Tags Posts tagged with "Politics"


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Hi, Mr. President. Sir? If I could have a word with you? Please don’t walk away. I don’t plan on insulting you and I promise not to talk about your hair. Full disclosure: I disagree with some of the things you’ve said and done, but I like to believe that you’re trying to help the country the best way you know how.

I’m here to talk to you about this parade idea. I know you want the military branches to march in front of you, with their shiny weapons, impressive tanks and their beautiful uniforms. They have an extremely difficult job. They protect freedom and democracy, risk their lives, go where they are told, and live by a set of rules that are more challenging than the ones most of the rest of us follow.

They deserve an enormous parade.

But, wait, why stop at a single parade? Once we’ve celebrated the military, couldn’t we have a new parade every day the way that incredibly successful American company, Disney, does? Or if that’s too much, a parade of the month?

How about a parade for valedictorians and salutatorians? You could invite the top high school students to Washington to celebrate the top achievers in high school. Let’s give a few of them a chance to make speeches, to share their stories of success and to encourage others to work hard.

Let’s also celebrate scientists. Mr. President, I write about scientists every week for this newspaper and, I have to tell you, these people are inspirational. They are not just men and women from all over the world in white lab coats. They are passionate about pushing the frontier of knowledge. They are committed to curing diseases, to improving technology and to answering questions that previous
generations could only address through philosophy.

Have you been to the National Synchrotron Light Source II at Brookhaven National Laboratory? That facility, which cost close to a billion dollars, is awesome. It can see inside batteries as they operate, it can help understand catalysts as they are functioning, and it can help understand ways to pull dangerous particles out of the air.

Why should Sweden get all the fun when it comes to top science awards, like the Nobel Prize? How about if the United States develops its own set of science awards? You could name them the Trump Triumph as a way to celebrate science.

What about teachers? Surely a nation as incredible as ours should have a parade for its finest teachers, right? These people ignite the passion for discovery, encourage focus and discipline, and serve as valuable role models.

You could find some of the best teachers in each state, fly them to Washington, have them march in a parade and then get together to exchange ideas. Imagine how much better the best teachers would be if they met other accomplished educators from around the country in D.C.? They could create educational exchanges for their students, giving them a chance to connect with other students from out of their state.

How about corporate America? Let’s celebrate the companies that not only make the most money — which helps their stockholders and communities — but also that hire the most people. Let’s thank the CEOs who put Americans to work each year.

What about all the talented young musicians, singers and performers in the country? At the end of the
parade, they could sing a song or hold a performance that would raise money for enrichment programs.

After the military, let’s work our way through Main Street, celebrating American effort and achievement. Mr. President, you are definitely on to something great with the idea for a parade. Let’s celebrate America and encourage future effort and achievement with a plethora of parades.

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As I write this column, Tuesday, I am thinking of the State of the Union address that President Trump is scheduled to give to Congress and the nation in the evening. What does each of us think about the state of the union at this time? Do we know enough about what’s happening in the country to offer a credible picture in this first month of the year 2018?

We know we have problems. Big problems, if you follow the newscasts. We have a Congress that people seem to agree is “broken,” and a president without precedent. We have an economy that is the largest in the world, yet our citizens are divided into those enjoying its fruits and the rest who have been left behind. We have a remarkable health care system that is not accessible for everyone. Our schools are uneven in their teaching, especially in subjects like math and science. We have to deal with racism, bigotry, sexism, ageism and lots of other “isms,” as well as gun violence, drugs, gangs, North Korea, Russia, the Taliban, you name them. It’s enough to addle the mind.

Then I think of the other side of the story, the story of what America means to me. When my grandchildren have their children, they will be sixth generation Americans. We are deeply rooted here in our country but not so much that we have forgotten how we got here and especially why we came. My father’s family arrived in the second half of the 19th century from Riga, the capital city of Latvia set on the Baltic Sea. We don’t know much about them except they were dairy farmers, and they managed to buy property and continue with that life after they landed and settled in Connecticut and upstate New York. My dad, the middle child of nine, left the farm for the big city when he was 14, got a job at the bottom of the ladder in a hardware store, lived in a boarding house in Brooklyn near his older brother, worked hard and for long hours, saved his pennies and ultimately started several hardware stores on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was about then that I came along, the middle child of three.

