Tags Posts tagged with "Bruce Miller"

Bruce Miller

File photo by Raymond Janis

Green energy update

Last Friday, May 10, Xena Ugrinsky, Port Jefferson energy committee chairperson and I visited with Peter St. Germain, general manager, Terminalling, at Northville Industries on Belle Mead Road, East Setauket. Northville has proposed building warehouses or apartments on this site and Xena and I wanted to speak with St. Germain regarding its potential for future hydrogen storage. Northville Industries has a strategic importance for energy and the Long Island economy.

We discussed the economic demand for hydrogen, its fast-growing use in the new economy, the need to switch to green energy in the power generation and rail industries, and discussed, also, the speed of worldwide adoption of this fuel to reduce climate change.

St. Germain supports these green goals and reports that Gene Bernstein, Northville’s chairman, is already planning for a “4 Gen” green future. We can hope this site remains an energy site and is not intensely developed.

On Tuesday, April 30, I went into Manhattan to address the MTA board of directors. My request was simple — to have a meeting on green energy with Long Island Rail Road president Robert Free, a Port Jefferson Station resident. My time to speak was short. Janno Lieber, MTA’s chairman, was polite and did not yawn. The MTA is coming to an end of its 20-year planning for LIRR. I see no evidence of any desire of LIRR to accommodate state law or reduce carbon emissions.

I will be addressing the Three Village Civic Association and its president, Charles Tramontana, on this topic on Monday, June 3. I am discussing this issue with Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association president, Ira Costell; Port Jefferson Civic Association president, Ana Hozyainova; and county Legislator Steve Englebright [D-Setauket], sponsor of the New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act when he was an assemblyman. We would hope to petition Gov. Kathy Hochul [D] to support her own law for climate and green energy use.

We have proposals for Mr. Free for new technologies that make this transition far more feasible and economical — even beneficial to the New York state economy. 

Green transportation: “A better ride” — a “one-seat ride” to Manhattan is critical to our North Shore environment and economy.

Contact your elected representatives. The MTA is getting $10 billion from the federal government to transition to green energy. I see no benefit to the North Shore from these funds. “We pay taxes, too.”

RSVP Mr. Free.

Bruce Miller

Port Jefferson

Celebrate your favorite waitstaff

Tuesday, May 21, is National Waitstaff Day. Your neighborhood restaurant waiters are on their feet all day working long hours. They take and deliver meal orders, follow up to make sure your meal is up to expectations, refill your coffee, tea or water glass, box any leftovers you want to take home and prepare the check — all with a smile and friendly disposition. 

On this day, why not show your appreciation and honor your favorite waiter? Leave a 25 percent tip against the total bill including taxes. Remember that they usually have to share the tips with the busboys. Drop off some flowers, a box of candy or some cookies as well.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Ceasefires do not work

In recent weeks, colleges and universities across the country have been visited by large groups of antisemitic activists, known as Palestine protesters, whose stated goal is the abolition of the state of Israel. Although it might be only partially accurate to describe these visitors as guest lecturers, they do share many of the same qualifications, as they teach students various things they need to know, including how to recite catchy slogans, the proper wearing of masks to avoid being identified and how to live in a tent.

Here in Stony Brook, the SUNY protesters seem to be doing well, and have branched out to beyond the confines of the university, with a few of them joining the ranks of the North Country Peace Group, which congregates on North Country Road in Setauket every Saturday morning from around 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and has been doing so for many years. 

On the opposite side of the street, the Stony Brook Patriots meet at the same time, for the purpose of countering most of the positions advocated by NCPG. For motorists passing by, the two sides are easily distinguished: NCPG displays three flags: a Black Lives Matter flag, a U.N. flag and, most recently, a Palestine flag. The Patriots, on the other hand, display only two types of flags: about a dozen examples of the American stars and stripes, and a single flag of the nation of Israel. 

The members of the Patriots believe that advocating for peace, while at the same time supporting Palestine — which implies support for Hamas — is inconsistent and hypocritical. 

Last Oct. 7, Hamas perpetrated a murderous, unprovoked attack on the civilian citizens of Israel, an atrocity unmatched since the Holocaust and World War II. After the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States, we had no viable option other than to wage war against Japan and achieve an unconditional surrender. If Japan had requested a ceasefire a few months after Pearl Harbor, it would not have been considered. As it turned out, the United States and the Allies decisively defeated both Japan and Germany, and prosecuted and punished the criminal leaders of both countries. 

“Peace Through Strength” is a concept that has been espoused by many of our great leaders, from George Washington through Ronald Reagan, and the leaders of Israel know that it applies today. As British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain showed us in 1938, appeasement and ceasefires do not work.

George Altemose

Setauket

File photo by Raymond Janis

A new Easter tradition

Thank you, Arts & Lifestyles Editor Heidi Sutton, for sharing the wonderful recipe for Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole (TBR News Media, “Let’s Eat,” Feb. 22). Every year for decades we have had ham, turkey or lamb for Easter. This year we decided to try something new. The Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole was the centerpiece of our first Easter brunch and it was fabulous. The recipe was easy to follow and the flavor was amazing. We have a new tradition!

 Joan Dickinson

Lake Grove

Clarifying on climate, renewables and electric vehicles

In a letter appearing in the March 28 editions of TBR News Media, Mark Sertoff makes a number of highly dubious assertions.

