04/05/11 4:23pm

BY MARGE LAWRENCE & BARBARA OLSEN

When a day doesn’t go by without a newspaper article on the effects of devastating cuts in education or mass teacher layoffs, it warmed our hearts last Friday to see an “Our Towns” article in Newsday about Roanoke Avenue students recently reaching a reading milestone.

The principal believed it would be “easy as pie” for the students to read 50,000 minutes outside of school in a week. Last Saturday’s Newsday and last week’s News-Review both ran photos confirming the students’ success — and the dastardly deed of a pie thrown in the principal’s face!

Newsday quoted the principal as saying, “Reading weeks are a great vehicle to promote the love of reading and the use of the library.”

But please tell us this: Why has the four-day librarian position at Roanoke been excessed and the library aide position abolished? One district administrator has told us that the “library is a luxury.”

Not the case.

Today, a “literacy” curriculum forms the core infrastructure of a K-4 student’s day. Teachers don’t have the room and districts can’t afford to provide every classroom with the materials needed to meet this goal, so the school librarian purchases, catalogs and maintains — and the school library houses and makes available — the materials that support the literacy curriculum through multiple curriculum areas.

Students need a school library for access to books and information that build on their newly developed skills or interests — especially if their homes are not literature-rich or they don’t often go to the public library.

Another district administrator told us the principal “has to be creative.” That’s a great idea when you have something to work with! The old adage, “I have done so much for so long with so little that I can do anything with nothing” is not going to work here.

Pulling staff from other buildings is not the answer. Here’s why: Say your building has 400 students. A school librarian sees all the students in the building for library and possibly computer lessons each week. She teaches a lesson that reinforces classroom learning, shows them how to use the library and helps them to find a book to check out. The library aide, meanwhile, has checked in their returns and shelved the books, and checks out their new books. Happens every 40 minutes. Let’s say in your K-4 building, there are 80 kids per level. K-2 takes a book a week, which means 240 that have to be put away. Grades 3 and 4 take two books a week, one for home and one for silent, sustained reading in the classroom. That’s 320 to put away. Twenty classrooms teachers have different curriculum needs, possibly requiring 10 to 20 books per theme. Well, you need time to pull them and time to put them away. That could generate another 400 books.

Who’s going to put these 1,000 books away each week? The district just abolished all the elementary library aides!

The librarian is also expected to order and catalog new materials, discard broken and outdated books and slate others for repair. These last three jobs need to be done on site. Once the decisions are made, the aide can follow through. By the way, the collection is about 10,000 items.

Who’s going to do these tasks? Only someone who has worked the program can understand the workload behind the scenes. The result of cuts is that internally, the records will go to pot and the collection will become dated and will not meet curriculum needs. It is a no-win situation for students, teachers and the program.

What happens when you pull staff from another building? Those school librarians — with larger student bodies, more classroom teacher, more books to shelve (that’s right, folks, a staffer with a master’s degree now is going to be shelving the books) and tasks related to meeting student and teacher curriculum demands — will now have to perform all those tasks in a four-day week at their own buildings, since they may have to give their fifth day to Roanoke. That will be a travesty to their buildings and it will be the end of “continuity” at Roanoke.

So what have we learned? “Equity” is going to hurt all the district’s students, teachers, and program and lack of “continuity” is going to hurt Roanoke’s students, teachers and program. We haven’t even talked about the school librarian’s book fair, coordination of author visits or the summer reading program!

Where are the front-line programs, especially those that have been proven through studies to be so critical to the growth of our children?

We are parents, grandparents and taxpayers in this district. We have been privileged to work with your children and see firsthand the spark of newly acquired skills grow into a lifetime of learning. We are passionate about the importance of reading and school libraries even though we are retired. We want the public to know about the decisions that are affecting our youngest children. We’ve taken our stand, now you take yours!

Ms. Lawrence and Ms. Olsen are former Riverhead School District librarians.

04/05/11 4:04pm

Below is a message from Vinny Villella, the chairman of the Riverhead Democratic Committee:

“The Riverhead Democratic Committee announces that screenings will be held for town elections. All interested prospective candidates please forward your resume for the office you are seeking to:

Riverhead Democratic Party
P.O. Box 363
Calverton, NY 11933
or email to: Riverheaddem@aol.com

We will be interviewing candidates for: Supervisor, Council (2), Town Clerk, Town Assessor(2)  Tax Receiver and Judgeship

Contact: Marge Acevedo 631-764-1181.”

