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New York

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Tricia Arceri flips into the pool. File photo by Darin Reed

Tricia Arceri always has a list of goals she is striving to attain. One of them has been to reach the medal platform at the New York State diving championships. The Huntington junior can now put a check next to that one after finishing fifth out of 43 divers Nov. 18 at Ithaca College.

Tricia Arceri leaps off the board. File photo by Darin Reed
Tricia Arceri leaps off the board. File photo by Darin Reed

Arceri was in eighth place after the first round of the state championships and was sixth following the semifinals. The diver moved up to fifth place following the final-round dives.

“I had a great meet,” Arceri said. “I set a goal to be on the podium and achieved it taking fifth place. My new goal for next year is to be on the top of that podium.”

Prior, Arceri won the county crown with a record-setting score Nov. 4.

“Tricia walked onto the deck for the county diving championships knowing she was already headed to the state championships [after earlier meeting the qualifying standard],” said Meg McConnell, who coaches Huntington’s divers and serves as assistant to Blue Devils head coach Christopher Helmke. “She completed an undefeated dual-meet season, won the Sachem diving invitational as well as handily winning the six dive events at the League I championships. … It was time to get the county championships win.”

Arceri’s first county’s effort, a required back dive, was nearly flawless, garnering the teenager four 10s out of a possible five. “As the preliminary round continued she remained in the lead solidly hitting all her dives, even her least favorite reverse 1 1/2 somersaults,” McConnell said.

As the semifinal round began, Arceri started with an inward and scored 10s across the board. Two dives later, the round concluded with the Huntington star still leading the field.

“I set a goal to be on the podium and achieved it taking fifth place. My new goal for next year is to be on the top of that podium.”

— Tricia Arceri

“To start the final round, Tricia chose her forward 2 1/2 somersaults, her hardest dive,” McConnell said. “With an imperfect takeoff it didn’t come out great, but luckily the higher degree of difficulty helped offset the lower scores of the judges.”

Arceri continued holding the lead through nine dives, but on her 10th, which also earned her all 10s, she dropped into second place due to the lower degree of difficulty it was assessed.

The meet concluded with Arceri performing  higher-difficulty dive. The inward 1 1/2 impressed the judges, who awarded the diver 9.5s and 10s, sealing her first Suffolk championship and helping the Huntington standout set a new county scoring record with 618.10 points.

“Going into the final group of dives the scores were close,” Arceri said. “The girl that had placed second [Grace Reeves of Lindenhurst with 609.90 points] had a little more of degree of difficulty, meaning I had to nail every dive. I am very consistent with my final dive and I knew I had to go out there and do it the best I ever could, so I did. … Beating my own score was great, but getting the county record is even better.”

The trip this past weekend marked Arceri’s third trip to the state championships, where she finished 14th last year.

— Huntington Athletics

Greg Fischer, left, and incumbent State Sen. Ken LaValle, right, will compete to represent New York’s 1st Senate District. Photos by Alex Petroski

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has been a New York State senator for nearly four decades, and although he’s joked about retirement, he doesn’t plan on vacating the position just yet. That won’t stop Democratic challenger Greg Fischer from trying to unseat him Nov. 8.

According to a 2015 New York Public Interest Research Group Report, LaValle was ranked second of 63 legislators in words said on the Senate floor, second in bill introduction, fourth in those that passed the senate and second in those that passed both houses.

“It’s a record of relevancy that I think is pretty good,” LaValle said in an interview at TBR News Media’s main office when the combatants sat down to discuss their campaigns.

LaValle said he’s excited for the chance to amend the East End’s Community Preservation Fund, which is responsible for the preservation of more than 3,000 acres of vacant land on Eastern Long Island and also improves parcels of historic, recreational and environmental value. He also noted the $400 million in construction going on at Stony Brook University Hospital that will produce jobs for doctors, clerks and others.

Fischer is a business consultant who has a passion for economics, he said, and he sees the economy as the “most important issue of our day, especially for the district.”

“We’re constantly on this treadmill of tax and spend, tax and spend,” he said. “And even though I’m a Democrat and you hear Democrats labeled for that, my background is in business and my background is to find the best value.”