To begin with he claims “there is no climate crisis” and that “thousands of scientists around the world concur.” Sounds impressive, but really it isn’t. There are well over 8 million scientists worldwide. In addition, scientists are not equal climate experts. What a geologist, astronomer or nuclear physicist thinks about global warming has little more weight than what you or I think. What does matter is what actively publishing climate scientists think. The answer is that close to 100 percent agree that human-caused global warming is occurring.

He claims Germany is backing off renewables because of “massive problems in reliability and cost.” This is simply untrue. On Jan. 3, Reuters reported that Germany’s power grid reached 55% renewable power last year, a rise of 6.6%. It’s aiming for 80% by 2030.

He’s worried about birds killed by wind turbines, as well as whales. I share his concern, but the fact is that by far the biggest human-related cause of bird mortality is collisions with buildings (Flaco the Owl being a recent sad example). As far as whales, entanglements in fishing gear and strikes by large ships are the leading human-related causes of whale deaths. And there’s no observational evidence linking whale deaths to offshore wind turbines, either in construction or operation. 

Getting to the subject of electric buses he plays on fear. The fear of getting stuck in cold weather. The fear of explosions. Kings Park school district is currently purchasing propane-fueled buses. Propane can explode if not handled properly. As for diesel, studies have linked breathing diesel fumes to harmful effects on student respiratory and brain health, also decreased performance at school. And the range of electric school buses is more than adequate for our suburban Long Island districts, even in the dead of winter.

As far as the depreciation of electric vs. standard vehicles, the claim that “you can’t give away a used EV” is misleading, to say the least. The reason for higher depreciation is currently EVs cost more than standard vehicles to begin with. That’s likely to change in the near future. He omits to mention that electric school buses are significantly cheaper to operate.

It’s perfectly valid to disagree on the pace of transforming school bus fleets to electric. What’s not valid is climate change denialism and spreading misinformation about renewables.

David Friedman

St. James

The U.S. government needs to better protect its citizens

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently finalized the Comprehensive Asbestos Reporting Rule, and we must ask the question: Why has it taken so long? We know there are hundreds of toxic chemicals that lead to disease in this country, yet why is the U.S. one of the last to protect its own citizens? 

Asbestos has been a known carcinogen for decades, causing over 40,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, and now our government is finally banning it. In 2016, during the Obama administration, the federal government passed legislation to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. However, why did it take 40 years to update a bill on toxic substances? 

Twenty-two years ago, after my grandmother died from breast cancer, I founded the Community Health and Environment Coalition to address the high rate of cancer in the area. I wanted to know why it was happening and how to prevent it. Community members, elected officials and health professionals challenged the NYS Department of Health to do more. The Health Department did this by launching an investigation that left us with more questions than answers. During the investigation, most residents expressed concerns about our environment, particularly our water. Today we have identified toxic chemicals in our water including PFAS “forever chemicals” and 1,4-dioxane. 

Decades of illegal dumping, military and industrial use of toxic chemicals dumped in the ground and now-banned pesticides have contributed to our long toxic chemical legacy. We are finally seeing some progress after years of grassroots environmental advocacy and government policy proactively holding those responsible, but more must be done. 

As the chemical industry continues to exert power over the government, we must understand that cheap utilitarian toxic chemicals may seem helpful at first, but the long-term health effects may negate any cost savings and may put our lives at risk.

It’s been over 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed thousands of people. Since then, many first responders have suffered delayed symptoms and continue to lose their lives due to exposure to toxic chemicals. Now that we better understand the long-term health effects of toxic exposure, we must hold those responsible and insist that they do more to protect lives.

Sarah Anker 

Sarah Anker (D) is a former Suffolk County legislator and is running for New York State Senate in District 1.

Northville is potentially a local treasure

Monday evening, March 25, I attended a gathering. 

It was not intended to be a gathering. It was intended to be a hearing, and the hearing was about Northville Industries proposal to put either warehouses (plan A) or apartments (plan B) on its Belle Mead Road property. 

Only local residents were notified of this “hearing” but apparently these residents felt strongly enough to enlist friends and relatives from Northern Brookhaven to attend. The “hearing” was so well attended that it had to be postponed and relocated.

Let me state that both options are terrible choices. Plan A comes with immense truck traffic, while plan B comes with dense-pack zoning and IDA funding. 

What is IDA funding you might ask? That’s when the town gives away taxpayer money to subsidize private development. This means incredibly low taxes for the developer for up to 15 years and then a gradual increase thereafter. All the services that you and I receive for our taxes will be rendered, but at your and my expense. 

But here’s the thing. The Northville property is potentially a local treasure — this is not hyperbole. The future of transportation, including railroad, and electrical generation is with hydrogen.

We cannot go green enough without it. Foreign countries are building hydrogen trains and are putting them on the rails. Hydrogen is a solution to our truly poor-quality railroad transportation. The European market is investing $5 billion in a Swedish steel plant. The electricity for the plant will come from hydrogen.

But where do you store the hydrogen?

Well, the pipeline rights-of-way are already in place for Northville. This can be done safely and it can be an enormous boon to our Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County and even New York State economies (Alstom, a subsidiary of GE, manufactures hydrogen trains in Plattsburgh). The alternative is that we purchase trains in America from foreign countries.

The vacant and underused parts of the Northville property must be protected for future use to meet New York’s climate standards.

Please come to the new hearing and tell your representatives that both plan A and plan B are unacceptable. 

Bruce Miller

Port Jefferson

Embracing 3V schools reconfiguration

The Three Village Central School District has finally made the decision to move into the 21st century and reconfigure our schools to a middle school model. This is a move that is decades overdue and was overwhelmingly supported by students, staff and the community at large.