04/05/11 1:04pm

Below is a message from John Galla, the chairman of the Riverhead Republican Committee:

“The Riverhead Republican Committee will be conducting screenings for 2011 incumbent candidates/and candidates. Those interested in running for the offices of Town Supervisor and Town Council are requested to call the committee @ 727-1234 and mail a current resume’ to: The Riverhead Republican Committee, PO Box 1428, Riverhead, NY 11901, prior to April 12, 2011.

“Candidates must be legal residents within the Town of Riverhead, New York and must be legally enrolled voters of the Republican Party.”

11/29/10 4:11pm

Dear Marci,
I want to quit smoking. Can I get help through Medicare?
Carl

Dear Carl,
Yes you can. Medicare covers counseling to help you quit smoking. As of Aug. 25, 2010, Medicare covers smoking cessation for all people with Medicare, regardless of whether or not they have a disease or condition caused by smoking. Medicare will cover two counseling attempts at quitting smoking per year. Each attempt includes four sessions. Medicare will cover a total of eight sessions every 12 months.  
Medicare will pay 80 percent of the approved amount for smoking cessation efforts after the deductible is met. For hospital outpatient department programs, you will have a co-pay that is no larger than the Part D deductible. If you are in a Medicare private health plan, contact your plan to see what rules and costs apply.
Starting Jan. 1, 2011, if you have Original Medicare, and if you have not been diagnosed with an illness that is caused or complicated by smoking, you will pay no co-insurance or deductible for smoking cessation counseling. If you have a smoking-related illness, however, you will still need to pay the Medicare co-insurance or co-pay and deductible.
Prescription drugs for smoking cessation are covered under the Medicare prescription drug benefit, Part D.
You can receive counseling at the doctor’s office from a physician, psychologist or clinical social worker; at a clinic; or at an outpatient department of a hospital. Counseling must be done by a doctor or an approved Medicare provider. Medicare will not pay for hypnosis sessions to help you quit smoking.

Dear Marci,
I am a former military service member and have good drug coverage through TRICARE. Should I still enroll in Medicare Part D?
Tony

Dear Tony,
It depends. TRICARE coverage is more comprehensive than Medicare’s drug coverage. You may be better off keeping your TRICARE and not enrolling in the Medicare drug benefit. If you decide you want to enroll in the Medicare drug benefit later, you will not have to pay a penalty as long as you enroll within 63 days of dropping or losing this coverage. Contact TRICARE for more information.
Note that if you qualify for full Extra Help, your co-pays for covered drugs may be less than if you just kept TRICARE. However, TRICARE’s list of covered drugs could be broader than those of Medicare private drug plans in your area, and TRICARE will cover drugs not on its list for a higher co-pay.
If you have TRICARE and you decide to join a Medicare private drug plan, Medicare will pay first and TRICARE will pay second.

Dear Marci,
My father is considering entering a nursing home. He has Medicare and Medicaid. Which will pay for his care?
Kim

Dear Kim,
While Medicare covers some skilled nursing facility care, it will only cover this care for a limited amount of time, up to 100 days in a benefit period  if you meet certain criteria. If your father does not meet Medicare’s requirements for the skilled nursing facility benefit or has reached Medicare’s limit of covered skilled care, Medicaid may pay for this care.
All states have a Nursing Facility Medicaid program that provides general health coverage plus coverage for nursing home services. These services include room and board, nursing care, personal care and therapy services. Nursing Facility Medicaid may pay for a stay in a nursing home if you need a “nursing-home level of care” or meet “functional eligibility” criteria and if your income and assets are below certain guidelines. Different states have different standards for determining whether you need a nursing-home level of care.

Marci’s Medicare Answers is a service of the Medicare Rights Center, the nation’s largest independent source of information and assistance for people with Medicare.

