Tag Archive | "Tim Bishop"

Demos Announces Candidacy for Congress

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Republican and former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer George Demos officially filed papers this week to run for Congress, sending an email and video to supporters and media Monday morning announcing his decision.

Seeking to unseat Congressman Tim Bishop, Demos will have to face off in a primary next year against Saint James businessman Randy Altschuler, who bested Chris Cox and Demos in a primary battle in 2010. Altschuler narrowly lost to Bishop in one of the closest elections races in the country last year.

“More than ever we see how important it is, not just to elect someone with an R next to their name, but to elect a real Conservative with steely determination who will not fail us, who will not falter, and who will not waiver when he gets to Washington,” said Demos in a statement.

Altschuler, who announced his decision to run for Congress in 2012 in June, already has the garnered the support of the Republican and Conservative party leaders in Suffolk County.

“We need to learn from last year’s mistakes and not let divisions within our own party allow Tim Bishop to sneak back into office again,” said County GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle said in a statement released to media on Monday. “Our country is in the midst of a severe economic and fiscal crisis, and we need a business leader like Randy Atlschuler in Washington to fix it.”

“Today’s announcement by George Demos has no impact on our strategy moving forward,” said Altschuler spokesman Chris Russell. “Randy is humbled by the broad support he’s receiving from Republican and Conservative Party leaders, and he’s focused on holding Tim Bishop accountable for the mess in Washington and defeating him next November.”

Bishop, currently serving his fifth term, has already said he will seek a sixth term in 2012.

26 Acres in Wainscott Purchased by East Hampton Town

The East Hampton Town Board approved a $3.2 million purchase of 26-acres in Wainscott through the Community Preservation Fund after holding a public hearing during its Thursday, August 4 meeting.

The property consists of exactly 25.7 acres at 198 Six Pole Highway near the intersection of Route 114, just outside the Village of Sag Harbor. The purchase was supporting by the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society at the Thursday evening meeting.

An additional acre on the same property has already been promised to an adjacent cemetery, which will be given the land through a lot line modification, according to a resolution passed by the board on the purchase of the land.

Thiele Continues to Survey Local Gas Prices

In his ongoing crusade to bring fair gas prices to the East End, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. submitted a third report this week to the State Attorney General detailing illegal zone pricing of gasoline on the Twin Forks.

However, according to the survey, gas prices have become more equitable and have stabilized over the last two weeks when compared to other regions in New York.

In the August 7 survey, the most prevalent price on the South Fork for gasoline was $3.99 a gallon or lower at nine stations located on Montauk Highway between East Hampton and Sunrise Highway. The lowest price was $3.97 and the highest $4.09. The average price is about $0.05 lower than the Long Island Average, and $0.04 more than the state average.

“Gasoline prices are still too high,” said Thiele in a written statement. “However, they have remained stable over the last two weeks. The differential between the South Fork and the rest of Long Island remains small with prices between East Hampton and Southampton slightly lower than the Island-wide average. The differential with the North Fork, which has the lowest gasoline prices on Long Island, was around $0.35 on the South Fork on Memorial Day. It is now about $0.10.”

However, the Assembly added that Amagansett and Montauk continue to face higher gas prices than the rest of the region. There, according to Thiele, gas prices are more than $.30 cents above the Long Island average.

“Amagansett and Montauk are clearly paying too much,” said Thiele. “This is why we need a stronger zone pricing law and open supply legislation.”

Thiele first contacted the attorney general’s office after Memorial Day weekend gas prices on the South Fork remained at $4.25 cents per gallon, while the rest of Long Island averaged around $4.08, and the rest of New York State averaged $4.02.

Thiele has also sponsored legislation to strengthen New York’s existing law on zone pricing of gasoline – when an arbitrary price is assigned to gasoline based on geography rather than the wholesale or legitimate cost of the product.

Thiele has also sponsored open supply legislation that would enable gas stations to purchase cheaper motor fuel on the wholesale market from alternative suppliers and pass the savings on to the consumer.

Governor Signs Southampton CPF PILOT Legislation

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that resolve some of the issues raised in a state comptroller’s audit of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) PILOT payments by the Town of Southampton.

The legislation was sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle.

The audit, completed in November of 2010, found that in the years 2008 and 2009 the Town of Southampton had made payments from the CPF to school and special districts that exceeded the amount permitted by State law by $664, 647. In particular, the Riverhead School District and the Eastport-South Manor School District received excessive payments, according to the report. The State Comptroller directed the town to resolve the issue in his report.

Under the proposed legislation, the overpayments would be legally validated and the school districts would be absolved from having to make any repayment. The town will be legally responsible to restore the excess payment to the fund either by dedicating land or providing non-CPF funds equal to or greater than the overpayment.