An Opinion piece published in the March 14 edition [“Preserving what works in 3V school district”] is a direct contradiction to all that this long-awaited, and very necessary, reconfiguration represents. Anthony Dattero, a district guidance counselor and author of this piece, has stated his dissent regarding this move citing the “history” and “uniqueness” of the district. To that I must say that there is a stark difference between one of a kind and one left behind. 

As a dual certified teacher, licensed social worker and former guidance counselor, I simply cannot fathom why the benefits of this monumental change are not obvious to everyone who is committed to the growth and success of all of our students. And as a Ward Melville alumni and parent of a Three Village student I am thrilled for the students that will bask in the new opportunities that the reconfiguration will offer.  

Sixth graders will now have access to the study of a foreign language as well as an array of academics that peers in every other district in New York — except for one —- have. Ninth graders will finally, finally be housed in a high school as high schoolers. No longer will they be subjected to bus rides for upper-level courses and JV athletics. 

Gone will be the limited elective choices in art, music, technology, etc., as well as sacrificing these opportunities due to scheduling conflicts. This reconfiguration is akin to hitting the refresh button on a page long left with the cursor blinking.  

In Dattero’s Opinion piece and his many public comments at Board of Education meetings, he has claimed that the district did not do its due diligence and that the 100-or-so people that he has spoken to are now questioning the changes that are indeed coming. He doesn’t understand why the district is in such a hurry to reconfigure something that “isn’t broken.”

I counter his position with my own experiences speaking to those in Three Village and several other districts. Fellow 3V members are excited for their children’s new opportunities and cannot believe it has taken so long. Those outside of our community are stunned that our antiquated system still exists as no other ninth graders on Long Island are considered “junior high school” students. If we are hurrying this through, then it’s the quickest two-decade race I have ever observed at a sloth-like pace.

I am not always a fan of the decisions in this district, just ask Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, but my family has been a part of Three Village my whole life. My mother spent nearly three decades teaching at Ward Melville, my sister and I are graduates, and my daughter will be too. I have seen this place ebb and flow through good and bad, and we have been calling for this change for way too long. The community has spoken, and the time has finally arrived. Middle school here we come!

Stefanie Werner

East Setauket

Setbacks and uncertainty for Port Jeff LIRR electrification

There is even more bad news for those who support the $3.5 billion MTA Port Jefferson Branch Long Island Rail Road electrification project. 

It is clear that the MTA for decades has never been serious about supporting this project. The project was not included in the March 11 announcement from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg [D] concerning President Joe Biden’s [D] FY25 budget request under the Annual Report on Funding Recommendations Fiscal Year 2025 Capital Investment Grants New Starts Core Capacity Program and Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program for the Federal Transit Administration. This would have been the federal funding source to finance these projects.  

To date, neither MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, NYC Transit President Richard Davey, New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams, have never been on board for electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch line. You will know within nine months if the MTA is serious about advancing this project. Funding would have to be included in the next MTA $51 billion or more 2025-2029 Five Year Capital Plan. It has to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2025.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

 

Photo by Raymond Janis

Environmental matters

I was delighted to see John Turner’s new column (“Living Lightly”) in the Arts & Lifestyles section, Feb. 15. Mr. Turner is a well-regarded figure in the environmental movement on Long Island, and his contribution to your paper in the form of a column of practical advice for a more Earth-friendly lifestyle is greatly appreciated.

All too often, we fall into a funk of inaction regarding the overwhelming challenges of the environmental crisis. It can seem quite impossible for any one person to effect change when the problems we are facing are so huge. Mr. Turner’s column will hopefully look at, and remind us all, of the simple choices we can make as individuals to move toward a cleaner and healthier planet.

On the theme of a cleaner and healthier planet, I was also very pleased to see your Feb. 15 editorial on the future of the Town of Brookhaven landfill [“Where does Brookhaven’s garbage go from here?”]. I’m astounded that the town makes no significant effort to inform its populace of future plans regarding the landfill. Similarly, the town’s general lack of communication about waste collection is baffling. We could all use a little guidance about how best to sort recyclable plastics and metals, for instance. Helpful hints about reusable plastics and disposal of organic and inorganic waste, provided on a regular basis by mail, email and/or press releases would go a long way toward generating trust and pride among Brookhaven’s residents.

Douglas Baldwin

Sound Beach

Port Jeff school board needs three candidates to assess the future 

Good day Port Jefferson School District parents, it is decision time! 

Since I left the Board of Education in 2006 the educational quality of our district has been in a freefall (see The Washington Post surveys). 

Parents need to put forward three candidates for the board who will look closely at the state of the district and make decisions based on the educational needs of your kids.

 You can do this! America is about intelligent people — and Port Jefferson School District has an abundance — stepping forward and bringing their skills to a collective entity, the Board of Education, for the best outcomes for our kids.  

 The current board seems obsessed with the needs of the lacrosse team. Millions have been proposed to this end — and rejected by residents. Educational opportunities for your kids have been decimated over the years.

 Do we want to: 

Keep the Port Jefferson schools the way they are?

Merge with the Three Village school district — assuming Three Village is of like mind? (Merge in total or merge at the high school level only.)

Or tuition our kids to the Three Village district – sending only our high school kids to Three Village.

You must gather together for your kids. There are people who will support you for election and as a board member. The future is in your hands if you do not let it slip through your fingers. Talk among yourselves. You have the people who can lead!