The candidates are in support of the two percent tax levy increase cap for property owners as a means to curb government overspending, though Fischer said he isn’t sure the policy goes far enough. “It’s only applying the brakes gently — it’s not fixing the problem,” he said.

Fischer is running on the mantra: “It’s time for a turnaround.” His platform is about reform, which he said would be a product of his background. He’s not a lawyer like many other legislators.

Fischer said he thinks new blood and a democratic representative are needed to be able to better address not just the district’s issues, but statewide issues.

“There’s so much we can do, but we’re moving so slowly,” he said. “I think that’s the danger. We all know where we’re headed. People want to move out of state. Students want to be accepted out of state so they can stay out of state.”

To combat that mentality, LaValle said he’s been conducting research on millennials, regarding whether or not they want to be homebuyers or renters, or drive a car as their primary means of transportation. LaValle co-sponsored legislation to allow municipalities to continue tax exceptions for first-time homebuyers of newly constructed homes as an incentive. He is also a supporter of New York State’s School Tax Relief Program, which lowers property taxes for owner-occupied primary residences. As chairman of the Higher Education Committee, LaValle said he’s also trying to address how to minimize millennial debt.

Fischer said he’s a proponent of free tuition for Suffolk County and New York State residents.

Fisher has run unsuccessful campaigns for Riverhead Town and local school board offices. He previously sued the Long Island Power Authority and conducted his own audits of Riverhead school district. More recently, he filed a lawsuit claiming Stony Brook University named its football stadium for LaValle after he secured $22 million in state funds for the venue’s construction, stating in his notice of claim that “It is ludicrous for sitting legislators (seeking re-election or otherwise) to have public structures named for them for the de facto benefit of their personal political careers.” Fischer asked LaValle’s name be removed from both the Nov. 8 ballot and the stadium. The arena was opened and named after LaValle in 2002.

Fischer said another issue he’d like to address is corruption in the courtroom, and added he’d like to see cameras allowed in state courtrooms.

“I think there needs to be more scrutiny of the judicial process,” he said. “We have a huge problem with corruption. There have been a lot of problems where the transcripts are changed after the fact, and things happen that are problematic.”

Fischer also said he believes legislation takes too long in New York, and cited response to the growing opioid abuse issue as an example. While LaValle said it’s his No. 1 priority — adding that many of his colleagues say the same — he believes increased penalties for dealers could put a dent in that problem.

Fischer said he understands enforcement sells, but added it’s only part of the solution.

“Of course we have to do some more enforcement, but it’s a mental health issue,” he said. “We have reasons for people doing these drugs — even in the suburbs — it’s despair. By the time you’re detecting use, you’ve already got a real problem going on. We have to have a whole new way of thinking about deterrence and really scaring children into the reality that, as a first use, you could have a dependency for life.”

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History came alive on the distaff side last Monday night, as Liz Kahn Kaplan talked about the nine first ladies born in New York State. Kaplan, a longtime resident of this area and prominent member of the Three Village Historical Society, as well as an author and docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, combined her appreciation for history and art with delicious details from the lives of the nine women to make a delightful and informative evening at the Neighborhood House.

So who are those women?

Some of them we can tick off readily: Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan. Others are shrouded in more distant history. They are the wives of Presidents Monroe, Van Buren, Tyler, Cleveland and Fillmore.

Here is an example of one of Kaplan’s anecdotes about these women. Elizabeth Monroe, born of an aristocratic Loyalist family in 1768, who disregarded the disapproval of her father to go ahead and marry the patriot James Monroe, is generally credited with saving the life of Madame de Lafayette. The wife of the French hero of the American Revolution was incarcerated as a result of her aristocratic heritage during the Reign of Terror and about to be guillotined, as had been her grandmother, mother and sister before her. At the time, Monroe was the ambassador to France, but was unable to officially intercede. Elizabeth Monroe, not bound by diplomatic constraints, acted on her own and publicly went to visit Mme. Lafayette in prison, promising to return each day. Not wanting an appearance of conflict with America, the French authorities released Mme. Lafayette the next day.

