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The pro-Trump sign hung up Jan. 21 was the same sign the shop hung in 2017 during inauguration. Photo by David Luces

In time for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump (R),  a banner was hung above Roger’s Frigate candy and ice cream shop in Port Jeff reading “In Trump We Trust” on the building’s second floor. 

Barabara Sakovich, the village clerk, said the building and planning department has issued a new order to remedy to the owner, George Wallis, after it was hung. The village has maintained the sign violates code 250-31D regarding signs, specifically the size and material of the sign being hung across the building’s second floor.

Frigate General Manager Roger Rutherford did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The clerk said she had already received some complaints as of Wednesday, but other than the violations of code, the village cannot restrict freedom of speech.

The business owner has five days, starting Jan. 21, to remove the sign or face a financial penalty.

The sign that was first spotted Jan. 21 was the same banner hung on the building in 2017 during the president’s inauguration, which had caused both ire and praise from the local community. That sign had been ordered down by the Village of Port Jefferson, saying it violated village code.

In October last year, the village board unanimously passed a resolution reducing the number of days a sign can be up before it must be removed from 30 to five. Village Attorney Brian Egan said the change was to cut down on time that the board felt was too long for a violating sign to be up, especially when applying for a permit is “not burdensome.”

He added that the courts and village comply with a broad reading on the first amendment, but municipalities such as the village have rights to impose “content-neutral” regulations, such as size, material, ect. Those regulations were in place before the frigate originally installed the sign in 2017.

The candy store owner had put up the same sign three years ago in January 2017, during Trump’s inauguration. The banner caused several days of controversy before it was taken down. Rutherford said at the time the plan had already been to take the sign down after a few days. 

Reaction on community Facebook groups was similarly divided as it was three years ago, with some congratulating the shop while others claimed they had been boycotting the shop since 2017.

Wallis has been a character in Port Jefferson for decades, and the Frigate has become a major staple within that community. The owner of the candy store, as well as the neighboring The Steam Room, has also been known as a maverick in some of his past decisions on his properties, such as in 2002 when he briefly replaced a statue of Thomas Jefferson with one of an eagle to commemorate those lost in 9/11, according to the New York Times.

Additional reporting by David Luces

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin. File photo by Kevin Redding

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) was named to President Donald Trump’s (R) legal defense team regarding the Senate’s impeachment trial, which just began today, Jan. 21.

Seven other members of the U.S. House of Representatives have also been named to the team as well. Zeldin has been a big proponent of the president and has decried the impeachment trial constantly on cable news shows and on Twitter. The other members of the team have also been outspoken allies of Trump, including fellow Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose district includes a large part of upstate New York. 

“The President NEVER should have been impeached in the first place!” Zeldin wrote to Twitter, also congratulating his fellow congress members on being assigned to the legal team.

The White House statement announcing Zeldin’s position said that such officials have already provided guidance to the White House Team, and derided the impeachment proceedings in the house, saying it was “concocted” by Democrats.

People planning to run against Zeldin were quick to condemn him for accepting the position. In a release, Nancy Goroff, a Stony Brook Democrat planning to run for the 1st congressional seat, said the congressman “has his priorities upside down and backwards, caring more about lying for President Trump than standing up for his constituents.”

For a full Q&A of Zeldin and his thoughts on impeachment, visit: http://tbrnewsmedia.com/one-on-one-with-lee-zeldin/

While tensions may have lessened slightly between the U.S. and Iran after the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, many Americans are still bracing for the possibility of conflict.

Protesters took to the streets around the nation Jan. 9 to oppose the escalation of war with the Middle Eastern country during what was coined as No War With Iran: Day of Action. At the intersection of routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station, which has been dubbed as Resistance Corner, two dozen protesters took part in a rally organized by North Country Peace Group, a local activist organization.

Myrna Gordon, a member of NCPG, said Americans need to say enough is enough when it comes to war and aim to stop being consumed by war and militarization. She suggested that people read the poem “Suicide in the Trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon reflecting the tragedies of World War I.

“This is not a glorification when we see the military and the militarization of what’s happening in our country,” Gordon said. “Listen, I support the veterans. We are very supportive of them, but we’re not supportive of war, and this is what the North Country Peace Group is about. That’s what our main goal is, to say, ‘End this absolutely foolish nonsense that we’re engaged in.’ This is a horrific thing for our future, for our young children, for everything.”