“The Town of Southampton made overpayments of CPF monies for PILOTS in 2008 and 2009,” said Thiele “This has been confirmed by the state comptroller. It was imperative that these funds be restored to be used for the rightful purpose of land preservation. This legislation insures that will happen. It also insures that local school taxpayers will not be punished for a mistake that they did not make. The school districts will be held harmless. Further, the Town will be permitted to use funds, such as impact fees collected from developers, to replenish the fund. This legislation will maintain the integrity of the CPF, while insuring that neither school nor town property taxpayers have to bear the burden of the repayment.”

The legislation also establishes additional requirements for PILOT payments in the future to ensure that such overpayments never happen again. The new law provides that in determining payments to each school and special district, each parcel eligible for a PILOT payment shall be assessed in the same manner as state land is and that the assessment for each parcel is approved by the state. The new law also states that not more than ten percent of the CPF may be used for these purposes. The maximum percentage of 10% for such purposes may be reduced by a proposition approved by the voters.

Finally, the new law requires the town board to adopt an annual plan, after input through a public hearing, which specifies each eligible parcel and provides the amount of payment for each eligible parcel.

Bishop: Reid, Not Boehner

Tags: , , , ,


Congressman Tim Bishop on Tuesday announced he would not support a new debt proposal by United States House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and would instead “reluctantly” support a plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Bishop said that supporting Boehner’s proposal would be tantamount to supporting cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, while preserving tax loopholes, assuring the country’s credit rating would be downgraded and “the specter of government default” would continue to haunt the country.

“I cannot vote for something that is so damaging to the middle class families I was elected to fight for and so contrary to every value I believe in,” said Congressman Bishop in a statement. “My line in the sand is that I will not support a deal that asks Medicare recipients to sacrifice, but does not ask for an ounce of sacrifice from big oil companies and hedge fund managers. It is long past time to find a reasonable compromise and then get on to the business of helping Americans find jobs.”

Under Boehner’s two-stage plan to help increase the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit, Congress would immediately cut $1.2 trillion in domestic discretionary spending over the next 10 years. That would reduce the debt ceiling for six months, when Congress would have to take up the issue again.

Bishop said the plan would then require Congress to cut an additional $1.8 trillion in spending over 10 years without any increase in revenues, which would lead to cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, as outlined in the budget passed by House Republicans in April.

The White House has also come out against the Boehner plan, with President Barack Obama stating the plan offers only a temporary solution, which could lead to market instability, wounding an already delicate economy.

In his statement, Bishop said that should the nation be subjected to another “debt limit showdown” in six months time, bond rating agencies, including Standard & Poor’s, have said they might still reduce the country’s AAA bond rating to AA despite the extension of the debt ceiling.

Such an historic cut would mean higher interest rates on everything, said Bishop, from the debt paid by the government to mortgages, credit cards and student loans — essentially imposing a tax on all Americans, he added.

Bishop said he has consistently advocated for a balanced approach in deficit reduction, combining spending cuts with revenue increases by eliminating loopholes and “waste expenditures” in the tax code.

Bishop said he would “reluctantly” vote for a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Reid, despite the fact that his plan does not seek to close loopholes in the tax code, in an effort to avoid a government default.

According to Bishop, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake in an address to Congress last week said that failing to raise the debt ceiling by the August 2 deadline would “no doubt have a very adverse effect very quickly on recovery.”

The government would have to cut 40 to 45 percent of federal outlays, said Bishop, potentially jeopardizing Social Security benefits, paychecks for members of the military, and the nation’s ability to pay interest on outstanding debt.

With that knowledge, Bishop has decided to support the Reid proposal to cut $2.7 trillion over 10 years with no revenue increases or cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. The plan also takes into account $1 trillion in savings in reduced costs relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, after Bishop released his statement, on Tuesday night House Republican leaders were forced to delay a scheduled vote on the Boehner plan to Wednesday or Thursday, as Republican House leaders scrambled to revise the proposal after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said his plan would cut spending by $850 billion over the next decade. That is about $150 billion less than the $1 trillion increase proposed for the debt limit.

The Congressional Budget Office also released its findings on the Reid proposal on Tuesday morning, stating it would actually save $2.2 trillion over the next decade, not $2.7 trillion as Reid has stated.

President Obama has said he will veto the Boehner plan if it passes both the House and the Senate and arrives on his desk. Pundits in Washington have stated the Reid plan has little hope of making it through a conservative House of Representatives.

Village Races Remain Uncontested – So Far

Tags: , , ,


By Kathryn G. Menu

With village elections in both Sag Harbor and North Haven slated for June 21, both villages currently are looking at uncontested races, although with just less than two weeks before nominating petitions are due, it is possible a dark horse candidate could enter either race.


