Authors Posts by


Photo by Raymond Janis

Community support vital to Gilgo Beach arrest

As I am sure you have by now seen or heard that after 13 years the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office was finally able to bring an indictment against Rex Heuermann for three of the Gilgo Beach serial murders, and we expect the fourth to be resolved soon by the grand jury.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. File photo from Tierney’s office

Our work is continuing until all of the murders are fully investigated.

During my campaign, I had promised the families of these victims that I would make my best efforts to solve these cases. After taking office in January 2022, we set up a task force.

I appointed three assistant district attorneys, plus my chief ADA, my chief investigator, four detective investigators and a team of analysts to work daily in collaboration with the Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

We met weekly to review developments and strategize. Six weeks after the first task force meeting, Heuermann was identified as a suspect, and over the next 16 months, we gathered evidence using more than 300 subpoenas and search warrants until we had the evidence we needed to make an arrest.

Your support led directly to solving these serial killings.

Your support allows me to get the important work of the district attorney’s office done day in and day out. Without your support, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and this significant case would likely not have been solved.

Thank you again for your help — and expect more good things to come.

Ray Tierney (R)

Suffolk County District Attorney

Editor’s note: One is innocent until proven guilty. While it is with great relief that we seem to be moving toward justice, we are decidedly not there yet. All involved in this enormous effort are to be commended for their efforts to bring about justice, but we must wait for the final verdict before we convict in the court of public opinion.

Clarifying recent village treasurer appointment

It was disconcerting and disheartening that The Port Times Record, the official newspaper for the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson, first published incorrect information regarding what transpired at a recent Village Board of Trustees meeting, and then “corrected” that record in a way that cultivated negativity instead of noting a true positive outcome.

A majority of the board ultimately acted in concert, and voted to approve the appointment of Donald Pearce as treasurer following an executive session. While the executive session discussion is privileged, please note that I have invited the Office of the New York State Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability to conduct a comprehensive review and audit of our villagewide operations.

This is a “gold standard” of review and accountability undertaken by many new mayors which will be objective and fair, will provide a clear path for our village to move forward properly in terms of process and procedure, and will reestablish clear-cut guidelines for the highest level of fiscal responsibility. I have undertaken this initiative to ensure that the village government is the most efficient and responsible entity that it can possibly be for the benefit of our deserving residents.

To that end, please remember that a treasurer takes an oath of office, as do members of the Board of Trustees. Our decisions are ours alone and they have a significant impact. Accountability is paramount, and I believe that our new treasurer will bring that accountability and service to the residents of Port Jefferson, which is why I am so grateful that he has agreed to return to his roots and once again serve the Village of Port Jefferson.

We look forward to a new, positive, forward-thinking relationship with our partners at The Port Times Record, to encourage free and open dialogue and the dissemination of factual information — another tangible benefit to our valued residents.

Lauren Sheprow

Mayor, Village of Port Jefferson

Sherwood-Jayne animals are part of our community and family

My name is JenniferJane Cortes and I am a Three Village resident. My husband and I along with our two young children purchased a house here eight years ago. 

My dream has been to buy a farm ever since leaving our family farm in New Jersey 20 years ago. When we were looking in the Three Village area, we happened to be driving down Old Post Road coming from Port Jefferson. I remember the day well.

We came upon a beautiful farm with sheep in the pasture. There were also goats and a pony, but my eyes were fixed on the sheep. I asked my husband to please slow down so I could just “be” with them for a moment.

As we drove by, I said to myself and then my husband that if we can’t find a small farm for ourselves, then we must find a house on this street. About a week later and many more drives past the farm, we found a house within a 2-minute walk.

“Look no further,” I said. “We have found our house near the farm and animals.”

We visit with the animals so often that they feel like they are part of our family. My children know their names and call them over. We have grown quite attached to Snowball.

This farm and the animals mean so much to our small family and also to this community. Their caretaker, Susanna [Gatz], does an amazing job caring for them and the property. It is such a joy to see someone enjoying them and caring for them on a daily basis.

To see them moved would be absolutely devastating. 

I am praying that the animals and Susanna get to remain one of the best parts of residing on Old Post Road.

JenniferJane Cortes

East Setauket

Removing Sherwood-Jayne animals is callous

In the late 1980s, my mom and I walked daily from our house on Old Post Road to Play Groups School, where I attended preschool. We always stopped to greet the animals at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, often packing apple slices or carrots for Chester, the brown horse, who waited by the street for his morning treat from a delighted toddler.

I am currently pregnant with my first child and temporarily living back on Old Post Road, where I once again visit with the animals on my daily walk, and I am devastated that my son will not be able to stroll down the street with his grandparents to visit the “unicorn,” aka Snowball, or attend the Sheep Shearing Festival. No matter where in the world I have lived, greeting the animals at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm has been a part of my homecoming ritual and I am saddened to learn that Preservation Long Island has made the callous decision to relocate them. 

Contrary to [PLI executive director] Alexandra Wolfe’s statement in your article [“Animals to leave Sherwood-Jayne Farm,” July 27], I would argue that the animals are the only thing connecting the community with the property. The bucolic scene of grazing animals helps visitors envision the historical significance of the house and farm, which otherwise offers very little community programming. Many more passersby pause to marvel at the majestic Snowball than at the house itself. How can you have a historically significant farm without animals?

Wolfe states that liability is a concern. I am curious how frequently PLI has issues with trespassers into the pasture and how realistic that concern is. She also states that she is bothered by concerned animal lovers who call PLI because they are worried about the geriatric pony’s health. This could be fixed inexpensively by erecting an informational sign explaining Snowball’s age and ailments, perhaps including a QR Code to donate to the animal’s upkeep and care.

While Wolfe does not state this, I presume the true limiting factor in maintaining the animals, under the loving care of Susanna Gatz, is the cost. PLI should be transparent and invite the community to tackle this challenge. How much, exactly, would it cost to maintain the animals on this property for the duration of their lifespan? Plenty of animal lovers, myself included, would gladly contribute to Snowball & Friends being allowed to live their lives in a familiar and safe environment.

Lia Harper

East Setauket

Water, water, not everywhere

Now that we’re coming to our senses and starting to realize the importance of the water below us, I’d like to share my epiphany. 

A professor told me about his annual trip to Kenya. He visited a rural village that had no electricity, toilets or local source of water. The older children had the responsibility to fetch water for their families.

He accompanied the barefoot children and noticed that they walked through human feces on the way to the community well, which was but a crude pit … a few feet across and a few feet deep, with a dark puddle at the bottom.

He handed me a photo, saying, “Notice that the children are standing in the water. The very water that the family will be drinking.” I thought, although uneducated and poor, didn’t these people have the good sense to not poison their own well?

Aren’t we all born with an innate sense to not do harm to our life-sustaining water? How could the elders not instruct the children to carefully avoid stepping in it when going to the well or to somehow clean their feet before standing in the water?

Then, an afterthought: Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing to our precious gift … our aquifer? We pour insecticides and herbicides on lawns. We broadcast chemical fertilizer to make greens greener. We flush unused antibiotics down toilets. Our cesspools seep human waste down into our aquifer.

With soiled feet, we stand in our own well.

Bruce Stasiuk


Legislatures are failing us

Congress adjourning and leaving Washington for the traditional August recess to return to their districts is actually great news.  

Our civil and economic liberties are continually at risk when any legislative body — be it the New York City Council, New York State Legislature or U.S. Congress and so on — is in session.  

Elected officials on a bipartisan basis routinely pass legislation to increase spending, taxes, borrowing and deficits. They also pass bills benefiting their “pay-for-play” contributors, funding pork-barrel member items along with new rules and regulations infringing on our day-to-day lives.  

When Congress is not working, members can’t cause mischief and grief for the rest of us. I wish they would stay home even longer.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Denying Suffolk voters input is undemocratic

Newsday, yet again, reports that our water quality in Suffolk is hitting an all-time low.

When many of us moved to Suffolk after the establishment of the Suffolk County Legislature in 1970 — to be more representative after 200 years of the Board of Supervisors — the Legislature took a lead in protecting our land and water.

We were proud of its ability to “work across the aisle” for the good of our county community. We were proud to have a government that put the well-being of people and our treasured island ahead of any hint of partisan politics. 

The case has been made over and over again that septic discharge is the culprit. Now there is a major proposed funding mechanism to make it all work — a sales tax increase of 0.125% to generate an estimated $3.1 billion through 2060 to expand sewers and offer grants to homeowners for new septic systems. It’s the culmination of a 10-year campaign and part of a referendum authorized by the state Legislature in April to be placed on the ballot as early as November. This mechanism is IR1573. 

The county Legislature’s decision to table IR1573 and remove it from Suffolk voter input is undemocratic and suggests their underlying distrust of voters to educate themselves when the referendum would be voted on in November. Objections to details of IR1573 should not be the issue now. 

Arguments that we have enough money to make a difference in water quality are beside the point. Work is already in progress — for 10 years — and there can always be more money allocated if we have fiscal windfall. We need to do much more, and only allowing voters to take personal responsibility and decide on the $0.125 increase to the sales tax is the first step. 

The science is clear, our economy is paying the price, our children’s health is at stake.

Last week, both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Suffolk County executive supported putting the referendum on the ballot. If they can agree, why can’t the Legislature? 

The League of Women Voters’ mission is making democracy work through informed and active participation in government. Let the voters decide, not individual politicians in an election year.

Lisa Scott, President 

League of Women Voters of Suffolk County

Republican majority is failing its homework

Ironically, in the very same week we learned that the water quality in Suffolk’s waterways is at an all-time low, the Republican-led county Legislature effectively turned down billions of dollars in time-sensitive state and federal grants that would have paid for the needed interventions to clean our waters. 

They blocked residents the opportunity to vote on a .125%  tax increase, essentially 12 cents per $100 that would have funded the expansion of sewer projects and updated septic systems leaking nitrogen into our waters, the culprit of our poor water quality. The tax funds collected were to be matched by New York State and would have allowed us to access the grant funds. These monies will not be waiting for Suffolk County in a lockbox until this can be revisited next year. The waters which deteriorate in quality with every passing day have also now become much more expensive for us to clean thanks to the actions of the legislature. 

