Times of Huntington-Northport

From left, Tom Kehoe with Reggie Tuthill, owner of Oysterponds Shellfish in Orient. Kehoe will serve as trade adviser after establishing an international market for oysters and shellfish. Photo from Tom Kehoe

Local businessman and Village of Northport trustee Tom Kehoe has been appointed an adviser to the Trump administration on international trade in the seafood industry.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appointed Kehoe to serve on the USDA’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products. The group consists of 140 private-sector members, who will offer input on negotiating and enforcing new and existing trade agreements. Kehoe is the only individual representing the seafood industry. 

Kehoe said that he is honored and humbled that the Department of Agriculture has selected him to serve.

“The sustainability and success of the seafood and agriculture industries is vital to the health and safety of all Americans,” Kehoe said. “I look forward to sharing my expertise in international trade and insight on where American trade policy needs to go in order for American businesses to thrive in international markets.”

Congress established the advisory committee system in 1974 to ensure that U.S. agricultural trade policy objectives reflect U.S. public- and private-sector commercial and economic interests. Perdue and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer jointly manage the committee.

Kehoe, a native New Yorker, initially got into the seafood business in 1975 in Maine with lobsters. He worked on a daily basis from 1975 to 2017 with fish and fishermen, but now deals largely with importing and exporting seafood. In 1992, Kehoe and business partner Roger Boccio opened K & B Seafood, an East Northport fish market. In 2008, they established Seaflight Logistics, a fish wholesaler that transported food both nationally and internationally. The fishmongers expanded their operation after attending an international fish market and finding a growing market for oysters and shellfish in China and Moscow. Kehoe is currently the CEO of Kingsbridge Strategies Inc., an import/export firm experienced in public policy and business consulting. The international seafood trade remains an important aspect of his operation.

“Working with small businesses, large businesses, and eventually growing my own company into an international business, I have a unique understanding of the needs of Long Island and New York’s businesses — as well as businesses nationwide who rely on international trade — and I look forward to representing these interests on this committee,” Kehoe said.

One of Kehoe’s biggest customers for 25 years has been the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. Sandy Ingber is the executive chef there and part owner of the restaurant. He said that Kehoe’s appointment will help him. In the summer, Ingber said the Oyster Bar offers 20 different types of oysters and each day serves as many 4,000 oysters on the half shell.  

“Tom is an honest man and knowledgeable about the seafood industry,” he said. “I’m excited about getting European oysters here in America.” 

Kehoe is also a representative on the U.S. Department of Commerce, New York District Export Council. He formerly served as the president, vice president and director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association. Kehoe is a former Northport police commissioner and deputy mayor. Kehoe currently serves as the village’s commissioner of commerce, his third stint at the post. Kehoe’s term with the USDA will expire in 2023.

Photo from U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

By Herb Herman

Boating safely is more than common sense. While you don’t have to memorize the marine Rules of the Road to be a safe boater, a careful reading would be beneficial for every boater. Pass oncoming boats port-to-port, always have a look out, have a marine radio available and preferably tuned to channel 16. Use charts so you don’t go aground. Reduce speed in harbors and in tight quarters. Know what the buoys and other channel markers mean, and, above all, be mindful of your environment. The Coast Guard calls this “situational awareness,” a mindset that is useful anywhere and at anytime doing anything, though it’s especially important out on the water. 

Old salts, the veteran hands of boats and sailing, are not born that way — they learn by experience. There is, however, a better way: take a boating safety course. These days, thankfully, boating safety courses are required in most states. These courses are given by government and private parties. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Power Squadron give excellent programs that are tried and true and can get a dedicated novice up to speed in a few hours. The problem is getting boaters to sign up for these courses. We have all kinds of excuses, ranging from limited time in our busy lives to talk of, “boating is like driving, all you have to do is steer the boat.” 

But boating is not so simple an activity. Steering a boat is nothing like driving a car. In driving, does the road flow in a direction different from the one you’re going? When’s the last time you’ve seen a road center lines on the water? Does the wind usually effect your driving? Put simply, boating is a unique activity and one that takes some learning to be proficient at.

Granted, there is no better teacher than experience. However, most of us didn’t learn how to drive by getting behind the wheel and driving. We usually took driver training course.  What, then, makes us think that handling a boat doesn’t require training? One full day or a couple of afternoon training sessions can add immeasurably to your enjoyment on the water and may even add years to your life. 

A central feature of the Coast Guard’s safety mantra is the Personal Floatation Device, i.e., life jackets. It is estimated that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims. Accidents can and do happen with terrifying speed on the water. There’s rarely time to reach stowed life jackets. These days floatation aids can be comfortable, so there is no excuse for not wearing one, except for, perhaps, your vanity. Doesn’t look good? How does a drowning victim look after being pulled from the water?

