Tag Archive | "Suffolk County"

Cantwell Announces Town Attorney Appointments

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While Larry Cantwell will not officially be sworn is as the new supervisor of East Hampton Town until January 2, this week he announced appointments to the town attorney’s office on behalf of the incoming town board.

Elizabeth Vail has been selected as town attorney, according to Cantwell. A graduate of St. John’s University School of Law with eight years experience as an assistant town attorney in Southampton Town and three years with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Vail’s municipal experience is something Cantwell said will enable her to manage the legal affairs of East Hampton Town and the leadership skills to “guide the town attorney’s office with integrity and independent judgment.”

Elizabeth Baldwin and Michael Sendlenski will join Vail as assistant town attorneys. Baldwin is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and a former Assistant Town Attorney in East Hampton where she served for five years. Baldwin, known as Beth, has experience in planning, zoning, and housing and land acquisitions, noted Cantwell. She has been a practicing attorney for 10 years and for the past two years served as Associate Director and Counsel to the North Shore Land Alliance.

Sendlenski is a graduate of Harvard University and Suffolk University Law School and has served as Assistant Town Attorney in Southampton since 2007.

“Michael has specific experience in drafting and enforcing quality of life, environmental and conservation law, obtaining search warrants, and prosecuting zoning and code violations in town and State Supreme Courts and has litigated and argued appeals on municipal matters in the Second Department Appellate Division,” said Cantwell in a press release issued Sunday. “He also served as Chief of Staff for the Committee on Public Safety of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

John Jilnicki, who has served as the current town attorney, is a graduate of St. Johns University School of Law and has served as East Hampton Town Attorney and Assistant Town Attorney for over 20 years.

“John has comprehensive knowledge of town government and the legal affairs of the town and has been a dedicated public servant,” said Cantwell. “He will be an integral part of the town Attorney’s Office.”

“Together these attorneys have broad experience and knowledge of municipal law and proven dedication to public service,” said Cantwell. “We look forward to a town attorney’s office that maintains the highest ethical standards and provides solid legal support to town government. In addition to broad knowledge of municipal legal affairs the individual specialized skills of this team will bring experienced legal advice to the town board in many key areas of concern including, planning and zoning, litigation, and effective enforcement of town codes.”

Cantwell will join his Democratic Party running mate Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Republican Fred Overton in being sworn into the East Hampton Town Board on January 2 with a reception at 9 a.m. and swearing in at 9:30 a.m. An organizational meeting will begin at 10 a.m.

Dix Hills Man Indicted on Fraud Charges; Feds Allege Scheme to Buy Shinnecock Cigarettes

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By Tessa Raebeck

A Dix Hills man was arraigned in federal court Tuesday following charges that he solicited over $5 million from friends and neighbors in what federal officials are referring to as a Ponzi scheme that took place over eight years.

Robert Rocco, 48, was charged with 14 federal counts of wire and mail fraud, after allegedly promising investors returns of as much as 18 percent annually on fabricated investments, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Prosecutors said victims believed their investments – ranging from $25,000 to $1.2 million – were being used by Rocco to fund loans to a tobacco shop on the Shinnecock Native American Reservation to finance wholesale cigarette purchases, among other ventures.

Since 2006, Rocco purported to provide said financing through his corporation, Limestone Capital Services (Limestone) in Melville, in which over two dozen individuals invested, according to prosecutors.

As president of the Dix Hills Soccer Club, Rocco allegedly used his position to solicit donations and investments from members, donors and volunteers of the club. The indictment states he controlled the club’s bank accounts and did not permit others to access the records.

In early 2010, Rocco allegedly took some $66,915 from the Dix Hills Soccer Club and deposited the checks into a Limestone bank account, subsequently distributing the funds to his investors as their purported returns.

According to the indictment, Rocco then told one victim, who is a volunteer and member of the soccer club, that the club had no funds left, prompting the victim to make two donations of $20,000 and $25,000, respectively.