She suggested investments should be made into items that promote peace such as the Peace Pole installed in Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson village, which reads “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in 10 different languages, including the motions for sign language and braille.

“We have to get back to so many things that promote peace,” Gordon said.

Nancy Goroff, Democrat primary candidate for Congressional District 1, participated in the Jan. 9 rally

“I think it’s important, especially in today’s politics, for people to make their voices heard,” she said. “Government needs to be responsive to the will of the people, and far too often that’s just not happening. From anti-war rallies to the women’s marches, times when people stand up and speak are good for our democracy.”

She expressed her concern over the current situation with Iran.

“With Iran, the real question is whether eliminating Suleimani leaves America safer, and that’s still an open question,” Goroff said. “The stakes could not be higher, but time and again we have seen President Trump [R] making critical military and foreign policy decisions based on his own political goals, rather than what will actually help this country.”

Also among those protesting in Port Jefferson Station Jan. 9 were two members of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace, Camillo Mac Bica, of Smithtown, and Ray Zbikowski, of Huntington Station. Both veterans fought in Vietnam, and Bica is an author and philosophy teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Veterans of Peace includes vets and nonveterans working to raise awareness about the horrors of war. Zbikowski said there is a misconception about those who fought overseas in a war.

“The myth is if you’re a veteran, you are supportive [of war],” he said. 

“War has been so glorified with mythologies that we have come to know the myth without the reality,” Bica said.

Zbikowski agreed.

“It’s important to educate the public, even if they’re passing by, make them aware of what’s going on in this country as well as overseas,” he said.

People driving by either honked their horns in support or shouted at the protesters from their open windows.

Bica said when one opposes a rally such as the Jan. 9 event, it’s because they don’t realize the potential horror of war.

“People pass by and they yell things but they’re not the ones going,” he said. “Their kids aren’t the ones that are going. If they had skin in the game, the cost-benefit proportion would be different. They might not say, ‘Let’s go to war.’”

The veterans added that while every community in the U.S. was impacted by the Vietnam War due to most people knowing someone who went off to fight, with less than 3 percent of Americans knowing anyone who’s in the military today, many have not come in contact with a recent veteran. 

Bica said it creates a separation between what’s going on in the military and the average citizen’s life.

“The killing and the dying that’s going on is going on in our names, while we look the other way, and we think we’re untouched by it,” he said. “There’s blood on all of our hands.”

Ken LaValle officially announced he would not be running for reelection Jan 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

State. Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), 80, has been a fixture in New York’s 1st District for more than four decades. At an event held for him at the Village Center in Port Jefferson Jan. 10, the crowd of gathered officials and friends said goodbye to the elder statesman the only way they knew how — in a standing ovation that lasted well over a minute.

Sen. Ken LaValle joined with his wife and daughter Jan. 10 in announcing he would not be seeking reelection. Photo by Kyle Barr

“The best part of the job is the people, those who come into your office looking for help,” the 44-year statesman said in a speech that saw him choked up at several points. “What a thing — to be able to
help people.”

The news broke Wednesday, Jan. 8, that LaValle would not be seeking reelection.

A common refrain of “1st District first,” was shared continuously throughout the Friday gathering, joined by a real “who’s who” of public officials on the East End, including reps from town, county and state, as well as local community and party leaders.

Jesse Garcia, the Suffolk County Republican chairman, said LaValle represented his district so well he will be a hard man to replace. Garcia knew of the senator from the age of 14, he said, and had knocked on doors for the senator along with his father.

“Nobody can really fill LaValle’s shoes,” he said.

Some begged the senator, half-jokingly, to reconsider.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said the senior senate member had been one of the hardest workers for his district. LaValle was at the forefront of preserving over 100,000 acres of land in the Pine Barrens, and Englebright has worked with the senator on many projects since then. At that time, Democratic Assembly member Tom DiNapoli, who is now state comptroller, worked with LaValle in establishing the Pine Barrens Protection Act back in 1993.

“Most of his work has been achieved,” DiNapoli said. “Your example we will all continue to point to, which was beyond partisanship.”