When Monroe became president, did the American public appreciate his wife? They did not, as Kaplan reported. She was far too elegant and aristocratic for American tastes.

Tyler’s wife, Julia Gardiner, born on Gardiner’s Island, was known a bit infamously as the “rose of Long Island” and was called “madam presidentress,” the term “first lady” not having been coined until much later. Gardiner was Tyler’s second wife, and she attracted a lot of attention by being the first to marry a sitting president and for being 30 years younger than him. Tyler’s eldest daughter was five years older than her stepmother.

And so the stories unfolded, Kaplan keeping her audience totally engaged for well over an hour. Martin Van Buren, the first president to be born after American independence, and the only president to speak English as a second language, married his childhood sweetheart, Hannah Hoes. She spoke Dutch at home with her husband and was his first cousin once removed. Millard Fillmore married Abigail Powers, a schoolteacher. Both were upstate New Yorkers.

Grover Cleveland, who served two terms, but not consecutively, married Frances Folsom, a woman 22 years younger. A bachelor when he entered office, he married the daughter of a close friend. He had looked after her as executor of his friend, Oscar Folsom’s, estate and simply waited until she was old enough before they married. At 21, Frances was the youngest first lady, and she was well-liked. She is appreciated for having started kindergarten in schools.

The other first ladies are well known to us. Eleanor Roosevelt is credited as the most influential and active first lady in our history. The longest-serving first lady, as wife of four-term president Franklin Roosevelt, she went on to a public life of her own. Jackie Kennedy became an American idol and is known for her cultural efforts and redecorating the White House. Barbara Bush, with her forthright style, her constant loyalty and support of her family, and refusal to dye her hair when her husband became president, was always a more popular figure than he. And Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s second wife, was a diminutive and elegant first lady whose life was dedicated to protecting her husband after the assassination attempt that wounded him and his press secretary.

They are fascinating women and we can claim them as our own.

Fighter Chris Weidman shakes hands with state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci. File photo

Discussion of mixed martial arts elicits a wide range of opinions, though very soon one thing will be indisputable: it will be legal in New York.

The state Assembly passed a bill on March 22 that will lift a near 20-year ban on the sport with a 114 to 26 vote, almost two months after the state Senate approved the measure. New York is the only state in the country where it is illegal to take part in a mixed martial arts event.

The bill will become law after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs off, though he has expressed support in the past. Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) was one of the 26 who voted against the bill.

“The legalization of mixed martial arts fighting in New York is the perfect example of what former Sen. Patrick Moynihan would characterize as ‘defining deviancy down’ and normalizing a dangerous blood sport in the name of economic development,” Fitzpatrick said in a press release. “This is not the economic development our state needs. I am concerned about the health of fighters and what message normalizing and lauding violence sends to our children and families. Just because 49 other states do it doesn’t make it right for New York. Legalizing MMA is the wrong move for our state.”

Assemblyman Chad A. Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) cosponsored the bill.

“I am thrilled that the Assembly has finally passed legislation to bring this highly skilled sport to the arenas and venues across New York State,” Lupinacci said in a press release. “There are many fighters native to New York who have been forced to leave the state to pursue their dream of competing professionally. Legalization will allow them to stay in their hometowns and compete in front of their families and friends.”

Reactions to the vote reverberated across the MMA community.

“I truly appreciate the New York State Assembly as a whole to finally get this bill passed,” Baldwin native and active Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Chris Weidman said in an email through his media contact. UFC is the premier MMA governing body in the world.

“Along with the UFC, I campaigned very hard to get this done and made sure the people of New York were educated about mixed martial arts and how important it is for the sport to be regulated in our state,” Weidman added. “The people of New York have spoken and I think in the very near future I will be able to showcase my craft and my hard work to the people of New York. I’m sure the UFC has big plans for the first UFC event in New York in history. I have no idea what they’ve got in the works, but I think an event at Madison Square Garden has to happen. I would love nothing more than to defend my title on my home turf in that arena.”

North Shore native and United States Marine Corps veteran Devin Mollberg, who has trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing as a pastime since his return from service in Afghanistan in 2014, offered his perspective on the decision. Mollberg, 28, has said he hopes to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.