Sag Harbor Village previously reported a May 5 deadline for nominating petitions. But on Tuesday Sag Harbor Village Clerk Beth Kamper confirmed that the actual earliest date a candidate can file a petition is May 10. The deadline to file a petition is a week later, on Tuesday, May 17. This is true for North Haven as well.


In Sag Harbor, despite rumors about former village mayor Pierce Hance and former village board candidate Ryan Horn, Jr. throwing their hats into the ring, as of Tuesday afternoon only incumbent mayor Brian Gilbride, trustee Ed Gregory, trustee Tim Culver and village justice Andrea Schiavoni had picked up petitions for re-election under the Sag Harbor Party banner.


Similarly, in North Haven Village, incumbent trustees Jim Smyth and Jeff Sander — on the North Haven Party ticket — are the only candidates to pick up petitions to run for election. There is no mayoral race in that village this year.


In other election news, the East Hampton Town Republican Committee announced this week that it has nominated Jill Massa for Town Assessor and Lisa Rana — the acting village justice in Sag Harbor — for town justice.


The remainder of the Republican Committee nominees will be announced after the May 11 nominating convention. The East Hampton Democratic Committee will convene its nominating convention on May 16.


Thiele Aims to Combat Gas Prices

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced last week that he has co-sponsored two new bills in the state assembly to combat the rising cost of gas on Long Island as prices have soared locally to over $4.50 at some stations.


In the short term, Thiele has introduced legislation that would suspend three different state taxes on motor fuel during the four-day Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.


The three taxes are an $0.08 cent excise tax, a 4.25 percent sales tax above $2 per gallon and the $0.17 cent petroleum business tax. According to Thiele, these taxes currently cost motorists about $0.34 cents per gallon, which at $5 per galloon could save motorists about $0.38 cents a gallon or about $5.70 on a 15-gallon fill-up.


According to Thiele, New York State currently ranks sixth in the nation for gas prices at an average of $4.07 and is second only to Connecticut on the Northeast.


“The Eastern Long Island economy is highly dependent on tourism and vacation homes,” said Thiele. “Nearly 60 percent of homes east of the Shinnecock Canal are vacation homes. Small businesses in our region generate a disproportionate amount of their revenues during these holiday periods.”


“This legislation would not only make it more affordable to get here, it would make the region more attractive than many other states in the Northeast for vacations,” continued Thiele. “This is a win-win-win for motorists, small business, and the state, which will more than make up for the loss of gas tax revenue through increased sales tax revenue from shopping, restaurants, hotels, and more.”


While the short-term solution is helpful to motorists, Thiele said this week it is imperative the state do more.

“While motorists need short-term relief, in the long run it is imperative the state reduce its dependence on expensive foreign fossil fuels,” he said. “Since the 1970’s, we have pledged action to pursue alternative energy, only to revert back to gas guzzling ways after the crisis has passed. This time must be different.”

The second bill Thiele has introduced would create an “Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund.”


Currently, state sales tax on gasoline is capped so that there is no tax above $2 per gallon. Thiele’s bill would take the state sales tax from  motor and diesel fuel priced between $1 and $2 per gallon and deposit it into a dedicated fund. That fund would then be used towards a personal income tax and corporate franchise tax credit equal to $500 for every hybrid or fuel flexible vehicle purchased. It would also provide a rebate for 30 percent of the cost to install an alternative fueling station or convert an existing gas station to allow for the sale of alternative fuels.


In addition, $30 million would go towards research and development of fuel diversification and energy efficiency and $27 million to provide the travel plazas on the New York State Thruway with fueling stations for alternative fuels.


“Investment in the research and development for alternative energy, creating green jobs, protecting the environment, and reducing dependence on foreign oil would all be enhanced by this fund,” said Thiele.


CR 39 Ceremony Set in Honor of Edwin “Buzz” Schwenk

On Friday, May 6 at 11 a.m. County Road 39 will be named in memory of Southampton businessman Edwin M. “Buzz” Schwenk in a public dedication ceremony organized by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.


The ceremony will be held at the intersection of County Road 39 and the northwest corner of David White’s Lane in Southampton.


Schwenk passed away on December 17, 2009 at the age of 86.


A Southampton native, Schwenk was not just a businessman, but an accomplished military officer who took on civic causes during the course of his life. He was involved in the creation of the 1993 Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act and helped bring about the passage of the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund.


In November of 2010, Schneiderman introduced legislation to name County Road 39 in Schwenk’s memory. His legislation followed a July veto by then-Governor David Paterson of a measure sponsored by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Ken LaValle. That measure would have renamed 154 acres of state land north of the Francis Gabreski Airport in Westhampton the “Edwin M. Schwenk Memorial Nature Preserve.” The legislation was vetoed because only the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had jurisdiction to rename the acreage.