We know more about my mother’s side of the family. Her uncle, her mother’s brother, left the army in the Ukraine after a perilous stint at the beginning of the 20th century. He joined his uncle in Corona, Queens, who taught him how to use a sewing machine in a clothing factory. He realized he could earn more if he owned a machine and could hire himself out to the highest bidder, then understood he could do better still if he owned the factory. His four children all graduated from college, his daughters became teachers and his son served as a judge in the District and Criminal Courts of Suffolk County.

My mother’s grandparents and parents, alarmed at the unrest in their homeland in the first decade of the 20th century, followed the family chain, established themselves financially in New York City, and saw to it that their offspring were educated so that they might further contribute to society and share in its benefits.

This is the American Dream. This is the route that countless individuals and families followed for 400 years to reach their goals amid the freedom and security of the United States, Has that dream been achieved by everyone here in America? Certainly not, and the situations where people are chained to the past or even the present are heartbreaking. The national goal is to bring the American Dream to all living within our borders.

Except for Native Americans, we all started out as immigrants, foreigners in a foreign land, and those who came voluntarily — along with those who didn’t — aspired for more. Some came with more skills and resources, some with less. Some had supportive family networks, some arrived alone.

The American siren song still exists. The formula does work. I see it realized by people locally every day. For all the cynicism and the partisanship, whatever the shortcomings and injustices, this is still America.

On the day of the State of the Union, this is what America means to me.

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Feels odd to write 2018, doesn’t it? No more Christmas celebrations, no more vacation days, no more New Year’s parties, we’re back to the real world. And what a real world it is. The North Koreans have a button. We have a bigger button that works. Meanwhile both leaders have strange haircuts. Primarily young people are rioting throughout Iran as the rulers threaten a violent crackdown. The Palestinians don’t want to hear from the president of the United States as a result of his stand on Jerusalem, yet even as they protest they are willing to continue receiving U.S. aid dollars. The war in Afghanistan, our longest war, slogs on, with no end in sight. Brutality, death, starvation and proxy wars rage throughout the Middle East and northern Africa.

By contrast, here in America, more people line up to sue Harvey Weinstein for sexual harassment or worse each day. Icons fall, Democrats and Republicans squabble, Republicans and Republicans squabble, governors and accountants strategize how to navigate the new tax laws, and we in Suffolk County are warned to hunker down in the face of a fierce and imminent nor’easter bringing tons of snow.

Enough already! Here’s what I say to all of that. Let’s focus on the things we have some hope of controlling and stand by to help with the rest. What do we actually control? We can start with ourselves.

On the threshold of this new year, we can pay more attention to our health. Everyone quite rightly wishes friends and family “a healthy and happy New Year.” Good things start with good health. Wishing won’t make it happen. Action will.

Most important, to me, along with lots of health professionals, is enough sleep of good quality. This strengthens the immune system, cognitive function and minimizes wrinkles — well, the first two anyway. Yet despite the research and repeated urgings in the media, data reveals that most Americans are sleep deprived. With so much to do each day, it is too easy to cut down sleep time. That might work for a day or two, but research shows that it is not possible to make up for lost hours in the long term. So don’t use your computer just before you go to bed, don’t even watch TV. Something about the light from those home essentials interferes with the urge to sleep.

Try to go to bed more or less the same time each night and wake up the same time each morning. Habit is a great helper. And if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night with the many chores you have for the next day ping-ponging around inside your head, put the bedside light on, make a to-do list with a pencil on a pad you have ready next to your bed, then turn off the light, and having discharged your memory, you can fall back to sleep until morning.

Another good thing to do is to eat foods with lots of fiber. “A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber’s benefits extends beyond any particular ailment,” according to a recent science article by Carl Zimmer in The New York Times. 

People who eat more fiber simply have lower odds of dying. Somehow fiber is able to reduce inflammation in the body. Long-term inflammation can cause harm, although short-term inflammation does fight infection. How fiber works is a bit of a mystery because it is not directly digestible. There is a connection between fiber and the billions of bacteria that live in our guts. In essence, we feed our microbes fiber to enable them to strengthen our immune systems. Take it on faith and don’t ask me more.

One issue that is, of course, most distressing to me is that of fake news. Be assured, please, that whatever you might read in out hometown papers and on our well-read website, is fact and as true as we know it to be. If we err, we will correct.

Let’s keep in mind the old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. It may be a negative for some, but for journalists, it provides jobs.

A screenshot of Huntington Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci's transition team website Dec. 6.