“It’s about time,” Mollberg said in an interview. “It’s a great thing for all N.Y. fighters and definitely a positive thing for the state. It should have happened a long time ago but now there is nothing but good things to come from here.”

The decision will generate 525 permanent jobs and about $70 million in annual spending, according to Lupinacci’s release. Assemblymen Andy Raia (R-East Northport) and Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) both voted in favor of the bill.

Left to right, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Sen. John Flanagan discuss the plan. Photo from Cuomo’s office

Keeping the state’s drinking water clean and safe is a subject anyone can get behind, and New York lawmakers across both major parties did just that.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a series of aggressive water quality initiatives last week in the company of elected officials representing the North Shore in an attempt to better protect public health and the environment. His proposals received great praise from both Democrats and Republicans as a common-sense way to keep New York’s water clean.

“Every New Yorker has a fundamental right to clean and safe drinking water,” Cuomo said. “Water is a priceless resource that requires the highest levels of protection, and I am proud to continue this administration’s legacy of standing up for the environment. We are taking aggressive and proactive steps to ensure clean and healthy communities throughout the state — both for current residents and for generations to come.”

Joining Cuomo at a Stony Brook University discussion on the state’s newest water initiatives were Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and more. At that discussion, Cuomo pitched his statewide water quality rapid response team, which he said would work to identify and develop plans to address critical drinking water contamination concerns as well as groundwater and surface water contamination problems.

“It’s imperative that we all work together at the local, state and federal levels to protect the public health,” Bellone said. “The actions that Governor Cuomo has announced today are demonstrating unequivocally that New York is taking proactive measures to not just meet that standard, but to really raise the bar on the protection of water quality.”

Cuomo said the rapid response team would be working to develop a comprehensive action plan to immediately address water quality issues raised by municipalities and concerned citizens, taking on matters ranging from currently regulated contaminants like lead, to emerging contaminants, like perfluorooctanoic acid. It was a plan that his fellow lawmakers said was easy to get behind.

“We are blessed in New York State and on Long Island to have the availability of high-quality drinking water, but we also have a responsibility to protect it,” Flanagan said. “At the end of the day, nothing is more important to New Yorkers and their families than the air they breathe and the water they drink.”

The team will also review and incorporate the best available science and may include new review standards for currently unregulated contaminants, enhanced testing and oversight of drinking water systems, including private wells, and state-of-the-art drinking water treatment options.

“Creating an agenda to safeguard the quality of Long Island’s water source is great news — not only for the health of New Yorkers — but for the environment as well,” Englebright said. “Governor Cuomo’s work to ensure that every New Yorker has access to safe, clean drinking water is a testament to his commitment to statewide public health. The implementation of a water quality rapid response team is a proactive way to protect the environment from harmful water contamination and keep New Yorkers’ drinking water clean and safe.”

The discussion over drinking water came in the weeks following a horrific drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where officials have been scrambling to combat unsafe and potentially life-threatening water contaminations.

The governor also proposed regulations to be imposed on mulch-processing facilities to safeguard natural resources. Cuomo said the Department of Environmental Conservation would propose for public comment draft regulations for mulch facilities to increase oversight and provide enhanced safeguards. The proposed regulations would require facilities to establish water runoff management plans to protect groundwater and place restrictions on pile size and storage to reduce the risk of fires, odor and dust.

By Elana Glowatz

Suffolk County is entering obscure territory this year as some sex offenders drop off the state registry and others have lost restrictions on where they can live.

Laura Ahearn has advocated for local governments to have the power to regulate where registered sex offenders live. File photo
Laura Ahearn has advocated for local governments to have the power to regulate where registered sex offenders live. File photo

It was exactly one year ago that the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that local laws restricting where sex offenders could live were invalid, following a lawsuit from a registered offender from Nassau County who challenged his own government’s rule that prohibited him from living within 1,000 feet from a school. Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. wrote in his decision that “a local government’s police power is not absolute” and is pre-empted by state law.

