Pixabay photo

Community choice aggregation, a revolution in energy procurement, is making a splash throughout Long Island.

Starting in May, the Town of Brookhaven will launch a CCA program, contracting with Manhattan-based Good Energy LLC for a fixed rate for natural gas consumers over the next two years.

In an interview, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) explained how the program would operate. Under the longstanding method of natural gas delivery in the town, National Grid — based in the U.K. and northeastern U.S. — purchases the supply and delivers the gas. CCA alters this dynamic.

“CCA is just a method of purchasing a commodity on a communitywide basis,” he said. Under the program, “all of the customers of National Grid in a certain area are getting together to say, ‘We’re going to jointly purchase fuel cooperatively from a different source.’”

That source, Good Energy, has agreed to supply gas at a fixed price of 69.5 cents per therm. “That locks in the price for all customers” for two years, the councilmember said. 

National Grid, which still operates the delivery systems, will continue to bill customers for those services. The only section of the bill affected by the changes will be for energy supply.

An August report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration states that the natural gas market saw record volatility last year due to demand changes, storms and geopolitical unrest. 

Given the many variables that contribute to fluctuations in gas prices, Kornreich suggested Brookhaven homeowners and businesses would be less beholden to the volatility of the market under CCA. “We’re going to pay just one price for the next two years,” he said. 

The town is also hedging that the market price of natural gas will rise over the next two years. If that happens, CCA will deliver discounted gas to Brookhaven ratepayers throughout the contracted period.

“The expectation that I have, as given to me by the corporate representatives with whom I met, is that there’s going to be a savings to the customers,” Kornreich said. “My hope is that this price is competitive over a two-year period.” 

He added, “Based on the models that they’ve shown me, this price will — over the long term — on average be lower than what they would have paid if they had just rode that market price.”

CCA: An energy revolution

‘A CCA can play a role in helping the residents to have more negotiation power.’ ­

— Gang He

Community choice aggregation first came about in the 1990s as a model of procuring energy whereby a municipality can pool the buying power of its residents to negotiate favorable energy contracts.

Gang He is an assistant professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University, whose research focuses on energy and climate policy. 

The assistant professor regarded the traditional relationship between energy consumers and suppliers as heavily skewed in favor of suppliers, referring to consumer protections under CCA as correcting the power imbalance.

“When utilities deal with residents, residents have no power,” Gang He said. “It’s a monopoly, and it’s heavily regulated by regulators. A CCA can play a role in helping the residents to have more negotiation power.”

Paul Fenn, founder and president of the Massachusetts-based CCA firm Local Power, drafted some of the original enabling legislation for CCA in Massachusetts, California and throughout the U.S. In an interview, he traced the history of CCA.

Fenn said vertically integrated investor-owned utilities have historically operated as monopolies and cartels, given their guaranteed rates of return by state regulators and energy market deregulation. CCA, he said, seeks to rectify this.

“The basic definition is that CCA is a model of energy supply that is neither a monopoly nor a cartel,” he said.

He likened the energy model to Costco. “The reason that large users achieve cheaper services is like going to Costco,” he said. “If you’re buying 200 rolls of toilet paper instead of 20, you pay a lower price.”

CCA applies this framework to the energy supply, giving the small consumer the perks of a bulk purchaser by pooling the buying power of entire communities. 

“It’s a way for small users … to gain the economic buying power enjoyed by the largest corporations,” he said, adding, “The aggregations are designed to deliver the benefits to the user and not to the supplier.”

Two factors, according to Fenn, have contributed to the rise of CCA nationwide. On the one hand, the economic model has been tailored and perfected to benefit individual users over large suppliers. On the other hand, renewable technologies have progressed to the point where they are now competitive with fossil fuels. 

Fenn characterized CCA as a revolution for capitalizing on the convergence of cheap renewable energy and consumer protections for utility power.

‘Community choice aggregation programs can be a great tool for getting community solar built, paid for and delivered to people.’ ­

— Anne Reynolds

Promoting renewables

Anne Reynolds is executive director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York, a group of private companies and nonprofits partnering to expand green energy opportunities throughout New York state. Reynolds indicated that CCA could be interpreted in two ways — as an economic model or as a way to promote green energy.

CCA “can be purely an economics choice,” she said. “You can think of it as a collective buying co-op,” but “most of the examples in New York state are when the community also wants to get a renewable energy product.”

Reynolds stated that CCA is not the main objective of ACE NY as CCA “hasn’t been the primary way that renewable energy products are getting built in New York, which is what we focus on,” she said.

Her organization instead emphasizes the construction of large-scale, grid-connected renewable energy projects through long-term contracts with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the state must procure 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2050. When asked whether CCAs offer a pathway toward a greener future in New York, Reynolds responded that there must be a mix of large-scale and small-scale projects.

“To get there, we’re going to need an unprecedented construction of renewable energy projects — offshore wind, wind, solar, batteries,” she said. “To get that done, these projects need to have a guaranteed market for their power, what they refer to as offtake agreements.”