In December of 2010, Schneiderman gained unanimous Suffolk County Legislature approval to rename County Road 39 in Schwenk’s memory — a tribute he said was fitting as Schwenk long fought for the expansion of the road.


Fight For the First

Tags: , , ,


By Karl Grossman

The final count in the lst Congressional District race is 98,316 for Democrat Tim Bishop and 97,723 for Republican Randy Atschuler—a razor-thin Bishop win by just 593 votes. Never in recent years has the margin of victory been as tiny in the lst C.D. Meanwhile, Suffolk Republicans see a big lesson from the small Bishop win.

Political blood was smelled in the lst C.D. before the campaign began. Indeed, four-term incumbent Bishop’s perceived vulnerability was the reason Mr. Atschuler, after considering running for Congress in several areas, moved to Suffolk from New Jersey—to take Mr. Bishop on.

Now, after Mr. Bishop’s thin win—contested for more than a month by Mr. Atschuler who only conceded last week—the GOP sees Mr. Bishop as more vulnerable than earlier thought.

“Absolutely I think he is extremely vulnerable,” said Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle last week. Mr. LaValle emphasized that with nearly 200,000 votes cast, the Bishop edge was miniscule. It was .003 percent. “That’s remarkably low.”

There are numerous causes as to why. Clearly, the GOP tsunami this year which resulted in a gain of 63 Republican seats in the House of Representatives was a substantial factor. There was the discontent of many with President Obama, a major reason for the tsunami. The enormous amount of money spent in the race by Mr. Atschuler—reportedly $2.8 million of his own money between primary and general election campaigns for a total of $4.2 million—was a big factor. However, Mr. Bishop spent plenty, too: $2.5 million. For both camps, it was mostly for advertising.
Then there was the resurgence of Republican strength in Brookhaven Town which makes up two/thirds of the lst C.D. by population. The district also includes Southampton and East Hampton and the other East End towns and most of Smithtown. Mr. LaValle also cites “a slipping in constituent service” by Mr. Bishop’s Congressional office which has become “politicized.”
Candidate Atschuler ran with an albatross on his back: having made his fortune in outsourcing jobs overseas, especially to India—which Mr. Bishop focused on and made his central issue. It undoubtedly cost Mr. Atschuler votes.

What about a nominee next time without this kind of handicap? A leading elected government official in Suffolk said last week: “If the candidate had Mike Fitzpatrick’s resume and Atschuler’s money, Bishop would have lost.” Being referred to was four-term State Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick who won re-election last month with a startling 72% of the vote. GOPer Fitzpatrick had sought to run against Mr. Bishop this year but withdrew after Mr. Atschuler got Conservative support.

A popular figure in Smithtown—the son of a former town supervisor—the affable Mr. Fitzpatrick said last week that “my phone has been ringing” about his being a candidate the next time Mr. Bishop is up for re-election. “Am I interested? Yes. There will be conversations over who will be the best candidate in 2012.” Also, “we’ll hear what [Suffolk Conservative Party Chairman] Ed Walsh is going to do. If he says he’s going to go with Atschuler again, we’ll see.” Conservative backing is seen as important for a Republican to win in the lst C.D.

Will Mr. Atschuler take a path tread in the lst C.D. a half-century ago by Democrat Otis Pike after he lost in 1958? Mr. Pike spent the next two years doing non-stop campaigning—including constant civic group appearances. Then, in 1960, he ran again and this time won—narrowly, by 2,737 votes—over four-term Republican incumbent Stuyvesant Wainwright II. Mr. Pike then comfortably held the seat until retiring from it 18 years later.
Mr. LaValle notes that it is unknown whether Mr. Bishop “will run for re-election in 2012” and also stresses that “a lot happens in two years.”
These are also politically volatile times in the U.S. If the GOP persists in such moves as what Democrats are now decrying as extending “tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” there could be a new tidal wave—this one favoring Democrats. And, in a switch, Mr. Bishop could be in a strong position for re-election. But it sure doesn’t look that way now.

Congressman Tim Bishop

Tags: ,


web bishop-headshot-square

By Emily J Weitz

Now that you have a renewed mandate from your electorate, what are the issues at the top of your agenda?

Nationally, far and away the number one issue is job creation. Everything we do has to be related to this. One of the frustrations a great many of us have had is there hasn’t been enough focus on this and hopefully we will now.

How do you plan to accomplish these goals?

A couple of things: some of the pieces of the tax cut compromise that has been worked out can be very stimulative. Certainly the payroll tax reduction. Moving the Social Security tax from 6.2 to 4.2 percent will pump $120 billion into the economy over the next two years. That can be tremendously stimulative. The other is the allowing of small businesses to expense 100% of their investments, which can be very stimulative as well. I have a real optimism about those two things. We also have to focus on full and robust reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Bill, or the Highway Bill. That is a proven job creator in my opinion.