State regulations already prohibit certain sex offenders who are on parole or probation from living within 1,000 feet of a school or other child care facility, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, but the local laws went further. In Suffolk County, Chapter 745 made it illegal for all registered sex offenders — not just those on parole or probation — to live within a quarter mile of schools, day care centers, playgrounds or their victims. But following Pigott’s decision, that law, while still technically on the books, is no longer enforceable.

To make matters more complicated, Jan. 1 marked the beginning of the end for some of the lowest level sex offenders on the state registry.

Offenders are grouped into one of three levels based on their perceived risk of committing another sex crime. On the lowest rung, Level 1 offenders who have not received special designations for being violent, being repeat offenders or having a “mental abnormality or personality disorder” that makes the person “likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses,” according to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, are only included on the registry for 20 years from their conviction. The New York State correction law enacting that system has just turned 20 years old, meaning the earliest offenders added to the registry are beginning to drop off.

The Sex Offender Registration Act obligates Level 2 and Level 3 offenders, as well as those with the additional designations, to remain on the registry for life, although there is a provision under which certain Level 2 offenders can appeal to be removed after a period of 30 years.

At a recent civic association meeting in Port Jefferson Station, Laura Ahearn from the advocacy group Parents for Megan’s Law — which raises awareness about sex crime issues and monitors offenders — gave examples of offenders set to come off the registry this year, including a man who raped a 4-year-old girl, and another who raped and sodomized a woman.

But it doesn’t stop there.

“It is thousands over time that are going to drop off,” Ahearn said.

A database search of Level 1 offenders along the North Shore of Suffolk County turned up many offenders who had been convicted of statutory rape or possession of child pornography, and who had served little to no time in jail. However, there were more serious offenses as well.

“You know when an adult man or an adult woman rapes a 4-year-old, that is just shocking. That [should be] a lifetime registration.”
— Laura Ahearn

Some of the undesignated Level 1 offenders who were convicted shortly after the Sex Offender Registration Act was created include a Smithtown man, now 43, convicted of first-degree sexual abuse against a 19-year-old; a 61-year-old Rocky Point man who sexually abused a 12-year-old girl more than once; a Huntington man, now 40, who sexually abused an 11-year-old; and a Rocky Point man convicted of incest with a 17-year-old.

Ahearn’s group has argued that sex offenders are more likely to reoffend as time goes on. According to Parents for Megan’s Law, recidivism rates are estimated to be 14 percent after five years and 27 percent after 20 years.

One midnight in January, Suffolk County police arrested a 48-year-old man, later discovered to be a registered Level 1 sex offender, in Fort Salonga after the suspect was allegedly caught undressed inside a vehicle with a 14-year-old boy. Police reported at the time that the two arranged the meeting over a cellphone application and there had been sexual contact.

The man had been convicted of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old girl in 2003 and was sentenced to six years of probation. His new charges included criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child.

“So it makes no sense logically” to let Level 1 offenders drop off the registry after 20 years, Ahearn said in Port Jefferson Station. She has advocated for the terms to be extended or to have offenders appeal to be removed from the registry, like Level 2 offenders can after 30 years, so it can be decided on a case-by-case basis.

It’s a “you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of thing, because you know when an adult man or an adult woman rapes a 4-year-old, that is just shocking,” she said. “That [should be] a lifetime registration.”

Even if the offenders remain on the registry, the court ruling that struck down restrictions on where most offenders can live has made matters trickier.

Ahearn said the fact that multiple layers of local government had enacted restrictions contributed to the situation.

“What happened is it got out of control,” she said.

County and town laws previously restricted sex offenders from living near schools and playgrounds. File photo
County and town laws previously restricted sex offenders from living near schools and playgrounds. File photo

Below the Suffolk County level, for example, the Town of Brookhaven had its own restrictions that prohibited offenders from living within a quarter mile of schools, playgrounds or parks.

There are bills floating around the state government that would tighten restrictions on where certain sex offenders could live, but the only one that has gained traction is a bill state Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) sponsored, along with state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), that would return to local governments the power to regulate where offenders can reside.

“Local laws designed to protect children against registered sex offenders are enacted in response to unique conditions and concerns of specific communities and should act in complement with existing state law,” the bill’s summary read.