In fact, life jackets are required for jet skiers and paddle boaters. There are other requirements for these activities, all based on common sense. But common sense is sometimes lacking on the water. Observed in Mount Sinai Harbor last summer, a young woman on a stand-up paddler with a young child sitting there, neither of whom had on life jackets. And there are kayakers in Port Jefferson Harbor, silently gliding in and out of the mooring field while an equally mindless power boater heedlessly plows his way between the mooring buoys. These situations are disasters waiting to happen.

We have every opportunity to make this summer’s boating a safe one. Safe boating classes are readily available. Make it a family affair. Make your dream on the water come true and not end tragically. Have the family don their vests and tell them they look great. Don’t boat under the influence. Avoid speeding when it is clearly dangerous. Adhere to regulations that are posted for No Wake, etc. Make certain that your mechanical systems are functioning properly. Be prepared for someone falling overboard or some other accident. And above all, have a Vessel Safety Examination by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Contact the Port Jefferson Flotilla to arrange an inspection: email: info@cgapj.org or phone: 631-938-1705.

Have a great family summer on the water!

Herb Herman is the flotilla staff officer for public affairs, Port Jefferson Auxiliary Flotilla 14-22-06.

Carl Buttacavoli, Centereach

On July 20, 1969, an estimated 650 million people around the world were glued to their television sets as commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon. Where were you during that celebrated event? We sent our star reporter David Luces out on the streets of Port Jefferson, East Setauket and Stony Brook to find out.

Abby Buller, Port Jefferson and  Katie Harrison, Mount Sinai

Abby Buller, Port Jefferson and Katie Harrison, Mount Sinai

“I remember getting up at 1 in the morning. Everyone in the U.S. was up for it. If you were sleeping you were either dead or under the age of two. When Neil Armstrong said his famous line: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ Everyone started to clap and cry. Even Walter Cronkite was crying on the news. My grandmother was at the house watching with my parents and she said, ‘It is a lie, they landed some place on Earth.’ A man landed on the moon, Woodstock and the Mets win the World Series — nothing can beat 1969.” — Abby

“I was eight years old at the time, it was amazing. If it happened today everyone would be watching on their phones. All we had back then was a black and white television.”  — Katie

Steve C., Rocky Point

Steve C., Rocky Point

“I was working three jobs at the time and worked until midnight. Who didn’t watch it? Everyone was glued to the television.”

 

 

 

 

Peter Young, Port Jefferson

Peter Young, Port Jefferson

“It was a pivotal moment in our history. I remembered watching it on television with my family like everybody else.”

 

 

 

 

Frances Langella, Holbrook

Frances Langella, Holbrook

“I was young then, I’m 89 years old now. I was watching it with my family in Dix Hills — it was very exciting. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. You always wondered who or what was out there. I don’t think any other future space mission could top the magnitude of the first moon landing.It may be different, but I don’t think it’ll have the impact of the first [moon] mission.”

 

Thomas Toye, Stony Brook

Thomas Toye, Stony Brook

“It was a great year. I remember my father had a party for the astronauts who landed on the moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rich P., Miller Place

Rich P., Miller Place

“I was 18 years old at the time. It was the most amazing thing that I have seen. The whole country was excited. There was a man on the moon! I was at my grandfather’s house a week later; he was born in 1892. He’s watching the news on landing on the moon — and I said ‘Pop, what do you think about landing on the moon?’ He said when he was a kid they had all these stories about flying to the moon. They thought it wasn’t possible — that it was just science fiction.”

 

 

 

Carl Buttacavoli, Centereach 

Carl Buttacavoli, Centereach

“It was amazing. I was on the aircraft carrier that picked the astronauts up. It was 1,189 feet long, and we scooped them out of the water when they landed back on Earth. What amazed me is that they were up in space on the moon and then they landed right by our ship. It was amazing how they could coordinate everything and land so close to us.

 

 

 

 

 

Sandra Perkins, England and Carolyn Tobia, Commack

Sandra Perkins, England and Carolyn Tobia,
Commack

“It was unbelievable, I’m surprised we haven’t done something similar again. The whole space race seemed to close down for awhile,” she said. “But now, countries that we seem to be at odds with are working together with us. We are still going to the space station.” – Sandra

“We were in London at the time, it was very exciting. Everybody started clapping [when they saw it on television]. My husband used to watch these movies and they would be in these crazy looking suits and spaceships. Then all of a sudden we were looking at the real thing.” – Carolyn

All photos by David Luces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students from Northport, Huntington and Southampton high schools, as well as from Tug Valley High School in West Virginia, are working together to curb the opioid crisis. Photo from Northport-East Northport Union Free School District

Students from Northport, Huntington and Southampton high schools, along with the hard-hit Tug Valley High School in Kermit, West Virginia, have been working together to address the opioid crisis through a unique exchange program. Northport students, who are a part of the Students for 60,000 Club, visited West Virginia earlier this year on a service trip and were deeply affected by the magnitude of the crisis. 

Club advisers Darryl St. George and Kim Braha coordinated a “student exchange” in which the students from West Virginia came to visit Long Island to discuss realistic steps to solving the crisis. 