11/03/10 3:14pm

When Barack Obama campaigned for president in 2008 he promised “change we can believe in.” Little did he — or we — know that the midterm elections would bring change he’s got to contend with.
Two years ago the pendulum swung to the left. On Tuesday, it doubled back to the right. The pundits were right this time in predicting a GOP takeover of the House of Representatives. We’re glad to see that East End Congressman Tim Bishop appears to have survived the onslaught, barely, and that Democrats still control the Senate, barely. The president no longer has the votes to pass major legislation without Republican support, but the Republicans don’t have to vote to overturn Mr. Obama’s health care or Wall Street reforms.
We’re in for two years of bipartisan cooperation or deadlock. With both parties already looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, the smart money is on deadlock.
On the state level, Election Night results have Assemblyman Marc Alessi behind challenger Dan Losquadro by a mere 40 votes, with 2,500 absentee ballots yet to be counted. Regardless of the outcome, the Assembly remains solidly Democratic.
In the state Senate elections, veteran Republican Ken LaValle cruised to another easy victory, but Democrats lost the seat captured by Brian Foley of Brookhaven just two years ago. On Wednesday, control of the Senate was very much in doubt, with both parties claiming they’ll control the chamber come January. There’s even the potential for an even split, with 31 seats per party in the 62-member body. Those election results, more than any of the others, will most directly affect our wallets and quality of life here.
For decades, the GOP controlled the Senate, largely on the strength of the party’s downstate suburban delegation. Democrats secured the majority in 2008, ushering in an era of one-party rule in Albany. With that, the interests of Suffolk and Nassau County residents — who already send some $1 billion more to Albany than we get back in aid or services — were tossed aside for those of New York City, the Democratic power base.
The most glaring example of that came in February 2009, when the Senate approved the Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax. That’s a tax on businesses, governments and nonprofit groups — any entity that pays one or more employees — in 12 counties, with the proceeds going directly to the MTA. Never mind that this region is barely served by the transit system.
Why was this tax imposed? To stave off fare hikes in NYC subways and keep toll booths off otherwise free NYC bridges, while helping to fill a massive and still-growing MTA budget gap.
How did this happen? Then-freshman Senator Foley, the former Brookhaven Town supervisor, cast the deciding vote in favor of the move. He caved to party pressure and sold out his constituents. That’s not leadership — and it cost Mr. Foley his Senate career.
But it can also be argued that the free-spending Republicans are to blame for the bloated state of the MTA. Whoever’s in control next year, the wild spending has to stop. A complete overhaul of the agency is something the new Senate should tackle as soon as it convenes. Meanwhile, the senators must champion ways to create jobs here and throughout the state while also working to restore New York’s financial health and close an $8 billion budget gap.
Maybe a little gridlock’s not such a bad thing — that is, if it prevents lawmakers from pitting the interests of one region against another.

11/03/10 2:50pm

A cab driver was beaten and robbed at gunpoint early Saturday in Riverhead, authorities said.
Officers were called about 3 a.m. to Delores Avenue, where the taxi driver said two men — one armed with a silver automatic handgun — robbed him of $70 cash and a Palm Pilot valued at $300. The driver attempted to pull the handgun away from one of the suspects, but the other suspect punched him three times and the pair fled on foot, police said.
Both suspects are believed to be in their 20s, police said. The one carrying the gun was described as having dark skin and a thin build. He was wearing a black baseball cap with white lettering and a blue and white bandanna over his face.
The second suspect was described as being about 5-foot, 4-inches tall, clean-shaven, with a medium build and medium complexion. He was wearing a baseball cap of an unknown color, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call Riverhead Police at 727-4500 ext. 328.
• Two local businesses were busted for selling alcohol to a minor after an investigation by local law enforcement Wednesday night, town police said.
Police said Stephanie Eiman, 63, of Wading River sold alcohol to a minor at the Hess gas station on Route 25A in Wading River, and Kimberly Green, 33, of Flanders sold alcohol to a minor at the King Kullen on Route 58 in Riverhead. Both women were charged with unlawfully dealing with a child and both establishments were referred to the State Liquor Authority, town police said.
The investigation found that 13 other town businesses were in compliance with state liquor laws. They are Alpine Wine and Liquors on Route 25A in Wading River, Hess located at 1879 Old Country Road in Riverhead, Hess at 870 Old Country Road in Riverhead, King Kullen in Wading River, Wine and Liquors on Route 25A in Wading River, Wine Depot on Route 58 in Riverhead, Stop & Shop on Route 58 in Riverhead, Waldbaum’s on Route 58 in Riverhead, Roanoke Liquors on Route 58 in Riverhead, Best Yet Market on Route 58 in Riverhead, Superior Auto Repairs on Main Road in Aquebogue, Mae’s Market on Railroad Avenue in Riverhead and Stop and Go Mini Mart on West Main Street in Riverhead.
• Two cars collided and drove over a guardrail on the Long Island Expressway about 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
A 1997 Chevy driven by Jorge Escalante, 41, of Falcon Avenue in Medford was heading west on the LIE between exits 71 and 72 when it was struck by a westbound 2006 Honda driven by Marisa Godson, 33, of Clafford Lane in Melville. Ms. Godson told police she had jerked the steering wheel abruptly when she came too close to Mr. Escalante, who was in the right lane, causing her to lose control and strike Mr. Escalante’s car. The collision caused both cars to overturn and go over the guardrail, according to police. Mr. Ecalante and his four passengers were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, while Ms. Godson had no passengers and was not taken to the hospital, according to police.
Ms. Godson was ticketed for having an uninspected vehicle, while Mr. Escalante was ticketed for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, according to police.
• A man reported being punched in the face and robbed by an unknown man on Route 58 Sunday afternoon. The victim said the suspect, described only as an Hispanic male, punched him and then forcibly removed his silver and black Roadmaster bicycle, worth $75, official said.
• Police say an unknown Hispanic male driving a grey Dodge pickup truck asked three juvenile females to get into his vehicle Saturday at about 7 p.m. on Osborn Avenue. The case is still under investigation, according to police.
• Carl’s Equipment on Route 58 reported Tuesday that a man who had rented a lawn mower from them issued a bad check in the amount of $180 and never returned the equipment, which was valued at about $11,000, according to police.
• About $5,271 in cash and a check for $27.15 was reported stolen from the Toys R Us store on Route 58 in Riverhead last Tuesday morning. Police said someone had entered the store through a rear door and removed the money.
• About $330 cash and a iPod Nano were reported stolen from the LaPlage restaurant on Creek Road in Wading River last Tuesday morning. The suspects in this case pulled open the front doors to gain entry.
• A Middle Road resident reported Monday that his Tom Tom GPS had been stolen from his car. Police said the GPS has a $175 estimated value.
• A $100 power washer was reported stolen from a home on Lewis Street in Riverhead Tuesday.
• The rear window of a home on Sound Avenue in Wading River was broken out Friday at about 1 a.m. but no one gained entry to the home, according to police, who said the damage to the window was valued at about $200.
• The front glass doors of Wading River Pizza and Thirsty Cellar, both on Route 25A in Wading River, were broken Friday at about 3:20 a.m., but police say nothing appears to have been stolen from either store.
• A Suffolk Transit bus was shot with paint balls by a woman on Lewis Street and Segal Avenue in Riverhead Thursday afternoon. The woman later cleaned off the bus and the matter was settled with no charges being filed, police said.
• A resident reported late last Tuesday night that someone had fired two shotgun blasts into the driver’s side front and rear door of his car, which was parked on Andrea Court in Riverhead.
Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.

