who said that “the Titanic had a better roll-out than Common Core.”

Mr. Thiele went on to say that he believed that the implementation of the Common Core this year was “a failure.”

“It was implemented from an ivory tower in a top-down fashion that didn’t take into account parents or teachers,” he said, adding that it should have been put in place “from the ground up.”

“The last thing that both Fred and I were very, very busy with,” Mr. LaValle said, “is the protection of our groundwater and surface water.”

The two men have spent the past year working on legislation called the “Long Island Water Quality Control Act.”

“In spite of all our best efforts we’re still seeing a decline in water quality,” said the assemblyman, who is in part responsible for the creation of the Peconic Estuary Program.

Previous legislation, he said, had focused on regulations for “future land use” when town land was split evenly in three: vacant, occupied and protected.

Today, he said, less than 10 percent of the land in Southampton and East Hampton is unspoken for. “If we’re going to change the issue, we need to change how we treat existing land uses. That’s how we’re going to make a difference and that’s what this legislation seeks to do.”

The two men lauded Southampton Town for the leadership role it has taken regarding research into new technology and alternative septic systems. The two state officials had a meeting organized for the following day at Stony Brook University about creating such new technology.

“We all want to see clean drinking water, but if you tell people they’re going to have to pay $25,000 to $30,000, people can’t afford that expenditure. The technology has to be evolved,” Mr. Thiele said. “Clean water is not just an issue on Long Island, it’s an issue globally.” He said he hopes that Suffolk County can become an incubator for water-quality technology, which would also create high-paying jobs, he said.

Mr. Thiele heard from the DEC, he said, that Governor Cuomo plans to release his own report on water quality in the next two to three weeks. “When he wants to do something, he’s going to take center stage. Nobody preempts the governor.”

Mr. Thiele encouraged Noyackers to write to the DEC about wells that monitor water quality near sand mines, such as Sand Land off Millstone Road in Noyac. In light of a recent ruling that instilled home-rule powers in upstate New York over hydrofracking, Mr. Thiele suggested that local officials might have an existing authority to mandate the monitoring by local law.

The Noyac Civic Council meets next on Tuesday, August 12, at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center when Congressman Tim Bishop will attend to answer questions about the Federal Aviation Administration. Elena Loreto, president of the council, reminded residents to report disruptive aircraft noise and to send letters to the FAA in the next week to ensure that helicopters continue to follow the North Shore over-the-water route. Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele said that they, too, would contact the FAA.

“We wrote to them before and we’ll be happy to do it again,” said Mr. Thiele. “We have supported this for quite a while.”

 

 

Tick-Borne Disease Task Force Makes Recommendations

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 By Mara Certic

A report issued last week by the Senate Majority Coalition Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases calls for the formation of a State Department of Health action plan in order to reduce the number of infections and increase detection, diagnosis and treatment. The task force was brought together in October to address the rising concerns about the spread of tick-borne diseases in New York State and included Senator Ken LaValle among its members.

According to the Department of Health, more than 95,000 cases of Lyme disease have been reported in the state since 1986.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, but diagnoses of babesiosis and anaplasmosis have increased in recent years as well, the task force found. Suffolk County has the third highest number of cases reported each year in the state.

“We have had nine deaths from Lyme disease or tick-borne diseases [in New York State],” Senator LaValle said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We think that this needs to be taken more seriously.”

The report states that one of the main concerns when it comes to controlling the tick-borne diseases is that few of the cases are reported. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, only about 10 percent of cases of Lyme disease are actually reported.

The task force’s report suggested several educational initiatives the state could undertake that would encourage New Yorkers to report Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. A County Learning Collaborative has been suggested to encourage conversations of between counties that have long been troubled by ticks and those that have only recently seen outbreaks of these diseases.

The task force also suggested a general statewide educational campaign, as well as improving continuing medical and veterinary education about the topic.

This year, for the first time, the state Senate has secured funding in the state budget exclusively for managing tick-borne diseases. “For the first time, we’ve got some money and we’re going to be a pilot for the state with the 4-poster program,” Senator LaValle said. The 4-Poster systems work by attracting deer with food, and then applying the insecticide permethrin to the animals when they approach to feed.

Installation of these devices on Shelter Island and in North Haven will take place “A.s.a.p.,” the senator said. “We believe it works. We want to get information that we can share statewide.”

North Haven is included because “it’s small enough so we think we can do a good job in putting them there,” said Senator LaValle.

A re-evaluation of diagnostic testing has also been recommended, as has a review of medical insurance to minimize coverage limitations regarding tick-borne diseases.

The Senate has also taken legislative steps to deal with this problem; one piece of legislation, which has passed in both houses, ensures that no physician will be brought up on charges of misconduct based upon their recommendation of a treatment that is not universally accepted by the medical community.

“There have been some physicians that have used long-term antibiotic to treat Lyme disease,” explained Senator LaValle. “This was not a mainstream use and so some physicians were brought up before the health committees for medical misconduct.”

Senator LaValle said the Senate passed a resolution on Friday, June 20, calling on the federal government to increase funding for Lyme and tick-borne diseases. “Our resolution talks about two things,” he said.  “Number one: we need the CDC to treat this as a more serious illness. Number two: we could use some help with funding.”

Montauk Man Honored in Veterans Hall of Fame

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New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle with Lt. Col. Walter George Drago on Tuesday when Drago was honored through his induction into the New York State Veteran

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle has selected Montauk’s Lt. Col. Walter George Drago for induction into the New York State Veterans’ Hall of Fame. Drago joined veterans from across the state at an Albany induction ceremony on Tuesday, May 21.

In 1968, Drago enlisted in the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Flight Program and graduated with honors as a Warrant Officer 1 Army Aviator. He was selected to fly the Grumman OV-1 Mohawk. While serving in Vietnam, Drago was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 2 and was awarded several prestigious distinctions, including the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism, the Bronze Star Medal, 13 air medals, an Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross and a Civil Action Medal.

Drago was released from active duty in 1972 and joined the Georgia Army National Guard. In 1988, he was transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve as a Master Aviator and Captain. He was then promoted to major and assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, retiring as a Lt. Col. in 2002.

Since 2010, Lt. Col. Drago has been active with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and continues to volunteer with the military academy.

“Lt. Col. Drago demonstrated extraordinary courage and commitment in his service to our nation,” said Senator LaValle in a press release last week.

In 2012, Sag Harbor resident Marine LCpl. Jordan C. Haerter — who was killed in Iraq in 2008 — and Shelter Island resident Army 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert — who perished in Afghanistan in 2010 – were posthumously inducted into the veterans hall of fame.