During the week of July 7, the students met in a variety of forums to learn from each other and discuss ways to address and solve the crisis. Students met with U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in Huntington to engage in discussion and also visited Southampton High School to hear from local Southampton representatives. Students asked questions, shared personal experiences and offered their thoughts on curtailing opioid use. 

Ideas included creating more mental health programs in schools and providing a greater sense of purpose for students. 

At the end of the week, students spent some time volunteering at the Northport VA. 

“The most inspiring part of this week long student exchange experience included seeing how empowered our Northport students were working with Southampton, Huntington and West Virginia students,” said Braha, “and the incredible opportunities to have conversations about how we can all work together to improve our communities.

Children enjoy the grand opening of Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park in Elwood. Photo by Kyle Barr

With weekend heat expected to reach the high 90’s plus humidity that could make it feel like well over 100 degrees, towns across the North Shore are offering ways for residents to help beat the heat.

Brookhaven

Brookhaven town is offering extended hours for pools and beaches for the weekend of July 20 through 21.

The Centereach and Holtsville town pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile all beaches including:

  • Cedar Beach – Harbor Beach Road, Mount Sinai
  • Corey Beach – Corey Avenue,, Blue Point
  • Shirley Beach – Grandview Avenue., Shirley (spray park)
  • Shoreham Beach – North Country Road, Shoreham
  • West Meadow Beach – 100 Trustees Road, Stony Brook (spray park)
  • Webby’s Beach – Laura Lee Drive, Center Moriches

Will be open until 7 p.m. both days.

More information can be found at: https://www.brookhavenny.gov/216/Parks-Recreation

Smithtown

On Friday,  July 19,  the Smithtown Senior Center will operate as a cooling station until 5 p.m. The Public Safety with support staff from the Smithtown Senior Citizens Department and Senior Transportation to operate the Senior Citizens Center as a cooling center, for seniors without air conditioning over the weekend. 

All residents are advised to take extra precautions for themselves, elderly family members, children and pets for the duration of the heat watch. 

“It’s  going to be dangerously hot over the weekend,” Supervisor Ed Wehrheim said in a release. “ We want to ensure the health and quality of life for our elderly residents… It is with this in mind, that our Public Safety Department has made special arrangements to make sure our seniors have a cool place to enjoy the weekend.” 

Seniors can make arrangements ahead of time by contacting the Senior Citizens Department today or tomorrow at (631) 360-7616. After 5 p.m. Friday, arrangements to use the senior center should be made so by calling Public Safety at 631-360-7553. If a senior citizen does not have transportation, the public safety department said it will make travel arrangements at the time of the call. Residents are asked to check on elderly neighbors and pass along this information ahead of the weekend. 

Huntington

The Town of Huntington is offering extended hours at its Elwood spray park and Dix Hills pool.

Extended hours at the Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park at Elwood Park on Cuba Hill Road are as follows, with weather-permitting: 

  • Friday, July 19: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours due to camp programming at the park)
  • Saturday, July 20: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 21: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The park will be waiving the Recreation Photo ID Card requirement for Town residents only for the weekend heat wave, though residents must show another form photo ID proving residence to enter the spray pad.

Otherwise, the Dix Hills Park Pool, located at 575 Vanderbilt Parkway, are now:

  • Friday, July 19: 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours due to scheduled swimming lessons at the pool)
  • Saturday, July 20: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 21: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Non-residents accompanied by a town resident may use the pool by paying the daily Non-ID Card holder fee.

 Pool Admission Fees with Recreation Photo ID Card, are children (under 13) – $5; teens (13 – 17) – $6; adults (18 and older) – $7; sr. citizen / disabled – $4.50.

Pool Admission Fee (without Recreation Photo ID Card): $15 per person.

Pool Membership: Family Membership – $250/season; Individual Membership – $100/season; Sr. Citizen/Disabled – $50/season.

Otherwise, all Town Beaches will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours) during the weekend heatwave. These include:

  • Asharoken Beach, Eaton’s Neck Road, Northport
  • Centerport Beach, Little Neck Road, Centerport
  • Crab Meadow Beach, Waterside Avenue, Northport
  • Crescent Beach, Crescent Beach Drive, Huntington Bay
  • Fleets Cove Beach, Fleets Cove Road, Centerport
  • Gold Star Battalion Beach, West Shore Road, Huntington
  • Hobart Beach, Eaton’s Neck Road, Eaton’s Neck
  • Quentin Sammis/West Neck Beach, West Neck Road, Lloyd Harbor
  • Geissler’s Beach, (fishing only), Makamah Road, Northport

Mankind walked on the moon, a few locals helped us get there

The Earth as seen by Apollo astronauts over the horizon of the moon. Photo from NASA

They named it Apollo. Though the moniker has become synonymous with human achievement, a scientific milestone, the merging of a collective national conscience, the Greek god Apollo was known for many things, but the moon was not one of them. If scientists had to choose, there was the Titan Selene, or perhaps Artemis or Hecate, all Greek gods with connection to the great, gray orb in the night’s sky.