Englebright stressed his colleague’s term is not yet over, and he hopes he can work with LaValle on preserving several hundred acres of woodland currently surrounding the defunct Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, land, he said, that is so pristine and ancient it “has never been touched by a steel plow.”

For his past and present role in preservation, the senior assemblyman said it went beyond a partnership.

“I would use the word ‘indispensable,’ but it’s not adequate,” Englebright said.

When speaking on his legacy, local officials mainly pointed to two things: His support of the environment and preservation efforts, and his support of schools, including growing the SUNY system and particularly noting Stony Brook University has been built up over the past several decades under his watch and support. His name adorns the sports stadium.

State Sen. John Flanagan and Ken LaValle Jan. 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

Englebright shared the sentiment that LaValle’s support went down to the most unsuspected, including the building of the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center. Other members of the SBU community said they were both congratulatory and sad that the senior senator was set to retire within a year.

“He has been a tireless champion for Stony Brook University and a staunch advocate for higher education support,” said SBU Interim President Michael Bernstein in a statement. “Stony Brook has advanced significantly thanks to his leadership and deep commitment to our students, our patients and our region.”

Port Jefferson Village mayor, Margot Garant, said LaValle has been in office since she was young, and was a consistent aid to Port Jeff. She added that it was with LaValle’s eventual support that the Village Center, which was built under then-mayor and Garant’s mother, Jeanne Garant. The center was also where the senator hosted his official retirement announcement.

“He listened to everyone,” she said. “He shows that things get accomplished with time.”

Other local legislators knew him for his general support of their districts. Brookhaven Town supervisor, Ed Romaine (R), said the senator had gone out of his way to bridge divides and work for the people of the district. He said he hopes the next person to secure the district will “be one who will advocates for the people of [state Senate District 1].”   

“It’s not the barbs or criticism, it’s not the tweets, it’s reaching out to both parties to get things done,” he said.

Laura Aheran. Photo from campaign

Laura Ahearn, longtime crime victims advocate, is ready to take on a new challenge, running for state senate. For 43 years the state District 1 seat has been held by Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), but she said it’s time for change. 

“Many members of the community are grateful for his [LaValle’s] service as I am, but it is time now for a new voice and an advocate like me to fight furiously for our community,” Ahearn said. 

For 25 years, the attorney said she has worked to keep the community safe from sexual predators. Ahearn also founded the Crime Victims Center “from a room in her home” and over the years established it into a nonprofit organization that has worked with local, state and federal law enforcement. 

“There are some serious flaws in the criminal justice reform that took place Jan. 1 that makes our communities very vulnerable.”

— Laura Ahearn

The center’s educational programs have been shown in numerous school districts, along with local colleges and universities throughout Suffolk County. 

“I want to take my advocacy experiences, my legal skills and use it to help our community, children and families up in Albany,” the executive director said. “I know my experience over the past 20 plus years positions me to take on other issues as well.”

Some issues Ahearn hopes to tackle is the recent bail reform issues and MS-13’s infiltration into Long Island schools. 

“There are some serious flaws in the criminal justice reform that took place Jan. 1 that makes our communities very vulnerable,” she said. “Bail reform was absolutely needed, because people who couldn’t afford cash bail were incarcerated, that’s not fair. But we haven’t looked at what the implications are for the community and for victims.”

Ahearn said the recent reform needs to be amended to add some discretion for judges who may need to hold certain offenders who may be eligible for automatic release. In addition, she said law enforcement and probation officers need to be given more resources to further monitor offenders of violent crimes. 

On the MS-13 front, Ahearn stressed we need to make sure we are giving schools the resources and funding they need to ramp up their security to protect students.  

Cost of living and keeping young professionals in Suffolk County have been vexing issues for elected officials. Ahearn knows this firsthand. 

“I have two grown children and they can’t afford to live on Long Island — high taxes are driving our kids out off the island,” she said. “We have to ensure that they have fair wages, educational opportunities, safe work environments and affordable housing.” 

The Port Jefferson resident said in terms of job opportunities she thought Amazon would’ve been a great opportunity for the county and if elected will strive to continue to bring businesses into the district. 

Other issues on the challenger’s radar are the ongoing opioid epidemic, curbing nitrogen pollution in local waterways, marine/wildlife conservation, phone scams targeting the elderly, tick-borne illness, among others. 