What does that look like in New York?

We’re going to see federal dollars coming to New York for road and bridge jobs that will put more people to work. The bill deals with all forms of transportation, including mass transit, rail, roads and bridges. We have a crumbling infrastructure. We are trying to run a 21st century economy on 20th century infrastructure. We must take on this effort. What challenges do you foresee with the new makeup of the House? The Surface Transportation Bill, for example, will be a heavy lift. The bill doesn’t have much support among Republicans. It will require real leadership from the White House to get that done.I’m very concerned about that.

Are there any other issues that are particularly important to you?

There are a lot. But it’s important to get the federal government to pay attention to New York. I serve on an education committee and there’s an important piece of financial aid policy: the Perkins Student Loan Program. Higher education is a huge industry on Long Island. I am going to work very hard on that. Also, the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, which deals with shoreline protection and storm damage. This study has been going on far too long and we want to end it. It will recommend a whole series of actions to help protect our shorelines. My job is to see that they get funded.

What do you want the public to know about your philosophy as an elected official? Well, I believe I have been elected and my principal job is to represent my constituents and to help solve problems. The piece of our work I am most proud of is the work we’ve done assisting individual constituents. We have helped thousands over the time I’ve been in office. I’m proud of how I’ve partnered with every other elected official in this local government to bring the federal government to the local level. These are two things I believe in strongly: constituent service and bringing the power of the federal government to help resolve local problems.

Altschuler Concedes Congressional Race to Bishop

Tags: ,


web Bishop Alt

By Bryan Boyhan


Ending the last contested race this year for a seat in the U.S. Congress, Republican candidate Randy Altschuler conceded the election Wednesday morning, offering his congratulations to Democratic incumbent Tim Bishop in the First Congressional District.

“I entered this race because I was worried about the future of our nation,” Altschuler said in a release from his campaign. “The problems America faces are many and will not be easily solved. I plan to stay active in politics and continue to speak out on the issues that affect the residents of Suffolk County, our state and our nation.”

Four-term Congressman Bishop said Altschuler called him at about 8:45 a.m. “to give me a heads up that he was going to make the announcement.”

“We had a very gracious and cordial conversation,” said Bishop in an interview Wednesday. “I said even though we had gone head to head pretty hard during the campaign, I had great respect for him and wished him well.”

Depending upon which camp you spoke with, Bishop led Wednesday by either 263 or 270 votes. Both campaigns were in the middle of counting through more than 2,000 challenged ballots — after approximately 11,500 absentee and affidavit votes had been cast —  and were expecting to be in front of State Supreme Court Judge Peter Mayer today to move further through the count. As of Tuesday, about 1,100 of the contested absentee ballots remained to be judged. There were more than 194,000 votes cast in the race.

“After consulting with my family and campaign staff, I am ending my campaign and offering congratulations to Congressman Tim Bishop on his victory,” Atschuler said in his statement.

“Although Newsday, The New York Times and the Bishop campaign have all called for a hand recount of all the ballots cast on Election Day, I will not support such an action as I feel its cost will place an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Suffolk County,” the candidate said.

The Altschuler campaign also dropped its legal challenges to the remaining uncounted absentee ballots, allowing the county’s board of elections to count the remaining ballots, said the release.

“While the Altschuler campaign has uncovered numerous instances of absentee ballots that may have been unlawfully cast, the campaign is confident that the proper authorities will take the appropriate action concerning them and that their number is too small to alter the outcome of the election,” the release said.

In a press conference Wednesday, Bishop called the allegations of broad voter fraud “a red herring,” and said his campaign was not pushing for a full recount.

“We would have a very high bar to reach,” to begin a recount, said Bishop adding he was satisfied with the bi-partisan and Suffolk County Board of Elections-ratified count.

Of the 1,100 challenged votes remaining to be counted, “about 800 were presumed Bishop votes and about 300 were presumed Altschuler votes,” said Bishop Wednesday morning. “I just think they figured the numbers didn’t add up.”

“Mathematically, it just did not seem possible to win,” Altschuler agreed in an interview Wednesday. “It was really unnecessary to prolong the effort.”

He said he intended to remain active, but said it was too early to consider another run for congress, and added he had not decided what role he may play politically.

On offering advice to Bishop, Altschuler stated: “One thing I had said when I was leading the race is that this is a divided district; so whoever wins must make an effort to represent all of our district.”

Acknowledging the closeness of the race, Bishop said the First District is a difficult place for a Democrat to get elected.