Abe Silverstein, NASA’s director of Space Flight Programs, proposed the name, and he did so beyond the surface of using a well-known god of the pantheon. In myth, Apollo was the sky charioteer, dragging Helios, the Titan god of the sun, in an elliptical high over humanity’s head.

If anything was going to bring humanity to the moon, it would be Apollo. 

Despite this, it wasn’t a myth that allowed man to take his first steps on the moon, it was humankind. Billions of dollars were spent by companies across the nation, working hand in hand with NASA to find a way to make it into space. Here on Long Island, the Bethpage-based Grumman Corporation worked to create the lunar module, the insect-looking pod that would be the first legs to test its footing on the moon’s surface.

Thousands worked on the lunar module, from engineers to scientists to accountants to everyone in between. 

Half a century later some of these heroes of science, engineers and other staff, though some may have passed, are still around on the North Shore to continue their memories.

Pat Solan — Port Jefferson Station

By Kyle Barr

Pat Solan of Port Jefferson Station can still remember her late husband, Mike, back when the U.S. wanted nothing more than to put boots far in the sky, on the rotating disk of the moon.

Pat Solan holds a photo of her with husband Mike. Photo by Kyle Barr

Mike worked on the Apollo Lunar Module at Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation in Bethpage, where he was at the head of several projects including mock-ups of the pod and working on its landing gear. He can be seen in a movie presented by NASA as workers create a scale diorama of the surface of the moon, craters and all.

“The space program was important — people don’t realize it was a huge endeavor,” she said.

Pat met her husband in Maryland when she was only 21. Mike had worked with military aviation projects all over the country, but the couple originally thought they would end up moving to California. Instead, one of Mike’s friends invited him to come to Long Island to try an interview with Grumman. Needless to say, he got the job. The couple would live in Port Jefferson for two years before moving to Setauket. 

Pat said her husband always had his eye on the sky. Aviation was his dream job, and she remembered how he was “thrilled to pieces” to step into the cockpit of a Grumman F-14 Tomcat.

Mike would be constantly working, so much that during those years of development on the module she would hardly see him at home. 

A model of the lunar module owned by the Solan family. Photo from Rolin Tucker

“He was working double shifts and he was going in between Calverton and Bethpage,” she said. “I hardly saw him at all.”

But there were a few perks. Solan and her husband would see many astronauts as Grumman brought them in to test on the simulators. She met several of the early astronauts, but perhaps the most memorable of them was Russell “Rusty” Schweickart, all due to his quick wit and his outgoing personality compared to the stauncher, military-minded fellow astronauts. Schweickart would be pilot on the Apollo 9 mission, the third crewed space mission that would showcase the effectiveness of the lunar module, testing systems that would be critical toward the future moon landing.

She, along with Mike, would also go down to Cape Canaveral, Florida, and there she was allowed to walk in the silo. Standing underneath the massive girders, it was perhaps the most impressive thing she has ever seen in her life. 

“It was absolutely mind-boggling — it was very impressive,” she said. “I can still remember that. I was stricken.” 

On the day of the landing, July 20, 1969, Pat was hosting a party to watch the dramatic occasion at her home, then in Setauket. It could have barely been a more auspicious day, as she had just given birth to her daughter Rolin July 8.

Eventually, Mike would have multiple strokes through the late 1970s and ’80s, and the stress of it would cause him to retire in 1994. He died a few years later.

“He really felt he was not capable of doing presentations to the government anymore,” she said.

Mike Solan. Photo from Pat Solan

But being so close to the work tied to getting man into space has left an impression on her. Herself being an artist, having sold paintings, both landscapes and impressionistic, along with photography and felt sculptures, the effort of the people who put a human on the moon showed her the extent of human and American achievement. 

“It was a time of such cooperation — I think it’s sad we don’t see that now,” she said.

Despite current events, she said she still believes the U.S. can achieve great things, though it will take a concerted effort.

“People have to move outside their own persona,” she added. “People are too wrapped up, everything is centered on oneself instead of a bigger picture, the whole.” 

Joseph Marino — Northport

By Donna Deedy

Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, man walked on the surface of the moon.  

Joseph Marino in front of the LM replica at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Photo from Marino

Northport resident Joseph Marino spent 10 years on the Apollo mission as a Grumman systems engineer, involved from the very beginning of the project in 1962 to the last landing on the moon. He still finds the achievement remarkable.

“It was the most exciting program — the peak of my career — no question,” he said. “I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results of such a successful project.” 

Marino oversaw the design of the systems for the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), as it was originally known, and managed 300 engineers and also psychologists who were needed to work out the man/machine interface that dictated equipment design, such as visual display systems the crew relied upon during precarious moments of landing and docking.

An error in timing, particularly during landing, he said, could be disastrous. 

“Astronauts are the coolest characters capable of handling any situation imaginable,” Marino said. “It’s crucial for the crew to know when you make contact with the surface, so they know when to shut off the engine.”  

The team ultimately created an alert system with red flashing lights wired to 3- to 4-foot-long probes positioned on the module’s landing gear.