Ahearn, who graduated from Dowling College, Stony Brook University and Touro Law School, recently had a campaign kick-off event Dec. 10 and said she is looking forward to meeting and learning from movers and shakers in the area. The senate district stretches from eastern end of Suffolk County to the eastern end of Town of Brookhaven.  

“As time moves forward, I’m going to learn a lot from the advocates in the community — I’m not an expert on some issues and I want to learn from those advocates who are those experts. They have to educate me, so I can represent them,” she said. 

The attorney said the position requires one to work with everyone, something she has done for two decades, helping develop, implement and manage crime prevention programs and assist in drafting a number of state, local and federal laws. 

“I really love what I’ve been doing,” she said. “Voters have a decision to make and I have a demonstrated history of fighting for our community and if that’s what they want — someone who will fight furiously for them — then they should vote for me.”

Congressman discusses impeachment hearings and more

Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

The U.S. House of Representatives has recommended filing articles of impeachment of the 45th president of the United States of America Donald J. Trump (R). Many elected officials, mostly Democrats and constitutional scholars, see a moral and legal imperative for their position, while Republicans have largely remained loyal to their party leader. With some experts saying that the nation is under threat, the situation demands   everyone’s full attention. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) is the elected congressional representative for most of Suffolk County. His district extends to the west to the eastern edges of Kings Park and includes Smithtown and Hauppauge and parts of Commack. Hours after the recommendation was announced on Dec. 5, Rep. Zeldin agreed to an email interview on the topic of impeachment. 

Do you see any compelling reason for impeachment?

No.

In your view, what constitutes a crime or misdemeanor offense worthy of impeachment?

Treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors as laid out in Section 4 of Article II of the Constitution.

(Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.)

What’s your reaction to the impeachment?

Instead of focusing on opposing everything and anything, House Democrats should focus on the issues most important to the American people, working on bipartisan victories to pass the [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement] USMCA, combat the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic, secure our borders and so much more. 

(Editor’s note: The White House and House Democrats reached a deal Dec. 10 to pass the USMCA.)

Why did you, along with other House Republicans, interrupt a committee meeting that had members of both parties in attendance and stall the impeachment probe?

The premise of your question is false. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I was already in the SCIF in my seat when those other members walked in.

What is your take on House Republicans interrupting on Oct. 23 the impeachment probe committee meeting?   

There should have been greater transparency and a fairer process in the first place. They were very frustrated as elected members of Congress being completely in the dark while being asked questions back home from constituents and local media about what was going on with the impeachment inquiry.

Do you believe a U.S. president should use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to coerce a foreign leader to investigate a political rival? 

If you are asking that question related to the Ukraine fact pattern, then I disagree with the premise of your question.

What is your take on what happened with President Trump requesting [help from]Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky? 

Can you clarify this question?

Clarification: Do you find any of these actions objectionable? President Trump requested in a July 25, 2019, phone call that Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky take a call from his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to discuss an investigation into the son of his political rival. The White House then placed that same day a formal hold on $250 million congressionally approved security funding for Ukraine. The funds were ultimately released Sept. 11 after a whistle-blower filed a complaint, 85 days after the Pentagon announced that aid had become available, 19 days before funds expire.

That is your version of the story. You are entitled to your opinion but I obviously would disagree with the premise of your question.

Do you believe that Ukraine and not Russia interfered in the 2016 election?

Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Ukrainians also interfered in the 2016 election. That is indisputable. The scope and nature of the interference was different in the two examples, not on the same scale, and should not be equated.

Are you planning to make the impeachment proceedings a point in your upcoming reelection campaign?

The Democrats are ripping our country in half with their destructive impeachment obsession.

Has anything in the ongoing impeachment proceedings changed your mind concerning the actions of the president?

No.

Can you please tell us how many former members of Trump’s campaign, cabinet and personal lawyers have been investigated and/or convicted of crimes? What’s your reaction to this?

I’m not aware of any new information to add beyond what you know already.

As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, when did you become aware of the removal of U.S. troops from Kurdish territories? Do you believe other countries or leaders have benefited from that strategy?  

As I relayed to you immediately following the announcement, the Kurds have fought, bled and died fighting alongside the US. They have been warriors and brothers in battle along the way. The president is right to want to end endless war, but the Turks wiping out the Kurds would absolutely not be an acceptable outcome after all of that.