The Town of Huntington’s first major change of leadership in more than 20 years is getting underway.

Huntington’s Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) announced the launch of the New Direction Transition Team website Nov. 30, for individuals interested in applying for town personnel openings during the transition period.

“In an attempt to keep the hiring process transparent and evaluate all options in personnel matters, I have launched the New Direction Transition Team website,” Lupinacci said in a press statement.

The website, www.Chad2017.com, was inspired by similar ones constructed by recent presidential administrations and Nassau County Executive-elect Laura Curran (D), according to spokesman Brian Finnegan. Those interested may submit a cover letter and resume, then select from more than 15 town departments for which they are interested in working. There are no plans at this time to list specific job openings or descriptions, according to Finnegan. Applicants will not be asked for their political party affiliation.

“Regardless of party affiliation, the supervisor-elect plans on vetting and considering all qualified candidates based on merit,” Finnegan said. “He takes great pride in the fact he’s worked beneath several bipartisan administrations.”

At the town’s unveiling of Huntington Station community center plans Nov. 25, Lupinacci spoke about how his first public service position was working as a laborer under former town Highway Supervisor William Naughton (D). He left the town to become a communications liaison for late Republican State Assemblyman Jim Conte, who represented the 10th district for 24 years. Lupinacci was elected to his first political office in 2012, when he took over Conte’s vacated seat.

“Now, no matter your party affiliation or vote at the ballot box, is the time to work together, get things done, check politics at the door and put people first,” reads Lupinacci’s transition website.

The state assemblyman defeated Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) receiving nearly 54 percent of the votes. He takes office Jan. 1 from resigning Supervisor Frank Petrone (D).

Lupinacci’s move back to town government will leave an open state assembly seat for 10th district residents, which spans from Lloyd Harbor south along state Route 108/Plainview Road to SUNY Farmingdale State College, and as far east as Elwood. It is unclear who will take his place as Lupinacci’s term doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2018.

“Shortly after the first of the year we will have a screening process to interview potential candidates to fill that seat,” said Toni Tepe, chairwoman of the Huntington Republican Committee.

Under New York State Senate law pertaining to public officers, “A special election shall not be held … to fill a vacancy in the office of state senator or in the office of member of assembly, unless the vacancy occurs before the first day of April of the last year of the term of office. … If a special election to fill an office shall not be held as required by law, the office shall be filled at the next general election.”

Tepe said the decision on whether or not a special election will be held to fill Lupinacci’s state office will ultimately be made by state Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

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Do we need tax cuts?

Lots of people agree that our current tax rules are outdated, cumbersome and unfair. On the other hand, there will never be total unanimity on how the tax code should read because one person’s tax cut is another’s tax increase, and for sure no one wants to lose whatever benefits they already have. So the prospect of changes is only palatable as a campaign promise if there would be an overall greater good that everyone recognizes. Such a benefit was proposed during the 2016 campaign as a way to recharge the slow economy. And the conversation has continued from there.

But hold on. The circumstances have changed. Our economy is no longer sluggish. In fact, it seems to have taken off. And, unusually, the economies around the globe appear to have also done so, almost in unison. This rare good news bodes well for the United States and others around the world.

So, back to my original question: Why do we need a tax cut?

If the answer is, for political reasons, that stinks. Just because politicians promised to cut taxes, a regular pledge to get votes, is not good enough to shake the ground on which we live. If the answer is to reallocate wealth, that has never been the role of our capitalist democracy. If the answer is to make more equal the lives of the haves and the have-nots going forward, then simply raise the taxes on the haves in proportion to how much they have benefited from our same capitalist society. And finally, if the answer is to raise revenue in order to reduce our unprecedented national debt, then raise taxes across the board proportionately on everyone who enjoys the services provided by life in these United States.

Sometimes one can get too close to a problem and not see the bigger picture. There is a saying that goes: Are we doing things right—or are we doing the right things? To check on whether we are doing things right, we have to engage in the details, the nitty-gritty of the process. In the case of tax reform, we have to hammer out every line to the greater satisfaction of all concerned. But to decide if we are on the right track, that is, if we are doing the right things, we have to stand back and examine the whole picture. Has the situation changed, perhaps rectified itself, or do we still have to help matters along?

I suggest the latter and I’ll explain why.