Although the bill passed the Senate last year, it died in the Assembly. But Venditto reintroduced his proposal this year.

For more information about sex offender laws or to search for sex offenders in a specific neighborhood, visit the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services at www.criminaljustice.ny.gov or the Parents for Megan’s Law group at www.parentsformeganslaw.org.

State Sen. John Flanagan. File photo

Lawmakers are stepping up in the fight against synthetic drugs, and one North Shore official said it was a major milestone in a personal initiative to combat abuse.

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) joined with Senate Majority Coalition leaders and the Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) to help pass a package of bills that aims to prevent the abuse of deadly synthetic drugs. In a statement, Flanagan said the drugs have become more prevalent across Long Island because their effects are similar to other known hallucinogens or narcotics. But their chemical structures, Flanagan said, are slightly altered, making it more difficult to restrict them.

“The spread of synthetic drugs is affecting every community and will continue to destroy lives unless more preventive action is taken,” Flanagan said. “For five years, I have sponsored legislation that has passed the Senate on numerous occasions so that we can hold criminals accountable for the creation of new and dangerous drugs that evade our current laws. It is past time for the Assembly to join us and help put an end to synthetic drugs today.”

If the Senate bill passes, the state would zero in on the sale of the synthetic drugs known as K2, Alpha-PVP and others similar to them, by creating criminal penalties for possession and sale. The Department of Health would have to maintain an electronic database of known synthetic cannabinoids, listing their compounds, a description of products and their street names, lawmakers said. The legislation would also amend the Controlled Substances Act to add analogous drugs, Flanagan said.

With support from the Senate Majority Coalition and Klein, who heads the Independent Democratic Conference, lawmakers released a report called “The State of Synthetics: A Review of the Synthetic Cannabinoid Drug Problem in New York and Solutions on Ending the Epidemic” earlier this year. The report found that New York taxpayers fronted roughly $22.7 million to respond to what Flanagan called a public health crisis in 2015.

“We must KO K2 from upstate to downstate, and the Senate will send a strong message that synthetic drugs will not be tolerated in our state,” Klein said. “My analog bill will ensure that New York keeps ahead of the chemists’ curve and will ban chemicals that mimic controlled substances as they are tweaked, so the law can no longer be subverted. Now, the Assembly must take action to protect the citizens of New York State.”

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In an attempt to promote transparency, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics recently proposed requiring public relations consultants to register as lobbyists if they are trying to influence editorial writers.

That would mean any public relations professionals who contacts a reporter or editorial board in an attempt to get the media to advance their client’s message would be considered to be delivering a lobbying message.

Several New York public relations firms and New York Press Association members immediately spoke out against this proposal, and we side with them and share their concerns.

To force anyone to report to the government before they speak to a reporter seems dangerous, and almost medieval. It treads on freedom of speech if the government is effectively regulating newspaper content, and interfering with a newsroom staff’s ability to independently and objectively judge its sources on its own. On top of that, it is an example of government butting its nose into what are largely privately owned companies — a place it has no business giving orders.

On the surface, it seems as though JCOPE is paying the press a compliment, saying the news media are so valuable that it wants to help preserve the public watchdog’s objectivity. But, in an ironic twist, within the same stroke it would be compromising the independence of the Fourth Estate by controlling its sources.

Freedom of the press is one of the rights America was built upon and relies upon to this day, and this move would tramp on the media’s liberty to print the issues and concerns of the public without needing permission from the government. One of the main jobs of a reporter is to evaluate whether a source is credible and whether a story is newsworthy. Let’s keep this task out of the hands of the government and in the hands of the people who make these decisions every day.

As a newspaper that takes pride in serving the community before anyone else, we stand against this proposal to restrict our communication and we hope you will too.

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The Rinx in Port Jefferson is a favorite spot for Suffolk County hockey fans. Photo by Alex Petroski

Through 45 games, the New York Islanders sit in second place in the National Hockey League’s Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the New York Rangers. On the ice, the first half of their inaugural season in Brooklyn has looked similar to the past few years for the Islanders — they look like a playoff team with the potential to make a run at the Stanley Cup in the spring.