She added, “Having those offtake agreements with the State of New York is one way to do it. Having the offtake agreements with communities in New York is another.”

One way CCA can promote new development in renewables, Reynolds said, is through community distributed generation, often referred to as community solar. 

“Community choice aggregation programs can be a great tool for getting community solar built, paid for and delivered to people,” she said. “For the state to meet its goals, and for Long Island especially, it’s going to require a little bit of everything.”

The Southampton model

Brookhaven is not the only municipality in Suffolk County implementing CCA. In the neighboring Town of Southampton, local officials are exploring a different posture, with an energy plan geared toward electricity instead of natural gas.

Lynn Arthur is the energy chair of Southampton’s volunteer sustainability committee and the founder of the nonprofit Peak Power Long Island, a consultancy group that services municipalities and their constituents on renewable energy technologies.

Arthur said there are currently two CCA administrators operating on Long Island, Good Energy and Bedford Hills-based Joule Community Power, Southampton’s CCA administrator. She notes that the difference in administrators has placed the two municipalities on separate trajectories.

In Southampton, the Town Board is working toward obtaining electricity from 100% renewable energy sources by 2025. Arthur said that goal is coming into focus.

“It’s only natural that we would try to get a power supply contract for 100% renewables for electricity,” she said.

To meet this task, Arthur suggested CCA would play a pivotal role. She is now advocating for the Southampton Town Board to submit a request for proposal to supply electricity from 100% renewable sources.

Brookhaven vs. Southampton

Weighing Brookhaven’s CCA against Southampton’s, former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) suggested that Southampton has the upper hand.

“I think Southampton’s model is the better one,” he said. “Electricity is the future. We should be moving away from natural gas.”

But, he added, “to the extent that the Town of Brookhaven can get started with [CCA] is promising. I think the inevitable success of what Southampton is doing will compel their next-door neighbor, Brookhaven,” to follow suit.

Despite Brookhaven’s gas-exclusive CCA, Fenn did not say that gas aggregation was inherently brown and electricity aggregation green. Rather, he said promoting renewables through CCA is a matter of how a program is implemented.

He objected, however, to the limited scope of Brookhaven’s CCA initiative. “This program is defined narrowly as a discount-only program, and I think that’s not a particularly good idea,” he said. “It’s hard to argue against stabilizing people’s rates, but it won’t help the environment if that’s all they’re doing, and it may hurt it.”

Creating competition

‘I like the idea of moving away from monolithic energy sourcing.’ ­

— Steve Englebright

Fenn regarded municipalities as sometimes prone to short-term thinking. While gas aggregation is a step toward unshackling ratepayers from the market’s volatility, he said it is incomplete.

Instead, he advised Brookhaven leaders to explore fuel switching, that is, transitioning residents from natural gas to electricity. The heat pump, for example, constitutes one way in which a home’s heating can be fulfilled by electric power instead of gas.

“Apart from the climate crisis, which says stop burning this stuff, there are so many reasons” to transition off fossil fuels, Fenn said. By fuel switching, “you’re adding electrical load when you do that, but you’re deleting gas demand.”

By creating a separate program for electrical aggregation, Fenn said Brookhaven could correct course, providing gas customers with greener options for heating. 

Asked whether the Brookhaven Town Board could add a second CCA administrator for electricity, he responded affirmatively. “Just deliver both, and you can,” he said.

Arthur emphasized that municipalities can have separate CCA administrators for gas and electricity. She suggested Brookhaven add a second administrator for electricity to further competition.

“Fundamentally, if competition is good, and if you want everybody to go to electricity and get away from gas, then you should have [CCA administrators] compete with each other,” she said.

Local vs. centralized intervention

Fenn noted the decline of municipal power since the Civil War, which he said had rendered local governments impotent compared to their state and federal counterparts. He criticized the tendency of local officials to outsource services to third-party vendors.

“Part of the problem is the dependence on third parties cripples the governments by making them intellectually captive to those service providers,” he said. “We believe municipalities should have skin in the game and should use the power that they have.”

Fenn attributed the climate and garbage crises in the United States to the decline of municipal powers and the failures of centralized government. He encouraged local policymakers to embrace programs like CCA to counteract these downward movements.

“There has to be knowledge, responsibility and therefore control” vested in municipal government, he said. “CCA uses contractors to provide services, but they’re firmly under the control of the municipality.”

While CCA proposes a local solution to a global climate phenomenon, questions remain about the best forms of intervention. 

For Reynolds, tackling the climate crisis requires a centralized intervention from the higher levels of government, with local governments doing their part as well. “We absolutely need both,” the ACE NY executive director said. 

For the state to reach its aggressive emission mandates, “you’re going to need larger power projects, too, like offshore,” she said. “But it shouldn’t be an either or question.”

‘It’s so clear that this is such a great opportunity to move the needle on renewables and, at the same time, lower costs for their constituents.’ ­

— Lynn Arthur

A sustainable future

Gang He viewed the growth in renewable energy, evidenced by over $1 trillion in worldwide investment last year, as a turning point in energy history. 

