Tags Posts tagged with "Bruce Stasiuk"

Bruce Stasiuk

Photo by Raymond Janis

Reviewing Figliola’s campaign record

Voters deserve elected officials who are transparent and truthful about who they are.

When a politician is seeking elected office, we must consider the candidate’s views and whether they are a good fit for the office they seek to represent.

Consider the case of Anthony Figliola, who is running for Suffolk County Legislature after an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress in 2022.

2022’s Anthony Figliola ran as a MAGA Republican who opposed reproductive rights, sought to ban books and censor what is taught in public schools, and opposed lifesaving science in the form of vaccines. 2022’s Anthony Figliola happily posed with election denier Rudy Giuliani and was endorsed by extremist organizations, including Moms for Liberty and various “patriot” groups.

In 2023, there seems to be a new Anthony Figliola, who says he’s running for a “nonideological” position. This is patently false. We’ve seen how partisan politics have infected our county, with the Suffolk Republicans refusing to allow a referendum on water quality and sewer infrastructure on our November 2023 ballot.

Who is the real Anthony Figliola? The county’s 5th Legislative District deserves an honest legislator, not a political chameleon.

We have the opportunity to elect Steve Englebright [D-Setauket], whose decades-long record on environmental protection, public education and public health is clear and consistent. Englebright deserves our support on Nov. 7 to represent us in the Suffolk County Legislature.

Ian Farber, Setauket

Shoshana Hershkowitz, South Setauket

Anne Chimelis, Setauket

Christine Latham, Stony Brook

Challenging the assigned literature at Three Village school district

After learning about the book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” assigned to the juniors in the Three Village school district [see “High school novel stirs controversy among Three Village parents,” The Village Times Herald, Oct. 5, also TBR News Media website], I’m compelled to speak out.

Why would any educator encourage our innocent and still-developing children to be exposed to material that stains our magnificent heritage? With a few exceptions, we’ve been nothing but kind to the so-called Native Americans.

Didn’t we break bread with them on the very first Thanksgiving? Didn’t we tutor them about our advanced form of living?

Didn’t we provide them with many large reservations on some of the most fertile land available in all of America?

We even opened the National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan.

However, that’s not the most offensive element of the book in question.

The truly decadent part practically serves as a manual for depraved sexual behavior. It subtly encourages our children to perform decadent acts on themselves.

We know that not fully mature children tend to mimic what they see and learn. If the children read this book, do we really want them closing bedroom doors and privately committing vulgar and unhealthy autoerotic acts? And what will it lead to?

Bruce Stasiuk


Local elected officials can kickstart Port Jeff Branch electrification

Concerning “Staying On Track: Port Jefferson Branch electrification gains ground in MTA’s 20 Year plan” [TBR News Media, Oct. 12], it has still not left the station.

The $18 billion Phase One Gateway Hudson River Tunnel, $7.7 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase and $5.5 billion Brooklyn Queens Light Rail Interborough Express Connector for Gov. Kathy Hochul [D], Sens. Chuck Schumer [D-NY] and Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY] and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Janno Lieber are still the top three transportation priorities.

In the race for federal funding, which is necessary for double tracking and electrification, the Port Jefferson Branch, along with 19 other expansion and enhancement projects, still has no committed funding.

Lieber recently announced that the agency will study extending a future subway line even farther along West 125th Street in Manhattan, if funding could be found. This third phase of the Second Avenue Subway could easily cost $7.5 billion. This is on top of $3.4 billion in Federal Transit Administration funding toward the hoped-for $7.7 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2.

The next opportunity for MTA to commit funding to advance Port Jeff Branch electrification would be within 15 months, when the 2025-2029 Five Year Capital Plan is adopted. This will be followed by the 2030-2034, 2035-2039 and 2040-2044 Five Year Capital Plans.

Funding needs to be programmed in increments. First, for preliminary design and engineering to support the National Environmental Policy Act review.

Local elected officials who support this project could tap into their own town, county or state funding to find several million dollars. This could pay for the environmental review and advance this project.

Following NEPA is necessary to preserve FTA funding eligibility. Next, request permission from FTA to enter the Capital Investment Grants New Starts/Core Capacity program.

Then comes final design and engineering, property easements, land acquisition and utility relocation. This would be followed by $1.5 to $2 billion in local MTA funding to leverage a similar amount in federal funding under a future FTA CIG Full Funding Grant Agreement. These actions would be spread out over several MTA Five Year Capital programs. As each Five Year Capital program comes and goes, it will delay any hope of seeing Port Jefferson Branch electrification in our lifetimes.