In the summer of 2010, Rocco allegedly solicited donations from the victim and his family for a new company, Advent Merchant Services, LLC, (AMS) which he said was a credit card processing company. The indictment states the money Rocco received from the victim for AMS was not invested, but instead used to pay purported returns to Limestone investors.

Prosecutors said Rocco again solicited the victim for donations to a third company, Advent Equity Partners, LLC, (AEP) and provided him with fraudulent notarized sale contracts and bank statements. In addition to the $45,000 in donations meant for the Dix Hills Soccer Club, the victim and his family paid Rocco over $1.3 million for supposed investments in AMS and AEP, said the indictment. Rocco allegedly used the victim’s own funds to pay the family’s returns.

According to the indictment, Rocco recruited a second victim – who also invested his money as well as his family’s money – to help him solicit investments from a wider network of friends, family and colleagues. Prosecutors said Rocco promised investors annual rates of return of 15 to 18 percent and raised over $5 million in investments in Limestone alone between 2006 and 2013.

Using funds received from later investors, Rocco allegedly paid initial investors about 10 checks of a few hundred dollars per year between 2009 and 2013, with lesser returns than promised.

Around February 2009, Rocco told Limestone investors that some $5 million in uninsured cigarette inventory financed by the company was stolen from the Shinnecock Reservation by “a rival Indian tribe,” according to the indictment. No police report was filed.

In the late summer of 2013, after allegedly missing payments to investors, Rocco reportedly confessed to the second victim – who had helped him solicit investments – that everything he had told him about Limestone was a lie.

Rocco is charged with five counts of wire fraud and nine counts of mail fraud, all federal. He reportedly pled not guilty to all charges.

If convicted, Rocco faces substantial jail time – as much as 30 years per charge – and must forfeit all funds and property obtained directly or indirectly as a result of his alleged offenses, including his home in Dix Hills.

Suffolk County Demands Action from State Education Commissioner at Common Core Forum

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State Education Commissioner Dr. John King, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Regent Roger Tilles listen to speakers at the forum November 26.

State Education Commissioner Dr. John King, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Regent Roger Tilles listen to speakers at the forum November 26. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

Tests with a sole purpose to judge teachers; educators of 40 years who must submit lesson plans to the state; children crying to their parents every night that they are “stupid”— this is the picture of New York’s public education system painted by the students, teachers, administrators, parents and even public officials who attended a forum with New York State Education Commissioner Dr. John King on November 26.

Dr. King sat on stage overlooking the auditorium at Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School — filled to capacity at 1,000 — with Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Roger Tilles, a regent who represents Long Island.

During the forum, Long Islanders questioned and even heckled the state officials who appeared at times to be distressed, annoyed or un-phased.

A sign held by many read, “We Are All More Than a Score” on one side and “Parents, Teachers, Students, Principals — United” on the reverse.

One man had a poster with photos of his children and the words, “These are my special interests.”

Gary Karlson, a parent, third grade teacher and union vice president in the Riverhead school district, held a sign saying, “If you want to wage war on public education, keep my children out of it.”

When asked why he was there, Karlson said, “I don’t like feeling like a substitute teacher every day.”

Rocky Point High School students question state education officials.

Rocky Point High School students question state education officials.

Questions were submitted prior to the forum and about 30 speakers were permitted to address the commissioner directly from podiums below the state officials. All but two of the speakers were overtly critical about the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards, the testing of students, the APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) teacher evaluation system, the use of a for-profit data warehousing company to store information on students and alleged corruption in the state’s decision to use educational publishing giant Pearson in implementing Common Core.

Sag Harbor’s interim superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso and Bridgehampton superintendent/principal Dr. Lois Favre have expressed their support of a letter drafted by Suffolk County superintendents asking the state to stop over-testing and slow down Common Core implementation.