“Renewables have gained momentum,” the SBU assistant professor said. “The challenge is how do we maintain the momentum to deliver the outcome that we desire?”

Arthur recommends CCA to local officials as a way to do so. “It’s so clear that this is such a great opportunity to move the needle on renewables and, at the same time, lower costs for their constituents,” she said.

Asked whether Brookhaven’s CCA could spur interest in a similar program for electricity, Kornreich expressed optimism that the town’s program would foster better energy stewardship.

“I hope that it does open people’s eyes to the possibility and to get people more comfortable with the concept of being a more conscious consumer of utility power,” he said. “Whether it’s gas or electric, people can understand they can choose and that their choices will have an impact on the environment.”

Though acknowledging some of the drawbacks to the Brookhaven program, Englebright expressed encouragement about moving away from the preexisting procurement structure.

“Great journeys are made a step at a time,” the former assemblyman said. “I like the idea of moving away from monolithic energy sourcing.” He added, “A more distributed power system is to our advantage, ultimately — more competitive, less monolithic and more responsive to the public.”

For more details on the Town of Brookhaven’s Community Choice Aggregation Program, visit the website 

According to the website, “Eligible customers will soon receive additional information in the mail regarding product features, including information about the renewable energy option.”

Correction: In the print version of this article published on March 9, the town’s community choice aggregation administrator, Good Energy LLC, was misidentified as a London-based firm. In fact, Good Energy is headquartered in Manhattan. We apologize for the error.

Concerned residents filled the second floor of the St. James firehouse on North Country Road to air their concerns about a proposed assisted living facility on Mills Pond Road. Photo by Rita J. Egan

St. James residents are joining together to fight a proposed assisted living facility on the former Bull Run Farm, which takes up slightly more than 9 acres along Mills Pond Road.

Concerned residents filled the second floor of the St. James firehouse on North Country Road to air their concerns about a proposed assisted living facility on Mills Pond Road. Photo by Rita J. Egan

An informational meeting was held Thursday, March 2, at the St. James firehouse on Route 25A to provide residents updates on the proposed two-story, 97-bed facility that will be called Whisper Mills. Approximately 150 people, many living on the road and right next to the property, filled the room, half of them standing, to air their concerns.

Attorneys David Moran and Deirdre Cicciaro represented Mills Pond Group, owned by Fort Salonga developer Frank Amicizia, to moderate the event and field questions. Moran said the March 2 meeting was just the first step of the process. The assisted living facility proposal is contingent on receipt of all properties that make up the total parcel of land. Currently, the developer owns one lot and members of the Elderkin family, who once ran the farm, own the other two.

Cicciaro said the entire parcel was 9.02 acres and zoned as residential. The facility would need a special exception from the Town of Smithtown to be permitted. She said the client “shares the concerns about the preservation and the bucolic nature of the neighborhood.”

She added nearly 20% of the premises would be developed, leaving a little more than 80% of the total parcel landscaped, undisturbed, natural or vegetative. The attorney went over the development plans, including that there would be more than 800 feet of road frontage, and all setbacks will be more than required by town code. The facility would have 74 parking spaces.

Cicciaro said the plan was an attempt to “provide a necessary housing option for the community of St. James that does not currently exist while keeping with the character of the area and neighborhood.”

Residents took turns airing concerns at the meeting, including the proximity to the Gyrodyne property on Route 25A which also faces potential development; 24-hour lighting on the property; increased traffic; and the building not fitting the community aesthetics. Others were concerned about a sewage treatment plant that is proposed for the property. Concerns about the STP ranged from how it would affect local waterways due to the disposal of pharmaceuticals in the facility to the noise it would make. One attendee said the STP at Whisper Woods on Route 25A across from St. Catherine of Siena Hospital makes noise 24 hours a day.

Moran said the facility would be 100% code compliant, including proper maintenance of medication on the site and a traffic study is being worked on.

One woman said that residents “would rather see broken down tractors” than the proposed building.

“This is by no means compliant visually and otherwise with any of these beautiful homes,” she added. “This is our paradise. We have worked to preserve this all these years.”

A few of the residents, as well as the Facebook group Save Bull Run Farm, St. James and Saint James-Head of the Harbor Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, have encouraged people to attend upcoming Town Board meetings to let Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) and council members know their concerns.

“You are the ones who are responsible for putting the pressure on your elected officials whether you voted for them or not,” one woman said at the meeting. “You must reach out to them and tell them how you feel.”

As of March 8, a town public hearing was not scheduled. According to Nicole Garguilo, Smithtown public information officer, when a meeting regarding the development is scheduled, it will be held in the evening and at the town’s senior center.

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association met Tuesday, Feb. 28, for an evening packed with local business.

Lawrence Aviation

Sarah Lansdale, the Suffolk County economic development and planning commissioner, updated the body on the proposed conceptual layout of the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jefferson Station.

“We have come up with a plan of three basic uses of the property,” she said. “One is a light-industry use … for a proposed solar development. The property south of the Greenway is proposed to be for open space … and then a railyard, or railroad usage, on the northeastern section of the property.”