In a recent letter [“Voters deserve legislators who do their homework,” July 20], Legislator Stephanie Bontempi [R-Centerport] asserted that the legislators are keeping the water quality referendum off the ballot this November because they want to “do their homework” before bringing the initiative to the people. Anyone with knowledge of the water quality project knows that this plan, which has wide bipartisan support, has been years in the making with ample opportunity to raise concerns, propose changes and “do their homework” rather than waiting until the 11th hour. It was in  fact the legislators’ responsibility to do their homework long before they claimed they needed time for further exploration. Interestingly, the Presiding Officer [Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst)] had given every indication that the Republican caucus would be supporting including the referendum on the ballot on Election Day.

Reversing course now with contrived concerns shows utter disregard for the bipartisan group of policymakers, scientists and legislators who have been dedicated to this work along with every credible environmentalist group who implored the legislature to move forward with the referendum. 

Either they did not do their due diligence when they should have or are concerned that having water quality on the ballot will risk bringing out voters who might not be voting for them. In any case, their decision has effectively lost the county a window of opportunity to affordably address one of the greatest environmental challenges faced by Suffolk County. They have failed “their homework” and have failed the people of Suffolk County.

Eve Meltzer-Krief


Democratic candidate, Suffolk County Legislature LD18

Intervention on water quality is long overdue

Contrary to what County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi [R-Centerport] claims, the environmental record of the Republican majority does not “speak for itself.” [Letter, “Voters deserve legislators who do their homework,” TBR News Media editions, July 20.]

What does speak volumes is unanimously blocking voters from deciding for themselves in a general election whether the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act, 10 years in the making, should be implemented. All Suffolk state legislators from both parties support it. Ditto Suffolk congressmen. And ditto both candidates for Suffolk County executive.

Legislator Bontempi refers to “a false sense of urgency.” Last summer and this summer, there have been record fish kills, algal blooms and other water quality impairments. According to the Gobler Laboratory at Stony Brook University, “Excessive nitrogen coming from household sewage that seeps into groundwater and ultimately into bays, harbors and estuaries or, in some cases, is directly discharged into surface waters, is a root cause of these maladies.”

So, should we continue to allow this problem to fester as it has for decades. Or should we finally do something about it? What will it take to give Bontempi a true sense of urgency?

She promises that it’s the “intention” of the Republican majority to “ultimately” allow voters a referendum. Why should we believe this? Excuses for inaction are a dime a dozen. As they say, get it in writing.

In another letter about the same issue, Peter Akras complains about cost [“Proposed sales tax a blank check for developers”]. Implementing this plan would unlock state and federal matching funds. That’s free money for the benefit of Suffolk. He claims our water quality is as good as that of Nassau County. In fact, Suffolk County has more lakes with blue-green algal blooms than any of the 64 counties in New York state. Most water quality impairments in Long Island — brown tides, algal blooms, fish kills, hypoxias — are in Suffolk. 

He also asserts that if homeowners want to install advanced septic systems, the cost should be on them, not “on the public dime.” This is fundamentally wrongheaded. The benefit of installing these systems doesn’t go to the individual homeowner no more than does the benefit of lugging disposed toxic chemicals to a recycling center instead of simply dumping them in the garbage. The benefit goes to the public — to all of us — in the form of cleaning up the environment in which all of us live and finally doing something about the toxic algal blooms and hundreds of thousands of dead fish in our bays and estuaries.

David Friedman

St. James

Let voters decide

Thomas Paine said something like, “A body holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” The majority in the Suffolk County Legislature is blatantly exercising the evils of “legislature-ism,” stealing the residents’ ability to register their vote on their own drinking water and claiming to know more than the voters. 

The Republican majority in the Suffolk Legislature cannot be trusted. What choices will they deny next?

Joan Nickeson


Legislature appropriately nixes sewer tax

Kudos for the Suffolk County Legislature for not enacting another tax — that always increases over time — for sewering the county by closing cesspools and septic tanks in homes and small buildings, while building and expanding sewer plants and laying the large and numerous pipes needed for connections. This is no small change as $2.1 billion is mentioned arising from this initial tax.

 Sewering is the landowners’ and developers’ dream. Lack of sewers prevents them from increasing building height, numbers and density, hence more rent, profits and value. If they could get the Legislature to have the public pay for sewering, they hit the lottery.

Regional sewer plants are concerning. Huntington has one as does Northport, for example. They discharge into the harbor and even with “upgrades,” high nitrogen and other components flow into the harbor and beaches. In stagnant conditions, the water is deoxygenated, fish die and green and brown tides of algae proliferate. Would you swim from a town beach in a harbor with a discharging sewer plant?

But are cesspools contaminating groundwater? They have been used since Roman times and work for single homes and structures. Waste goes into a perforated cement cylinder buried in soil and bacteria digest it. The effluent flows through the dozens of feet of sand and soil and is cleansed before entering the water table.

Sewering may be useful in coastal and near-coastal areas to prevent pollution. The rest of Long Island is doing fine with cesspools and septic tanks, and is quite happy that high-rise offices, housing, commercial structures and density are not blighting their communities.

Mark Sertoff

East Northport

Maryhaven is not just a facade

The July 13 article, “Port Jeff village board cans code changes for Maryhaven,” states that the proposed changes “were an effort by the previous administration to preserve the historic building.” That’s not entirely the case.

While the preservation of the building’s facade was touted as a concern, the proposed code change was, as former village attorney Brian Egan explained, a “proactive” step to clear the path for developers. And because that change in code, from Professional Office to Moderate-Density Residence, would have allowed developers to construct nearly 200 condos — a significant increase in density — it came under strong opposition from the public. 

Many residents urged the board of trustees to consider alternative uses for the property that would not only be in the best interests of the village as a whole, like moving our Fire Department and EMS there, but more in line with the legacy of a building once known as the Center of Hope.

We thank Mayor Lauren Sheprow and the current board of trustees for rejecting this code change and allowing us the opportunity to explore those other options. A building, which for generations was used to help those in need, should be repurposed for something greater than expensive condominiums that would only serve the few at the expense of the many.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen McLane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association

Official newspaper of the Northport-East Northport school district

It is with great pleasure that I notify you that at the Annual Organization Meeting of the Board of Education of the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District, held on Thursday evening, July 13, The Times of Huntington-Northport was designated as the official newspaper for the district publications and legal notices for the 2023-24 school year.

We thank you for your support and extend our best wishes for the new school year.

Beth M. Nystrom

District Clerk

Official newspaper of the Village of Belle Terre

At the Organizational Meeting of the Board of Trustees held on July 18, The Port Times Record was designated as the official newspaper for the Village of Belle Terre for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024.

Louise Smit

Deputy Village Clerk-Treasurer

Suffolk County Legislature neglecting wastewater infrastructure

The Suffolk County Legislature failed to take action on June 21 to protect our drinking water and ensure generations to come will have clean, clear water in which to swim. The Legislature recessed the Water Quality Restoration Act (IR 1573) that would have allowed county residents in November to decide whether to approve adding 1/8 of one cent to the sales tax. 

The money would be restricted to replacing cesspools and septic systems, and building and expanding sewers. The lack of effective wastewater infrastructure in Suffolk County is also an obstacle to economic growth and holds down property values in many downtown business districts.

To dispose of our wastewater, we rely on limited sewers and on 209,000 septic systems in environmentally sensitive areas, including near our shores, that are not designed to remove nitrogen. The nitrogen seeps through the soil and pollutes our bays and drinking water. We must fix the sewage problem to reduce the nitrogen in the water.

Some legislators have said they voted to recess the proposal because they believed that too little money would go toward sewers. To address that concern, Deputy Suffolk County Executive Peter Scully said at the hearing that “the combination of funds from the 1/8 cent sales tax and another fund, the Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund (ASRF), would provide $2.1 billion for sewer construction through 2060 so that the overall amount would be roughly divided in half between the sewers and septic systems.” 

Furthermore, the county’s Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan, which has been vetted for 10 years, makes clear that it is too expensive to connect everyone to sewers, and that we must recharge water back into our aquifers to maintain our supply of drinking water. Sewage plants discharge wastewater into the ocean. Legislative opponents offered no scientific evidence that the plan was deficient.

Now, unless the Legislature changes its mind very soon, residents face the probability of more years passing with little action and the loss of state funding while our waters remain impure. It took hard-fought state-enabling legislation to give Suffolk voters a chance to decide. The process was “brutal” and took two years of intensive effort, according to testimony by Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Pure water to drink and swim in — isn’t that what we all want? Pass the resolution and let the voters decide. It is the democratic way.

Stephanie Quarles, Director, Chair of Issues & Advocacy

Frances Cerra Whittelsey, Director

League of Women Voters of Huntington

Demolishing Maryhaven would be obscene

There appears to be a lot of interest in the Maryhaven Center of Hope property.

There is a desperate need for persons on the autism spectrum. Their families, in many cases, can no longer care for them in a safe and appropriate way. Maryhaven served individuals with developmental disabilities. 

This facility is here — now. 

It would appear obscene in our present environment of climate challenges to destroy this property.

Eileen Wrenn

Port Jefferson Station

Lithium battery storage facility not welcome near Comsewogue schools

To the Brookhaven Town Board,

I just received notice of a planned lithium battery storage facility, in Coram, east of New York State Route 112, southeast of Sterling Woods condominium community, also in close proximity to several other private homes which are in the Comsewogue School District. The notice I received was written on March 6 of this year but not mailed until June 30.

In addition to several homes there are, in close proximity to this requested lithium battery storage facility, two automobile repair facilities, a firearms facility and a gas station, all with extremely volatile and explosive items stored on their properties. How is adding a large volume of even more dangerous lithium batteries to this mix good for the residents of this area?

It is my understanding this type of storage has been blocked in Yaphank, home of the Brookhaven landfill. If it is too dangerous for the town dump, why would it be safe in the Comsewogue School District?

I urge you to reject this application as unsafe, irresponsible, and in opposition to those who are trying to prevent this misuse of our communities such as what happened at the Lawrence Aviation Industries Superfund site.

Francis G. Gibbons Sr.


Old, stale and yet I vote

Congratulations, Mayor Lauren Sheprow. In addition, thank you former Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden for your service and contributions.

I look forward to transparency and change that I know Mayor Sheprow will work on and succeed. What really concerns me and motivated me to write this letter is the disgusting way some villagers treat each other.