Bruce Miller

Port Jefferson

 

Photo by Raymond Janis

Sen. Schumer gives support to Sound Beach post office reopening 

Dear Postmaster General DeJoy,

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo by U.S. Senate Photographic Studio/Jeff McEvoy

I write regarding United States Postal Service (USPS) operations in the hamlet of Sound Beach, New York, on Long Island’s North Shore, where the local post office was shuttered months ago without warning. Sound Beach residents, community leaders and elected representatives are troubled by the lack of communication about the closure from USPS and the apparent lack of any work being done on-site to remedy the situation.

It is my understanding that the Sound Beach post office was shuttered around May 29, 2023, after a potential structural issue at the facility was uncovered. According to community leaders, the only official notification to the community since the closure has been the placement of signs in the building windows stating that the post office is temporarily closed for safety reasons, as well as a statement to a local media organization by a USPS spokesperson stating that the building “remains closed awaiting necessary repairs.” There are also concerns regarding undelivered mail to Sound Beach residents and reported short staffing at the Miller Place post office, where Sound Beach post office personnel have been relocated. I ask that USPS provide me and other community leaders with detailed information about the closure and what work is being done to rectify the situation, including answers to these specific questions:

1) What are the structural issues that have been identified at the Sound Beach post office building?

2) Where is USPS in the process of remedying the structure issues at the facility and what is the timeline for reestablishment of services at the post office?

3) What is the estimated reopening date of the Sound Beach post office?

4) What exact measures are being taken to ensure that mail delivery and postal services are smoothly and adequately provided to Sound Beach residents?

5) Is a temporary location within Sound Beach being considered for postal operations and services? If no, why not?

As you know, local post offices are the bustling center of healthy communities across New York and the country. Reestablishing a post office in Sound Beach is critical to ensuring vital services are accessible to all those who need them. I urge you to work with stakeholders to reestablish operations at the Sound Beach post office as quickly and safely as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this important request. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my staff.

Charles E. Schumer

U.S. Senate Majority Leader (D-NY

Lack of emergency response from PJV

I take the safety of this community very seriously.

On Sunday afternoon, there was a scary and extremely unsettling incident that took place in Port Jefferson. Suffolk County Police Department, village code officers and other first responders, including a SCPD helicopter, were deployed to the harbor area. 

Seeing the helicopter and emergency response, I was concerned about what potentially could be unfolding, yet no word came. In desperation, I turned to social media to see if any information was posted from village officials. There was nothing. 

What I found instead were panicked messages from residents, also desperate for information, and rumors and hearsay about what might be going on Down Port. Was it a bomb? Had someone targeted the ferry boats or ferry terminal?

Social media was rife with comments and conjecture about what was happening. Instead of information, residents posted their fears, concerns and panic online, as there were over 100 comments on social media posts in real time.

These are from actual social media posts on Sunday: 

“My son is down there and I was panicking.”

“This is so scary.”

“They heard a bomb was going to explode.”

My daughter “is working downtown today.”

My daughter “too, she’s working the boats!”

“No communication. People are very angry.”

Despite this, there was not one word from the administration or the mayor [Lauren Sheprow], the self-appointed commissioner of public safety, to calm the concerns or panic. This is the same mayor, who during her reorganizational meeting, chose to deactivate the safety committee.

While I agree that “law enforcement agencies … are responsible for, and lead the communication efforts,” that in no way precludes the administration from coming out in front and informing residents, calming fears and letting the community know the situation is being handled.

Port Jeff Village has an emergency communication system called Code Red, which is designed to keep residents safe. The mayor chose not to use this system nor to communicate through social media or the village website.

It’s shameful that village officials were asleep at the wheel and allowed this incident to unfold and did not take any action to inform residents. Our community was expecting, at least, a Code Red notification. Instead, residents received nothing. Zero communication. Not a word. 

During times of crisis, strong leadership that inspires confidence in local government is paramount for a strong community.

Strong leadership or leadership of any kind was nonexistent during this time.

Kathianne Snaden

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: According to the village website Sept. 4, a bomb threat was made at Port Jefferson Harbor Sunday, Sept. 3, 1:40 p.m., but no bombs were found. 

The writer served as trustee of the Village of Port Jefferson from 2019-23, holding the position of deputy mayor and commissioner of public safety.

Port Jefferson’s motorcycle noise

On Saturday, Sept. 2, we were enjoying the wonderful food and service on the porch at The Fifth Season restaurant at 34 E. Broadway. It was a beautiful evening near the boats and the beach, and a pleasure to be outside. 

Unfortunately the extremely loud noise made by motorcycles passing by was deafening. 

To an extent, the noise is a safety measure for riders, but there is no reason for the exaggerated degree frequently in use by some, especially on the narrow and crowded streets of Port Jefferson.

The noise is at a level to be startling and disturbing to anyone near it and likely harmful to riders themselves. Consideration should be given to requiring a reasonable legal threshold or possibly setting aside a special parking area and street restrictions.

Dave Gross

Port Jefferson

Palumbo way off the mark on migrants

In New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo’s [R-New Suffolk] op-ed [“Local control is key to protect communities from migrant crisis,” Aug. 31, TBR News Media], he blames lack of leadership for the immigrant crises and argues for the need for local control. Unfortunately, his argument is way off the mark.