“There are 30,000 to 35,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the district,” Bishop said, adding there are more registered Conservatives in the district than anywhere else in the state.

He also acknowledged that, nationwide, Democrats were fighting off a tremendous Republican wave, with more than 30 of his Democratic colleagues losing their seats in the House.

“I’m delighted, frankly, to have withstood what amounted to be a Category 5 hurricane,” Bishop said.

The congressman credited the work he and his staff have done as one of the reasons for his victory.

“I see it as a validation,” he said and added during the press conference Wednesday morning that “you elect a representative to solve problems, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Bishop acknowledged that, since the election changed so many seats in the House, “I now have a very different job. I’m going to try to use the relationships I’ve developed to influence my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. And I’m going to have to resist that which I think is detrimental to my constituents.”

The concession marks the end of a race that has fluctuated wildly over the past month. Unofficial Election Day results had given Bishop a 3,500 vote lead, only to have Altschuler claim a 383-vote advantage after the county’s new electronic voting machines were re-read. It wasn’t until after the absentee votes had been tabulated that Bishop regained a narrow lead that built until Wednesday morning’s concession.

On the narrow margin of victory, Bishop concluded “If ever anyone needed a civics lesson on the platitude that every vote counts, this is that civics lesson.”




Opportunity Missed

Tags: , , , ,


For some time, we thought the rest of the world had gotten past the idea that the East End was the poor stepchild to the rest of Long Island. Apparently congressional candidate Randy Altschuler didn’t get the memo.

As it has done for years, the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons has invited the candidates for public office to meet and debate on the South Fork for the benefit of local voters. These are consistently well attended events, regularly televised and in many cases the only time some candidates get to meet face to face in front of East End residents to discuss local issues.

Such is the case with the race for U.S. Congress here this year, between Mr. Altschuler and incumbent Tim Bishop. It is arguably one of the most competitive, controversial and closely watched races on Long Island, if not the country.

Late last week Mr. Altschuler declined to appear, citing scheduling conflicts, long after League volunteers had requested him to save the date. His decision means that, for the first time in many years, Hamptons residents will not be able to see their congressional candidates face off.  It is, we think, a wasted opportunity on Mr. Altschuler’s part, and a disservice to the voters of East Hampton and Southampton towns.

As we have done for about ten years, the editors of the East Hampton Star, the Southampton Press and the Sag Harbor Express were invited by the League to prepare and ask questions during the debate (we will do so for the candidates for state assembly and senate on October 25). Instead we will draft a letter to Mr. Altschuler expressing our disapointment. For some, apparently, we will always just be the poor stepchild.

Bishop Promises Defense for Noyacans Versus Helicopters

Tags: , ,


By Bryan Boyhan


After another summer season enduring helicopter traffic over their homes, Noyac residents wanted to know how the government was doing to make their lives more bearable. So when Congressman Tim Bishop visited the Noyac Civic Council Monday night, they were ready.

“You want to hear about helicopters,” Bishop surmised as he started speaking on the lawn in front of the Bridgehampton National Bank’s community room, while the audience of about 30 NCC members waited for the door to be unlocked.

For years residents of Noyac, Sag Harbor and North Sea have complained that helicopter traffic to and from the East Hampton airport has disrupted their lives, rattling windows and interrupting outdoor conversations. Prodded by complaints, elected officials have lobbied authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration to take action to control the traffic.

“We actually had to show that the FAA has the authority to regulate helicopter traffic,” said Bishop. “They didn’t want to.”

“We tried to get pilots to comply with voluntary routing, but we couldn’t get enough pilots to agree,” said Bishop. “But I feel the routes were flawed; they only went over certain areas.”

A proposed route that takes copters out over Long Island Sound, but allows them to cross over the Pine Barrens, still has the traffic move over residential areas on both the north and south forks.

“We’ll be issuing proposals for routes, but I don’t believe what has been proposed works. It works for Nassau County and the western part of Suffolk, but it doesn’t work for Eastern Long Island,” said Bishop.

The proposal Bishop and other local officials are suggesting is two-pronged, with a northern route and a southern route. The northern route keeps eastbound helicopters out over Long Island Sound until they reach Orient Point, where they would then turn back to approach the airport over Northwest and Barcelona Neck.

A southern route is designed to take some pressure off the northern route by having helicopters travel out over the ocean until they reach Georgica, at which point they would turn north to the airport. At all times they would be required to maintain a minimum altitude while traveling over residential areas. As proposed, that altitude is 2,500 feet, but Bishop said they were pushing for 3,000 feet.

Bishop conceded, however, that the southern route has its complications, particularly concerns that flights out of Teterboro Airport and Manhattan would interfere with Kennedy Airport airspace.

To date, the FAA has received over 1,000 comments about the proposed route.

