Tags Posts tagged with "compromise"


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0 1292

Whew, that was close. We feared that a good ole game of Suffolk County partisan tug-of-war almost left us high and dry again.

Suffolk County legislators voted down 14 bond-seeking bills for various projects that have impact on the day-to-day life of residents June 5 and 19 on a party-line basis. The reasoning given was the 14 items were lumped together in three resolutions, which Republicans argued didn’t allow them to individually vote against projects that they didn’t agree with or may regret funding later.

For nearly a month, both Democrats led by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Republicans headed by Minority Leader and Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) publicly bickered back and forth on how to approach county bonds. Each group held press conferences and made inflammatory statements as time kept ticking in the race against the clock to get federally matching funds for both the Wading River-to-Mount Sinai Rails to Trails project and repaving of Commack Road, among others.

It’s said all’s well that ends well, right? Luckily for North Shore residents, both the Rails to Trails and Commack Road bills received the bipartisan support — a supermajority 12 out of 18 votes — necessary to move forward at the July 17 legislative meeting. Most of the 14 bills were voted on individually this time around, the majority of which were approved.

Unfortunately, a few projects failed or were not voted on. Cries for funding repairs and upgrades to Suffolk County Police Department’s K-9 Unit facility in Yaphank failed despite the roof leaking, the floor having holes and the air conditioner and heating not working properly, according to Bellone. Republicans argued the planning should be done in-house rather than borrowing to pay for the project.

We couldn’t help but notice that a bill to fund $4.68 million for upgrades for the Suffolk County Police Department and county Medical Examiner’s office also failed. Another bill, one that would have given the Republican Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota another term, as his time in office ends Dec. 31, also failed. The outcome of these votes seems to indicate that political partisanship is still afoot, alive and well, as all Long Islanders are aware that politics, too, affects our law enforcement offices.

A word of warning to our Suffolk County elected officials: While President Donald Trump (R) and our U.S. Congress play on sharp political divides to gain power and momentum, that’s not an acceptable way to act here. We beg, don’t take your political cues from Washington, D.C.

We — your residents, constituents and voters — expect you to rise above party politics and do what’s best for Suffolk. You must reach out across the aisle, discuss charged issues calmly and reach a compromise that best benefits all. It’s in the job description.

I’m starting a new movement. I’m going to call it CCDD, for CounterCulture Dan Dunaief.

Hey, look, if other people can put their names on buildings, airlines and bills that become laws, why can’t I, right?

My movement is all about trying to get away from a world in which large groups of people line up on either side of an issue, without much consensus or common ground in between. The polar opposites are like a barbell, with heavy weights on either end and a thin line between them. The counterculture lives along that line.

So, I’m going to establish my own rules for CCDD. For starters, I’m not going to hurry to do anything. I’m going to smile when the person in front of me doesn’t hit the gas as soon as the light turns green. I’m going to let people go ahead of me. Let’s not get ridiculous about this, right? I mean, if I’m waiting for a sandwich and I’m starving, I’m not going to let everyone go, but, I’m just saying, I’m going to take my foot off the accelerator and stop acting as if I have to race to every event.

OK, I’m also going to stop acting as if I know everything. Everyone is supposed to know everything, or at least fake it. Besides, if we don’t know something, we can check on the internet, which is the greatest source of information and misinformation ever invented. I’m going to say, “I don’t know,” and try to reason through what I recall from my education, from my reading and from people around me before asking Siri, Alexa or any other computer created voice for help. I can and will try to figure it out on my own.

I’m not going to read anything shorter than the length of a tweet message. No offense to Twitter, but the president of the galaxy vents his extreme frustration with people inside and outside his cabinet regularly through this system, so strike while the iron is hot, right? Except that I don’t want to read short ideas, short sentences or shorthand. I want to read a full, detailed thought and idea.

I’m going to care more than I ever have about grammar and spelling. I’m going to encourage others to care about the difference between counsel (advice) and council (a collection of people) because words matter.

I will look carefully at nature whenever I have the chance. I plan to consider the importance of the journey, even as I head toward a destination. The ends will not justify the means, even if it’s easier to cut corners and to take small liberties along the way.

I will believe in facts. This one might be the hardest to live by because, after all, what is a fact today? How do we know, for sure, that something is true? I will research information and will make my own informed decision.

In CCDD, I’m going to listen to people who speak to me, and ignore those who shout to get my attention. If what you say is important and relevant, the value should speak for itself.

Finally, I’m going to celebrate my differences with other people. I’m not going to assume someone passionate about a belief different from my own is wrong. I am going to try to listen attentively, so that I can meet them somewhere closer to that barbell line. If they can change me, maybe I can change them?

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A recurring battle along the North Shore that we’re noticing is the struggle communities go through to maintain historical characteristics while also satisfying modern business needs.

Where town or village codes may be lacking to maintain historical and/or architectural cohesion, community leaders are recognizing the importance of creating visioning plans. Our hope is that the want for sense of place is mixed with the needs of businesses in order to fill empty storefronts when crafting each plan in order to create a healthy mix.

Setting up guidelines to maintain its architectural heritage and cohesion is something Port Jefferson Village is paying attention to. At the end of last year, a draft resolution based on a meeting of the village’s architectural review committee was introduced. If passed, it would require new buildings in the village’s commercial districts to adhere to designs consistent with Port Jeff’s “Victorian, maritime heritage” and to avoid a “hodgepodge” of buildings. The policy is far from complete but standards are being discussed, and that’s a good start.

Constructing a visioning plan, with the assistance of residents and business owners, would be beneficial for revitalization in areas like Broadway in Rocky Point. Setauket and Stony Brook residents took a step in the right direction when community leaders, residents and business owners met in 2016 and 2017 to create the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report. The report, approved by the Brookhaven Town Board and pending the adoption of a land-use study by the town’s planning department, creates guidelines for issues that affect the Three Village area including maintaining cohesive architecture.

It gave the Three Village Civic Association some backup when it opposed the owners of a Shell gas station in Setauket on Route 25A applying for variances to the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals. The company submitted proposed plans to construct a large canopy and a lighted electric sign at the gas station. The board closed an April 18 hearing without a decision and, according to town guidelines, has 62 days to make one. While the owners say most gas stations have canopies, residents at the hearing provided evidence to the contrary along Route 25A between St. James and Port Jefferson.

If the gas station doesn’t get its way with its plans, we doubt it will vacate the premises. But what about other cases when a business owner feels an addition would attract more customers? This is when a visioning plan created with history in mind, but also present business needs can have the most impact. During discussions, compromise may be the key.

Northport Village has been able to strike such an agreement. Last summer, the village board was approached about building a hotel at 225 Main St. — something unheard of before then. While residents criticized the proposed plans, the village approved a code modification to make way for the inn. Then the village’s architectural review board toured the 1950s building to determine firsthand if it had any historic value, before allowing the proposed plans to move forward. This two-step process allowed for a democratic proceeding, while protests may have otherwise left empty storefronts or rundown properties standing as eyesores, which is not the best option.

With some discussion, civic-minded folks with a respect for historical aspects can keep business districts from looking like an unattractive mixture of buildings. Taking in the concerns of business owners, can keep those buildings filled.