The failure of leadership comes from Congress in general and Republicans specifically for failing to pass a comprehensive policy and plan for dealing with immigration. We are not the only country facing a crisis — hundreds of thousands of Central and South Americans as well as Africans are desperately fleeing war, famine, lack of security, gang warfare and the effects of global warming.

The world needs a plan to both stabilize those countries and provide for asylum seekers. Seeking asylum is a basic right. The U.S. should subscribe to international standards for asylum; an asylum claimant must demonstrate persecution based on one of the five protected grounds — race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

We should have sufficient judges to quickly process cases, admit those who qualify and deport those who don’t. We need standards to admit those not seeking asylum. Finally, the question is not local control — which runs the risk of not-in-my-backyard claims — or state or national control, but both a comprehensive plan and the acknowledgement that all Americans should welcome immigrants.

It should not be left to the border states, nor should we accept the stunts of Govs. Ron DeSantis [R-FL] and Greg Abbott [R-TX], who have shipped immigrants north without notice or the agreement of the immigrants themselves.

Adam D. Fisher

Port Jefferson Station

The time is now for PJ Branch electrification

A Long Island Rail Road train arrives at Stony Brook train station during rush hour.
Photo by ComplexRational from Wikimedia Commons

Please forward this information to friends and relatives in Port Jefferson and include friends and relatives who reside along the North Shore, west to Greenlawn.

I have been working with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Sierra Club on the Port Jeff Branch electrification project for many years. (The USGBC-LI is focused on green transportation.)

The LIRR has told our village’s Conservation Advisory Council and me that there are challenges to modernization and electrification of the line.

We are not seeing this as an “all or nothing” proposition. We can provide the LIRR planners with options if they need assistance. We can electrify now and “double track” in the future. Better is better than nothing.

This is an economic issue for our area and a green issue for Long Island and New York state. Much money is being spent to improve transportation elsewhere throughout the state.

We pay taxes, too.

New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act — signed into law in 2019 — requires public agencies to work diligently toward New York’s zero-emissions goals.

Diesel locomotion does not conform. Driving from the Port Jefferson line to the Ronkonkoma line for a decent ride does not conform. Building unnecessary parking garages and paving acres of asphalt for parking does not conform.

Suffolk County has designated space at the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site on Sheep Pasture Road for the LIRR that would help with electrification and eliminate two grade-level crossings and two old and obsolete bridges. This would be valuable to our local economy and traffic flow as well.

The time is now. If we do not make progress in the short term, it may be decades before we have better transportation.

Bruce Miller 

Port Jefferson

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

An alternative to advanced septic systems

The Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act, if passed by referendum vote, would provide an increase in the county sales tax of 0.125%, thereby increasing the combined New York State and Suffolk County tax rate to a whopping 8.375%. The reason for this, we are told, will be to provide reimbursements to beleaguered homeowners who have been required to have advanced wastewater treatment technology installed as part of their cesspools.

Although there is considerable controversy regarding the wisdom of passing this legislation, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the widespread, possibly even universal, requirement for these high-tech, electric cesspools is a good idea. But is this reasonable?

There are a number of significant problems associated with these units. The initial installation expense is comparable to the cost of a new car, and maintenance and inspection issues are likely to be an ongoing nuisance forever.

But what is the alternative? A much more sensible approach, in my opinion, would be to leave the present concrete cesspools as they are, and to develop large-scale denitrification systems to be installed and operated at the distribution sites of the Suffolk County Water Authority. 

These systems would process the nitrate ions, which are composed of nitrogen and oxygen atoms, and produce pure, clean nitrogen and oxygen gasses, which could be released into the atmosphere with no ill effects whatsoever. As a result, the nitrate level of the purified water can be made as low as desired. As a bonus, power could be provided by solar arrays or windmills. And, as we were told by former state Assemblyman Steve Englebright [Perspective, “Let the people vote for clean water,” TBR News Media, Aug. 17], “Pure water is our most essential resource.”

In the early 1900s, Fritz Haber developed a method for synthesizing ammonia from gaseous nitrogen and hydrogen, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1919. This revolutionized the manufacture of fertilizers, at a reasonable cost, which helped to feed millions of people throughout the world. 

If Haber could devise a methodology for combining nitrogen and hydrogen in a cost-effective manner over 100 years ago, surely we can figure out how to separate nitrogen from oxygen just as easily today. And I have no doubt that the SCWA can build, maintain and operate a few hundred of these systems with far greater efficiency, much lower cost and infinitely less aggravation than 380,000 Suffolk homeowners would expend on the electric cesspools buried in their backyards.

George Altemose

Setauket

 

Trustee Lauren Sheprow, left, and Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden. Photo by Raymond Janis

The Village of Port Jefferson is nearing a crossroads.

Residents will enter the polls this Tuesday, June 20, to decide on a successor to Mayor Margot Garant. After 14 years leading the administration, the incumbent is stepping down to head the Democratic ticket for Town of Brookhaven supervisor against Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville).

Garant’s seat is being contested by Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden and trustee Lauren Sheprow. In an exclusive office debate spanning nearly two and a half hours, the mayoral candidates pitched their respective visions to the voters.

Introductions

Defeated by just four votes in her first bid for trustee in 2018, Snaden won election to the board the following year and has since secured several liaison posts before taking over as deputy mayor in 2021.

She said she first ran for office “to be the voice” of the people, bringing their wishes to Village Hall and putting their priorities into action. 

“I am ready to run for mayor because I want to use all of that institutional knowledge, all of my experience, to do even more for the community,” she said.

