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press conference

Presiding Officer Rob Calarco shakes hands with Leg. Nick Caracappa during Friday’s press conference. Photo by Julianne Mosher

A bipartisan group of representatives from local, state and federal elected offices, civics and the community gathered to call on the governor to repair New York state roads with federal funding.

Spearheaded by Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (R-Selden), he demanded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gives his immediate attention to the unsafe state roads, specifically in Suffolk County. 

Caracappa said roads like I-495 (the Long Island Expressway), Route 27 (Sunrise Highway) and Route 25 (Middle Country Road) have potholes the size of craters, that cannot just damage a vehicle, but could potentially take a life. 

“The current state of these roadways presents very hazardous, dangerous driving conditions to the millions of commuters who depend upon these roadways on a daily basis,” Caracappa said at the May 21 press conference outside the state building in Hauppauge. “Whether it be for work or leisure, commuters place themselves in harm’s way when entering these roadways throughout Suffolk County and beyond.”

The legislator noted that the county’s roads occupy over one million commuters on a daily basis. When a driver blows out a tire on the side of a busy highway, he could be putting his life at risk, stepping out of the car to examine the damage.

“The residents of Suffolk County in New York pay some of the highest taxes in this country,” he added. “There are better, safer and more secure roadways than those we are currently forced to utilize on a daily basis … the lives of the hardworking commuters and their family members should not be put in peril each and every time.”

The meeting came after the legislator issued a letter signed by all 17 Suffolk County Legislators to Cuomo and NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.

Ten town leaders also signed the letter to show their support. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) spoke on their behalf. 

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Someone once said, all issues of government are issues of money. Look how the state spends its money,” Romaine began. “We have roads in atrocious conditions — I rode on the expressway to get here, and it seemed like there was more blacktop to the potholes than there was concrete for the pavement.”

Romaine said this needs to change.

“We need to make sure that the guys that ride bikes, the guys who drive cars, the gals that drive cars, that they’re safe, these roads are not safe,” he said. “The money is there — let’s spend it where it should be spent. Let’s spend it on our infrastructure. Let’s create jobs. Anyone that studies economics, understands that investment in infrastructure, produces great results for the economy, and also for our citizens that have to travel.”

Caracappa mentioned that repairs for these roadways are scheduled for completion by 2023-2024, which he said is an unacceptable time frame. At a time when the state has received unprecedented levels of federal aid, he felt the time for immediate and decisive action must be now.

“New York State should be held accountable and responsible for every flat tire, automobile accident, injury or death caused by the current road conditions of these roadways, with restitution given to those who have been major under the conditions that can be likened only to a war-torn country,” Caracappa said. “We have an obligation to ensure the safety of our communities, and should make every effort to begin to do so without any further delay.”

Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said the state roadway infrastructure has been completely mismanaged. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“They are spending millions of dollars unnecessarily when they should be paving our roads,” he said. “People are going to get hurt and cost this county and the state millions of dollars in lawsuits, and all for what? Because of mismanagement. It doesn’t take Perry Mason to figure out the road needs to be paved.”

And it isn’t just for residents. Caracappa and several of the other officials mentioned that East End tourism is a multi-billion-dollar industry. But it won’t be if tourists can’t safety get out there.

“We spend millions of dollars for tourism on the East End,” said Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset). “I don’t know if they are able to get there without blowing a tire.”

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. (R) added that Long Island is finally “mask free” and tourism will be back. 

“Let’s talk about commerce and equity of a $5 billion East End tourism industry,” he said. “People from all over the tri-state area make choices … Are they going to come down roads that are like downtown Baghdad? Or are they going to go to Jersey or up the Hudson River?”

Just an hour before the 11 a.m. press conference, Cuomo sent out a statement announcing a $30.6 million investment in pavement restoration projects for Long Island roads — for five state highways in Nassau and Suffolk Counties totaling 20 miles.

State Senator Mario Mattera (R) said that regardless, the roads are still a disaster.

“It’s amazing that the governor heard probably about this press conference,” he said. “And now money is being released. But again, strike with numbers in solidarity. And you know what, everybody needs to be a voice. This is our safety. These are our roads.”

The state restoration plans to end by 2022.

State Senator Mario Mattera at the podium. Photo by Kimberly Brown

By Kimberly Brown

Republican elected officials gathered at a press conference in Hauppauge Thursday, Jan. 14, calling out Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on the state’s failed vaccine rollout.

Elected officials in Hauppauge. Photo by Kimberly Brown

State senators, including Mario Mattera (R-St. James) and Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), demanded that Cuomo implement a plan to fix issues that have arisen since the vaccine was authorized to be distributed.

Senior citizen and West Babylon resident, Anna Foley, shared her experience of how difficult it has been to obtain the vaccine, which she has still not received.

“I’m 83 years old, fighting two types of cancer and other underlying medical problems,” she said. “I can’t seem to get anyone to help. I have looked at the New York State website, called pharmacies, doctors, hospitals, and I even tried my union to see if I can get any information, to no avail.”

Foley mentioned the difficulties senior citizens are facing while trying to make an appointment for the vaccine, saying that most people ages 80 and over are not computer savvy, and the locations where the vaccine is administered are too far to drive to.

Mattera pointed out how the federal government still has not released the new vaccine to pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS, giving residents fewer options of locations where they can receive the vaccine.

State Senator Mario Mattera at the podium. Photo by Kimberly Brown

In his plea to the governor, Mattera said, “Get the vaccine here and get more locations. Right now, there are four locations, and do you know what they say? They say, ‘We don’t know what to do, we can’t help you.’ It’s unacceptable.”

The partial and full closings of businesses, mandated by Cuomo, were intended to combat rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. However, Palumbo said even though businesses are partially closed, the cases are still increasing.

“The Legislature needs to get involved, we need to get control back,” he said. “We need to get those vaccinations out, and as quickly as possible — not throw them in the garbage.”

Many of the politicians also discussed the bill Cuomo signed into law June 17, which would allow every pharmacist in New York state to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. State Assemblyman Doug Smith (R-Holbrook) demanded to know why the bill has not been put into full force.

“Now we’re in January, governor, where is your plan?” Smith said. “Why is every single pharmacy in the state of New York not able to administer this vaccine?”