The most dramatic, awe-inspiring moment of all during the Apollo missions, Marino said, was when the astronauts witnessed the Earth rising above the horizon of the moon’s cratered landscape. The event was memorialized in what has become an iconic photo that most people today have seen. Marino cherishes that shot. 

NASA’s moon mission has been an endless source of inspiration for mankind. In fact, people can thank the space program for popularizing inventions big and little. Computers, very primitive versions of what are popular today, were first used by NASA. Velcro, Marino said, was also invented during the Apollo program and later became broadly popular.

Joseph Marino in front of the LM replica at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Photo from Marino

Looking back, now that 50 years have passed, Marino said it’s disturbing to him that there’s been such a wide gap in time since the last moon landing and today. 

He recently spoke to his granddaughter’s high school class and told them, “Not only did man walk on the surface of the moon before you were born, likely it occurred before your parents were born.” 

The bond Marino has developed with his aerospace colleagues has lasted a lifetime.  Each month, he still meets with a dozen co-workers for lunch at the Old Dock Inn in Kings Park. 

For the 50th anniversary, Marino says that he’s been enjoying the special programming on PBS. He recommends its three-part series called “Chasing the Moon.” 

Frank Rizzo — Melville

By Rita J. Egan

For Frank Rizzo, his experience of working on the Apollo program while a Grumman employee was more about dollars and cents.

Grumman workers at Plant 5 Clean Room watching Apollo 11 landing

Rizzo, 85, was with the aerospace engineering company for 33 years. While he retired as a vice president, in the years leading up to the moon landing, he was an accounting manager with the Grumman lunar module program. The Melville resident said it was an exciting time at Grumman.

Work, he said, began on the project a few years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first steps on the moon. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration established a work package budgeting system with Grumman, and Rizzo, who lived in Dix Hills at the time, said he was responsible for giving the team in the Houston space center the monthly estimate to complete the actual expenditures from an external point of view and also determine profit and loss from an internal point of view.

Rizzo and his co-workers traveled to Houston frequently to review the program with NASA to give the current status from the financial, engineering and manufacturing viewpoints, though sometimes the meetings took place on Long Island. The former accounting manager said many times stand-up meetings were held due to the theory that people become too comfortable when they sit, and stand-up meetings enable for more to get done in less time.

Rizzo said he remembers the original contract, signed in the latter part of 1962, to be valued around $415 million at first. He likened the project to building a house, where it evolves over the years. Revisions come along, and just like one might choose to move a door or window, the budget would need to change regularly.

“When they discovered something from an engineering viewpoint, they had to change the manufacturing scope and materials,” he said.

Rizzo said an example of a significant change was when Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee were killed in a cabin fire during a launch rehearsal test in 1967. The trio would have been the first crew to take part in the first low Earth orbital test. Due to the horrific incident, a change was made to ensure all material within the lunar module was fireproof.

“That was a major change,” he said. “That entitled us to additional funds to put new materials in it. So those things happened quite frequently — a change to the contract.”

When all was said and done, Rizzo said the contract value between NASA and Grumman totaled more than $2 billion.

Grumman workers at Plant 5 Clean Room watching Apollo 11 landing. Photo from Cradle of Aviation Museum

During the project, Rizzo said many members of the press would come to visit the Grumman office, including Walter Cronkite who anchored “CBS Evening News” at the time.

“Here was a little place on Long Island being responsible for the actual vehicle that landed on the moon,” he said.

Since the moon landing, Rizzo said seeing similar NASA activities like the Space Shuttle program haven’t been as exciting as the Apollo program.

“A lot of people said it was a waste of money, but that money was spent here for jobs, and many of the things that we got out of the research and development, like cellphones or GPS, and so forth, the basic research and development came out of that NASA program back in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said.

'Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no newscoverage at all.' - Pew Research Center

By Donna Deedy

It’s often said that a free press is a pillar of democracy, a fourth branch of government, capable of shining a light on corruption to reveal truth. History is full of cases where news stories have exposed unethical or criminal behavior, essentially helping to right a wrong. 

Consider the story on the Pentagon Papers, which showed how the federal government misled the public about the Vietnam War. When congressional leaders didn’t act, newspapers filled a role. 

Think of the news story about lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply and the Boston Globe’s series that exposed the widespread cover-up of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Most recently, the Miami Herald’s series “Perversion of Justice” is credited for exposing the crimes and lenient punishment of Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly operated a sex-trafficking scheme with underage girls. 

These are just a few cases with incredible breadth and scope that show how journalism raises awareness and ultimately prompts change. Countless other stories underscore the value and impact of journalism, and the news is not always necessarily grim. Aside from exposing bad actors or twisted policies, journalists also celebrate all that is good in a community and can bring people together by showing the great achievements of ordinary people. 

Any way you look at it, news matters. 

In the last decade and a half, though, it’s become increasing difficult for newspapers to survive. Newsroom employees have declined by 45 percent between 2008 and 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no coverage at all in what are called “news deserts.” This spells trouble for democracy. Thankfully, Congress is now opening a door to take a look at the situation. 