When I read some villagers are labeled as “old and stale,” I wondered in what world is “ageism” acceptable? I guess ignorance has no boundaries. Many people bring wisdom and experience to the table. We should remember what President Ronald Reagan [R] said about ageism: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” 

If that was not unusual, how about the suggestion anyone owning a four-bedroom colonial should move out and allow a young family to move in. If you are interested in the context of these comments and others, do a historical review of village-connected social media pages. Please respect each other. You are better than that.

While neither my husband nor I have ancestry that dates back to the Mayflower, we are 47-year residents and have worked hard to serve Port Jefferson. I served on the school board for six years and five as its president. Then went on to serve 11 years as a trustee on the LIPA Board doing my very best for Post Jefferson. We together kept booster clubs and sports programs alive during the Mount Sinai pullout and more. I love this village.

Suzette C. Smookler

Port Jefferson


We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected] or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

Thank you, TBR

After reading the story in the June 22 edition informing the community about the Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown, I would like to share as a volunteer — both as a puppy raiser and presently breeder-caretaker — the joys and fulfillment over the years of seeing first-hand people helped by assistance and service dogs.

The Guide Dog Foundation truly helps people “live life without boundaries.” After seeing its flier stating so in a local supermarket, all staff members in various departments helped me through my different roles of training and preparing these special dogs in lives of service. As a volunteer, I have always been treated with courtesy and appreciation in visits, contacts and calls.

Thank you TBR News Media for publishing in detail the mission I am myself living each day, which is close to my heart.

Anna Fisco-Aubree


Port Jeff needed change

One must sympathize with Mr. William Snaden’s “broken heart” considering his wife’s loss to Mayor Lauren Sheprow’s remarkable win through a write-in ballot [Letter, “My heart is breaking for Port Jeff,” The Port Times Record, June 29]. 

Mr. Snaden cannot bring himself to understand his wife’s loss in terms of her apparent efforts on behalf of the Village of Port Jefferson. What he fails to recognize is that the people of Port Jefferson needed a change from the same old approach to problems that were pursued by the Garant-Snaden administration. 

Let us face the future with fresh ideas and with the guidance of Mayor Lauren Sheprow. I anticipate that the Village of Port Jefferson will rally in supporting Lauren and her new administration.

Herb Herman

Port Jefferson


We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected] or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

File photo by Raymond Janis


We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected] or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

Democracy at work

The proudest day of my life was when my parents and I took the oath to become citizens of the United States. I was 8 years old. 

As a Russian emigrant, my father applied for and received a Tolstoy grant, which sponsored our family’s journey to America. They arrived on these shores with a baby, a box of books and dreams for a brighter future.

This election season in Port Jefferson brought back the feeling of pride I experienced at becoming a citizen of this great nation.

I went to meet-and-greets for all the candidates and attended the debates. I observed as people of varied and even opposing political leanings coalesced around the candidate they thought best represented their vision for our village. I participated in putting up signs, knocking on doors and engaging in spirited discourse with my neighbors.

This was democracy at work, and it renewed my faith in the American spirit. All of us were motivated by the love we have for this beautiful harborfront village we call home and a desire to help steer it toward a better tomorrow.

I, for one, am honored to help us paddle.

Xena Ugrinsky

Port Jefferson

Personal attacks are not helpful

I’m deeply disappointed with the editor’s decision to print a letter that seeks to contrast me with the wonderful couple who own Kai Li Kitchen in East Setauket [subjects in our “American Dream” series, May 25]. 

This letter continues a false narrative that aims to distinguish between good and bad immigrants, painting me as a complaining socialist who doesn’t work hard. That is an unfair and unsubstantiated personal attack. I am an immigrant to this country, the first of my family to grow up and attend college here. I have been an educator for almost a quarter of a century in public and higher education. I am an advocate for a range of issues as both a volunteer and in my paid professional work. 

As a citizen of this country, I have my First Amendment rights, and I use them eloquently and fully with no apology. I love this country deeply, so deeply that I am willing to do the work of improving it. It is why I have advocated for economic, environmental, social and racial justice at all levels of government. What [letter writer] Mr. Graziano calls “complaining,” I call the work of citizenship. The progress that happens in this nation has occurred because of people who would not accept the status quo as the final product.

As someone who has written in this paper for years, I’m disappointed to see the decline in quality in recent months. It seems that the editors of TBR News Media have turned the letters-to-the-editor page into a venue where personal attacks on residents are fair game. Residents and subscribers deserve better from local journalism than this.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

My heart is breaking for Port Jeff

It’s a sad day in the Village of Port Jefferson today. The election is over and to the surprise of many, Kathianne Snaden did not get enough of her supporters out to vote for her. This paper called the results an “upset.”

The reason I feel compelled to write is many residents don’t realize that as a result of the vote, Kathianne is now off the Board of Trustees completely, as her term expires in a short few days. What a huge loss for this village. Four years of village government knowledge and proven results are literally out the window now. You may not fully know all Kathianne did and was responsible for, which we have now lost. And after you read this you should be “upset” as well.

As our commissioner of public safety and liaison to code, Kathianne worked with the Suffolk County Police Department and brought increased enforcement and specialized SCPD units here to Port Jeff that other villages don’t get and in doing so lowered crime numbers in the village drastically. That relationship is gone now.

As liaison to parking, Kathianne worked to build the first new parking lot in 40 years in Port Jeff to address our chronic parking problems.

Kathianne worked tirelessly to beautify this village, creating parks, cleaning up dilapidated overgrown areas and instead creating small pocket parks and green spaces. The flowers you see in this village are a direct result of Kathianne’s efforts, saving you money instead of paying a gardener to do this. That eye for keeping the village sharp looking is now gone.

As commissioner of building and planning, Kathianne worked to streamline that department and helped create housing solutions that could bring more families into the village — benefiting our schools and businesses alike. Gone.

Speaking of families, we have lost the only Board of Trustees member that has kids in the school district. Kathianne worked with the district to create a positive relationship where both the schools and the village benefited as well as every one of your kids. Parents: Kathianne was your pro-schools voice in village government. That voice is gone now, leaving louder voices intent on trying to close the schools.

The loss to this village is immense. My heart breaks for this village and for my wife. She’s being prevented from doing what she loves to do and what she excels at: Making a difference in the daily lives of all Port Jeff residents.

William Snaden

Port Jefferson


We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected] or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

Credit where credit is due

We would like to thank the staff at The Port Times Record for their June 15 editorial [“Election Day is only the beginning”], in which they acknowledged some of the contributions the Port Jefferson Civic Association has made.

There was one item, however, that was incorrectly attributed to us: the formation of a tree committee.

While our membership fully supports the preservation of our village tree canopy, and several PJCA members volunteered to staff the committee, the primary credit for developing it belongs to Village of Port Jefferson trustee Rebecca Kassay.

PJCA member Kelly DeVine initially brought the idea to trustee Kassay, who followed up on it with extensive research on tree-related efforts in various villages within New York state and beyond. She discovered many municipalities have dedicated committees to assist staff and board members in managing a village’s canopy.

Trustee Kassay further consulted with chairs and founders of other tree committees to gather insights and information. These findings were presented to Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, who expressed support for the creation and development of the Port Jefferson Village Tree Committee.

We just wanted to make sure to give credit where credit is due.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen McLane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association

American dreams for some, not all

What a beautiful story in The Village Times Herald May 25 [“American Dream” series] on page A7 about the Huangs legal journey from China to the United States and how they worked hard and sent money home to bring other family members here.

Their hard work, sacrifice and ultimate success at their Kai Li Kitchen in East Setauket is a true American Dream story. I have many Chinese friends who did the same, as well as my four Italian grandparents. 

It’s too bad that the May 25 letter by Shoshana Hershkowitz [“Words matter in immigration dialogue”] could not have been on page A8. What a dichotomy. Almost every week she is complaining about something in this country. She belongs to Citizen Action of New York (website:, that is, progressives like AOC, Warren and Sanders. They bash Republicans, Conservatives and corporations. The problem with socialism is that it needs capitalism to survive. Thus, the ironic hypocrisy.

There is a legal way to become a citizen and an illegal way to play the system. The new “messaging” from the “left” is that “everyone” entering the country illegally is an asylum seeker (see Newsday, June 19). According to Ms. Hershkowitz’s statement, “Asylum seekers are fleeing their countries because of climate change, poverty and political violence.” If that’s true, the whole world can move here. We have the same issues: climate change, antifa (who the left were silent about as the group destroyed federal buildings and businesses in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington), Proud Boys and millions of our own citizens who live in poverty.

So when these “illegal asylum seekers” arrive we are supposed to just let them in, while the people who are legally emigrating from their countries wait to gain citizenship and get penalized by following the law? And I suppose it’s OK for the citizens in Texas, Arizona and California to bear the brunt of the huge, intentional failure at the border by Biden, Harris and Mayorkas. 

According to the House Committee on Homeland Security, as of Jan. 23 there have been over 4.5 million encounters at the Southwest border in addition to over 1.2 million “gotaways.” When the illegal immigrants were sent to Martha’s Vineyard, I don’t recall the vice president commenting on their next-day overnight extradition to mainland Massachusetts by the NIMBYs. 

The hypocrisy of these elites and socialists is obvious. It’s all about future voters and power at the expense of the citizens of this country. 

To the Huangs and Kai Li Kitchen (Chinese translation, “triumphant victory forever”), well done.

Rocky Graziano


Two points of view

As an avid reader of the letters section of your paper, I felt compelled to write about the recent exchange of views on the issue of language and the words we use to describe the immigrants who are coming to the United States.

I know both writers personally and know them to be good people who are community-minded and who have worked to make our Three Villages a better place. I think both made good arguments about the current debate, and considering other points is what the American experiment in democracy requires its citizens to do in the pursuit of consensus.

We all know that our recent political discourse has changed, and not for the better. It seems now that we only want to hear one point of view, and criticize or discredit others whose points of view differ from our own.

Local newspapers play an important role in letting the community know about important issues and the various opinions of the people who live here, and I appreciate that.

We can learn a lot by being open to our differing views and maybe even find better solutions for the problems and challenges that we face as a community.

Thank you TBR News Media and to both writers for sharing your thoughts on a very heated and controversial subject.