(On background, Zeldin voted in favor of the House resolution [H.J. Res. 77 Opposing the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria] regarding this issue. The resolution indicated that the policy was in the best interest of Russia and not U.S.)

What do you believe are President Trump’s top three accomplishments in office? 

Helping grow the economy, tackling illegal immigration and going after MS-13, among many other victories.

Could you list three negative things that he has fostered? 

The SALT deduction change, an offshore drilling proposal impacting the Atlantic and certain funding levels in the federal budget.

Many of your North Shore constituents are calling for more Town Hall-style meetings. Are you planning any?

I had a town hall in September hosted by the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association. The event was completely open to anyone in the public and was widely promoted and attended by the Democratic Party and they got their questions and comments in, including multiple times with 2, 3, and more follow-ups to their original question/comment. This is in addition to Mobile Office Hours, Coffee with Your Congressman and many other meetings and events. This is the pace that I’ve set and maintained since entering Congress in 2015. As I’ve said time and time again, if someone wishes to participate in a future meeting or would like to schedule a time to meet one-on-one, they can contact my office at 631-289-1097 to find a time most convenient for them, including after work or on the weekend. For example, this year in Smithtown alone, I’ve held Mobile Office Hours and Coffee with Your Congressman. 

Can you please define for your constituents what corruption means? 

An example is a corrupt Ukrainian energy company run by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch hiring someone with no Ukraine experience and no energy experience for at least $50,000 per month for the sole reason that they are the vice president’s son.

Can you please offer the distinctions between a democracy, autocracy and dictatorship? 

The widely accepted definitions are as follows:

Democracy: A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

Autocracy: Government in which one person possesses unlimited power.

Dictatorship: A form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique.

Also, Michael Cohen is behind bars for campaign finance violations that include paying Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to keep quiet about their affairs with Donald Trump. Cohen testified that it was done in coordination with Donald Trump. Does paying “hush money” to influence the outcome of an election equate with bribery or a high crime or misdemeanor? Why or why not? Is it corruption?  

He made these claims before Congress after pleading guilty to crimes, one of which was lying to Congress. He’s not a reliable witness to say the least.

Attendees arrive for a Lee Zeldin fundraiser at the Flowerfield Catering Hall. Photo by Donna Deedy

It’s a book signing. … It’s a political fundraiser. … It’s the latest trend in party politics.  

Donald Trump Jr. attended an event at the Flowerfields Catering Hall in St. James Thursday, Nov. 21, where campaign lawn signs for U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) were planted along the walkway into the venue. Inside the reception hall, stacks of  Trump Jr.’s new book, “Triggered,” were piled high. Released on Nov. 5, the book shot to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list after the Republican National Committee bought the book in bulk, spending nearly $100,000, to distribute as donor prizes, according to a New York Times report.

Tickets for Zeldin’s VIP Reception at Flowerfields cost $1,000 per person, which included a signed copy of Trump Jr.’s book. General admission cost $200 per person with a signed copy of the book or $150 with an unsigned copy. Additional copies of a signed book were being sold for $100. Checks were to be made out to Zeldin Victory Committee.

“The Congressman is grateful for the sweeping support he’s received, highlighted by record fundraising numbers this year,” Zeldin’s spokesperson Katie Vincentz stated. “Attended by over 350 people and raising over $200,000, this latest smash success fundraiser builds on that increasing momentum.” 

Members of the press were turned away from the event.  

“Sorry, the Secret Service said no,” reporters were told at the reception desk inside. A Secret Service representative, though, later stated in an email that the agency does not facilitate media access issues. 

Outside the Gyrodyne Property on Moriches Road several dozen protesters assembled.  

“No public town hall in two and half years,” they yelled out to cars passing by. “Tell Zeldin to hold a public town hall.”

St. James resident Maria LaMalga was among the protesters. She said she asked to speak with the congressman, had left messages and submitted written requests to talk with Zeldin, but she said that she has not yet received a response. 

“I only see him tweeting about impeachment,” she said. “I wish he would work for his constituents.”

The North Shore Peace Group organized the protest. The group’s priority issues include comprehensive gun laws, deficit spending and U.S.-Mexico border policies, especially concerning ongoing detentions and restrictions and limitations put on refugees.