A six-minute YouTube video created by The News Media Alliance, the news industry’s largest trade organization, explains what people need to know about the situation. Entitled “Legislation to Protect Local News,” if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your time. 

In summary, technology — think internet and smartphones — has had a phenomenally positive impact in increasing the demand for news by expanding readership and engagement. In fact, just 2 percent of the U.S. population in 1995 relied on the internet to get news three days a week, according to Pew Research Center. By 2018, 93 percent of the population accessed at least some news online. But while news is more widely circulated, this shift to online platforms is also at the root of the news industry’s struggle. 

Terry Egger, publisher and CEO of Philadelphia Media Network said in the video that he recognizes the power and beauty of the Facebook and Google’s distribution models, but he also sees in detail how they are eroding the news industry’s ability to pay for its journalism. 

“Facebook and Google are able to monetize their distribution of our content, nearly 80 to 85 cents of every dollar in advertising digitally goes to one of those two platforms,” he said. 

The bottom line: News is supported largely by advertisements. By creating and distributing content to an audience, news outlets essentially broker their reach to advertisers looking for exposure. Accessing news through Facebook and Google has essentially disrupted that business model.

Facebook and Google have generated over the last year $60 billion in revenue, explains U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman of the U.S. House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in the video. In contrast, news publishers’ revenue is down about $31 billion “over the last several years.”

Cicilline senses that something needs to be done to help local papers and publishers survive. He, along with Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), have introduced in April a bill called Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019, H.R.2054. 

The bill provides a temporary safe harbor where publishers of online content can collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms about the terms under which their content may be distributed. 

Collins, ranking member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, called the bill a first step to see if the nation can bring fairness to smaller and local and regional papers. So far, the legislation continues to gain momentum. 

Danielle Coffey, counsel for the News Media Alliance, stated in a recent email interview that the journalism preservation bill is receiving voices of support from both sides of the aisle. The organization is looking for more sponsors to be added. “We aren’t asking for the government to save us or even for the government to regulate or change the platforms,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance. “We’re just asking for a fighting chance for news publishers to stand up for themselves and create a sustainable digital future for journalism.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said that he is monitoring the bill’s progress.“A free press has been essential to the maintenance of our democracy and keeping people informed,” he said. “As the way Americans consume their news evolves, we must ensure that tried-and-true local journalists are receiving their fair share so they can continue to serve their readers for generations to come.”

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is equally in agreement. “Our democracy is strongest when we have a free and diverse press,” he said. “From national to local news, events and happenings, we need the quality journalism of the free press to keep the public aware of what is happening in their country, state, town and local communities.”

Residents are urged to contact their congressman, Zeldin (631-289-1097) or Suozzi (631-923-4100), and ask them to become co-sponsors of H.R.2054: Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019.

 

Lights for Liberty Vigil

By Leah Chiappino

“I’m hungry here at Clint all the time … I’m too scared to ask the officials for any more food,” a 12-year-old boy stated in testimony read at the Lights for Liberty candlelight vigil, held July 12 in Huntington Village. It was one of more than a thousand vigils held both nationally and internationally in protest of family separations and the conditions at the United States-Mexico border, where children are being held in cages.  

Lights for LIberty Vigil

Local pediatrician Dr. Eve Krief helped coordinate the event as founder of Long Island Communities Against Hate in a joint effort with multiple other organizations and churches that include the Unitarian Universalist Church of Huntington and St. John’s Episcopal Church. 

“My mother taught me silence is complicity and if we don’t speak out, we are all responsible,” she said. “If we let the inhumanity go on, we lose our own humanity.”

Krief’s own mother was a Holocaust survivor who lost both parents and two sisters during Hitler’s reign.

During Friday’s rally, the names of children who died in detention facilities were recited, as folk musicians performed. 

Local teenagers read the written testimonies of immigrant children. A 17-year-old pregnant mother described guards taking blankets and mattresses from detainees at 3 a.m., leaving babies as young as two months old sleeping on a concrete floor. 

“I think guards act this way to punish us,” she stated.

The testimonies read also included the experience of a 16-year-old mother, who described sleeping on floor mats with aluminum blankets, and not being offered a shower for days. “They took our baby’s diapers, formula and all of our belongings,” she stated. “There is no soap and our clothes are dirty.” 

A 17-year-old boy’s testimony described conditions at the Ursula detention center were a toilet sits out in the open inside the “cage” where he was being held.  He lacked not only privacy but also access to soap, paper towels, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Families seeking asylum at Border detention center on July 13 in McAllen, Texas

Another mother stated that when her baby became sick, the guard told her to “just deal with it.” She asked for help two more times, then broke down in tears before officers took the child to a doctor. Other testimonies that were read also contained reports of sick children being denied care, with another guard saying, “She doesn’t have the face of a sick baby. She doesn’t need to see a doctor,” after a mother reported her baby was vomiting and had diarrhea. 