A completion date of 2040 is a moving target. Will it be 2040, 2045, 2050, 2055 or later? Who knows?

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Photo by Raymond Janis

Community support vital to Gilgo Beach arrest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your support led directly to solving these serial killings.

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

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

Ray Tierney (R)

Suffolk County District Attorney

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

Clarifying recent village treasurer appointment

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren Sheprow

Mayor, Village of Port Jefferson

Sherwood-Jayne animals are part of our community and family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To see them moved would be absolutely devastating. 

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

JenniferJane Cortes

East Setauket

Removing Sherwood-Jayne animals is callous

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

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

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

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

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

Lia Harper

East Setauket

Water, water, not everywhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

With soiled feet, we stand in our own well.

Bruce Stasiuk


Legislatures are failing us

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

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

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

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

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

Author Bruce Stasiuk

Everything you need to know is on the copyright page: “Maybe some of the names have been changed to protect the identities of certain characters. Maybe not.” The “Non-Dedication” follows.

This book defies categorization. It almost—but not quite—defies description. 

With Something to Remember Me. BYE, Bruce Stasiuk has created a work that is edgy, raw, and darkly comic. There is not a word wasted; the writing produces chills because it is, quite simply, brilliant. 

Subtitled “Short Stories about a Long Life,” the over three dozen interconnected pieces find extraordinary depth in even the most everyday topics. His stark prose captures a deeper essence. The stories could be read individually—or perhaps randomly—but the underlying structure gives strength to the whole. And while they are not chronological, the order possesses an indescribable logic.

The book is a memoir—of a sort. It is also a collage, a reflection, and many more things all at once. As a young man, Stasiuk was a first-rate athlete: stickball, baseball, diving, and basketball. He covers them with a keen eye. Girls are discussed in almost pastoral terms. And yet, Stasiuk makes everything “other” and somehow “more than.”

At age seventeen, a devastating trampoline accident changed his life’s trajectory. A long recovery set him on a different path, eventually becoming a teacher. Yet, he is never self-pitying, whether describing the hospital, the rehab, and the many losses that ensued. He has not overcome challenges; he has transformed them. Somehow, his struggles manage to be simultaneously germane and tangential. It is never less than personal and self-revelatory, and yet there is unique and contradictory objectivity that only enriches his account.

“The war ended and new customers were marching home, toting duffle bags over their shoulders, and the Spanish flu in their lungs.” Few authors possess the art and the skill to be both simple and unnerving in the same sentence. Stasiuk possesses a remarkable elegance: “Marie buried her daughter and took her grandchild in.” The synthesis of the rhythmically poetic and the prosaic reality weaves throughout the slender volume.

Succinctness is not just a strength but a gift. In “The Apology,” a picturesque father-son venture to a baseball game builds to a coda, both sad and inspiring. Stasiuk’s family exists within the pages as painted shadows, hovering around the edges, peeking in, sometimes coming into bright focus, but then receding.

One of the finest pieces is “Uncle Jack”:

He spoke fast, compressing conversations, rarely offering the courtesy of a comma. As he flooded the air with words, his eyes scanned the room like an oscillating fan, hunting for a larger audience. Uncle Jack was always trolling to see who wasn’t listening. Since the adults weren’t, he aimed for us, his nieces and nephews; little pairs of ears to be filled.

In a trip to Provincetown, his ruminations on seemingly absolute truths of childhood are revealed to be anything but. He offers nostalgia laced with tension. In “Knuckles,” whimsy and death go hand-in-hand in astonishing ways. The book is rich in dark humor. The final sentences of “Consanguinity” are hilarious and epiphanous. He refers to his colonoscopy as “the age of the medical scavenger hunt.”

In describing his second career, he states: “Nothing spectacular. Nothing extraordinary. No heroics.” The self-effacing statement resonates throughout the entire book. He never touts his accomplishments; he presents them.

He poses the rare direct messages with eloquence and subtlety. The thoughts, ideas, and musings sneak up, land, and then quickly retreat. His one nod towards commentary references the assistance he received: “Sometimes, if the government invests in a person, especially one trapped in a difficult spot, it might be the best investment the government could ever make.”

The report of a close friend, remembered on his death, is not a hagiography but a detailed and heartfelt portrait. A celebrity encounter. An autopsy. Nothing is arbitrary, with seemingly candid narratives turned into almost twisted parables. The piece titled “The Happy Ending” is subtitled, “This is a true story up to the point where it is not.” In some ways, this is the perfect bookend to the copyright page.