George Hoffman


File photo by Raymond Janis

Lawmakers should remember their origins

The editorial supporting immigrants seeking asylum was wonderful [“Immigrants may be coming,” June 8]. We are a nation of immigrants — we all come from somewhere else. My ancestors came from Eastern Europe fleeing persecution and severe poverty. I wonder how many of the Suffolk County legislators who want to keep immigrants out, remember their origins. 

Many of our ancestors underwent severe hardship to come here, none more than the immigrants coming now. All Americans, not only those of us living in border states need to do our share to welcome these people.

Adam Fisher

Port Jefferson Station

Not every migrant is an asylum seeker

The June 8 editorial makes an excellent point … for legal immigration.

The numbers quoted on crime from immigrants, are true … for legal immigrant communities, not from the illegal migrants crossing our southern border unimpeded (and now the northern border as well).

The United Nations defines “asylum seekers” as people looking for protection from political persecution, primarily. However, an important point that the U.N. also stipulates is that asylum needs to be granted from/to contiguous countries, for example the U.S. and Mexico, or the U.S. and Canada. Every migrant entering the U.S. from any country other than Mexico and Canada is entering the country illegally, committing a crime.

Regarding crime among illegal migrants, an estimated 4 million have crossed our southern border since 2020. Four million unverified, often untested for diseases — such as COVID — and in many cases human trafficked into indentured servitude paying off exorbitant fees to the cartels just to reach the border. 

Once crossed, by definition they are criminals. The cartels have operational control of our borders, we are no longer a sovereign country. At last count, migrants from over 47 countries have been detained at the border. How many migrants have died just trying to reach the border? Unknowable. Each year over 100,000 Americans die from fentanyl poisoning, routinely coming across our border. Everyone knows someone who has lost a loved one, everyone.

There’s a significant difference between legal immigrants and illegal migrants. I agree with the editorial regarding the picture it paints, but for legal immigration.

We should address the legal immigration laws in the United States, welcome those that have something to offer the U.S., rather than enrich the cartels, abuse the migrants and further burden the taxpayer.

Rich Fleischman

East Setauket

Brain drain and the housing crisis

In contradiction to the June 1 editorial, “Plug Long Island’s ‘brain drain,’” it is not much of a puzzle how to get more of our youth to stay on Long Island. One need look no further than the housing crisis for causes and solutions.

I recently noticed upcoming property development near Bennetts Road and Route 25A in East Setauket that is exactly the opposite of what is needed to solve a problem everyone says they acknowledge: Four more expensive single-family houses, on 1-acre lots, all within walking distance of the post office, the Greenway, stores and restaurants, an LIRR station and Stony Brook University. If we cannot muster the will to require higher-density housing near transportation hubs and universities, then where?

The problem is hyper-local zoning decisions driven by existing homeowners so wealthy they don’t worry about their kids being priced out of the area, and a tribal political environment that makes it useful to scare homeowners about their property values. But what good are high property values if the brain — and youth — drain hollows out all other areas of life and the local economy?

Since we can’t seem to deal with new development sanely, can we at least make accessory dwelling units (basement and garage apartments, tiny houses, guest cottages) uniformly legal throughout Suffolk County? Even conservatives should support the right of homeowners to use their own property as they see fit. Reasonable limits on minimum lot size, maximum unit square footage, owner occupancy and rental agreement terms can address all the typical concerns.

The benefits of ADUs are myriad, and rapid increases in affordable, small housing have been demonstrated in Connecticut, New Hampshire and California. Homeowners can rent to young professionals to help pay the mortgage. Empty nesters can reside in ADUs while renting out the main house. Middle-aged homeowners can accommodate aging parents or adult children without sacrificing privacy and autonomy. And every occupied ADU takes someone out of the local rental market, lowering price pressures across the board.

ADUs require no tax money or impact studies, adding housing rapidly. Technically, most areas of Suffolk County already allow ADUs and thousands of units already exist, but a patchwork of complex restrictions and daunting permitting discourage homeowners from building new or renting existing units. What is needed is a clear, countywide set of legal policies that provide homeowners with consistency, clarity and certainty.

John Hover

East Setauket

Republicans inflame rather than inform immigration debate

This letter is a response to Charles Tramontana’s recent letter [“Yes, words do matter,” June 8] in answer to mine [“Words matter in immigration dialogue,” May 25]. I’ll reiterate that seeking asylum is legal, and that no human being is an “alien.” I believe that language needs to be based in truth, and must be used deliberately and accurately.

The truth is that Suffolk County is facing a lawsuit for the Republican legislators’ recent political stunt. We will now spend taxpayer dollars on lawsuits, dollars that could go to services and resources residents desperately need in this county. We have no idea how many asylum seekers are coming to the county. No asylum seekers have been relocated to our county to date. This reaffirms that this is a political ploy propagated by local politicians to activate their right-wing base in a low turnout election year. Those fearmongering tactics have long been a part of their well-worn playbook.

Mr. Tramontana’s letter blames recent immigration policy as the cause for this issue. To understand the root causes of immigration, it’s crucial to look beyond the past two years. This is a decades-long issue, going back to the civil unrest in Central America in the early 1970s. In 1986, then-President Ronald Reagan [R] signed a bipartisan bill known as the Reagan Amnesty Act, offering a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

We had the opportunity to again address immigration in 2013 when the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping bipartisan bill with a 68-32 vote, the most comprehensive since the Reagan Amnesty Act. Unfortunately, it was killed by the Tea Party House Republicans. We are still suffering the consequences of that squandered opportunity a decade later. Sadly, I do not believe that today’s House Republican majority has the willingness to solve this problem, which means we will continue to struggle with a lack of solutions due to political posturing and inaction.

Immigration, like many of the issues we’re contending with in this country, is a serious issue that requires leaders who engage in seeking solutions. The Republican members of the Suffolk County Legislature do not possess those qualities, and their rhetoric and actions on this issue inflame rather than inform. We can address this issue in a pragmatic and humane manner, but only if we engage in a good faith effort to do so. And to get there, we must choose our rhetoric carefully and thoughtfully, because words matter.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

FOIL review upholds electoral integrity

In the spirit of the upcoming Port Jefferson Village election, there appears to be some misconception of the election process.

Any candidate has the right to FOIL an opponent’s filed paperwork and question the validity of the petitions. This is not something new, it happens quite often.

I know this from experience since my petitions were reviewed by the Suffolk County Board of Elections when I ran for PJ Village trustee many years ago.

They found that some of the petitioners were not registered voters, and I did not have enough signatures to put me over the required threshold.

This process is in place to uphold the integrity of our elections.

Dominick Parillo

Port Jefferson

Local officials representing us well

Thank you for highlighting our local perspectives. It was a relief to read the astute eloquence of Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn [D-Setauket] on the issue of immigration at the county Legislature. Equally reassuring was the letter by Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich [D-Stony Brook]. We are not lucky — we ensure this caliber of representation exists because we vote.

Joan Nickeson


Snaden is a vote for stability

On Monday, June 5, I ran my last public meeting as mayor of Port Jefferson Village. Over my 14-year tenure, I have run and attended well over 6,700 meetings and spent countless hours serving and representing this great village.

It has truly been my great honor to serve, protect and build our community, stabilizing the tax base, building our reserves now to well over $2 million, while improving our parks, paving our streets and reducing crime (as Suffolk County police reported at our last meeting).

It is hard work, committed work and work that doesn’t result from a crash course. It is work that comes from spending lots of time sitting in the seat, getting to know your partners, revenue streams, who to call and when to call. It takes thick skin, the ability to listen and most of all — the ability to know when it’s time.

I am endorsing Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden to be our next mayor — to be my mayor. Why? Because she is ready – she has trained for five years, is more than capable and she cares and has passion for this community.

I made the decision to retire because I knew my successor was ready, willing and able. You can’t learn this job in under a year — it’s not possible. And for goodness sake, why would we want a neophyte mayor when we can elect Kathianne and keep our trustees in place so they can continue to learn and serve? 

Doing otherwise would be so detrimental to the trajectory of this village — it would wreak havoc and result in a devastating, unstable and inexperienced board creating damage that might be irreparable for years to come. 

A vote for Deputy Mayor Snaden is a vote for stability and to keep your board intact so we can move onward and upward together. Please be responsible and get out to vote on June 20 at the Village Center. After our 14 years together, please help me in this one last request: To vote for Katharine Snaden to protect our beloved Port Jefferson and ensure it remains our very own beautiful destination — for a lifetime or a day.

Margot J. Garant

Mayor, Village of Port Jefferson

Sheprow will shake up status quo

As a lifelong resident and former trustee of Port Jeff, I am enthusiastically supporting Lauren Sheprow for village mayor. 

A vote for the opponent will maintain the status quo at Village Hall. We cannot afford to continue the fiscal and land-use policies of the current administration. 

In 2008, when I was a trustee, a significant and illegal situation in a residential area was brought to the board’s attention. Shockingly, 14 years later, the problem persists. We need a mayor who will be proactive, respond quickly to problems and represent all of us. That person is Lauren Sheprow. 

Sheprow will ensure land-use decisions are made with the advice of village professionals, taking into account the need to preserve the character of our cherished village while revitalizing certain areas. We can and must do better.

Please join me by writing in “Lauren Sheprow” in the write-in space for mayor on the ballot.

Virginia Capon

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee.

Snaden’s commitment to public safety

As someone with a career in law enforcement, I admit to being very impressed by Kathianne Snaden. 

Deputy Mayor Snaden’s ongoing dedication to public safety has truly been something to behold. Even as a new trustee, I often remember seeing her at the Suffolk County Police Department 6th Precinct monthly meetings, engaging with the department, taking notes and advocating for more involvement by SCPD within the village. This was going on since day one of her being an elected official.

 Her involvement with SCPD over the years — both at Village Hall and at the 6th Precinct — still continues to this very day. There have been ever evolving improvements with our own code officers, her many different initiatives such as having code officers on bicycles, code officers meeting every inbound train uptown and working with the schools to allow code officers to be a presence there, again to name a few. 

She is always interacting with the 6th Precinct Whiskey Unit every summer, always being on call and present whenever necessary at any time of day or night. She has even gone on a few ride-alongs to really dig deep and be involved in every aspect of public safety. It’s so refreshing to see.

