Tags Posts tagged with "Rob Calarco"

Rob Calarco

Suffolk County Legislator William "Doc" Spencer. File photo

A Suffolk County legislator has asked for the removal of one of his colleagues from the three committees he serves on in the Legislature.

Legislator Rob Trotta

Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) requested that Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) be removed from the Public Safety, Health and Ways & Means committees, during the Nov. 12 Public Safety committee meeting, according to a press release from Trotta’s office.

The request comes after the Oct. 20 arrest of Spencer, 53. According to police, the legislator was in a county-issued vehicle when officers arrested him. Police said he allegedly planned to meet a prostitute in the parking lot of a Goodwill store in Elwood to trade sex for the pills, which were reportedly oxycodone, a legal form of an opioid. The arrest was part of an undercover operation.

Spencer also serves on the county’s opioid task force.

“It is not about my personal feelings for Doc Spencer, but it is about upholding the integrity of the office of a legislator and the perception the taxpayers have of him and the office,” Trotta said.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said Spencer had a handgun on him when he was arrested and had a permit for the gun. He handed it over after his arraignment. Trotta said such an action could have put police in danger.

“Spencer’s illegal behavior could have jeopardized the safety of the officers involved, given the fact he was carrying a handgun,” he said. “Officers have a split second in which to make a decision when they come upon a scene with a gun involved. It could have ended very differently.”

The decision to remove a legislator from a committee is up to presiding officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue). Calarco said at this point in time there are two legislators who are facing felony charges. Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic Beach) is also facing charges after being indicted in July 2019 for alleged perjury, ethics violations and other offenses in connection with his work as the former district manager of the Centereach Fire District that continued after he became legislator in 2018.

The presiding officer said both legislators believe their charges are not appropriate. Just like he hasn’t removed Sunderman from his committees, he said, he will not be removing Spencer.

“I think it’s important for me to treat every legislator equally,” Calarco said. “So, I have not and will not be removing Legislator Spencer from his committee assignments for the remainder of the year.”

He said it was important for both men to have the opportunity to make their cases in court and have the judicial process unfold. However, Calarco said while Spencer remains on the committees, he is no longer chair of the Health committee. He also no longer serves as vice chair of the Ways & Means committee.

The DA has charged Spencer with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony, and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony. He was arraigned Oct. 21 at the John P. Cohalan Jr. Courthouse in Central Islip. Spencer is due back in court on Feb. 26. If convicted of the top count, he could face a maximum of up to nine years in prison.

In addition to his legislative duties, Spencer runs a private practice, Long Island Otolaryngology & Pediatric Airway in Huntington. After his arrests, Huntington Hospital temporarily suspended his privileges pending further investigation.

Spencer is not required to step down as legislator, according to county law. A representative from Spencer’s office did not return requests for statements about his arrest and Trotta’s announcement.

The challenge this Halloween will be adhering to guidelines while trick or treating. Stock photo

By Rob Calarco

In 1918, as the United States dealt with the Spanish Flu pandemic, cities across the country called on their residents to have a different kind of Halloween. At that time, the holiday was more of an opportunity for adults to have costume parties and for boys and young men to pull pranks and commit vandalism. During the pandemic, cities banned or discouraged these traditions and called on residents to be respectful of those who might be sick or have lost a loved one. Overall people observed these restrictions knowing that what they were doing was for the benefit of the community. The Buffalo Express reported on that year’s Halloween, saying “Hallowe’en revels lack the spirit of previous affairs.”

Rob Calarco

This year we are again asking Americans to be safe as they celebrate Halloween. COVID-19 is still with us, and while our infection rates do remain low, there is still a risk to us all. That does not mean we cannot celebrate all things spooky this year. We can still find creative ways to enjoy the day and take precautions to minimize potential spread of the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has characterized traditional trick-or-treating, where treats are handed to children who go door to door, as a high-risk activity. To avoid this risk consider participating in one-way trick-or-treating. This is when individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance. Try to avoid placing large bowls of treats where children have to grab out of the same container. These treats can be placed at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard. You can communicate whether you are participating in the festivities by placing a sign on your yard. Also if you are wearing a costume mask, remember that it is not a replacement for a cloth mask. Instead consider incorporating a cloth mask into your costume this year.

If you are looking for a safe outdoor adventure, consider heading over to Southaven County Park in Yaphank, which has been taken over by Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse in partnership with Suffolk County. The Gateway has created a drive-through haunted trail experience called “The Forgotten Road,” which includes sounds and sights outside the car as well as a narrative that can be listened to over your car’s sound system. Additionally the Patchogue-Medford Library is offering a Halloween Story Walk. This is a self-guided quest for the entire family. You can pick up your map at the Children’s Department Information Desk during library hours or print your map and story questions from home at any time to navigate your way through Patchogue Village by following a story. Those who complete the quest will receive a Halloween surprise at the end.

With a different kind of Halloween celebration this year, it is going to take us all working together to keep each other safe. There are plenty of precautions to make sure that we all have fun while not contributing to the spread of COVID-19. By following these easy guidelines and doing more socially distanced activities, we can all do our part and stay safe.

Rob Calarco (D) is the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature.

 

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker helped form a task force to increase quality of life concerns regarding the Coram Plaza. Photo from Sarah Anker

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), alongside Legislator Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), have formed the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force in response to quality of life concerns in Coram. The task force is made up of many stakeholders from the community, including elected officials from the state, county and town, local civic leaders, property managers, police and representatives from not-for-profit organizations.

Since Anker formed the task force last month, the community has seen improvements in safety and quality of life around the plaza. An increase in police patrol of the area has resulted in several arrests, and as suggested by the task force, store owners within the shopping plaza have increased their private security.

“Since the creation of the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force, the community has noticed a substantial difference in the quality of the Coram Plaza.”

—Sarah Anker

Anker has also worked with police officers from the 6th Precinct and the staff of Lighthouse Mission, a Bellport based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that exists to feed the hungry and help the homeless, to relocate its mobile food pantry to the Suffolk County Probation building on Middle Country Road.

“Since the creation of the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force, the community has noticed a substantial difference in the quality of the Coram Plaza,” Anker said. “Working with the property managers, Suffolk County Police, local elected officials and not-for-profit organizations has truly made a difference in the community. I look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to improve the conditions of the plaza and to revitalize this important economic engine in Coram.”

In addition to increasing security around the plaza, Anker has also been working directly with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office and the New York State Department of Transportation to clean up a wooded parcel near the plaza.

Increasing visibility in the area may reduce the use of these woods as a camping area for displaced individuals. Suffolk County Department of Social Services, Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, Hope House and Service for the Underserved will continue to provide assistance to these individuals. For more information, contact Anker’s office at 631-854-1600.