Lansdale also reported that the U.S. Department of Justice recently approved language within a global settlement agreement between 11 claimants, adding, “Now we’re getting them to sign on to the agreement. Of the 11, we have three remaining that have yet to sign on.”

The county is working to finalize a bid package to demolish the remaining buildings on-site during the warmer months.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) thanked Lansdale for continuing her efforts on behalf of county residents. 

“Very few people want to deal with difficult, complex projects like this,” Hahn said. “This was very difficult, we are so close, and I’m just grateful.”

Civic member Ira Costell objected to a Feb. 23 op-ed in The Port Times Record, “Village elections and Port Jeff’s rapidly changing challenges,” in which former Port Jefferson Village trustee Bruce Miller suggested expanding the limits of the village to derive tax revenue from the Superfund site.

“I think that’s something we need to discuss and take a position on shortly,” Costell said, adding that such a proposal “impacts our community and a potential tax base to the Comsewogue School District.” 

Civic president Ed Garboski and vice president Sal Pitti objected to the annexation proposal. Corresponding secretary Charlie McAteer said a discussion on the matter would be appropriate during next month’s meeting.

County sewers

Deputy County Executive Peter Scully delivered a presentation outlining the county’s clean water initiative, remarking that a comprehensive sewer plan has eluded county officials for decades.

“Most of Suffolk County is without sewer infrastructure,” he said. “Sewers throughout Suffolk County have not happened for a variety of reasons,” namely the enormous costs associated with their construction.

Cesspools remain the only waste treatment technology available to many county residents, which Scully indicated can impair the sole-source aquifer upon which residents depend for their drinking water. Leakage associated with septic tanks, Scully said, can contribute to brown tides, rust tides, algal blooms and fish kills throughout the county’s waterways.

To address the problem, the administration is pitching the Suffolk County Clean Water Plan, which includes a one-eighth of a penny per dollar sales tax, to create a local match program for federal and state subsidization of sewer infrastructure.

“Right now, there are tremendous funding sources available on the federal and state levels,” he said, noting the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress in 2021 and the recently passed New York State $4.2 billion environmental bond act. 

“Those are the two sources of funding that we’re all anxious to make sure our communities get a fair share of, and to do that we need a local match,” the deputy county executive said. “The [clean water plan] funding source that we’re talking about provides that local match.”


Andrea Malchiodi, assistant director of Comsewogue Public Library, announced that the library’s budget vote and trustee election would take place Tuesday, April 4.

Comsewogue High School students Kylie and Max updated the body on the news from the Comsewogue School District. Kylie reported that the high school’s business academy and work-based learning program were both approved career and technical education pathways by the New York State Education Department. 

Max noted Comsewogue’s recent athletic achievements, with the Warriors girls and boys basketball teams advancing to the postseason. The wrestling team vied for the county final, while the varsity cheerleading team competed at the national tournament in Florida.

Suffolk County COPE officer Casey Berry said the vehicle theft crime surge throughout the local area remains unresolved. “Lock your cars in your driveway and when you’re going to Starbucks,” she told the body. “Don’t leave the fob in the car.”

Berry also reported that officers within the department are being more active. “I think COVID affected law enforcement as well as the rest of the community in many ways,” she said, adding, “Our leadership is saying, ‘We really need to protect our community.’”

This boost in police activity, Berry added, is reflected by rising numbers of summons written by police officers, along with the department’s ongoing body camera initiative.   

Civic elections

Garboski reported the results of the nominating committee created last month after he and Pitti declared they would be leaving the hamlet before the year’s end, thereby vacating their posts.

Christine Allen and Costell were each nominated for the position of civic president, and Carolyn Sagliocca was the sole candidate nominated as vice president. The three candidates publicly accepted their nominations. 

Additional nominations will be accepted from the floor during the next meeting March 28, on which date a vote will take place. The newly electeds will formally enter their posts in April.

During the meeting, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) presented proclamations to Garboski and Pitti for their long service to the Comsewogue community.

“You cannot put a price on the time, effort, energy, knowledge and dedication they have brought to this task,” Romaine said. “They have worked around the clock to improve the quality of not their lives, but the quality of life of everyone in this community.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. Photo from Tierney's office.

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney in partnership with the New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Insurance Fund announced on March 2 that his office was able to secure multiple agreements as well as convictions from numerous businesses in order to reimburse more than $750,000 in wages and contributions owed to workers and state agencies.

“Suffolk County residents who work hard to earn an honest living deserve to be compensated fairly for their hard work. Several of the businesses we held accountable have either shortchanged their employees’ wages, or found ways to circumvent the system and line their own pockets with money while emptying the pockets of the same people who contribute to their businesses’ success,” said District Attorney Tierney. “My office will continue to fight against the fraudulent and illegal practices of corporations when they fail to pay employees for their honest labor and will also strive to recover any funds unlawfully obtained by companies defrauding workers. I thank our Wage Theft Prevention Task Force partners for helping us get these workers what was owed to them.”

“Any employer who steals from their workers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in New York State,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I thank Suffolk County District Attorney Tierney for being a steadfast ally in our fight against wage theft and for ensuring justice for the victims.”