“The relevance and developmental significance of the new curriculum for our more accomplished students is questionable,” said Jan Achilich, director of special education in the Remsenburg-Speonk School District, “and that concern is amplified tenfold for our students with cognitive and developmental challenges and our English language learners.”

Several speakers asked the commissioner why he refused to admit the flaws of the implementation, which educators across the state have said was haphazard and harmful to children because they were assessed on things they had not yet learned proficiently. Although many admitted benefits in the educational philosophy of the Common Core, critics have maintained these were eradicated by the mismanaged rollout.

Dr. King replied the state has asked the US Department of Education for permission to curb some of the testing by allowing accelerated eighth grade math students to opt out of the state test in favor of the regents exam and to allow for two percent of students to take tests at their instructional level, as opposed to the one percent currently permitted.

“Get the feds out of it!” a heckler yelled. Another said that by no longer accepting federal Race to the Top funding, “we could do what New York does well for New York.”

Bill McGrath, a Shoreham Wading River trustee and president of the district’s school board, quoted Dr. King’s position on how the state is unable to slow down implementation and the importance of the new curriculum.

“If all this is true,” McGrath asked, “how can it be that you — as well as every regent but one — send his or her children to private schools? If these reforms are so vital to every student’s future, why shouldn’t the regents and the commissioner want their own children to experience them?”

Westhampton Beach school superintendent Mike Radday said it is misguided to believe a student who has always learned under the old standards should be given an exam aligned to the new standards immediately.

“It is even more misguided,” said Radday, “to then take the results of those exams and tie them to a teacher’s evaluation.”

Less than a third of students statewide met the new standards in the tests administered last spring.

Connor Sick, a senior at Rocky Point High School, asked the commissioner, “If you have anything to say about why failure is being used as a weapon to motivate these students?”

The NYS United Teachers Union has asked for a three-year moratorium on the use of students’ test scores in

Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) President Jim Kinnear returns to a supportive crowd after addressing state education officials.

Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) President Jim Kinnear returns to a supportive crowd after addressing state education officials.

teacher and principal evaluations.

Jim Kinnear, president of the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor, asked the commissioner if he would commit to having three teachers, two principals and one superintendent on the body that makes decisions on educational curriculum.

“Of those that are on the board that are making these decisions, including the commissioner, none have teaching experience,” Sag Harbor school board vice president Chris Tice, who also spoke at the forum, said at Monday’s school board meeting. “My impression was that very little was heard and very little constructive feedback was provided back, unfortunately.”

During the forum with Dr. King, Tice and others questioned the use of a third party data warehousing company, In Bloom, to house students’ scores and private information. Of the nine states that originally hired for-profit data companies, New York is the only one that does not offer parents the ability to opt out.

“New York has usurped my parental authority,” said Mount Sinai’s Candice Donin. “These are my children, not property of the state.”

A group of New York principals sent the state a letter of concern regarding APPR regulations, which has been signed by over 8,000 New Yorkers.

Chris Tice, vice president of the Sag Harbor Board of Education, addresses the commissioner.

Chris Tice, vice president of the Sag Harbor Board of Education, addresses the commissioner.

In addition to outlining extensive educational research showing student test scores are not a strong predictor of quality teaching, the letter says vital tax dollars are being redirected from schools to testing companies, trainers (the state recommends administrators undergo up to 17 days of training, with sessions typically costing $120 per day per person) and other vendors.

Michael Friscia, president of the Rocky Point Teachers Association, said corruptness is at the core of the new curriculum’s existence.

“Besiege our last hope — our lawmakers — to force the change necessary to save public education,” said Brian Snow of the Port Jefferson Teachers Association, calling the regents’ reforms “the privatization of education for their own profit.”

Cyndi McNamara, a mother of two children at East Quogue Elementary School, pointed to substantial teacher layoffs and program cuts across Long Island.