It is true, the flowers in the village are beautiful. However, what is more beautiful is an elected official who has worked on improving the safety of our village for years since day one. I am confident Kathianne will use this experience and institutional knowledge as our mayor to continue making Port Jeff the best it can be.

Keith Ottendorfer

Port Jefferson

Sheprow will bring change

Experience counts, but wisdom counts more. Networks, contacts and vision count more.

Lauren Sheprow brings to our village a wide range of professional management experience, an extensive network of contacts in the village — including myself, Stony Brook University and beyond, and a tradition of resident enfranchisement. She will also bring integrity.

You will need to write in Lauren’s name on June 20, and you will need to write in exactly as prescribed. This, because your current establishment continues its tradition of unfair dealing; this, because your current establishment throws out petitions on technicalities — instead of saying, “Take this back, you forgot something.”

The opposition response? Getting a little scared? Eliminate the competition. We are seeing character assassination in the form of unsigned attacks.

Do you know your village history? Seems a lot like what happened to Mark Lyon when he was trustee. (Mark had made a negative comment on the Lombardi’s renovation to Port Jefferson Country Club, a last-minute leak that cost him his seat.)

I have a lot to say about Port Jefferson, but I say it in signed letters or in an open public forum.

There is much that is not being done and much that needs to change.

Remember our recent code enforcement scandal? It didn’t have to happen. I warned the board of trustees of this. 

We need to look to our future. We are losing 50% of our power plant revenue but we could lose the other 50% starting in 2027.


It is time to attend to this. Lauren will reach out and bring in people with the networks to address these issues. Conversations with LIPA, PSEG, National Grid and the new public LIPA. Conversations about future technologies — here in Port Jefferson.

LIPA, LIRR, Lawrence Aviation, revenue from solar installation battery storage — here in Port Jefferson. We need to start attending to all of these big issues.

Lauren will bring in the people of Port Jefferson who can make it happen. Lauren will lead.

Bruce Miller 

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee.

Is this your village?

It is changing. Is it changing for the better? Behemoth apartments. A code enforcement group that seems out of control.

I put in much time and effort working with the Grassroots Committee to Repower Port Jefferson. The whole community was involved. What happened to that community effort? It seems like little is happening. It seems like it has all been pulled inside the village. All is secret.

The school district and the community are no longer involved. No efforts are being made for a positive economic future. Are we just awaiting taxes doubling? There are alternative sources of tax revenue but they are not being pursued. Ms. Snaden suggests “experience” in her campaign. Experience in what? Our planning department is just a rubber stamp for developers. Code enforcement?

Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency

This committee is giving your tax dollars and services away to multimillionaire developers. Apartment buildings are not “industrial.” Where are the long-term jobs the IDA was designed to create? The first village development on Texaco Avenue was well through the planning process as a private sector investment. The IDA board was scrambling to throw money at this development and win favor with this developer — and future developers — before time ran out and the plans approved.

Uptown is a mess. But why? We have ordinances to ensure decent commercial housing. Were these ordinances ever enforced? Or were these four blocks allowed to deteriorate to give developers greater leverage for more dense development through more dense zoning? (Speaking of dense zoning: Maryhaven? Really?)

Above-ground parking garages? We are looking more like Queens every year.

What’s your comfort level with our current Village Hall? Let us not be intimidated by one joker with an iPhone. Let’s reopen Village Hall to our villagers.

 Remember, Lauren is for the residents.

Molly Mason

Port Jefferson

AHEPA upholds American ideals

Almost exactly 100 years ago, in the summer of 1922, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association was established.

The organization was formed in response to attacks on Greek immigrants by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist and anti-immigrant groups operating across the country. Although now, several generations later, Greeks are successful and well established in American society, to this day AHEPA remains active and continues to promote the best qualities of Ancient Greek society, including philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, integrity, family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism. 

Always faithful to its history, AHEPA was instrumental in the restoration of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, through which millions of immigrants flowed, often with little more than one or two pieces of hand luggage and a dream.

This past weekend, I was invited by AHEPA and the local Greek-American community to be recognized for public service. To receive an award from an organization of this quality was truly humbling, and I am very thankful to the community for its kindness. 

Reflecting on the history of AHEPA, I was reminded that although Greek immigrants ultimately overcame their challenges, successive groups of immigrants continue to face the same fears, the same attacks and the same bigotry.

People rarely leave their native countries and immigrate to the United States because things are going great for them at home. The choice to leave behind their food, language and culture is a painful decision, never taken lightly, and very often in desperation. 

But Lady Liberty doesn’t just open her arms to the wealthy, the gainfully employed and the highly educated. Her invitation extends to “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me” [Emma Lazarus’ famous 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus”].

Fortunately, throughout history there have been those with compassion and courage who have stood up to defend true American ideals. Our nation is a nation of immigrants, and although immigrants sometimes arrive with empty pockets, they have that hustle which helped build America into the amazing land of opportunity it is today. 

I am so proud to know the good people of AHEPA and my many friends within the Greek community who have been a beacon of moral courage, compassionate leadership and democracy not just for 100 years, but for thousands.

Jonathan Kornreich

Councilmember, Town of Brookhaven

Stony Brook

Carlton “Hub” Edwards: an uplifting story

Congratulations to Rita J. Egan and The Village Times Herald for a wonderfully uplifting story on Carlton “Hub” Edwards [“Veteran Stories” series in Arts & Lifestyles section, also TBR News Media website, May 25]. 

A Korean War veteran, he’s been a knowledgeable, affable, active and patriotic fixture in our community for many, many decades.

One of Ms. Egan’s many interesting highlights features Hub unquestioningly trading his baseball glove and local team jersey for the uniform of our United States Army. What people may not know is he made that switch after being drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, who happened to be one of the top three or four Major League teams in 1951.

The pitcher of three no-hitters simply said, “Uncle Sam took first precedence,” feeling even today that the military can provide much-needed discipline for young people.

Whether it’s been Hub’s work at the American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766, his Bethel AME Church or our Three Village Historical Society, the post’s community liaison Joe Bova summed up things perfectly: “He really felt strongly about what his commitment to people should be and that just transferred over to the community he belongs to.”

Talking to Hub or his lovely wife, Nellie, whether it be at the Memorial Day ceremony or during a Frank Melville Memorial Park concert, is both a treat and an enriching experience. Here’s hoping those who haven’t read the article will now take the opportunity to do so.

Jim Soviero

East Setauket

Yes, words do matter

I found the title to Shoshana Hershkowitz’s recent letter on the immigration debacle taking place quite ironic [“Words matter in immigration dialogue,” May 25]. Let’s examine “words matter” for a moment, shall we? 

I wonder if anyone remembers when people were caught entering our country illegally, they were referred to as illegal aliens. That term was legally accurate, yet deemed offensive to progressives. The acceptable words to describe a person in our country illegally then became undocumented immigrant. 

Now, the words (that matter) have become “asylum seeker.” Asylum is defined as protection granted to a political refugee. It was not intended to bypass the legal immigration process for people that want to enjoy all of the benefits of living in the United States. I think honest people can agree that not everyone coming over our border illegally is a political refugee. 

I fully support legal immigration. No one is above the law in the U.S. Once again, the compassion and goodness of the people of this country is being taken advantage of by progressives that created this unprecedented and unsustainable surge. 

I read that Vice President Kamala Harris [D] was supposed to be figuring out the “root cause” of the surge at our border. I have not seen her give an explanation yet. Could it be progressive policies? For example, in New York, politicians declared a sanctuary state and gave out over $2 billion of taxpayer money to noncitizens through the Excluded Workers Fund. Is that an incentive to come here illegally?

Ms. Hershkowitz quoted Kevin McCaffrey [R-Lindenhurst], presiding officer of the county Legislature, stating, “We don’t know who’s coming over.” Is that not a true and fair statement? Ms. Hershkowitz says asking that question implies that asylum seekers are a danger to us. How extremely disingenuous of her. 

Our leaders cannot ask simple, reasonable questions about who enters our country now? Can Ms. Hershkowitz personally vouch for all of these people? In New York City, the mayor was housing some of these people in public school facilities. Our governor is considering using our taxpayer-funded universities to house these people in our neighborhoods, and our elected officials cannot ask any questions without being labeled xenophobic or accused of demonization? 

Seems like Ms. Hershkowitz’s rhetoric is a bit extreme to me. Does constantly labeling people who you don’t agree with politically as evil or dangerous, just for asking questions, bring us together or divide us?

Words matter … indeed.

Charles Tramontana

East Setauket

Open letter to Assemblyman Ed Flood

Dear Assemblyman,

I urge you to vote for the Birds and Bees Protection Act when it comes before you this week. The bill (A7640/S1856A) will protect honey bees and other pollinators from neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids which are having a devastating impact on bees.

You might not be aware, but the original bill was worked on by Maria Hoffman, my wife and longtime state Assembly staffer and local Setauket beekeeper, in response to the massive die-off of bees caused by these new genetically manufactured nerve agents that are coated on corn and soybean seeds and then spread by contact with bees as they forage for nectar and pollen.

You should also know that the bill is very specific and bans only neonic-coated corn and soy seeds and does allow farmers to use locally applied pesticides if their crops are threatened.

Beyond the partisan wrangling of our elected officials that seem to take up so much of government lately, you should know that your Assembly district has a strong environmental leaning by both Democrat and Republican residents of the district. The Birds and Bees Protection Act has strong support districtwide and your constituents will appreciate your leadership on this important bill.

George Hoffman


Another Birds and Bees plea to Assemblyman Flood 

How disheartening to think the state environmental bill A7640/S1856A, the Birds and Bees Protection Act, that has the bipartisan support of Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine [R] and other local legislators, may not be supported by our new state legislator Assemblyman Ed Flood [R-Port Jefferson]. 

Maria Hoffman, a local Setauket beekeeper who originally helped formulate this bill, was a steadfast advocate for environmental protection and a dear friend who passed away last year. Many in the community knew and respected Maria.

We are very dedicated to protecting our waterways in this district and wholeheartedly support this bill. Its intent is to protect honey bees as well as all other pollinators from neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. 

These nerve agents are coated on corn, soy and other seeds prophylactically to avoid agricultural pests. They are now widely used by large nurseries as well to avoid pests during transport of stock to local stores. 