Some children described children being separated from their parents. Children as young as two years old were left alone and crying, only to be mocked and ignored by the guards.

At least seven children have died in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in the past year, according to government officials, compared to zero in the last decade. 

“We want our country to once again represent the words inscripted on the Statue of Liberty that welcomes the tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We want our country to welcome those legally seeking asylum in our country as they escape danger and violence,” Krief said. “Instead, however, we are seeing children and families held in inhumane and overcrowded conditions and we are seeing ongoing family separation.”

The groups participating in Lights for Liberty demand that changes be made at the border, which include improving children’s living conditions at both border and detention centers, and releasing the 13,000 children living in detention facilities who don’t know when they will be released.

Krief said many have family members who willing to take them in but are not permitted to. 

Protesters are also demanding that the administration return to the policies of the Flores Settlement Agreement, a 1997 provision that detailed the procedure for unaccompanied minors entering the United States. The policy was reversed by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, a crackdown on illegal immigration that ultimately led to family separation. 

Flores, according to Krief, limited the time children spend in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol custody to 72 hours, compared to the current status of children who stay in custody for weeks. The Flores agreement also states that children should not be kept in detention facilities for more than 20 days, according to the law, but minors have reported staying for upwards of nine months. Lights for Liberty also demands Customs and Border Patrol allow congressional visits to detention facilities in order to increase oversight. Final demands include access to pediatric care and other necessities, not separating children from their parents unless a welfare agency deems them unfit, and the accountability of people who carried out secret separations, even before the zero-tolerance program, which has led to separated children who may never be reunited with their parents.

“My hope in all of these events is to increase public awareness and to get people to understand this should not be about politics, but humanity,” she said. “The conditions these children are kept in borders on child abuse. Looking back, this will be a dark stain on our country’s history because we are traumatizing children and families who are only legally seeking asylum in our country after escaping dangerous conditions in their own countries.”

However, in response to backlash against people like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx), who referred to the detention centers as concentration camps, she feels the situation is too dire to play politics and worry about labels. 

“There’s been a lot of questions from people about us referring to these detention centers as concentration camps, which they do meet the definition for, but I feel if we wait for perfect analogies then it will be too late.”

Krief, who sits on the executive committee of the Long Island Queens and Brooklyn chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, added that the health effects of the conditions in detention facilities are detrimental and potentially irreversible. 

“As a pediatrician I am appalled and horrified at the conditions that we’re keeping children in,” she said. “We’re emotionally traumatizing them, and we’re physically traumatizing them.” 

Children are experiencing Toxic Stress Syndrome, she said, as a result of extreme stress, which changes the architecture of the brain and affects children the rest of their lives.

Congress has attempted to remedy conditions at the border, according to a New York Times report, having passed a bill granting $4.5 billion dollars in humanitarian aid to the border, which included improvements to hygiene, medical care and training for workers along with limiting a detention center stay of a child to 90 days unless no other facilities are available. 

Krief feels this is not enough. 

“There’s no oversight to where the funds are going,” she said. “It doesn’t increase the transparency in these facilities.”

Krief encourages the public to call their representatives in order to protest the conditions, a notion that was advocated at the vigil.

“This is an emergent human rights violation,” she said. “Unless they hear from all of their constituents on both sides of the aisle, every single day, demanding they address the inhumanity, they won’t do anything, which is unacceptable and shameful.”

Photos from Steven Zaitz and Rep. Tom Suozzi’s Office (detention center)

 

Correction:  The printed version of this story erroneously referred to toxic stress syndrome as toxic shock syndrome.

 

By Melissa Arnold

The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport is bringing out its disco balls and bell-bottoms this summer as it kicks off its 2019-20 mainstage season with “Saturday Night Fever.” 

The high-energy musical delivers all the 1970s hits and fashion that’s made it a beloved classic for more than just baby boomers. The musical is based on the famous 1977 film of the same name that rocketed John Travolta into stardom. The film was adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood in collaboration with Bill Oaks, and the North American version was written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti.

Directed by Richard Dolce, “Saturday Night Fever” is the story of Tony Manero, a 19-year-old ladies’ man from the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. It’s 1977, and Tony is restless, working a dead-end job in the shadow of the Verrazzano Bridge and dealing with his family’s scathing disapproval. It doesn’t help that his brother Frank Jr. is a priest, making Tony even more of a black sheep. 

All of that fades away on the weekends, though, when Tony escapes to the local disco Odyssey 2001 to show off his skills on the dance floor. He’s got real talent and sets his sights on winning an upcoming dance competition that could be his ticket to a more fulfilling life.

Tony is quickly frustrated with his overeager dance partner, Annette, who’s more interested in winning a trip to his bedroom than a dance competition. To Annette’s chagrin, Tony is drawn to Stephanie, a lovely yet guarded dancer he meets at the club. Stephanie reluctantly agrees to enter the contest as Tony’s partner on the condition that it’s strictly business. But their passion at the disco is unmistakable, and romance is hard to resist. 