Sheprow entered the board 10 months ago, unseating former trustee Bruce Miller during last year’s village election. She has since helped establish multiple advisory committees while serving as commissioner of communications, among other liaison positions.

She said she is running to take the village government in a new direction.

“I have been hearing a lot from residents and how they would like to see a fresh start for Port Jeff,” she said. “That’s what I was responding to when I decided to run.”

Petitions

This year’s mayoral contest took an unusual plot twist very recently, on May 30, when the Suffolk County Board of Elections opted to remove Sheprow’s name from the June 20 ballot over faults in her petitions.

“I take full responsibility for not putting my cover sheet on the petition submission,” Sheprow said. “But you know what? I don’t care. I’m running a write-in campaign. I would never stop fighting for the people of Port Jefferson.”

Snaden, whose campaign brought about the charges, said using the Freedom of Information Law to assess the opposition’s petitions is standard practice.

“We all have to follow the same rules,” she said. “It’s our job as candidates to know the laws and follow the laws.”

Budget

The candidates offered competing perspectives on the village’s present finances.

Snaden regarded the current fiscal health as “excellent,” noting the relatively low-interest rates the village pays when borrowing money.

She acknowledged “the budget can always use some tweaking,” adding, “there are some needs that I believe need an increase in budget.” 

Chief among them are salaries, Snaden said: “Bringing those numbers up would be imperative for getting the highest quality employees we can.”

Sheprow suggested the village’s Moody’s rating, a measure that calculates an organization’s relative credit risk, “can be improved,” saying her administration would strive for a AAA bond rating [compared to the current Aa3].

The trustee proposed instituting an advisory committee of certified public accountants and other financial professionals to assist the village board in preparing its budget.

“A zero-based budget is so important,” Sheprow said. “Also, having that budget committee [will help] create a budget that is responsible to the taxpayers.”

Revenue

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new regulations targeting existing power plants, placing a cloud of uncertainty over the Port Jefferson Power Station.

With questions surfacing about the possible decommissioning of the plant, the candidates were asked whether the village should begin preparing for further losses of public revenue.

Sheprow again advocated for expert consultation.

“I think we need to include the Advanced Energy Center at Stony Brook University,” she said. “Maybe we can come up with ideas about how to bring advanced energy initiatives into that location.”

Snaden said continued collaboration with wind power companies, such as Ørsted and Eversource, would remain pivotal in “bringing green energy to Long Island through the Village of Port Jefferson.”

To account for potential losses in public revenue, she also proposed “increasing our tax base through responsible development.”

Staffing

Both candidates agreed the administration is understaffed but departed on possible solutions.

Snaden emphasized hiring a planner for the building and planning department and additional personnel for the code enforcement department.

She indicated the practice of assigning multiple administrative titles to a single staff member is “absolutely not” sustainable.

“I think that’s where the budget needs to be enhanced — to hire the right people to head up these departments and divide up more of the tasks,” she said.

Sheprow maintained the hiring process should follow “a [human resources] system and policy.”

“The idea that I have, should I become mayor, is to bring in someone to take a deep dive into the organizational chart of the village,” she said. “I find there are some conflicts of interest for these positions and roles for people who wear multiple hats.”

Public meetings

To boost attendance at public meetings, Sheprow supported overhauling the village’s municipal website.

“It is not responsive,” she said. “If there’s a village board meeting coming up, it should be on the front page on the carousel of the website.”

She also favored a more dynamic social media presence on behalf of the village, with suggestion boxes and other modes of “active responsiveness” between board members and residents.

“I think we need to set up — here we go again — another committee to hear and review complaints and take [them] forward to the Board of Trustees.”

Snaden discussed the value of live streaming public meetings.

“Bringing the meetings to [residents] in their living rooms, recorded so they could watch at a later date, was key” during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Snaden said, proposing to expand and enhance these methods post pandemic.

She also touched upon the role of the Port eReport in dispersing information to the public.

In welcoming more citizens into the local decision-making process, Sheprow expressed pleasure at the reformation of the Port Jefferson Civic Association, saying, “That means the people care, that the people in the community want to get involved.”

She said the chance for more frequent communications between residents and trustees during board meetings is “a huge opportunity for us.”

Snaden said, “Regular meetings with whoever wants to have a voice,” combined with an active social media presence, would be crucial for welcoming more residents into the process.

“I also believe there’s an aspect of people going to meetings when there’s a negative issue or problem,” she added. “As a person who always looks for the positive in things, I like to believe that a portion of the people not coming to meetings are very happy with what’s going on.”

Open government

Another central administrative function is the swift distribution of time-sensitive documents, such as public minutes and agendas.

Snaden returned to hiring when asked about expediting the release of these materials.

“That rests now on the clerk’s [Barbara Sakovich] responsibility list,” she said. “She’s just overwhelmed with the amount of work,” adding, “I believe we could help by bringing in more people to divide up those duties to get [those documents] out there.”

Sheprow favored implementing a “proactive communications system,” including an internal newsletter, to bring the information to staff and the public more expeditiously.

“We need somebody who’s creating content,” she said. “The content would include a press release after every meeting [saying] here’s what happened.”

Building density

During the May 1 public hearing on possible zoning code changes for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property, several community members voiced concerns about increased villagewide building density.

Sheprow raised objections of her own.

“The proposals and the sketches that have been drawn for this space are looking like we’re bringing city life into a transitional [not entirely commercial nor residential] area of Port Jefferson,” she said. “The surrounding communities are horrified by the prospect of seeing four stories from their backyards.”