This past year, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office worked with their Wage Theft Prevention Task Force partners to return the proper wages owed to hard-working employees. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and the requisite shutdown severely curtailed the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s capabilities to pursue long-term labor related crime operations, its investigative staff was nonetheless able to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars and effectuate numerous arrests. Many of the victimized employees finally saw justice when their cases were resolved in the past year. Some of those cases include:

 JERNAIL SINGH, 64, of Glen Head, owner and principal agent of MH ONE ENTERPRISE, INC., a gas station and convenience store in Brentwood – Between October 2015 to January 2019, the business underpaid 19 employees by compensating them below the statutory minimum wage rate and did not pay their employees overtime wages if they worked in excess of 40 hours a week. Singh routinely made false promises to the employees to pay them properly for the time they worked, and threatened them if they complained to the New York State Department of Labor about the underpayments and the poor working conditions. In addition, Singh bullied one employee by threatening to contact immigration authorities and falsely report him to the police for a crime the employee did not commit. In another instance, after an employee complained to the New York State Department of Labor about his working conditions, Singh retaliated by contacting the employee’s subsequent employers in an attempt to get that employee terminated. Singh was arrested on December 15, 2020. On July 6, 2022, he pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor and Prohibited Retaliation, a Class B misdemeanor. As part of his plea agreement, Singh paid nearly $240,000 in restitution to cover the amount he owed to his employees and the New York State Department of Labor. He was sentenced to three years of probationary supervision.

 TRI-STATE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW YORK CORP. of Flushing – Between June 2018 and August 2018, while the company worked on a capital improvement project for the Huntington Union Free School District, it willfully failed to pay its employees the mandated prevailing wages and overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. The corporation was charged in August 2020 and pleaded guilty on March 28, 2022 to Willful Failure to Pay the Prevailing Wage and Supplements, a Class E felony.  As part of the plea, the company paid back $121,530 in restitution to 14 employees who labored on the school district project.

 ALPHA CARTING & CONTRACTING SERVICES INC. of Bay Shore – Between June 2016 and May 2018, the corporation systematically underpaid four employees by reducing their wages below the statutory prevailing wage rate while they collected solid waste in the Village of Lake Grove. The corporation was charged on May 11, 2021, and pleaded guilty on August 30, 2022 to Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor. As part of the plea, they paid $96,732 to the affected employees and the New York State Department of Labor.

 GOLDSTAR INSTALLATION SERVICES, INC. aka THE FLOOR WORX OF NY, INC. of Selden – From July 2016 to July 2019, while working on public works projects throughout Suffolk County, the company misclassified 12 employees in order to avoid paying them the statutorily mandated prevailing wage rate for public works contracts. On February 27, 2020, Paul Gilistro, 59, the principal agent of the corporation and the corporation itself were charged with criminal complaints. Both the corporation and Gilistro pleaded guilty on April 7, 2022 to Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor. As part of their plea agreement, the defendants paid $40,000 upfront in restitution to the victims and an additional $40,000 to be paid through probation.

 WOODSTOCK CONSTRUCTION GROUP LTD. of Bayville – From November 2016 to May 2017, the company misclassified 19 employees and systematically failed to pay them the statutory prevailing wage rate and overtime wages for the hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week while working on the public works projects. Those projects were the Gilgo Beach Marina Dock Reconstruction Project in the Town of Babylon, the Bayport Beach Breakwater and Reconstruction Project in Town of Islip. On February 27, 2020, the corporation was charged, and on July 13, 2022 pleaded guilty on to Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, conditioned on the corporation paying back $66,776 to its employees for the underpayment of their wages.

 BOB 1232 JERICHO CORP. aka DHCW Inc., of Huntington, operated DIX HILLS BRUSHLESS CAR WASH – Between 2014 to 2017, the business failed to pay its employees the statutory minimum and overtime wage rates for hours worked. This business additionally submitted a fraudulent New York State Department of Labor NYS-45 form containing false information in order to avoid paying unemployment contributions. After facing criminal charges, the corporation pleaded guilty on March 23, 2022 to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, and was required to recompense $120,000 in restitution to their 11 employees and reimburse the New York State Unemployment Insurance Fund its required contributions.

 APJ RESTORATION, INC. of St. James – Between August 2015 and August 2016, the corporation knowingly underreported their gross sales on documents submitted to the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF). On February 27, 2020, the corporation and its principal agent, Alan James, 71, were charged and both later pleaded guilty on April 29, 2022 to Falsifying a Business Record in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor. James is due back in court for sentencing on March 27, 2023. The defendants agreed to pay $32,575.63 owed in workers’ compensation insurance premiums due to the NYSIF.

These matters were investigated by Suffolk County District Attorney Detective Investigators, the New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Insurance Fund and the Suffolk County Police Department.

### Criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusatory instruments. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. No one is above the law.

Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant, at podium, was nominated by the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee last week. Photo by Emily Murphy

Municipalities throughout Suffolk County will undergo significant leadership changes in 2023.