“We didn’t need it, we didn’t ask for it, but we’re going to pay for it,” McNamara said of the reforms. “We don’t need more testing … we simply need you to return the programs, teachers and supplies that have been taken from our schools and let our teachers teach.”

At the forum, some residents also criticized the state’s relationship with Pearson Publishing.

As the world’s largest for-profit education business and the largest educational publisher in the country, Pearson sells tests, curriculums, textbooks, training and other programs. New York State signed a five-year $32 million contract with Pearson to produce standardized tests in 2011.

That same year, Pearson reported North American education was its largest business, with sales of nearly $4.3 billion and an operating profit of about $800 million.

Following several allegations that Pearson financed lavish international trips for education commissioners whose states do business with the company, in December 2011 New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas to the Manhattan offices of Pearson Education and the Pearson Foundation, the corporation’s nonprofit arm.

New York’s $32 million contract with Pearson was awarded after former state education commissioner David Steiner attended a conference in London in June 2010 underwritten by the Pearson Foundation.

The inquiry is ongoing.

“I can’t say calm down because I agree with you,” Regent Tilles told the riled up crowd at the forum. “But I can say you might be more effective if you work within the system, work with your legislators, work with the government.”

Dr. King said the department has made some adjustments and will continue to make others, adding, “Disagreeing isn’t the same as not listening.”

“I hope,” State Senator Kenneth LaValle told the commissioner, “that within a very short period of time you can reinstate the hope and faith that people have in our government system – that their input counts and that they can make a difference.”

Veterans Service Officer Available in Southampton Town

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An accredited Suffolk County Veterans Service Officer able to assist Southampton Town veterans and their dependents in accessing veterans’ benefits is now available locally thanks to a collaboration between Suffolk County and Southampton Town.

Sheana Morris, a U.S. Army veteran and a Suffolk County employee, will be in the Southampton Town Clerk’s Annex in the Hampton Bays Community Center at 25 Ponquogue Avenue on Thursdays between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. She will assist with questions about and applications for pensions, compensation, tax exemptions, counseling, and aid and attendance — a reimbursement program that helps reduce home health costs.

Appointments are encouraged. Walk-ins are accepted if no other appointments have been scheduled. To make an appointment, call 723-3054 or 853 VETS.

For a complete list of Veteran’s benefits available through the Hauppauge offices such as filing DD-214 discharge papers and separation papers; assisting with appeals; community affairs-memorial services, dedications, ceremonies etc.; assisting Veteran Service Organizations; and referrals to other County, State & Federal agencies, visit suffolkcountyny.gov/veterans/benefits.

Suffolk County: Schneiderman Earns Sixth and Final Term

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

By Kathryn G. Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southampton Town Supervisor Candidates Argument Focuses on Finances

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By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

Southampton Town Supervisor candidates Anna Throne-Holst and Linda Kabot have faced off in numerous debate and forums throughout town in recent weeks. They sparred again on Thursday, with both parties making allegations that ranged from fiscal irresponsibility to political smear tactics and even deep-rooted corruption.

At the debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons and moderated by Carol Mellor, the candidates were allowed 15 minutes of response time to use at their own discretion, either to answer questions or for rebuttals. Questions were posed by Joe Shaw, executive editor of the Press News Group, Sag Harbor Express editor and publisher Bryan Boyhan and Judy Samuelson of the league, as well as members of the audience, who filled the room at Rogers Memorial Library  in Southampton beyond capacity.

Incumbent Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member cross endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties, was elected to the town board as a council member in 2007 and beat Kabot, a Republican also running on the Conservative Party line, in the supervisor’s race in 2009. In her opening statement, Kabot, who served as councilwoman from 2002 to 2007 and as Southampton supervisor from 2008 through 2009, alleged that Throne-Holst falsely claimed that Kabot caused the prior budgetary problems and mismanaged the town. Both candidates agreed that this election is about “the truth” and alleged that their opponent was taking credit for their own successful financial management.