Businesses, which will reap three-quarters of the tax proposals over the next 10 years as currently presented, are already, for the most part, doing just fine. That is why the stock market keeps hitting new highs. The prices of the stocks are earnings driven, and the companies we can publicly track via the markets are showing record profits. Why do they need more stimulus? To expand and create more jobs, which is a political mantra? More likely companies will reinvest the additional profits in job-saving equipment, which is the way trends are already leaning. If the government wants to create more jobs, it should help create more businesses, which it could do by offering tax breaks to start-up companies. But that doesn’t require broad tax overhaul. That would just take one change. Mr. President, pick up the pen. Furthermore, to encourage companies to add more workers, offer incentives specifically pegged toward those additional salaries, not tax breaks that can simply result in higher profits in the misguided hope of higher tax revenues.

The initial tax proposals include eliminating deductions for large medical expenses; student loan interest; alimony; tax preparation costs; moving to a new job expenses; casualty, disaster and theft losses; and qualified adoption fees, according to CNBC. Are those the changes we want for our society?

What ultimate goal can we all get behind, and do we get there with tax cuts?

I’m going to start with a headline relationship that would make Niccolò Machiavelli proud and work my way toward life on Main Street. You remember Machiavelli? That’s the author who wrote “The Prince,” which was first published way back in 1532, about how to manipulate people to survive and use any means available.

Wait, please don’t go. There won’t be a test and that’s the last date I’ll put in this column. Promise.

So, I’m thinking about relationships because of the new and improved dynamic between President Donald Trump and his Best Friend for Now — BFN, anyone? — Sen. Mitch McConnell. After a few tough losses, the Republican leaders seemed testy in their exchanges.

No, no, they said earlier this week, that wasn’t so. They are buddies and they agree on everything. Well, almost everything. According to sources, the senior senator also wants two scoops of ice cream when he visits the White House, but the commander in chief has no intention of changing his ice cream policies, even for his BFN.

Anyway, what brought these two older white men together? Did they talk about what it’s like to be misunderstood? Were they eager to find a friend in Washington, D.C., and did neither of them want to get a dog, as the expression goes?

No, they came together because they need to. It’s so much easier, they decided, to agree and to work together than to disagree. That sounds reasonable, but what would Machiavelli think? I suspect he’d be thrilled. After all, it’s about surviving, learning to fight another day and moving the chess pieces of life around on the board. Fortunately, and I won’t put the date in here because I don’t want to break my promise, chess was invented before “The Prince” was published. If you want to find it, you can look it up on the internet, which is the source of all information and misinformation in the universe. So, Machiavelli would have known about chess and the need to sacrifice the short-term humiliation of needing anyone and the mutually assured long-term gain of having allies in Washington.

OK, so let’s step away from the seat of our democracy and go out into the real world. Why do the rest of us need relationships and what can they do for us?

Are we like ants and bees, who need each other for specialized jobs?

Yes and no. Certainly, I would have a hard time building my own house. I feel as if I have an incompetence allergy to the words “some assembly required.” I am also visual-arts deficient. People offer all kinds of false modesty, saying things like, “I used to ski a little” or “I used to do a bit of singing,” when they almost made the Olympic team and were a few auditions short of starring next to Julie Andrews on Broadway. I, however, am not being modest. If I were responsible for building walls and decorating them, we’d be living in caves and would be staring at uninspiring chalk drawings of woolly mammoths.

So, yes, our individual deficiencies suggest we do need each other. But, maybe, we benefit not just what we get from others.

One of my good friends is in a new relationship. He has always been in decent physical shape. He’s not much of a reader and has shied away from even the shortest of reading assignments. Anyway, he’s dating a woman who is a regular runner and an avid reader. Lo and behold, he recently beamed after completing a half marathon and is happily building his own personal library.

Maybe the best and longest lasting relationships are those that push us to find the best in ourselves. It’s not exactly Machiavelli 101 and it doesn’t require a press conference, but maybe the right relationships are those that help us develop in unexpected ways.

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The Word Play Masters Invitational is based on the Washington Post’s Style Invitational column, in which readers are invited to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Past winners include:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an a–hole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

5. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

10. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s, like, a serious bummer.

11. Decafalon (n): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

12. Glibido: All talk and no action.

13. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

14. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

15. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at 3 a.m. and cannot be cast out.

16. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

The winners of another competition seeking alternative meanings for common words are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Journalists need to embrace Detective Sgt. Joe Friday’s line from “Dragnet,” “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Caught up in intense public passions, journalists can either throw their opinions at the inflamed cacophony or they can seize an opportunity to do something that has escaped most politicians: Represent broader interests.

We live in a world of spin, where claims and counterclaims come out so rapidly that reality has become a blur. The challenges in sifting through fact and fiction have increased as officials of all stripes shout their truths from the rooftops, even if they have an obstructed view of the world down below.

When I was in journalism school more than two decades ago, a good friend from Bulgaria, who was one of the few people who could pronounce my name correctly when she read it in my mailbox, shared her writing with me.

I noticed a flaw in the way she recorded dialogue. The quotes in her story often lacked the syntax and vocabulary that native English speakers possess. When I asked if she only spoke with other Bulgarians, she playfully punched my shoulder and said she needed to hear better.

That was an unintentional consequence of the way someone who spoke three languages translated the world.

The chasm today between what people say and what others hear, even those who speak the same language, has gotten wider. Editors and reporters return to their desks or take out their laptops, ready to share quotes, events and facts.

These fellow members of the media may find themselves seeing what they want to see, much like the parent of an athlete on a field or a coach who has become an advocate or cheerleader. In editorials, where we’re clearly sharing an opinion, that works, but in news reports we should share the facts, offer context — and increase the value of fact-based reporting.

With facts under regular assault, the search for them, and the ability to verify them, becomes even more important.

A divided nation needs balanced, fair, accurate and defensible reporting. In their publications, scientists share materials and methods sections, which should allow other researchers to conduct the same experiments and, presumably, find the same results. Far too often, opinions disguised as news urge people to trust the writer. Why? Readers should be able to pull together the same raw materials and decide for themselves.

I know government officials don’t always deal in facts. I also know numbers can be repackaged to suit an agenda, turning any conclusion into a specious mix of farce and mental acrobatics. To wit, he’s the best left-handed hitter every Tuesday there’s a full moon below the Mason-Dixon line. Just because it’s presented as a fact doesn’t mean we have to report it or even mock it. If it’s meaningless, then leave it alone. The argument that other journalists are doing it doesn’t make it acceptable.

Several years ago, someone called to berate me for what he considered errors in my story. Rather than shout him down, I gave him the chance to offer his perspective. Eventually he calmed down and we had a measured, detailed discussion. This became the first of numerous conversations and interactions in which he provided important perspectives and shared details I might not otherwise have known.

Reporters face a public acutely aware of its own anger. Almost by definition in a country where the two major political parties struggle to find common ground, some group of readers disagrees with our coverage. We shouldn’t try to please everyone. In fact, we should try to please no one — we should merely work harder. It’s time to allow facts to speak for themselves.

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These days, with the chaos in politics, it is no wonder that many people are showing a renewed interest in our history and the goals of our Founding Fathers some 240 years ago that define who we want to be today. Many residents seem surprised by the significant role our Long Island area played in the Revolutionary War and are delighted to learn about the Culper Spy Ring that was centered in Setauket and led by Benjamin Tallmadge, a resident. “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” the AMC cable series now in its fourth and final year, has done much to popularize the spy story, speaking to our past.

All of which serves to bring history to the fore. This is a good result because history is part of the glue that defines a community and strengthens its roots. Since we at the newspaper believe this, we run regular columns by local historians telling our history, and we have now just finished a full-length film, “One Life to Give,” as I have previously mentioned, about how the Culper Spy Ring started. Its premiere is scheduled for Sept. 17.

Now there is more good news to make us proud of the place in which we live. In a refreshing show of bipartisanship, two of our congressmen, Democrat Tom Suozzi of Glen Cove and Lee Zeldin, Republican of Shirley, have introduced legislation in the House to bestow upon the George Washington Spy Trail national historic status.

The spy trail is essentially Route 25A, the road that was used by the spies during the war to travel behind enemy lines between Long Island and New York City, gaining vital intelligence about the British and their troop movements and strategy. Long Island was an occupied territory, the breadbasket of food and supplies for the British, who were headquartered in New York City. All along the trail’s about 50-mile route was the high-wire danger for the spies of being discovered and hung. Indeed, the British trapped Nathan Hale, whose purported last words were about his one regret being that he had but one life to give for his country.

Washington well knew the enormous debt he owed to the spies, and to honor them he traveled in an elegant coach along the 25A route after the war in slow, celebratory fashion from Great Neck to Port Jefferson — then known as Drowned Meadow — staying at the inn owned by one of the spies, Austin Roe of Setauket.