While it’s difficult to compare anyone to John Travolta, Michael Notardonato makes the role of Tony seem effortless. A newcomer to the Engeman, Notardonato has also played Tony elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad — he was even nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Musical by the Connecticut Critics Circle for a past performance of the show. Notardonato’s silky vocals and expert footwork are a treat to take in.

Annette (Andrea Dotto) and Stephanie (Missy Dowse) are in contrast throughout most of the show: One is bold, the other withdrawn; one is full-on Brooklyn, the other tries to forget her roots. Both Dotto and Dowse are great dancers with strong vocals; newcomer Dotto tugs on the heartstrings with a powerful rendition of “If I Can’t Have You,” while Dowse’s multiple duets with Notardonato (“100 Reasons,” “What Kind of Fool”) are where she really shines.

Also at the heart of “Saturday Night Fever” are Tony’s knucklehead best friends who are prone to making bad decisions, including some that change their lives forever. Matthew Boyd Snyder, Christopher Robert Hanford, Steven Dean Moore and Casey Shane act like they’ve known each other forever. They play well off of one another and have no trouble getting laughs out of the crowd while also drawing empathy in the show’s darker moments.

The standout work for this show goes to the ensemble and orchestra — after all, it’s the soundtrack and dancing that drive “Saturday Night Fever.” Chris Rayis leads the band in foot-tapping, dance-in-your-seat favorites from the Bee Gees, including “Stayin’ Alive,” “Boogie Shoes” and “Disco Inferno.” The ensemble’s dance numbers, including “Jive Talkin’” and “Night Fever,” are among the best in the show. 

Dance captain Kelsey Andres, choreographer Breton Tyner-Bryan and associate choreographer Emily Ulrich deserve accolades for the obvious hard work and effort that went into preparing the cast to be at the top of their game. Keep an eye out for Gabriella Mancuso who plays Candy, 2001 Odyssey’s professional singer. Her vocals are among the strongest in the entire cast, and definitely the most memorable. 

The extra touches to the Engeman’s production of “Saturday Night Fever” help the audience feel like they’re a part of the show. Disco balls can be found both above the stage and in the lounge area, covering the entire theater in those characteristic funky lights we all love. The set is equally dazzling and showcased a wide variety of scenes. The mirrors in the dance studio, neon lights in the club, and a stunning, climbable Verrazzano Bridge made the show more realistic.

The only drawback in the musical version of “Saturday Night Fever” is the number of unanswered questions by the end of the show, but it’s still a fantastic performance that’s not to be missed. Stick around after the curtain call for a few extra songs, and don’t be afraid to dance in the aisle.

See “Saturday Night Fever” now through Aug. 25 at the John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport. Tickets range from $75 to $80 with free valet parking. For showtimes and to buy tickets, visit www.EngemanTheater.com or call 631-261-2900.

All photos by Michael DeCristofaro

Caged migrant children at U.S. Mexico border

By Donna Deedy

Local U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D–Glen Cove), after visiting detention centers along the southern United States border July 13 with 15 other House Democrats, has returned to his Huntington office alarmed. The situation, he said, is awful.  

U.S. Immigration Detention Center. photo from Tom Suozzi’s Office

“We need to make the humanitarian crisis at the border priority number one,” Suozzi said. “The system is broken.”

The group toured and inspected facilities that are currently holding Central American migrants seeking asylum and met with several migrant families to hear, first-hand, their experiences and what can be done to help.

“America is better than this,” he said. “I have worked on this issue since before I was elected mayor of Glen Cove in 1993 and I will continue to fight for solutions consistent with our American values.” 

During the visit, Suozzi learned that only 20 to 30 migrants seeking asylum are processed each day. This provides an incentive for people to cross in between ports of entry, he said, and once apprehended, they then turn themselves in to seek asylum. In turn, this leads to their detention.

“My recent trip to the border makes it clear that this issue is incredibly complicated and has been for decades. The policies and rhetoric from this administration have exacerbated the problem, permeating a culture of fear that forces many immigrants further into the shadows.” 

 The congressman is calling for action, insisting that all delegates work together to:

•Address the current humanitarian crisis at the border.

•Secure borders in a smart and effective way.

•Create stability in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that account for almost 90 percent of current immigrants.

•Protect the legal status of Dreamers and people with temporary protective status and their families with renewable temporary protection and a path to citizenship.

The tour coincided with rallies held in Huntington village and across the country and the world in protest of the policies and inhumane practices at U.S. border with Mexico. 

Suozzi was a guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on July 16, where he said that “the president has, once again, shifted the conversation away from important policy issues toward a racial divide in our country.”

The Rev. Duncan Burns, of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington, attended the Huntington rally “Lights for Liberty” and spoke to the crowd that gathered July 12. Suozzi’s trip to the border, the reverend said, has sparked greater concern.

“We encourage people to raise their voices and to call their members of Congress to urge them to work together to find solutions,” he said. “The Episcopal Church is completely backing both parties to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) did not respond to phone and email requests for comment on his position on the issue.

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