Sometimes a piece of writing defies description. Something to Remember Me. BYE does not ask or beg to be read. Instead, it demands to be experienced. And shared. Such is the case with Bruce Stasiuk’s book. Purchase. Read. Repeat.

A resident of Setauket, author Bruce Stasiuk presently teaches a workshop at Stony Brook University’s OLLI  program. Something to Remember Me. BYE: Short Stories about a Long Life is available through the publisher, bookbaby.com, Book Revue in Huntington, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Stock photo.

By Bruce Stasiuk

We were talking about our schooling …

Remember the names of Columbus’ ships, anybody? Yes. Of course you do. Everyone in this overflowing audience knows the three names. Furthermore, you all know them in the same order. Good for you! Doesn’t matter where you went to school — from the Redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters, to the New York island, those names were taught to you and me — and in order!

Quite an achievement. Or, is it? Of what educational value are those three names? Virtually none, except maybe to a contestant on Jeopardy. But students are in real jeopardy if we continue to consume their limited school time with pointless facts, trivia, backward thinking, and low-level knowledge.

I dub it the “Nina Pinta and Santa Marianization” of our schools. Let’s sail back in time to Columbus. The big date — you know, it rhymes with “ocean blue. What was going on in the world during that era? Was there a printing press? Was there a global power? Were there wars going on? (Good guess. Seems there’s always a war going on somewhere.) Was his trip around the time of the Great Potato Famine or the Black Death? How long would the journey take and how was it estimated? What provisions did Columbus need to stock in order to survive the journey? How did the food not spoil? How much water could be used each day by each person and animal? How many men and animals should be boarded, realizing that each man and animal consumed food and water and made the living quarters tighter? What if winds were becalmed in the Horse Latitudes and the ships barely moved? Did they need weapons, and if so, why?

How many of us considered those questions in school? The teachers didn’t ask them, nor did they know the answers. Remember, teachers are a product of the schools themselves. They are primarily people who succeeded in school, liked it, and went on to do it — not change it. They are educational conservatives.

During the eight years I directed a class for teachers, I’d give them a test developed from fourth- and fifth-grade books. Not one teacher ever came close to passing. I’d tell them that they were either not very bright or that the material we’re teaching our kids is irrelevant to a functioning adult.

So, what if our educational system comes to its senses and realizes that constructive destruction of curriculum and teaching methods is necessary, and Common Core was not a common cure? What should we teach? Here’s a start:

Personal finances. Every school should create a bank where students have the option to invest by purchasing shares. The bank would issue loans to students and would require a student co-signer. Interest would be added to the loan reflecting the amount and length of loan. Credit rating would be developed. [Yes. I’ve done it and it works.]

What is fire, auto, and life insurance — and how do they work?

The art of being skeptical without being a skeptic. Time. What it is and how to manage it.

Relationships: What are they? How do they develop? And what is their value? Introductions: How to offer and receive.

Black boxes in airplanes and cars. What do they reveal? What are mortgages? Why do they exist?

Waste management. Where does garbage go? What are sewers and cesspools? [Water, water … not everywhere.]

Logic and reasoning with and without Venn diagrams. The art of questioning and the value of wrong answers.

The media. What it is, how it works, and the choices it makes. The illusions in movies and TV through editing, music, and more. PG-13: How and why things are rated. The goals and methods of advertising.

A school farm with irrigation. Students would have scheduled time working on the farm. A student and adult committee would handle the summer months. Kitchen duty with student assignments. Custodial duty with student chores.

The science of raising, preparing, and cooking food. The food we eat: Where does it come from? What is a hamburger bun?

Negotiating and compromising. Shipping and transportation. The evolution of things: the medicine bottle, the telephone, the sneaker, etc.

Dilemmas: how can Italy, the world’s biggest exporter of olive oil, also be the world’s biggest importer? Is there such a thing as too much?

Plumb lines, centers of gravity and sea level. Architecture, engineering, stacking blocks. Physics is everything. How technology affects our lives.

Language travels with us but never reaches a final destination.

Objects: magnifying glasses, prisms, levels, stethoscopes, magnets, ball bearings. The magic of perimeters. Zero-sum games.

The gift of failure, and the hardship of failure-deprived people. Thinking about what others are thinking by using game theory.

Your body: A user’s manual.

Bruce Stasiuk of Setauket continues to teach. He currently offers workshops as an instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, located at Stony Brook University.