But at that time the purpose of his trip was known only to the tiny band of spies. Spies were then thought of as lowly deceivers by the people and not at all cloaked in the glamour of James Bond.

So these courageous, remarkable men — and women, like Anna Strong — took their secret to their graves for fear of being ostracized by their countrymen. And Washington kept their secret. Only in the middle of the last century were papers discovered by historians that revealed the bravery of the Culper Spies. Today, there are original letters written by Washington to the spies, with an addition on one by Benjamin Tallmadge, that can be viewed at the library of Stony Brook University. They were bought by Old Field resident Henry Laufer and donated to the university for that purpose.

The spy trail is the result of an intense effort over some 20 years by Gloria Rocchio of Stony Brook and the North Shore Promotion Alliance to bring awareness of this historic road and its role in American history. A total of 26 signs, which they secured and installed, depict Washington’s coach and line his route.

A national historic designation, under the auspices of the National Park Service, would not only honor these heroes but also perhaps bring federal grant money, and not insignificantly promote tourism to help our economy.

So the Culper Spies live on and continue to serve.

Carrie Chapman Catt, center, in white, leads a group of suffragists in a New York City parade staged in the fall of 1917 to gain support for woman suffrage. Photo from League of Women Voters website

In an increasingly polarized and heated political climate, a historic, nonpartisan, multi-issue grassroots organization is doing its best to remain focused on important matters. Representatives from the League of Women Voters of Brookhaven, a local “league” or chapter of a nationwide organization, discussed their mission amid today’s politics during a May interview.

Belle Sherwin, center, wearing plaid coat and hat with feather, and other women members walk down from jury panel to hear civil and commercial cases in Cleveland, Ohio, court in February 1923. Photo from LWV website

The League of Women Voters of the United States was formed after the 19th Amendment was passed, with the purpose of informing women about the issues by studying both sides of each question and coming to an agreement on what they would support. The Shoreham-Wading River League was started in 1934 and others in South Brookhaven and North Brookhaven were formed in 1949. Shoreham-Wading River and North Brookhaven merged in 1960, then the North and South Brookhaven Leagues merged in 1979, to form the present-day League of Women Voters of Brookhaven. The various leagues do not endorse any candidates running for office but instead select several important issues to local voters and carefully establish league positions on them. They also monitor government activities on all levels in the hopes of presenting facts to the public.

“We don’t ask what party you’re with, we don’t ask your nationality, we’re very careful to be in support of issues and we don’t discuss candidates or parties or anything like that,” Joan Nickeson, a three-year member of the Brookhaven League said.

Issues on the league’s agenda for the current year include a desire to reform campaign finance, defending the environment, reforming immigration policy to establish a path to citizenship, ensuring access to affordable health care for all Americans and many more. The agenda for the National League is established from the ground up, with local leagues brainstorming important issues and positions on those issues.

The Brookhaven League, which currently has 67 members — including two men — has public board meetings once a month, 10 months per year. There are also two yearly public meetings, one in the spring and one in the fall, to discuss issues and establish positions. The league also produces and distributes pamphlets with lists of elected officials in all levels of government, helps people register to vote and overall strives to inform voters above all else.

Nancy Marr the current president of the Brookhaven league and a member of the various Suffolk County versions since 1954 said the goal is to examine both sides of issues before taking a stance. However, Marr said she could see the league getting slightly bolder in their positions should they ever see fit.

“When you look at some of those suffragette pictures, they’re really out there in costume,” Marr said of the enthusiasm of those around when the league was first created. “I would think the league would do that if we really wanted to support say climate change.”

A League of Women Voters march in the 1920s. Photo from League of Women Voters website

League member Jean Baker said the current political discourse has made it difficult at times to remain neutral and adhere to the league’s principles.

“It’s tricky because sometimes you have to hold your tongue and keep your cool when people are saying things you think are crazy and not thoughtful,” Baker said.

Nickeson reiterated that there are other grassroots activist organizations out there for people interested in creating controversy or boldly attacking or endorsing specific candidates. The league plans to remain a steady, guiding example of issue-first political conversation.

“I think we’re so concerned about our integrity,” Nickeson said.

To learn more about the League of Women Voters of Brookhaven or to become a member visit www.lwv.org/local-league/lwv-brookhaven/.