Snaden noted, “Density is already here,” referring to some existing apartment and condominium developments neighboring Maryhaven.

In moving through the building and planning stages, she said, it will be necessary to continue consulting traffic and environmental studies, which she indicated are “always done as a matter of course.”

“Residential use has been proven to be the softest use, environmentally speaking,” the deputy mayor added. “My concern is that if we don’t move ahead with … some type of a code change, then as of right, an office park could move in, causing more issues for the neighboring community.”

Parking garage

The village is also working to mediate longstanding parking issues, with both candidates detailing how a proposed parking garage could offset shortages.

“There has to be a careful balance with that — without overbuilding but creating the parking spaces that are needed,” Snaden said of the parking structure.

She also supported continued public-private partnerships for shared parking agreements.

Sheprow called for establishing a parking committee, composed primarily of business owners, to help manage the village’s municipal parking apparatus.

She referred to the proposed garage as “an idea I think residents need to hear and weigh in on.”

Flooding

During a recent climate resilience forum at Village Hall, local architect Michael Schwarting shared alarming projections of more frequent and intense flood events in Lower Port. Each candidate was asked how the village could mitigate these concerns.

“Utilizing an engineer or planner to lead that process,” coupled with a new grant writer to help underwrite new projects, could “move the village forward conceptually,” Sheprow suggested.

Snaden proposed daylighting hidden underground water bodies to offset increases in flood load. “I would like to continue building bioswales,” she added, “making gardens in conjunction with these bioswales.”

Concluding remarks

Sheprow expressed appreciation for the residents throughout the campaign process.

“I’m having a lot of fun talking to people and learning more about everyone in our community,” she said. “There’s a lot of love for this community, and I would just be grateful to represent them and have their trust put in me.”

Snaden reiterated her past experiences in positioning her for the responsibilities of mayor.

By “voting my opponent in as mayor, you lose me entirely — you lose my experience, knowledge and love for this community,” Snaden said. “However, if you vote for me, Lauren stays on as a trustee, and you have us both.”

Voting information

The public will be the ultimate arbiter of these two mayoral candidates on Tuesday, June 20. Voting will take place at Port Jefferson Village Center, where polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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.

Decommissioning

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

Setauket

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

WRITE TO US … AND KEEP IT LOCAL

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

Members of American Legion Post 432’s color guard. Photo courtesy Bruce Miller
By Sofia Levorchick

Members from American Legion Post 432 in Port Jefferson Station gathered at Steven J. Crowley Memorial Park in Terryville on Memorial Day, May 29, honoring and remembering America’s veterans. 

Every year, the post spotlights Port Jefferson native Steven J. Crowley – the man for whom the park is dedicated. Crowley served as a security officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and died in the line of duty in 1979 when a student riot attacked the American embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was just 20 years old. 

The ceremony began with the color guard as Post 432 members saluted in silence, provoking a solemn and patriotic spirit. Edward Haran, commander of Post 432, delivered  the dedication, honoring those who gave their lives in service to the nation. 

“May the ceremonies of today deepen our reverence for our old friends and comrades, especially Corporal Crowley,” the post commander said. “Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag. Let us resolve by word indeed to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.” 

He then welcomed the Crowley family to place a wreath and flowers in honor of their fallen loved one.

Ladies Auxiliary members during Memorial Day services on Monday, May 29. Photo courtesy Bruce Miller

A legion member’s trumpet let out the somber tune of “Taps” as the American flag was lowered. Haran concluded with, “To all those who stand with us today, you will now consecrate yourselves with us to emulate the sacred service that those who rest in the heroes’ [graves] may not have died in vain,” he said.

After the ceremony, Mike Williams, chaplain of Post 432, discussed why this annual service is held in Crowley’s honor. “Crowley is prominent in our post, gave his life for our country, and we must remember and honor him,” Williams said, emphasizing that Crowley was a local man whose influence and legacy are still felt within the post and greater community.

Haran advised those in attendance to seek to learn from Crowley’s example of service. “I think what they can learn is the sacrifice that he, and others like him, made for our country and all the wars,” he said. “Just keep them in our minds and offer prayers for the families of the veterans.” 

The legion members also reflected on the meaning of Memorial Day. Williams referred to the day as a moment to reflect upon and honor America’s fallen.

“Memorial Day is a day of solemn remembrance of all those who gave their lives to our country,” he said. 

Haran noted the personal significance of the day. “I lost a number of friends during Vietnam,” he said. Memorial Day “gives me pause to go back and think about them and offer a prayer for them.”

Before the American Legion members left to attend another memorial service in Port Jefferson and the Memorial Day Parade in Setauket, Bruce Miller, second vice-commander of Post 432 and Vietnam War veteran, spoke on behalf of the Steven J. Crowley ceremony, emphasizing the value of appreciating and honoring fallen heroes and the legacies they have left for the nation. 

“It is important to remember these people on this day — and all days — for they have sacrificed much,” he said.

New proposed EPA regulations may affect the Port Jefferson Power Station, pictured above. File photo by Lee Lutz
By Aidan Johnson

The Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed regulations requiring most power plants fired by fossil fuels to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent between 2035 and 2040, or shut down.

This climate rule would likely affect the Port Jefferson and Northport power stations, since they are both fossil-burning plants.

Under consideration for the new standards are carbon capture and storage, or CCS, a method of capturing and storing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, though this is still not widely practiced.