Referring to a debate hosted by the Speonk-Remsenburg Civic Association October 9, Shaw asked Kabot, “you were asked what your qualifications were for supervisor and your answer was that you were married with children and were a homeowner, what did you mean by those remarks?”

Kabot said the phrasing was incorrect and untruthful and noted that no reporters were present at that debate. She referred to similar statements on her website, which states: “As a property owner, I can better represent the majority of taxpayers and voters in Southampton Town. As a married mother of three children, I can provide values-based leadership with deep roots in the community.”

“What I meant by that,” she explained, “was as a homeowner and a taxpayer, my husband and I receive a tax bill and we know what the impact is of increased taxes to our budget and a renter doesn’t receive a tax bill.”

Kabot maintained the person who posed the initial question was a member of the town Democratic Committee.

“They’re the ones writing the letters to the paper to indicate that this is about single mothers or something about somebody’s marital status,” she said. “It has nothing to do with that. That is political spin and it is wrong.”

Throne-Holst responded that the original question was submitted by an unknown member of the audience and asked by a moderator.

“I find it curious that you feel better able to protect people’s taxes as a homeowner,” she said to Kabot. “I will remind everyone that Linda Kabot raised everyone’s taxes by a full 15 percent as supervisor and I have raised them zero.”

“I know that I am a single mother,” continued Throne-Holst, who has four grown children. “I know that as a result of a very painful divorce, I am no longer a homeowner. Maybe someday I will be but now I am not. Sixty percent of our residents live in single households and 40 percent of our residents do not own property and you all have my assurance single mother or married, property owner or not, I represent you equally.”

“Again, someone’s marital status has nothing to do with it,” countered Kabot. “It’s political nonsense being stirred just like the statements are out there that I single-handedly raised taxes 15 percent — this is an untruth.”

Kabot said that corrective tax levies were put forward in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that Throne-Holst voted for as a councilwoman.

“These were the correct things to do,” Kabot said. “And it’s easy to spin it and twist it and distort it but I’m proud of my record as your supervisor of doing the brave and necessary things to do.”

The candidates used a significant portion of their allotted 15 minutes to continue back and forth on Shaw’s question.

“I don’t think you talk about value-based representation because you are married,” said Throne-Holst. “The clear implication is if you are not you do not espouse those values. All I can say is I’ve been your supervisor for four years; you don’t achieve these numbers based on someone else’s work.”

“It’s not about taking credit. It’s not about passing blame. It’s about moving forward,” concluded Kabot.

Boyhan asked the candidates to what degree their administration should prepare for the “continued dramatic and inevitable erosion of our ocean shoreline,” as well as their position on shore-hardening structures.

Throne-Holst said the issue has been at the forefront of her administration and voiced her opposition to shore-hardening structures, which she said help one property while adversely affecting those around it.

“We have taken a hard stance on them in the Town of Southampton, we will not permit them going forward,” she said.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of erosion control districts in Sagaponack and Bridgehampton, which allow for oceanfront homeowners to be taxed separately in order to fund a $26 million beach re-nourishment project that is expected to add 60 to 70 feet of beach, adding that she is working with other areas of the town interested in pursuing similar projects.

Kabot also opposes shore-hardening structures. She advocates improved relocation efforts in the event of major storms and said that although the nourishment project is beneficial, “there’s no guarantees that that sand is going to stay in place.”

Her criticisms of the project, she said, have to do with the use of park reserve funds, $1.7 million of which were used to fund the pavilion and public beach access areas of the erosion control districts.

“Those [erosion control district] homeowners are very grateful for the work that has been done in local government to see to it that the beach nourishment has been brought forward and they are contributing very heavily to the supervisor’s reelection campaign,” Kabot alleged.

Samuelson asked an audience member’s question about what obstacles the candidates would remove in order to allow more business and private sector jobs.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of an economic development task force in the Riverside/Flanders area, which she said secured a total of almost half a million dollars worth of grants.