“Hopefully their decision will reflect the comments from myself and other East End officials, like [Southampton Town Councilwoman] Bridget Fleming and [State Assemblyman] Fred Thiele,” said Bishop. “I want to make sure the regulations are going to solve the problems here.”

Some residents were concerned that, even if the new routes and height regulations were adopted, enforcement would be an issue. East Hampton Airport is presently an unregulated airport, with no controller communicating with aircraft.

“There is talk about a manned tower, which would then be regulated,” said the congressman. “Anytime an air traffic controller gives an instruction to a pilot, they must adhere to it.”

Indeed, on September 2, East Hampton Town adopted an update to their Airport Master Plan which, among other things, recommends the installation of a seasonal air traffic control tower, located in a portable building on the airport grounds. The revisions call for a “no growth policy,” meaning expansion of the airport facilities will be limited. They also call for re-opening runway 4-22 and converting runway 16-32 to a taxi way. The primary runway, 10-28, will not be changed.

The master plan and a layout for the airport will now be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval. If approved, the town will then be able to apply for controlled airspace around the airport enabling the town to hire a seasonal air traffic controller to direct landings and takeoffs.

And if the FAA chooses to ignore the comments from East Enders?

“Then it’s going to be me, Schumer and Gillibrand going after them,” said Bishop.



East End Towns Weigh in on Copter Regulations

Tags: , , , , , ,


Sag Harbor resident Susan Baran believes the Federal Aviation Administration’s draft plan aimed at regulating helicopter flight paths and curbing the chopper noise that has plagued East End residents for years does not go far enough.

In comments made to the FAA on the proposed “Schumer Rule,” Baran was among hundreds of Sag Harbor and Noyac residents who asked for the regulations to be expanded to include more than one mandatory route for helicopters, as well as higher altitude requirements for pilots.

“We have borne the brunt of the departing traffic for years,” said Baran of the Sag Harbor community. “Our house shakes, windows rattle and conversation is impossible.”

Residents were joined this week by the supervisors of four East End towns, state government leaders, and Congressman Tim Bishop in asking the “Schumer Rule” be expanded in order to aid residents on the East End as well as those further west on Long Island.

Under the proposed regulation, helicopter pilots would be required to follow a northern route one mile offshore over the Long Island Sound to Shoreham where they would split off either to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, the Southampton Helipad, the Montauk Airport or the East Hampton Airport following voluntary routes established in 2007, some of which bring flights from East Hampton directly over Sag Harbor and Noyac.

Regulations also propose that pilots keep a minimum altitude of 2,500 feet.

Following the FAA’s announcement about the regulations in May, government and community leaders commended the agency for taking action to deal with helicopter noise on Long Island, but almost unanimously were outspoken that a single northern route would unfairly burden a few communities, demanding a southern route to the East Hampton Airport over the ocean and Georgica Pond.

This week, those recommendations became official with East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty, all of who submitted a joint response to the FAA asking the agency to support nine recommendations created by the East End Helicopter Noise Stakeholders Group.

Recommendations made by the stakeholders group have received the support of Congressman Tim Bishop, with New York State Senator Ken P. LaValle, New York State Assemblyman Marc Alessi and Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine making similar recommendations to the FAA.

According to Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, Senator Charles Schumer’s office was instrumental in setting up the stakeholders group, which included Kathy Cunningham, the chair of the East Hampton Airport Noise Abatement Advisory Committee, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, Graboski, airport noise abatement advisory committee members Peter Wadsworth and Charles Ehren, and Shelter Island resident Don Kornrumpf, among others.

The stakeholders group asks the FAA to create two mandatory designated routes, one along the North Shore and one along the South Shore, with pilots required to fly one mile from shore on both routes.

“This is essential in order to accommodate the important southerly transition routes from [the East Hampton Airport] and other East End Airports and to equitably distribute the volume of helicopter traffic using the North and South Shore routes,” reads their statement.

Stakeholders recommend that helicopters flying the North Shore route to East Hampton be required to transition east from Plum Gut, and proceed south to Barcelona Neck and over Route 114 to the East Hampton Airport.

Both the East Hampton Airport and Gabreski Airport should also be empowered directly or through the FAA to manage the number of flights coming into their airports at one time, according to the recommendations, and should be allowed to establish curfews for when flights can take-off and land.

They also ask the FAA to establish procedures in coordination with area airports to monitor and enforce compliance with the proposed routes and that any helicopters maintain an altitude of 3,000 feet when flying over land while departing or arriving at any of the local airports. Pilots should also be mandated to follow noise abatement policies established by each airport, states the group.