“CCS has not reached a widespread commercialization stage,” Gang He, an assistant professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University, said in an email. “According to the Global Status of CCS 2022 report by Global CCS Institute, there are only 30 operational projects with a total capture capacity of 42.56 million metric tons — about 0.1% of the total carbon emission in 2022.”

As the global climate crisis continues, the World Meteorological Organization announced May 17 that world temperatures are “now more likely than not” to cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, recommending policymakers act promptly to reduce carbon emissions and help mitigate the mounting concerns.

Another proposal being explored is hydrogen, a low-emission fuel source which produces power through a process called electrolysis that could move Long Island’s toward a greener future, according to former Port Jeff Village trustee Bruce Miller. 

Miller said hydrogen could play a major role in reshaping Long Island’s economic and energy futures as some companies have already started acquiring and selling hydrogen. 

“It is hoped [hydrogen] will be an important part of our economy in the near future, and there’s a lot of money being allocated for that,” Miller told TBR News Media in an interview. “I believe that National Grid has the capacity to do this in Port Jefferson.”

National Grid did not respond to a request for comment.

Miller said local plant operators would probably need to modernize the existing power stations to accommodate hydrogen in the future.

Also factoring into this hydrogen equation would be energy demand. While a lot of energy is expected to be received from the Atlantic, where offshore wind turbines are currently being developed, these represent intermittent energy sources, Miller indicated.

Given Port Jeff Harbor’s deepwater port, Miller suggested that hydrogen could be feasibly captured, pumped and stored along existing maritime commercial routes and transported via cargo ships. 

While decisions over local power stations remain ongoing, National Grid needs to determine whether it would be worth it to use hydrogen, or whether the electricity generated in the Atlantic would be enough. The municipalities would also need to be on board with repowering the plants.

“We call ourselves a welcoming community,” Miller said. “If that’s the direction that National Grid would want to go in, the village [should] support that.” 

While there is a market to extract and sell hydrogen, it needs to be at an affordable price. Although the amount that hydrogen will play in creating a sustainable future is unknown, questions over local plants remain ongoing with the subsequent detrimental effects on the Port Jefferson and Northport tax bases.

Editor’s note: See also letter, “The reality of closing local generating plants. 

New proposed EPA regulations may affect the Northport Power Station, pictured above. File photo
By Aidan Johnson

The Biden administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new proposed regulations on May 11 that would require most power plants fired by fossil fuels to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent between 2035 and 2040. Plants that do not meet these requirements may have to close down entirely, according to the new plan.

Starting in 2030, the EPA guidelines would generally require more CO2 emissions controls for power plants that operate more frequently, phasing increasingly stringent CO2 requirements over time, an EPA statement said.

If passed, the new requirements would likely impact the Port Jefferson and Northport power stations, both fired by natural gas.

The EPA projects the carbon reductions under the new guidelines would help avoid over 600 million metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere from 2028 to 2042, “along with tens of thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and fine particulate matter,” the statement reads.

This new proposal comes over four years after the Long Island Power Authority, which buys all of the Port Jefferson Power Station’s power, settled its tax lawsuit with the Town of Brookhaven and the Village of Port Jefferson. 

“The terms of settlement shelter us from having to pay back taxes (taxes collected during the 6-year-long court battle) while also providing a glide path moving forward over the next 8 years, during which the 50% reduction of tax revenue can be absorbed,” Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said in a 2019 statement.

The new EPA standards represent a step toward alleviating the climate crisis, according to the Biden administration. Their impact, however, will likely be felt locally given that a sizable portion of PJV’s budget is subsidized by the plant. This applies to other local institutions, such as the Port Jefferson Fire Department and school district.

Bruce Miller, former Port Jefferson Village trustee, said in an interview that it is technologically feasible to remove carbon dioxide and other polluting gasses from the smoke stacks. He also maintains that the possibility of using hydrogen, a clean fuel source, remains an option. 

“The thing that I’m talking to National Grid [the owner of the plant] about is hydrogen,” Miller said. “Will they be thinking in terms of possibly a combined cycle plant in Port Jefferson? That would be our hope.”

These talks are still preliminary as the proposed regulations are still subject to a public comment period. “Whether National Grid and LIPA would want to make the investment to put some hydrogen-powered combined cycle plants — redo the Port Jefferson plant — is a huge question mark,” Miller indicated. “I don’t have an answer for that or even a projection.”

The former trustee added that the impact to local budgets could be “substantial,” noting, “It’s going to be a major adjustment if that plant goes offline.”

While the long-term plans for the plant remain unknown, Garant maintained that the village’s finances would not be hit all at once if the plant were to shutter.

“The community wouldn’t be on a cliff,” she said in a phone interview. “The norm is like another 10-year glide path to give you a chance to settle into another loss of revenue.”

While the potential loss of public revenue remains a critical policy concern for local officials, the impact that climate change has had on the village cannot be ignored either. The past few years have brought both droughts and flooding, likely the consequence of intensifying storms and rising tides due to climate change.

“Projections for sea-level rise over the coming decades are nothing short of staggering,” said trustee Rebecca Kassay, Port Jeff’s sustainability commissioner, in a statement. “If the global community does not work together — from individuals to villages to states to nations and every agency in between — and climate change is not slowed from its current projections, [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] confidently forecasts that Port Jefferson Harbor will engulf Port Jefferson Village’s downtown Main Street within a century’s time.”

The EPA will host virtual trainings on June 6 and 7 to provide information about the proposed regulations.