Three-term incumbent Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) cannot run for reelection due to 12-year term limits for county offices. Bellone’s absence at the top of the ticket has triggered a game of musical chairs across local governments, with an Election Day picture coming into focus.

Dave Calone, left, and Ed Romaine are the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, for Suffolk County executive. Left from Calone’s campaign; right from the Brookhaven town website

County executive

Two major party candidates have emerged to fill Bellone’s seat. Businessman and former federal and state prosecutor Dave Calone entered the race last summer and has since gained the backing of the county’s Democratic Committee.

Between increasing economic development initiatives and expanding transportation options, Calone regarded Suffolk as a place of growing opportunities.

“I felt like we needed someone with a private-sector background to help capitalize on those opportunities for our region,” he said, adding that his prosecutorial experience could help alleviate the issue of crime throughout the area.

Calone said he would connect law enforcement personnel with new technologies if elected. “I come from the technology sector and feel we can do more when it comes to law enforcement, giving police the tools and training they need to fight crime and help prevent crime,” he said.

He emphasized county support in promoting small business sectors and encouraging those wishing to start a new business.

Calone may have a tall task ahead as recent election results suggest county residents are moving toward the right, with Republicans gaining a majority in the county Legislature in 2021 while flipping the district attorney’s seat. 

To counteract these trends, Calone pledged to focus on local issues, which he suggested are matters of personal qualification rather than party affiliation.

“I think Suffolk County is less about left versus right, but who is going to have the vision to move Suffolk County forward,” the Democratic nominee said.

Opposing Calone is Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). He received his party’s nod during a nominating convention held Thursday, Feb. 23, in Ronkonkoma. Before becoming supervisor, Romaine was county clerk for 16 years starting in 1989 and did two separate tours in the county Legislature, one before and the other after his tenure as clerk.

“I’m running to work for the future of our county and its residents,” he told TBR News Media. “This is an opportunity to move Suffolk forward. And, quite honestly, nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”

The town supervisor added that he intends to campaign on the issues and policies he has overseen at the town level. He offered that fiscal responsibility and public trust in government remain top priorities.

“I’m looking to hold the line on taxes,” he said. “I’ve done it five different times with our budget, and I would like to do that with the county, reduce the county debt and improve the county bond rating to AAA.”

Romaine also addressed his environmental concerns, such as water quality and quantity. He proposed modernizing information technology systems, filling critical posts within the police department and resisting Albany’s development agenda for Long Island.

“I’m not a fan of the governor’s plan to urbanize our suburban communities,” he said.

Despite recent electoral history, a Republican has not occupied the county executive’s chair since Bob Gaffney left office in 2003. Asked why 2023 should be any different, Romaine suggested the coming election offers county voters a new direction.

“I think this is an opportunity to chart a new course,” he said.

Margot Garant, left, and Dan Panico are the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, for Brookhaven town supervisor. Left from the Port Jeff Village website; right from Panico’s Facebook page

Town supervisor

In declaring for county executive, Romaine vacates his post as town supervisor. Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor and Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) and Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant (D) have stepped forward to fill the seat, securing their parties’ respective nominations last week.

Panico, whose 6th Council District consists of the town’s southeastern hamlets, was first elected to the Town Board in 2010 following the untimely death of Councilman Keith Romaine (R), the supervisor’s son. Panico had previously served on the Brookhaven Planning Board and as a senior deputy Suffolk County clerk.

“I believe in the power of town government to have a dramatically positive effect on the lives of the people that we represent and the communities that make up Brookhaven,” Panico said in an interview.

The deputy supervisor emphasized fiscal stability and open space preservation as two signature campaign positions. 

“My record on open space preservation and the environment, I believe, is unmatched in this race,” he said, adding, “I am also fiscally conservative, and I have been able to work effectively with the town boards that I’ve served on … to accomplish meaningful goals in this town.”

Republicans currently hold eight of the 10 elected positions within the town government, with one council seat vacant. Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (Stony Brook) is the lone Democrat. 

To replicate its success at the ballot box, Panico said his party “must continue to listen to the people whom we represent.”

On the opposite side of the aisle, Garant seeks to become the first Democratic town supervisor since Mark Lesko resigned midterm in 2012. In early February, she announced her retirement from the Port Jeff village government after serving 14 years as mayor.

“There was no intent or forethought that I was retiring to put my hat in the ring,” she said. However, plans for her run came together shortly after the announcement when town Democratic leaders asked for a meeting.

“It was believed at that time that Romaine would be going up to the county executive level, which kind of left an interesting opening,” Garant said.

The outgoing village mayor said she plans to apply the lessons learned at the village level to town government.

“The [Brookhaven] landfill fees represent 42% of the overall revenue in the town,” she said. 

Given her background negotiating with the Long Island Power Authority in a tax grievance dispute settled in 2018, she considers herself uniquely qualified to tackle the loss of public revenue.

She added, “A self-sustaining waste management plan that speaks to utilizing the current infrastructure without expanding the carbon footprint, that’s something I’m very interested in grappling with.”

Along with the landfill closure, Garant said she would continue to focus on development, arguing that the town must “balance the quality of life and get some development done.”