In response to the criticism, Zeldin stated in an email that an open town hall meeting was hosted in September by the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association.   

To date, Zeldin has raised $1.8 million, according to FEC filings.

 

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright during a town board meeting. TBR News Media file photo

A local town council member has put forward attempts to offer emergency transportation for the homeless when the county cannot, though not all parties are on the same page if the service is necessary or even wanted.

The Brookhaven Town Board meeting Nov. 19 showcased a rare public heated moment between members of the town council, specifically over a resolution to offer jitney services for the homeless when the county cannot.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) has for months been supporting a resolution to allow the town to enter an intermunicipal agreement with Suffolk County for the town to provide jitney services to transport homeless people to a shelter or other facility in an emergency situation. The Democratic councilwoman’s move to table the resolution resulted in a heated discussion over the timing and merits of the bill, and after advice from town attorney Annette Eaderesto, the councilwoman withdrew the resolution.

In a letter to the Town, Suffolk County Deputy Executive Jon Kaiman said that the county had “no ability” to put forward a memorandum of understanding regarding using municipal town buses for transporting the homeless.

“There would be a number of issues such as cost of personnel, operations and administration that we would need to explore before we would consider making any recommendations,” said the letter sent to Matt Miner, the town chief of operations.

Kaiman did not respond to requests to his office for additional comment.

The lone Democrat on the Town Board asked why she had not seen the letter until 18 days after the town had originally received it. 

“I’m looking at an email that was sent to Matt Miner on Nov. 1. Today is Nov. 19,” Cartright said to Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). 

In a previous interview, Cartright described an encounter with one homeless couple several months ago. After the work of convincing them to accept residence in a Suffolk County shelter, the councilwoman waited outside with them for a cab that was ordered by the county. After more than two hours of waiting, the cab had not shown and had been misdirected to Port Jefferson village instead of Port Jeff Station. 

She said the event showed there was a missing piece to available transport for the homeless, who are often very hesitant to accept assistance from the government in the first place. If she wasn’t there, the councilwoman said, she felt the homeless couple would likely never have gotten in the cab to go to a shelter.

“This is basically a backstop measure in case of an emergency,” Cartright said. “Everybody is clear whose responsibility [transportation for the homeless] is.”

“This is basically a backstop measure in case of an emergency,  everybody is clear whose responsibility [transportation for the homeless] is.” 

– Valerie Catright

In the letter, Kaiman wrote that he was aware of the incident in October but described it as an “infrequent occurrence.” 

The county provides tokens for public transportation to the homeless in need of transit to a shelter, and on occasion Suffolk will facilitate pickup with a taxicab.

Cartright has sponsored the resolution since early October, but the bill has been tabled two times, Oct. 3 and 24. Both times Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point) moved to table the resolution and was accepted by the supervisor and all council members, except for Cartright. 

Romaine said he and the board initially thought they had the support of the county through Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), however, the letter, he said, disproved that assumption. The supervisor added he had no means to put forward an MOU without the consent of the county.

“I think we should defeat this until the county expresses an interest — it takes two to tango,” Romaine said. “We don’t have the willingness and cooperation from the county of Suffolk.”

He later added that transportation for homeless individuals was under the county’s jurisdiction, and not of the town’s.

“It’s like asking the county to pave our roads, they don’t do that,” he said. “That’s why we have different levels of government.” 

Hahn released a statement on the ongoing discussion.

“We are in the process of discussing the possibility of a multijurisdictional solution with cooperation between the Town and County to address a specific community concern identified by Councilwoman Cartright,” the legislator said. “It is premature to identify details before we have an agreement between the two municipalities.”

Eaderesto said, upon speaking to county attorney Dennis Brown, that the request should have come from the Department of Social Services rather than just from Hahn, who cannot speak for the entirety of the Legislature.

Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) asked for their intentions not to be misinterpreted.

“This has never been put together properly on the county’s side,” he said. “The deputy county executive said he has no interest … If we can fill that need and truly fill that need, not just saying we do on paper, because it really isn’t the purview of the town government, it’s squarely the county’s purview.”

Cartright said after the meeting she is hoping the town and county attorneys can sort out differences between the two municipalities, adding she feels such a resolution is necessary, and it conforms to previous resolutions that offered town services in emergency situations with New York State Department of Transportation.