“That will probably bring the most amount of jobs to this area when it comes to fruition,” she said.

The supervisor also spoke of the “major job creation possibilities” posed by the Clean Water Coalition, a regional task force she developed, and its “bringing the manufacturing and marketing of those technologies to this area.”

Kabot said she would enact the targeted redevelopment of blighted sites by “incentivizing certain sites so that there would be investment by private developers to allow for the creation of a tax base to create more jobs.”

She is committed to reestablishing a small business office in Town Hall in order to help local business officers get through the regulation process and aims to increase senior and affordable housing, rethink rental laws and review permit standards.

“We have to work at the government level to get out of the way so that businesses can create those jobs,” Kabot said. “We have to simulate business by allowing the government red tape to be lessened and in some cases we need to facilitate their ability to get through the board of health because that is one of the biggest things that holds up a number of businesses.”

“The business advisory group does exactly what Linda’s talking about,” replied Throne-Holst. “They help expedite, they help business owners through the process. So been there, done that already. As far as the Health Department goes, we cannot expedite that. It’s a nice thing to say but we can’t. It’s a county permitting authority, we have actually no control over that.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” the supervisor said in her closing argument. “I love my job, I love serving all of you and I will bring the same level of commitment, enthusiasm and service to this job should I have your vote.”

Kabot concluded the debate, “Together we can take back our town from special interests, restore honesty and integrity and capability to that supervisor’s office and we can bring back the only true independent candidate who cannot be bought.”

The supervisor election will be held on November 5.

Suffolk County Expands Sunday Bus Service

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On Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved legislation providing a minimum of $1.1 million and as much as $2.1 million to expand the county’s Sunday bus service — a move Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said would provide environmental and economic benefits moving into the summer season.

“We are building upon the successful pilot program for Sunday bus service we launched two years ago on the East End,” said Schneiderman. “Sunday is a busy day for retail and service-oriented businesses. Employees need to get to work and employers need a workforce they can depend on.”

“This resolution is a step forward to expand bus service while cutting our deficit,” County Executive Steve Bellone said. “Expanding bus service helps take cars off the road and provides opportunity and access for thousands of Suffolk County residents. I commend Legislator Schneiderman for his continued leadership to make Sunday bus service a reality in Suffolk County and working alongside me to expand service and provide deficit relief. I also want to thank our state delegation for their hard work to get Suffolk County’s transit aid increased by approximately $2 million.”

“Many businesses on the East End, including in my North Fork legislative district, rely on public transportation to get workers to their jobs, especially during the summer season, and I strongly support Legislator Schneiderman’s initiative to expand Sunday service,” said Legislator Al Krupski. “It’s an important economic boost for my district and will also help workers get to the jobs they need to be self-sufficient. And it’s a win for all Suffolk County taxpayers by helping cut our general fund deficit.”

“Today’s vote is an important first step towards creating the seven-day-a-week bus service that Suffolk County deserves,” said Ryan Lynch, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “This investment in Sunday and evening bus service is a down payment that will help riders and local businesses immediately, while also laying the groundwork for additional service expansions in the future.”

A successful pilot program for Sunday and holiday bus service was in effect for two summer seasons, Memorial Day to Columbus Day, on two eastern Suffolk routes — the S92 and 10C lines — subsidized in part by a 25 cent higher main fare on those riders. New York State recently increased its State Transit Operating Assistance (“STOA”) for Suffolk Transit by approximately $2,100,000 above the level anticipated in the Suffolk County 2013 budget, giving the county the opportunity to establish Sunday bus service year-round on limited routes.

“Recognizing the depth of the county’s fiscal problems, I agreed to allow half of this additional state funding to be used to close our county general fund deficit,” said Schneiderman. “I am hopeful that a federal grant for $1,000,000 will make up the difference and we should learn about our grant success in June.”