While acknowledging that her party has “a lot of work to do” to be competitive this November, she remained optimistic.

“We have a very awesome slate” running for Town Board, she said. “I’m enthusiastic about what the slate brings, and I think the message we’re bringing is going to resonate.”

Deputy Mayor and trustee Kathianne Snaden, mayoral candidate in Port Jefferson. Photo by Jean Boucher Photography, courtesy Snaden

Port Jeff mayor

With Garant taking herself out of the running, Deputy Mayor and trustee Kathianne Snaden is the first declared candidate in the race for Port Jefferson Village mayor.

“When I first ran in 2019, my reason for running was to be the voice of those who never thought they had a voice,” she said. Since then, Snaden has gradually assumed greater responsibilities with more committee assignments, saying, “I think I’m in an even better position now to do that for the community.”

As the village’s public safety commissioner over the last four years, she considered the issue a paramount policy concern. “That has always been my number one concern in the village — to keep the community and the residents safe,” Snaden said.

More recently, she was assigned trustee liaison to the building and planning departments. “Over the last year or so, I’ve been doing a lot of work up there to help streamline and make the process easier for anybody looking for an application,” she said. “That’s something that I want to continue to work on.”

Snaden also mentioned that close coordination with the school district, greater parking opportunities and improved resident mobility would be areas of focus if she were elected mayor this June.

Snaden is currently alone in the mayoral contest. Whether others step forward to run, she said she remains “focused on the work that I’m doing now and [that’s] what I will continue to do in the future.”

Lunar New Year 2023. Photo from TOB

On January 29, the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook (AAAGSB), in collaboration with the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI), hosted an event to celebrate the Lunar New Year at Brookhaven Town Hall which included a Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rabbit-themed art show. During the event, the artists were presented with Certificates of Congratulations those whose artwork received special recognition.

The event was attended by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Councilman Neil Foley and Town Clerk Kevin LaValle.

“The Town of Brookhaven was happy to host a Lunar New Year Celebration for the year of the rabbit. I want to thank the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI) for their hard work in putting this celebration together. Brookhaven Town is a mosaic of many ethnic and cultural groups and the AANHPI is one of the fastest growing in Brookhaven Town that adds to our diversity. We look forward to having this celebration every year,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine.

“It was very meaningful to host this exciting event at Town Hall. The rabbit is often associated with growth and creativity, and it reminds me of how our local Asian community has grown in size and in creative confidence along with this event. We started the Lunar New Year event two years ago online, and it has grown and moved each year since then into bigger and better venues. I especially want to encourage our artists to keep up their important work in moving people’s hearts and minds in ways that the printed or spoken words cannot do. I would also like to thank the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook (AAAGSB,) the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI) as well as my staff for working so hard to pull this event together,” said Councilmember Kornreich.

Councilmember Foley said, “The Asian-American and Pacific Islander community is one of the fastest growing in the region and the Lunar New Year exhibit at Town Hall was a great example of their contribution to our local art and culture. Brookhaven Town is a great melting pot, and everybody plays a role in making it a better place to live. I congratulate and thank the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook, and the Asian American, Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Advisory Board for bringing this exhibit to Town Hall.

“This Lunar New Year celebration was one of the first events I had the opportunity to attend as the Brookhaven Town Clerk. I was impressed by the creativity and passion that the artists showed through their artwork, and I was glad to see it displayed here in Brookhaven Town Hall. Congratulations to all of the award recipients and thank you to the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook, the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board, and my colleague, Councilmember Kornreich, for hosting this event,” added Town Clerk Kevin LaValle.

File photo by Alex Petroski

Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant will represent the Democratic Party in this year’s race for Brookhaven town supervisor, confirmed by a Facebook post from the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee.

The news comes less than a day after the Suffolk County Republican Committee tapped incumbent Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) for county executive. In the general election, Garant will square off against Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor and Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville).

This a developing story.

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

The Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, Feb. 21, to discuss parking, youth services at the Village Center and emergency repairs at Port Jefferson Country Club.


At the request of parking administrator Kevin Wood, the board passed a resolution to set the same managed parking rates and daily times as last season, effective March 15. The board also approved 24/7 metering of the Perry Street resident lot at $0.50 per hour, effective April 1, with payment exceptions for village residents and Perry Street permits.

Country club

Mayor Margot Garant reported on a wellhead at the country club in need of replacement, saying that a recommendation was submitted last year to remove the turbine from the well for inspection. 

“Apparently, if some basic maintenance had been done on the wellhead last year, it would have prevented the complete failure,” she said. “There’s a rubber gasket that sits on top of the pump, and the rubber gasket was completely blown, so it burned out the steel shaft below it,” adding “the whole wellhead has to be replaced.”

The mayor reported that the Farmingdale-based American Well & Pump Co. has “the significant component on their shelf available for us.” At a cost of $47,130, the board voted to approve the request, with the money taken from the PJCC fund.

Trustee Stan Loucks said that the cost to repair the wellhead “went from $10,000 to this number [$47,130] because of the lack of attention last year.”