There is significant opportunity for misapplication by both farmers and homeowners which leads to residue of these toxins in field margins, local waterways and potentially the produce we eat. Integrated pest management, regulated by the EPA, would still permit farmers to treat threatened crops. 

I urge Mr. Flood to respect the strong environmental leaning of both Democrat and Republican residents of his district. These constituents will value leadership in passing this important bill.

Anne Chimelis

East Setauket

Boating safety is necessary

Thanks to TBR News Media for their timely editorial on boating safety [“Safety key to a successful summer,” May 25].

The sobering facts about boating safety should be of concern to everyone who enjoys the water this year. There is little doubt that the use of a personal flotation device, or life jacket, would have contributed to saving a number of lives lost due to drowning.

There are a number of organizations which offer short courses that provide a New York State boating safety certificate or its equivalent, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons — America’s Boating Club.

Just this past spring, the Mount Sinai Yacht Club, in association with the Suffolk County Police Department, ran a boating certificate course for the general public. These courses give you an opportunity to talk to instructors and get all your questions and concerns answered.

The requirement for all operators of a motorized vessel to have a boating safety certificate is being phased in by age. As of Jan. 1, 2025, every operator of a motorized vessel in New York state waters will be required to have a boating safety certificate or its equivalent.

Beverly Tyler

Certified instructor and past commander

Old Field Point Power Squadron

MTA’s continued staffing, safety failures

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority inspector general’s report on excess employee overtime and safety issues is nothing new for Port Jefferson Branch riders.

Every generation of MTA chairmen, agency presidents, board members, finance officers and executive management who manage agency budgets has made the wrong choice. They believed it would be cheaper to pay overtime than hire additional employees, whose critical specialized skills were necessary for maintaining functioning safe and reliable transportation operations.

They thought it would be less expensive by avoiding the costs of training, full-time salary plus fringe benefits, medical insurance and pensions by not increasing the headcounts of various departments. This has contributed to excessive overtime and potential safety issues.

The LIRR should have the ability to hire more full-time and part-time employees to deal with routine and emergency workloads. This would provide a larger pool of employees resulting in less overtime, excessive and unsafe work hours for employees.

Another option is upon reaching retirement eligibility, allow employees to collect 50% of their pensions while still being able to work part time. MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi should include both in the next round of contract negotiations with SMART Transportation Division 505 Union General Chairman Anthony Simon.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Severe lead poisoning of local swan

We live in Port Jefferson, close to Mount Sinai Harbor. Last Sunday, a swan came to visit us, which was most unusual because they never come up from the harbor. This juvenile looked really sick. We called Lisa Jaeger, who rescues animals, and she trapped the swan and brought him out to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, where he was diagnosed with severe lead poisoning. The swan may not survive. He will be at the wildlife rescue center for a long time.

Severe lead poisoning? How did this happen? We have learned that duck hunters often use lead shot — even though it’s illegal — and it falls to the bottom of the harbor and gets ingested by swans.

How much lead is sitting at the bottom of the harbor? Are the clams, mussels and oysters that fishermen dig up from the harbor contaminated, too? People kayak and swim here and walk their dogs, and we worry that the dogs could also ingest the lead.

We want Port Jefferson residents to be aware of how our harbor is being polluted. Perhaps we can work together to ensure that no other swans suffer as this juvenile is suffering.

Cynthia Kravitz

Peter Boerboom

Port Jefferson

A sad episode for Smithtown

How ironic it is that those who ran Martine Francois-DePass out of town with their bigoted and hateful social media campaign are themselves Exhibit A for exactly that which they so passionately deny: Namely, that racist discrimination against Black people, far from being a thing of the past, is still very much with us. [See June 1 story, The Times of Smithtown.]

It’s yet another reminder that America in general and Smithtown in particular continue to be far from the ideal of a color-blind society to which we all aspire.

What a missed opportunity. An opportunity to expose Smithtown children to a positive authority figure from a minority background. An opportunity to move the needle on the perception of Smithtown as a community hostile to non-whites. An opportunity to stand up and defeat fear and bigotry. The decision of Ms. Francois-DePass to withdraw from consideration as principal of Smithtown Elementary in the face of a campaign of vilification and hate against her is our loss, not hers.

Does anybody seriously believe that if Ms. Francois-DePass was white, her every word on social media would have been subjected to the same kind of aggressive and invidious scrutiny? Not that there was anything troubling about her social media posts. She supports Black Lives Matter and racial justice. What a surprise. Is that the litmus test? If it is, it amounts to a frankly racist refusal to countenance the hiring of just about any Black person.

One Smithtown parent stood up at a school board meeting and proclaimed that Ms. Francois-DePass was unqualified. What nonsense. She has degrees from Boston University, SUNY Stony Brook and an advanced degree from Fordham. She also has an advanced certificate in educational leadership and administration from Long Island University, experience as a New York City school teacher for 18 years and as an assistant principal here in Suffolk in the Longwood school district for four years.

Another parent posted that he was going to tell his child not to recognize this “piece of trash” and to “disregard any guidance/direction given by this person.” What a great example for his child.

Is this how some parents want to be “involved” in their children’s education? Racism is still very much with us largely because it’s passed down from generation to generation. What a sad, sad episode this is for our Smithtown community.

David Friedman

St. James

File photo by Raymond Janis

Note to our readers

Next week will be the last issue we run letters of endorsement for village candidates. Deadline for submission: Tuesday, June 6, at noon.

Seeking asylum: legal then, legal now

In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower [R] pushed immigration law in a radical new direction. Instead of housing people in immigrant detention facilities like Ellis Island, such facilities were closed. While immigrants were being processed by the authorities, they would let people live wherever they wanted, blending into communities.

If a Republican president in the 1950s could take such a radical step toward humane immigration, I ask what are the Republican legislators of Suffolk County doing in 2023? Clearly acting inhumanely by drumming up fear. Fear of “those other people.” Stoking that fear as a cheap parlor trick to motivate their base while endangering the lives of countless people regardless of their nation of birth or their documentation.

Most of us have relatives who came to America looking to escape persecution, not of something they did but because of who they are. This is the same for many of today’s immigrants. The story is the same, it’s simply the country of origin that varies. These immigrants deserve a chance to live just as our relatives did.

Some 150 years ago there was a Latvian-Jewish immigrant working as a tailor in Reno, Nevada, named Jacob Davis. Jacob had customers whose work pants kept tearing. To solve the problem, he added metal rivets at the stress points of the pants, making them stronger. When he realized he had a product worth mass producing he teamed up with a merchant in San Francisco, Levi Strauss, another immigrant. On May 20, 1873, they obtained a U.S. patent on a style of jeans still worn today.

We can only speculate the challenges of the next 150 years, but I’ll tell you this. It’s going to require the creativity of as many people from as many diverse backgrounds as possible to solve. When some members of the Suffolk County Legislature decided to respond to the current migration situation with “not our problem,” they gave the incorrect response, for it does not set us up for success on the world stage of tomorrow.

Ian Farber

East Setauket

LaLota’s disturbing immigration posture

I found your story of Suffolk County Republicans including my Congressman Nick LaLota’s [R-NY1] attempt to keep immigrants seeking asylum from coming to Suffolk County very disturbing. [“Republican lawmakers, immigration advocates clash over asylum seekers,” TBR News Media, May 25.]

We are better than that. Seeking asylum is both legal and an important principle. Jews, Irish, Italians, Chinese and others came here effectively seeking asylum because of the many dangers in their home countries. Those groups and others were vilified at first but have made important contributions to our country.

We, as a nation, depend on immigrants for our enormous innovation, progress and energy. All American communities must do our part to welcome these people and help them get a good start here. This is not only the right thing to do, it is very much in our country’s interest.

The problem at the southern border was not caused by President Joe Biden [D] but by a Congress that has failed to pass a safe and humane immigration policy. Pandering to our worst instincts, rather than leading and making good proposals to solve the problem, do more harm than good.

Adam D. Fisher

Port Jefferson Station

An open letter on striped bass fishing

To DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos:

Our offices have been contacted by concerned fishermen and boat captains regarding the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s emergency measures to further reduce the size of striped bass for the East Coast Fishery.

It is our understanding that these emergency measures, changing the limit on keeper fish from one fish a day from 28 inches to 35 inches to one fish a day from 28 inches to 31 inches, are currently being reviewed by the Department of Environmental Conservation with the federal requirement to implement them by July 2.

We are being told by our recreational fishermen and boat captains that this rule change will greatly raise the mortality rate of striped bass causing an increase in catch-and-release deaths. This will obviously have the reverse effect on efforts to increase the stock.

Additionally, we have been informed that the for-hire industry utilizes less than 5% of the striped bass stock. The economy of our region is driven by the agricultural and fishing industries. The rich history of our fishermen is a legacy that attracts many tourists and enthusiasts to our area. It will become extremely difficult to encourage would-be customers to use charter and party boats with such a narrow window of striped bass possession.

We are asking that before any emergency measures are adopted by the DEC, a careful review is done based on input from our local fishermen and captains. As you are well aware, our fishing industry is already struggling with difficult quotas, the high cost of fuel, the high property and docking costs in our area, among other challenges. We are hopeful that you will put any plans on hold until all stakeholders are brought to the table and have the opportunity to share their input and concerns.

Please contact our offices if you have any questions or need additional information. We look forward to your expeditious response.

NYS Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk)

NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor)

A challenging race

When I ran for trustee for the Village of Port Jefferson last year, I had the full faith and support of Port Jefferson’s mayor, deputy mayor and the clerk’s office. I was guided through the petition submission process and the mayor even numbered my petition sheets.

In the eight months following the 2022 elections, I went from being an establishment candidate to the opposition. I asked questions and challenged decisions that I found questionable and at times, autocratic. That is why I decided to run for mayor.

Now, my opponent’s campaign and its lawyers challenged my petitions and due to an issue with the cover sheet, the Suffolk County Board of Elections on May 30 determined that my name cannot be placed on the ballot.

I am committed to continuing my campaign for mayor even if it means I’ll be a “write-in” candidate. It may be an uphill battle, but I will not quit the people of Port Jefferson.

If you believe that we need a fresh start in Port Jeff, and that you should have a choice for mayor, then write in “Lauren Sheprow” under the column for mayor on June 20. This is your village and your vote should count.