“Since the FAA has found that the Long Island helicopter noise problem is unique, the present rulemaking must deal expressly with that problem as it relates to the East End Airports,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst in a letter to the FAA. “Current and recent trends indicate that the burden of helicopter traffic centering on [the East Hampton Airport] will increase substantially in future years, further exacerbating the noise problem for the East End.”

The Noyac Civic Council, as well as a number of Sag Harbor and Noyac residents, would also like to see the northern route require pilots to use Orient Point as a waypoint before flying to East Hampton and Montauk airports.

At a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, Graboski praised the FAA for making “a significant move” by beginning the process of regulating helicopter routes to the East End, but noted the regulations as proposed aid residents in western Suffolk County and Nassau County, more than they do the Twin Forks.

The proposals supported by the four supervisors, she said, would round out the regulations to protect residents on the East End as well.

“It was probably one of the more challenging things we have been involved in,” she said.

The deadline for comments to the FAA was June 25. To view comments submitted to the FAA, visit www.regulations.gov and use the keyword FAA-2010-0302.

GOP Targets Local Dem-Held Seats

Tags: , ,


Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle is bullish about GOP’s prospects in the coming election. After years of setbacks nationally, on a state level and in Suffolk—once Republican-dominated—he sees the GOP as “on our way back.”

The GOP “lost its way,” acknowledges Mr. LaValle who took over as Suffolk leader in September. “We became like Democrats. We left the concept of smaller government and less taxes. We started to buy into a concept of all these programs—and government grew and grew.”

This has been true under a series of recent Republican presidents and the last GOP New York governor, George Pataki, said Mr. LaValle, a 42-year-old attorney who was Brookhaven Town supervisor from 2000 to 2005. But the Democratic Party has “betrayed the trust” of voters and people “have very quickly become angry and upset” and are starting to translate that politically, said Mr. LaValle last week. “It’s a very exciting time for us.”

The Democratic administration of Barack Obama has been a “disgrace.” The president’s “words sound good but there’s not been a whole lot of substance behind the words,” he said.

He speaks of Obama having “broken more campaign promises than any president of the United States.”

He regards the Democratic losses of the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia in November and, last month, of Democrat Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat, as the reflecting a negative view a majority of voters now have of the Obama administration.

The situation is “even more pathetic” in New York State with Democratic Governor David Paterson. Even if Mr. Paterson decides to drop out and not run in November or is dumped, Mr. LaValle doesn’t see his likely replacement, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, as salvaging the situation for Democrats.“Cuomo is extremely overrated,” commented Mr. LaValle. “He and David Paterson operate from the same playbook.”

Mr. LaValle is supporting former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio of Brightwaters as the GOP nominee for governor in November. “I am certain he will be the Republican candidate. He is a fiscal conservative who knows the reality of our situation.”

As to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a Democrat who is seeking to run for governor—and, said Mr. LaValle, has “reached out” to him about GOP support—Mr. LaValle said Mr. Levy could “make a great comptroller or attorney general” candidate on the Republican ticket “but we’re behind Rick Lazio.”

On a county level, he cites East Hampton as a “perfect example” of Democrats self-destructing locally. In East Hampton “the Democrats came into power and ran up deficits and tried to cover up the deficits with inappropriate fiscal behavior.” Thus in a town where there are more enrolled Democrats than Republicans, the GOP won big in East Hampton in November, he points out.

A key target of Mr. LaValle is Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop of Southampton who Mr. LaValle describes as the “poster child of betrayal” for supporting the Democratic plan for health care reform. “Virtually two-thirds of his constituents were opposed,” claims Mr. LaValle. Mr. Bishop should have reflected this, he maintains “This arrogance Tim Bishop possesses is exactly the Washington mentality that got us into trouble.”

He speaks of “extraordinary” potential candidates seeking to run against Mr. Bishop including: Christopher Cox of Westhampton Beach, a grandson, he notes, of former President Richard Nixon; George Demos, originally of Shelter Island now of Holbrook, a former SEC enforcement attorney; and Gary Berntsen, a retired CIA operative and author of Port Jefferson.

Another major LaValle target: Brian Foley of Blue Point who in 2008 ended a near-century GOP hold on all Suffolk seats in the State Senate. Mr. LaValle scores Democrat Foley’s vote on imposing a payroll tax to help finance the MTA.

It is vital, meanwhile, says Mr. LaValle, that the GOP not just criticize Democrats but “espouse the principles and ideals of our party. The party has to stand for something: fighting to make government smaller and that will lead to lower taxes for residents. People are standing up and wanting to see something new. This is the reason for these tea parties.  People are gravitating back to slightly right of center. It’s a process.”

Is Mr. LaValle correct? There are many months between now and the November election. But, for sure, in Mr. LaValle of Mt. Sinai (the cousin of State Senator Kenneth LaValle) the party now has a hard-charging leader.