Schneiderman’s legislation would use $1.1 million of the increased funding provided by New York State to expand bus services in Suffolk County in the evenings and on Sundays. It would also direct the county Department of Public Works to apply for federal matching grant funding through the Job Access Reverse Commute (“JARC”) program, with the goal of achieving a total of $2 million in new funding for expanded Sunday and evening bus service.

Under the legislation, the Department of Public Works would develop a plan, within 30 days of the resolution, to expand the county’s bus service in the evening hours and on Sundays to the fullest extent possible within the limits of the additional state funding. The plan for expanded bus service would be continued as a pilot program for one year. DPW would report on the success of the pilot program to the County Legislature’s Public Works Committee no later than 270 days after the pilot program begins and make recommendations as to the feasibility of continuing the program beyond the one-year pilot period.

Larry Cantwell Tapped as Independence Party Candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Independence Party has tapped East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell as its candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor this fall.

Two weeks ago, Cantwell announced he would seek both the Independence and Democratic parties endorsement to seek the top seat on the East Hampton Town Board in elections this fall.

According to Independence Party chairwoman Elaine Jones — who made the endorsement announcement on Monday afternoon after screening candidates last Tuesday — “experience was clearly the most impressive quality among candidates this year.”

“Larry Cantwell received the nod for the Supervisor spot,” said Jones and vice chairwoman Pat Mansir in a press release issued late Monday. “He carries with him the peaceful demeanor needed to bring consensus and unified forward-thinking among people. And his more than 30 years in public service is a testament to the success of his approach.”

Cantwell screened with the Independence Party along with Zachary Cohen, who was the Democratic candidate in 2011, narrowly losing to incumbent Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. Wilkinson has chosen not to seek another term, and Nancy Keeshan, the town’s planning board vice chairman, once rumored to be the front runner for the Republican nomination, has withdrawn her name from contention.

“I am proud to have their nomination,” said Cantwell on Tuesday afternoon.

Republican Committee chairman Kurt Kappel has maintained his desire the party run its own candidate. When asked about the potential for a three party endorsement for supervisor, Cantwell said his focus was now on securing the East Hampton Democratic Committee’s endorsement.

That committee is expected to host its convention on May 15.

“My approach is one step at a time,” said Cantwell. “I am very pleased to have the Independence Party nomination because I look forward to being a consensus builder and leader in East Hampton. I think the Independence Party has shown a willingness to reach across party lines. Over the years, especially recently, they have endorsed candidates from different parties and I think the town is looking for someone who can reach across the aisle.”

The Independence Party has also endorsed Fred Overton and incumbent Dominick Stanzione for town board — candidates that have already received the endorsement of the Republic Committee.

Overton is stepping down from his long time position as town clerk this year. Stanzione is seeking a second term on the town board.

“For the last 48 years, Fred Overton served this community as a volunteer with the Springs Fire Department,” said Jones. “He has run his own business, was our town assessor for eight years and for 13 years has been the town clerk. In all of his positions he has been presented with difficult and confidential situations that were handled with finesse and genuine kindness. He us unflappable.”

Jones cited Stanzione’s ability to work with others and think independently as a board member as the reason for his endorsement.

“More importantly, he has been able to flourish under pressure when he has had to battle to be an independent thinker,” said Jones. “Dominick has stood up to politics and made decisions based on what is good for the people and the environment. He deserves four more years.”

The party also endorsed Carol Brennan — also supported by the Republican Committee — to take Overton’s seat as town clerk, and Joe Bloecker — a town trustee — for assessor. Bloecker also has the support of the Republican Committee.

Carl Irace, an East Hampton attorney who has won the Republican Committee endorsement and served as the assistant town attorney from 2010 to 2012, earned the Independence Party endorsement for town justice, and Stephen Lynch has been supported for another term as superintendent of highways.