Lauren Sheprow

Mayoral candidate and trustee

Village of Port Jefferson

No political campaigning on sacred days

First, let me say that Memorial Day is a day of sacred observance where we honor those who have given the full measure of commitment to America — their lives. We celebrate the freedom their commitment and those of their more fortunate brothers and sisters have maintained for us. 

Memorial Day is a celebration of freedom and we celebrate it together in the spirit of unity. This is not a day for political campaigning. We like to hear what our elected leaders have to say about unity, America and freedom. We do not appreciate their campaign slogans, campaign attire and campaign leafleting of a parade that is a unifying event.

Please encourage those who engaged in these activities at the Setauket Memorial Day Parade and honorary activities mind their manners and respect those who have served and sacrificed. Ask them to do better on July 4, 9/11 and Veterans Day/Armistice Day.

We need to find some common ground if we are to continue to be a democracy. Bad political manners need to be called out.

Bruce Miller

Sgt. E-5, U.S. Army Armor (former)

2nd Vice Cmdr., American Legion Post 432

Port Jefferson Station

Juliano, the integrity candidate

Just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you a little about my husband, Bob Juliano, who is running for trustee in the Village of Port Jefferson. 

Bob has spent 30 years in public service. The first eight years were spent as treasurer in the Village of Lindenhurst, then 18 years as administrator/clerk for the Village of Port Jefferson, followed by the Village of Westbury as clerk/treasurer until his retirement last year. 

For those who know Bob, you know that this man is hardworking, he is smart, honest and reliable. Although this sounds like a Labrador Retriever, it is the man I have been married to for almost 38 years and I believe it is what we need in the Village of Port Jefferson. 

He worked tirelessly in his time with the village. I was with him when he would receive calls on the weekends and respond by doing a well visit, or checking someone’s property for them. During Hurricane Sandy, he was at the “bunker” taking care of the village, not home with his family. He was doing his job. 

I feel it is time we give Bob a chance to have a voice in the village where he had his hands in everything that went on. Talk about experience, no one can top his. He knows this village, how it runs and how it should run. I hope you will vote for Bob on June 20 at the Village Center. Integrity matters.

Kelly Juliano

Port Jefferson

Snaden would have no learning curve

With the mayoral election less than 30 days away, we need to give careful thought as to who is best qualified and capable of leading the village for the next two years. The dangers of an inexperienced mayor cannot be overstated. 

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden has many years of experience and would have no learning curve when she assumes office.

Institutional knowledge saves the taxpayers money, and Kathianne has amassed a tremendous amount of knowledge and hands-on understanding of what is necessary to move the village forward in the coming years. 

Her resume is extensive: She is the Village of Port Jefferson commissioner of Public Safety, also Planning and Building; she is trustee liaison to code, courts, parking and mobility, Business Improvement District, Zoning Board of Appeals, Architectural Review Committee and the employees union. Most importantly, if Kathianne loses, we not only lose a committed public servant but a strong liaison to our schools.

Losing Kathianne would be a significant blow to our community. If she is not elected, a trustee would be elected without any input from voters, adding yet another inexperienced member to the board.

We cannot afford to take risks with our village’s future. We must elect an experienced, seasoned leader who can hit the ground running. That leader is Kathianne Snaden. Please vote for her on June 20 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Village Center.

Jennifer Testa

Port Jefferson

Review candidates’ history

In reference to our up-and-coming Port Jefferson mayoral election on June 20, I would recommend the village residents to google our candidates’ past employment and endeavors, as you would do if you were hiring a new employee for any political or nonpolitical position. By googling one’s past employment and endeavors, it will give you the insight to see how they will acclimate to their new positions. 

This being said, I would recommend that you google candidates Kathianne Snaden and Lauren Sheprow, who was the previous head of media relations at Stony Brook University. 

I believe the best choice for the future of Port Jefferson village is to elect Kathianne Snaden for mayor. I base this opinion on her experience, integrity, character, honesty and transparency.

Joey Zangrillo

Port Jefferson


We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected] or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

Veterans for Peace Golden Rule sailing into Port Jeff Harbor

The Golden Rule, above, will enter Port Jefferson Harbor tomorrow, May 26, at 6 p.m. Photo courtesy Myrna Gordon

Veterans for Peace Golden Rule will be sailing into Port Jefferson Harbor on Friday, May 26, at approximately 6 p.m. and will be docked at Harborfront Park from May 26-28.

This historic small ship is currently on a journey along the Atlantic coast for educational conversations about peace, nuclear disarmament, clean water and collective consciousness for our environment.

In 1958, as atmospheric nuclear testing heightened the stakes in the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Golden Rule sailed toward the Marshall Islands aspiring to stop early atmospheric testing.

The Golden Rule was the first sailing vessel in American history to practice nonviolent activism on the high seas 65 years ago and was the forerunner for today’s better-known Greenpeace ships, as well as the template for every kayak, canoe and outboard motorboat that’s peacefully protested anything in the nearly seven decades since.

The Golden Rule helped ignite a worldwide movement to end nuclear testing and led to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed by President John F. Kennedy [D] in October 1963, some five years after the initial action.

The boat has a significant connection to Long Island as its first crew included William Huntington, a Quaker from St. James. In homage to him, a true trailblazer, the Society of Friends, Conscience Bay Quakers Meeting will join members of the Setalcott Nation, the original stewards of our waterfront community, and many other peace and justice organizations in meeting the boat and welcoming its captain and crew.

North Country Peace Group with South Country Peace Group are the sponsors of this event with a special acknowledgment to the Conscience Bay Quakers. We hope everyone can join us.

Myrna Gordon

Port Jefferson

Words matter in immigration dialogue

One of the most beautiful elements of America is diversity. The immigrants who live in our communities contribute to our economy, our culture and our public life. We are a better nation for it.

We have seen a vilification of those seeking asylum at our southern border. This past Sunday, local, state, and federal Suffolk County Republicans held a press conference, announcing a plan to hire legal counsel to block asylum seekers from entering Suffolk County.

Though seeking asylum is legal, county Legislature Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey [R-Lindenhurst] said, “We don’t know who’s coming over.” In doing so, McCaffrey implies that asylum seekers are a danger to us.

U.S. Congressman Nick LaLota [R-NY1] differentiated between documented and undocumented immigrants. Both ignore a basic truth: Asylum seekers are fleeing their countries because of climate change, poverty and political violence. They are not seeking to do us harm. Our federal government must provide assistance and address these root causes in our foreign policy. That is the direction we must take, rather than demonizing and “othering” asylum seekers.

Today’s asylum seekers remind me of my paternal grandfather. As a teenager, he fled Odessa [now in Ukraine] after his father, a practicing rabbi, was murdered in Siberia. My grandfather didn’t consider paperwork — he fled to survive. My grandfather may have had a different religion and skin color than the migrants at the border, but their stories and their humanity are quite similar. As a Jew who has had branches of my family tree cut off by political violence, I know that “Never Again” applies to every one of us, including asylum seekers.

Words matter. When our politicians use xenophobic rhetoric like the county Republicans are, it makes all of us less safe. Will the base they have riled up distinguish between which of their neighbors are documented or undocumented? Did the teenager who murdered Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue in 2008 check his immigration status before ending his life? Rather than learning from our history, the county Republicans seem intent on repeating that harm, all in the name of firing up their base for the November elections.

We cannot accept this in Suffolk. We must seek solutions that bring us all together, rather than divide us up. We must expect more from our elected leaders. If they cannot deliver, we must vote them out and replace them with moral leaders who can.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Concerns about proposed Maryhaven development

The 19 units in Canyon Creek, which were completed in 1999, are directly impacted by any activities on the former Maryhaven Center of Hope site on Myrtle Avenue. 

All four Port Jefferson Village trustees have met with several of the Canyon Creek Home Owners Association members on-site, and we expressed to them our overall concerns about the proposed development of the site by Beechwood Homes.

Our biggest concern is the proposed nearly 200 units, on the 10-acre site, to be priced at approximately $1 million each, in buildings that would be allowed to be three stories in height, plus the requirement for two parking spaces per unit.

Canyon Creek is located on close to 10 acres and has 19 units. We would hope that the village Board of Trustees would change the zoning to include a requirement of an equal density in the adjoining property. Our quiet and peaceful neighborhood will be detrimentally impacted with the proposal now before the board.

The proposed development plan calls for preserving the old building on the former Maryhaven site, but Beechwood is seeking concessions from Port Jefferson Village to change the zoning code to allow for increased density of residences on the site. The consensus among the homeowners is that while there are positive considerations for preserving the historic building and converting it for residential and recreational use, as proposed by Beechwood, the allowance of an incentive of increased units and taller structures as a tradeoff is absolutely detrimental to the Canyon Creek community. 

There are numerous serious adverse impacts on our community from such a development so close to our backyards: loss of privacy, noise, change in ambience of the surrounding area, increased traffic, water runoff into properties and many more.

We as a community are very concerned that there appears to be a rush to change the code to allow the development of a property that would be inconsistent with the surrounding area without submitting an environmental and traffic study for full public review and comment. 

We recognize that the board’s only role is to alter the zoning code, and we hope that they will take into consideration how all of Port Jefferson will be impacted, as well as the devastating impact it will have on Canyon Creek.

Philip A. Velazquez, President 

Canyon Creek Homeowners Association

Port Jefferson

Plan realistically for future of Port Jeff schools

In commenting in the May 18 issue of The Port Times Record about the third defeat of a 15-year bond proposed by the Port Jefferson School District, Mayor Margot Garant said she hoped the “community would have a little bit more vision and understanding of the consequences.” 

Maybe it’s the mayor and school board that lack that vision and understanding. The community wants answers. Port Jefferson currently spends over $50,000 per student, well above other districts. Our enrollment is declining, with graduating classes projected to drop to near 60 students by 2031. 

Taxes are already projected in the school district’s current financial plan to increase 34% by the 2027-28 school year. After the LIPA glide path expires in 2028, taxes would double if the plant is closed. Mayor Garant said “The norm is like another 10-year glide path to give you a chance to settle into another loss of revenue.” [“Powering down?” May 18, TBR News Media]. Really, another glide path — what norm? 

Over 10 years, Shoreham saw its LIPA taxes — which represented 90% of its budget — drop 10% per year. There was no further assistance. If the mayor knows where Port Jeff would get yet another glide path, please let us know the source, and have their representatives confirm it. And will this white knight also provide additional benefits for Northport and Glenwood Landing, which are on similar glide paths to Port Jefferson?