Off the ice is a different view: With 25 of the team’s 41 regular season home games in the books, the Islanders are 28th out of the NHL’s 30 teams in average attendance, drawing a little more than 13,000 people per game, according to approximate figures reported by media outlets, including ESPN.

The league does not confirm official attendance statistics until the end of the season, but reported that the Islanders drew more than 15,000 fans on average during their final run at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, in the 2014-15 hockey season.

The trip from Smithtown to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where the Barclays Center is located, takes more than an hour and a half by car. Taking the train from the Long Island Rail Road’s Smithtown train station takes about two and a half hours, including a change at Jamaica Station.

In an unofficial TBR Newspapers poll of Islanders fans from Suffolk County, most people said they had not yet been to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch the Islanders this year.

Ron Carlson, a Port Jefferson resident and former village recreation director who had season tickets to the Coliseum for about 10 years, said the trip is too far by car and “I’m not a train person.” He has not been to a home game yet this season.

Erin Morano, of Shoreham, who regularly used to take her family of five to games in Nassau, hasn’t been to a game in 2015-16 either.

“It’s not as convenient,” Morano said. “Parking is tough and expensive in Brooklyn.”

Brittney Skarulis, of Smithtown, used to attend Islander games as a fan and an employee, but not so far in Brooklyn.

“It’s too far to go and the traffic is terrible,” Skarulis said. “I was a guest Islander ice girl when the games were in Nassau Coliseum. It was more convenient to go there than the Barclays Center.”

Some parents, like Ken Hayes from East Setauket, said it’s hard to bring their kids to game due to the long ride home — when games begin at 7 p.m. and end anywhere between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., they would get home too late.

Hayes went to his first game in Brooklyn in January. He said that it was fairly quiet for a hockey game.

Distance, lack of convenience, lack of parking and expense of the travel were the most common explanations for those who haven’t yet taken in a game this season. No one had a bad thing to say about the brand of hockey that the Islanders are putting on the ice. With a young core of talented players, the team is trending in the right direction. But fans from Suffolk County are not there to witness it as frequently in 2015 and 2016.

Stock photo

Comsewogue kids are going to get another view of their education system.

“Beyond Measure,” a documentary by director Vicki Abeles about “America’s troubled education system,” will be screened on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, in an event hosted by TASK, Comsewogue High School’s student government. The film is a follow-up to Abeles’ 2010 documentary “Race to Nowhere,” which provided a close-up look at the pressures placed on young students in America.

“In Beyond Measure, we find a revolution brewing in public schools across the country,” according to a description on the film’s official website. “From rural Kentucky to New York City, schools that are breaking away from an outmoded, test-driven education are shaping a new vision for our classrooms.”

Comsewogue school district and its superintendent, Joe Rella, have been at the forefront of the battle against the Common Core and standardized testing, standing out as one of the strongest voices on Long Island and in New York State. In addition to appearing at local protests, the district even went as far last year as considering a proposal to refuse to administer state exams unless the state delivered more education aid and reduced the weight of student test scores on teacher and administration evaluations.

The description of “Beyond Measure” on the documentary’s website echoes some sentiments expressed by educators and parents who oppose the Common Core and state testing.

“We’re told that in order to fix what’s broken, we need to narrow our curricula, standardize our classrooms, and find new ways to measure students and teachers,” it says. “But what if these ‘fixes’ are making our schools worse? In ‘Beyond Measure,’ we set out to challenge the assumptions of our current education story.”

Screenings of the film have taken place across the United States over the past year, with more scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

“I am thrilled that our high school students are actively playing a role in exploring education policy, and look forward to their insight,” school board member Ali Gordon said in an email. “I believe that the issue of standardized testing is central to the debate about the direction of public education all over the nation, not just here. Education policies created at the federal and state level focus heavily on data collected from standardized testing, which has resulted in a huge shift away from student-centered learning.”

Tickets to attend the screening of the film at Comsewogue High School are $10 and are available online or at the door prior to the event.

For more information about the film, visit www.beyondmeasurefilm.com.

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