The councilwoman and other members of the Quality of Life Task Force will meet with the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, Dec. 17 at the Comsewogue Public Library, where they will discuss homlessness and other area issues. 

 

Skyler Johnson, 19, is looking to run against Laura Ahearn and then Ken LaValle for state Senate. Photo from Skyler for Senate website

Just two days after the end of the 2019 elections Nov. 5, Skyler Johnson, a 19-year-old Mount Sinai resident and college student, announced he wanted to take on one of the longest-running incumbents in the New York State Senate.

Skyler Johnson, 19, is looking to run against Laura Ahearn and then Ken LaValle for state Senate. Photo from Skyler for Senate website

“Someone should not hold a seat for 43 years,” he said during a phone interview after he announced he was running. “We need
term limits.”

Johnson is a political science student at Suffolk County Community College and said he had already filed his name to run for the state Senate’s 1st District seat. As a local activist, he said he sees young people not getting a fair shake, with college students working 60-hour weeks to pay for higher education and senior citizens unable to afford much of the costs of living.

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has held the position since 1976 and has been cited by people like Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) for bipartisan support on issues of the environment. He has shown unwavering support for Stony Brook University and is often behind many state grants the college receives.

But Johnson said there are two issues that made him especially want to run that has expecially vexed the incumbent in recent years. One is the number of young people leaving Long Island and the lack of real affordable housing, the other is what he called a history of denying rights to the LGBT community. He cited the senator’s opposition to New York’s same-sex marriage bill in 2009 and his voting against a bill banning gay conversion therapy earlier this year. 

“It’s time to take our future into our own hands,” he said. “I believe I can bring much needed change.”

Johnson was the campaign manager for Sarah Deonarine, a Democrat who ran against another longtime incumbent, Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) for the Brookhaven District 2 council seat. He said that campaign gave him the experience of what it was like to be on the campaign trail. He said he plans to spend next year canvassing the district.

It won’t be an easy road for the first-time contender. He will have to first primary for the Democratic nod against Laura Ahearn, a well-known voice in advocating for crime victims and founder of organizations such as Parents for Megan’s Law and Crime Victims Center. 

Bruce Blower, a spokesperson for LaValle, confirmed that the state senator planned to run again in the 2020 election.

The young man agreed he was part of a larger wave of young liberally minded people looking to get involved since the 2016 election of Donald Trump (R). Johnson is going to be running in a presidential election year, which are notoriously the most hotly contested races to campaign.

“I expect people are ready for change,” he said.

It’s status quo in Huntington. Voters reelected incumbents to fill seats in the county Legislature and town council.

Andrew Raia and his mother Jo-Ann Raia watch the election night returns. He took more than 57 percent of the vote for town clerk. Photo by. Donna Deedy

The popularity of Joan Cergol (D) shined through on election night, maintaining a clear voter count lead as district results were reported. Eugene Cook (R) eventually took back his seat for town council, but early on election night it looked as if challengers Kathleen Cleary (D) or Andrea Sorrentino (R) might unseat him.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Sorrentino said. “I’m just a guy off the street who decided to run and became a strong contender in this election.”

In the end, Republicans maintain control of the town council with the same people representing citizens. And with Steve Bellone (D) cinching the county executive for a third term, it’s government as usual until the next election cycle.

The big change in Huntington: Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia, who served for 40 years, passes the baton to her son Andrew (R-East Northport), a state Assemblyman for 17 years. He stays in state office until Dec. 31 and assumes his role as town clerk Jan. 1. “I’ll be working two jobs for the rest of the year,” he said. “The first thing I’ll do is help my mother clear off her desk.”

He expects to leave state government with impact. On Nov. 1, he requested that the state Department of Health conduct a longitudinal study for the Northport Middle School, where students, teachers and staff have reported for decades poor air quality, enough to make people seriously ill. Some people blame the building for the school community’s high cancer rates and other rare illnesses.

Raia’s vacant state Assembly seat could trigger a special election. The process, Raia said, doesn’t require a primary. The governor, Andrew Cuomo (D), however, may opt to skip on a special election, since 2020 is an election year. The governor has 77 days from Jan. 1 to decide, according to Raia. 

David Luces, Rita J. Egan, Leah Chiappino and Donna Deedy all contributed reporting.