As an alternative to hoping for a magical rescue, let’s plan appropriately and realistically, with every option considered before we are asked to commit to another long-term bond that would effectively remove several options from consideration. Let’s find out if other districts would be interested in a merger or tuitioning our students. Let’s have an impartial consultant analyze the numbers and determine what our taxes would be with LIPA gone if we continue alone, or with a merger or some combination. 

Also, let’s discuss whether the opportunities for our projected 60-student per grade high school enrollment would be greater, and at less expense, in a merged or tuitioned district.

And will the mayor and school board please stop discounting the feasibility of a merger based on our current school tax rate being so much lower than neighboring districts. That projected rate is 190.11%, according to PJSD’s Summary of Estimated Revenues in the 2023-24 Draft Budget, an increase from 178.46%. Take out LIPA’s assessed value and by my calculations the rate jumps to 330.37% which is equal to or greater than surrounding districts.

Our vision and understanding needs answers.

Robert J. Nicols

Port Jefferson

The reality of closing local generating plants

Your editorial and lead article [TBR News Media, May 18] both address the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed stringent limitations on power plants’ emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that cause the climate change we already see here.

 The EPA’s proposal is consistent with the existing state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that mandates similar reductions in New York state of fossil fuel generation and its replacement with renewably generated electricity.

Both TBR pieces recognize that the Northport and the Port Jefferson plants cannot continue for too many more years to be powered by natural gas.

 Your editorial correctly challenges local governments and school districts that have been subsidized by tens of millions of dollars annually that are indirectly paid by other Long Island residents through the taxes on these greatly overassessed properties to start “imagining a future in which those subsidies no longer exist.” These entities should certainly seek state aid to ease this transition, but that is not a long-term solution.

There could be other uses for these sites that are robustly connected to the grid, such as for landing power cables from offshore wind farms, or massive batteries to store electrical energy during times of low renewable generation.

Bruce Miller, former Port Jefferson Village trustee, suggested two possibilities for continued onsite electrical generation. One would be continuing to burn natural gas, while adding equipment to capture the resulting carbon dioxide. This possibility ignores the known substantial leakage of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — at the well, and all the way to the generating plant. Such carbon dioxide removal equipment does not now exist at scale, and would be rather expensive.

He also suggests burning hydrogen to produce electricity when renewable generation cannot meet demand. Such “green” hydrogen would be produced during the summer from water using renewably generated electricity, stored in large quantities, transported here by pipelines that could not leak even small amounts of climate-changing hydrogen, and burned to produce electricity. The main combustion product would be harmless water. However, the oxides of nitrogen and other polluting combustion products would have to be removed before being released, adding to the cost of the electricity generated. 

There are no certain answers to continued use of these sites for electrical purposes to replace lost tax revenues. Just the opposite is true: The higher the taxes on any new facilities, the more expensive will be their operation and less likely they would be built here.

Peter Gollon


Editor’s note: The writer was a LIPA trustee from 2016-21.

EPA power plant standards are cost prohibitive

The EPA’s proposed rules for cutting emissions are so onerous that older generators, like Northport and Port Jefferson as well as hundreds around the country, will be shut down because the expense to upgrade would be prohibitive.

These power stations have operated since the 1960s with incredible reliability and cost-effectiveness. They have blessed Long Island and the communities that host them with tax income and life-sustaining, consistent energy. The developed world survives on this. 

A main difference between our society and the third world is their lack of affordable, reliable energy. It is also a matter of survival. One can broil in the heat and freeze in the cold. One can starve for lack of food and water. One can die from inadequate health care facilities and resources. 

Note well that these power plants have operated within EPA pollution regulations. Now the EPA is moving the goalposts. Companies, towns and cities that have relied on the energy for our civilization will be in mortal danger. 

It is extremely difficult, costly and lengthy to site, plan, permit and build a new power station. The real estate is gone. The possibility of rebuilding an old power station to new standards, repowering, may not be cost-effective, especially if there are the preferential power purchase agreements that put wind and solar electricity ahead of fossil fuel generation.

Another consideration is China, Russia, India and the Global South in general are building fossil-fueled power plants, including coal, at a breathtaking rate — hundreds a year. Decarbonization of New York state and the U.S. power plant emissions will have no effect.

Furthermore, wind and solar power operate on average about 20% of the nameplate capacity of generation. Spinning reserves are mandatory. Battery backup, aside from the huge expense, child labor and devastation to the environment in obtaining rare earths, may work for a few hours. Where is that coming from if Northport, Port Jeff and other power stations are closed?

Planet Earth, throughout its billions of years, experienced much higher temperatures and CO2. In fact, the Holocene period, with the greatest explosion of flora and fauna in history, flourished with way higher temperatures and CO2. Life adapted and thrived. In fact, thousands of scientists confirm there is no CO2 crisis.

Buy some candles if this goes through.

Mark Sertoff

East Northport

Have you seen my wife?

If you live in the village of Port Jeff, I’m sure you have.

The kids and I, however … not so much. Since my wife, Kathianne Snaden, became village trustee in 2019 and deputy mayor in 2021, I sometimes think village residents get to see her more than we do.

When I get home from work, my first question to the kids is, “Where’s Mom?” Their answer in that typical teenage voice is usually, “At a meetinggggg… .”

It seems like my wife is always at a meeting. Board meetings, trustee work sessions, union negotiations, meetings with business owners, meetings with residents, meetings with Suffolk County Police Department brass, and on and on the list goes. When what she does as deputy mayor comes up in conversation and she explains all that she actually does here in the village most residents respond with some variation of “wow, I didn’t realize that you did so much.” All the nice flowers you see planted this week … Kathianne personally worked with the garden center and the parks department to make that happen and so much more.

Kathianne makes so many positive safety and quality-of-life improvements here in the village it would be difficult to list them all in under 400 words.

On top of all that, I think one of the things that really sets Kathianne apart is her willingness to meet with people, be approachable and be open to any inquiry from residents. On more than one occasion, Kathianne and I have been out in the village and she will post online where we are and anyone who wants to talk can come down and sit with us, whether we are at the Farmers Market, watching our kids play at Rocketship Park or even out to dinner. Kathianne makes herself available to everyone.

As a business owner, I recognize the drive and positive spirit my wife has to get anything done that she sets her mind to, and I’ve seen her do it. As a Port Jeff resident, I’m thankful for the great ideas, programs and initiatives she has brought to the village that benefit us all.

As a husband I’m so proud — she impresses me every day. And while it means I (and the kids) still won’t see her that much at home, I urge everyone to vote for Kathianne Snaden for mayor so she can continue to excel for us here in Port Jeff.

William Snaden

Port Jefferson

Sheprow will put residents first

It’s time for a change of direction in Port Jefferson. That’s why I’m proud to endorse my long-time friend, Lauren Sheprow, for mayor.

I’ve known Lauren since our days at Scraggy Hill Elementary. She’s always been bright, dedicated, focused and, most importantly, a great friend. As a single mom, she raised three wonderful children while pursuing a career that ultimately led to her becoming chief media relations officer at Stony Brook University.

I know running for mayor wasn’t in Lauren’s plan. But when she became a village trustee, she saw major decisions being made without any input from residents. So she did what Lauren always does — started asking the tough questions. The concerns she raised, however, even when they identified a potential conflict of interest or a question of ethics, were frequently met with denial or simply ignored. That’s part of the reason she decided to run.

With deep roots in Port Jeff, Lauren has a vision that’s focused on putting residents first. She wants to bring best business practices back, increase transparency and put an end to closed-door decision-making. Lauren is a communications professional and as mayor will work to improve our relationships with the business community — as well as our town, county and state governments — to ensure we’re making the most of all our resources.

She’ll also put an end to wasteful spending. On day one, Lauren will seek board consensus to enlist the expertise of a forensic accountant and an administrative consultant to help bring fiscal responsibility and operational excellence to Port Jefferson.

If, like me, you’re ready for new leadership and a fresh start for the village, I urge you to vote for Lauren Sheprow as our next mayor.

April Quiggle

Port Jefferson

Exploiting bail reform is not a solution

In response to my letter on bail reform [“Eliminating bail reduces recidivism,” TBR News Media, May 4], Jim Soviero takes exception to my use of the term “crocodile tears” [“Local crime exposes bail reform dangers,” May 18] to describe his professed concern for “minorities” that “tragically . . . continue to suffer disproportionately from violent crime.”

This was not an attack on his person or behavior, or an attempt to question the sincerity of his political beliefs. My point was that it seems a trifle presumptuous for Soviero, who is white, to proffer ending bail reform as a cure for the suffering of “minorities” when they themselves overwhelmingly disagree.

The larger point is that exploiting bail reform to excite fear and division for political gain is the worst possible way to actually address the underlying issues behind violent crime. Bail reform isn’t something that was just dreamed up by “leftist think tanks” as Soviero puts it. It was to address a very real problem he ignores, namely, the inequity of a system that condemns people who have not been convicted to days, weeks or even months in jails such as Rikers Island, for, in effect, the crime of being poor. As I noted in my May 4 letter, it is overwhelmingly supported in the minority community. If it’s so harmful to them there’s a very simple remedy  — they can vote out their representatives who support it.

Soviero scoffs at the data presented by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study I cited, surrounding the word “data” with scare quotes. Naturally, since the data doesn’t support his contention that bail reform is terrible, he would much rather rely on anecdotal evidence that seems to. And for every horror story he could cite where someone was harmed by a person arraigned and released without bail, I could cite a horror story of someone who committed suicide or whose life was damaged beyond repair by being held in jail for days or weeks without being convicted. The point is, this is no way to formulate criminal justice policy. If we don’t use data, what do we use? Who can cite the most sensationalized anecdotes?

New York City Mayor Eric Adams [D], whom Soviero approvingly cited in his original letter denouncing bail reform, recently termed fixing it a “bumper sticker slogan.” Adams is right. Instead of politicians weaponizing this issue for political gain what we need is reasoned discussion of underlying issues. The problems with the criminal justice system are much deeper and more entrenched beyond the obsession with this one issue.

David Friedman

St. James

Editor’s note: This correspondence on bail reform is now closed.