Diane McNally, Stephanie Talmage Forsberg, Sean McCaffrey, Nat Miller, Steven Lester, Tim Bock, Brian Pardini, Brian Byrnes and Dennis Curles have the party’s support in the town trustee race.

“The Independence Party is committed to achieving the best government the town can possibly offer,” said Jones and Mansir. “That involves candidates from both parties working diligently together toward the best approaches and innovations for our town. The Independence Party, itself, will work endlessly to achieve these goals.”

Explosive Material Discovered in North Haven Detonated at Havens Beach Without Incident

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Photo by Bryan Boyhan; Sag Harbor Village Police and officers from Suffolk County Bomb Squad responded to Long Wharf on Tuesday night after a small amount of explosives were discovered in the truck of a man repairing the finger docks on the wharf.

By Kathryn G. Menu

On Tuesday night around 5:45 p.m., Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf was cordoned off after village police said a man working on repairs to the village’s finger docks approached police and said he found explosive material in North Haven. Police said the man brought the material to Long Wharf where he was working and flagged down a police officer.

According to Sag Harbor Village Police Detective Jeff Proctor, the material was found in a mass of rocks the marine contractor was restoring in front of a private home in North Haven Village.

Detective Proctor said he believes what happened was the rocks used in the revetment replacement were sourced from a quarry, which used the explosives to break up larger boulders and then payload the smaller rocks into a dump truck where they are delivered to the work site. This material, said Detective Proctor, did not detonate.

According to Detective Proctor, who was on duty Tuesday evening with officer Nick Samot, police immediately decided to air on the side of caution, cordoned off Long Wharf and contacted Suffolk County Emergency Services bomb squad. The squad arrived around 7 p.m., said Detective Proctor, and safely transported the explosives in a secure container to Havens Beach, where it was detonated.

Residents around Sag Harbor were contacted by Suffolk County Police via a recorded message to warn them about the detonation, which was heard as far away as North Haven Village.

Proctor and Samot were the only officers on duty Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Detective Proctor said because of that, an alarm call had to wait two hours while the explosives were secured.

“Obviously, safety comes before security,” he said.

Alleged Counterfeit Culprit Collared

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By Kathryn G. Menu

This week, Sag Harbor Village Police arrested Daniel L. Gonzalez, 32, of Ozone Park in connection with a case involving counterfeit $100 bills police said he tried to use at village businesses this January.

On January 7, around 11 a.m. police said Gonzalez went to Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop on Division Street and intentionally used a $100 counterfeit bill, which the clerk at that store accepted. Police said Gonzalez then went to the neighboring Sag Harbor Beverage Store where he also attempted to use what police believe was another counterfeit $100 bill before he was rebuffed by a store employee.

An employee of Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop contacted police immediately and provided a detailed description of the suspect. Detective Jeffrey Proctor took charge of the investigation, which culminated in Gonzalez’s arrest by Sag Harbor Village Police on Wednesday morning at LaGuardia Airport.

During the course of his investigation, Detective Proctor made contact with different individuals connected to Gonzalez, and over time the detective was able to obtain a photo of his suspect. He used it in a photo lineup where victims identified Gonzalez as the man responsible for using the counterfeit money.

Gonzalez has no prior convictions, noted Detective Proctor, which made the case more difficult to crack in terms of finding an image for victims to positively identify him and also in tracking down Gonzalez west of the East End.

However, a source contacted Detective Proctor with information that Gonzalez intended to fly from New York to Ft. Lauderdale out of LaGuardia Airport, setting the stage for the Port Authority Police Department to pick up Gonzalez and read him his Miranda rights.

“This was just a case of some good, old fashioned police work yielding results,” said Detective Proctor following the arrest.

Gonzalez was transferred personally from LaGuardia Airport to the Sag Harbor Village Police Department headquarters by Detective Proctor and officer John Natuzzi, where he was charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument and attempted criminal possession of a forged instrument — both felonies – and held for arraignment.