Garant reported on an ongoing negotiation between the village and the village-based nonprofit Long Island Foundation for Education & Sports. This organization offers youth programs and rents a room in the Village Center. 

Garant said LIFFES currently requests a continued rental rate of $35 per hour, reduced from the $42 per hour pre-pandemic rate. Village treasurer Denise Mordente said the village receives roughly $31,000 in annual rent from the nonprofit. 

“If they were to leave because they could not afford it, there’s not another vendor looking to come in there, to my understanding,” Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden said. “Additionally, it’s a service to our residents and our families that is absolutely necessary for some.”

Garant added that the partnership with the foundation was not motivated by profit but rather by providing a needed service for residents. 

“It’s a win-win because the building is dormant during these shoulder hours — there’s nothing happening,” Garant said. “We’re servicing our residents. It’s a great program for the kids. And it’s a solid revenue line that we didn’t have before.”

Contemplating whether to comply with the request, board members agreed to schedule a meeting with LIFFES executives to work toward agreeable terms for both parties.

Snaden reported on a recent meeting with the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District. The BID agreed to contribute to spring season flowers and beautification and up to 50% on discounted LED lights for next winter.

The deputy mayor concluded her report by discussing progress with the planning board, as “Conifer II is ready to submit plans for the upcoming March meeting,” she said. “We should hopefully start seeing movement there.”

Loucks gave an update on the upcoming season at PJCC. “Today, we have 396 members, and we broke $1.3 million today,” he said. “A soft opening is going to be March 24. The hard opening is March 31.”

Trustee Rebecca Kassay reported on a recent meeting with Town of Brookhaven officials regarding the draft plans for a redesigned marina parking lot near the harbor. 

“We pointed out the entrance across from Barnum, where we’ve had multiple deaths in the village,” she said, adding, “The conversation came around to, ‘Do we really need that to be open at all?’”

Responding to this suggestion, Kassay said the town would consult with the Melville-based Nelson+Pope engineering firm to determine whether the lot could be reconfigured without an entrance or exit at Barnum.

The board voted to schedule a budget work session for March 20 at 3 p.m. The next meeting of the village board will take place Monday, March 6, at 5 p.m.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (left) and Jim Malley. Photo courtesy Anker’s office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) recently presented former Rocky Point resident Jim Malley with a proclamation for his work with the Hauppauge-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25. 

Until his retirement, Malley was involved with IBEW Local 25 for 43 years, serving as one of only five financial secretaries in the history of Local 25.

Malley started his electrical worker apprenticeship directly out of high school. He rose through the ranks, participating in additional volunteer work and holding positions of leadership. Among these, he served as an examining board member, secretary of the executive board and vice president. He earned his bachelor’s degree during this time.

“Having known Jim throughout my service as a Suffolk County Legislator, it is an honor to recognize him for his lengthy union service, as well as his involvement in our community,” Anker said. “Having been brought up in an IBEW union family, I recognize the commitment and dedication it takes to serve both the union and our community.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and county officials announced Friday, Feb. 17, that Suffolk has made progress restoring cybersecurity.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, County Clerk Vincent Puleo and Chief Deputy County Executive Lisa Black were on hand Feb. 17 to announce the county’s progress in restoring cybersecurity. Suffolk County photo

The announcement comes after county websites, servers and networks have been offline since September last year — the results of cyberattacks that first struck at the end of 2021. The county’s main website was restored online Friday, with more services coming online this week.

Bellone thanked everyone involved, including county IT professionals and County Clerk Vincent Puleo (R), who entered office earlier this year.

“His leadership and his partnership in the brief time that he’s been on the job has allowed us to make incredible progress, and he’s responsible for the announcement that we have today,” Bellone said.

The county executive reviewed key findings from a forensic investigation of the cyberattack that began in the County Clerk’s Office in December of 2021. According to Bellone, hackers were able to enter the clerk office’s system, and for eight months were able to operate before securing additional credentials to migrate into the general county system.

Bellone added that an IT director in the clerk’s office had been placed on administrative leave after, the county executive said, the director obstructed efforts, resulting in countless delays to restore security.

Bellone said every county office was deemed clean by Oct. 17, except for the County Clerk’s Office, and the expense of the security breach has been “extremely costly to taxpayers of this county.”

Despite hackers demanding $2.5 million from the county, Suffolk refused to pay the ransom.

Bellone said the county had replaced the County Clerk Office’s firewall with the most updated protection.

“The clerk’s office has been deemed clean, and we are able to start to restore online services beginning with the county website,” he said.

The county executive said he knows now the segregated IT environment within the various county offices was a mistake. He added it was fair to criticize him.

“I should have more quickly implemented the recommendations in the 2019 cybersecurity assessment, which I commissioned, to hire an additional executive level leader focused on cybersecurity,” Bellone said.

Puleo said the county’s IT department’s dedication has been unwavering during the process.

“Going forward, we will do everything we can in the clerk’s office to cooperate and get things where they belong and keep the protection so that the whole county IT is protected from future attacks,” the county clerk said.