11/02/10 7:57pm


Tim Bishop


A look at the local candidates in today’s election:

UNITED STATES CONGRESS

Tim Bishop

Tim Bishop, 60, (D-Southampton) is a lifelong Southampton resident who came to Congress after serving in the administration of Southampton College for 29 years, many of them as provost. He started at the school as an admissions counselor and retired in 2002.

Mr. Bishop says his priorities include focusing on job creation; protecting middle-class families and seniors; controlling spending; strengthening education; and protecting benefits for veterans. He supports legislation to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating alternative energy jobs. He has pledged to work to secure the United States from terrorism; to safeguard the environment; and to work toward getting Long Island its fair share of federal aid.

Mr. Bishop favors elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax; and supports expanding the Child Tax Credit and raising the maximum income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket to increase the number of people eligible to pay the lowest percentage of their personal income in federal taxes. He has promoted legislation to protect Long Island Sound and Long Island shorelines and beaches. He is pro-choice on the abortion issue and opposed the war in Iraq.

Like many  Democrats around the country, Mr. Bishop is charging that a lot of the money flowing to Republican and Tea Party candidates comes from foreign sources and is being contributed illegally.


Randy Altschuler

Randy Altschuler, 39, (R,C- St. James), grew up in New York City and moved to St. James in 2007. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds an MBA from Harvard. He was co-founder and CEO of CloudBlue, an electronics recycling company, and OfficeTiger, a company that supplies back room office staff for major corporations.

He remains executive chairman of CloudBlue but has suspended any active involvement with the company during the campaign, his spokesman Rob Ryan said.

Mr. Altschuler reportedly wanted to run for Congress in New Jersey, where he previously lived, but he never made the race.

He denies that he has outsourced jobs to other countries and said he instead has created more than 700 jobs for Americans.

Mr. Altschuler favors lowering taxes and reducing spending. He pledges to lower corporate taxes; support a fence on the U.S. southern border to improve security; repeal the health care bill; issue tax credits to students attending non-public and charter schools; support domestic energy production, including oil drilling, coal mining and natural gas extraction; and invest in creating alternative energy sources.

Mr. Ryan said Mr. Altschuler not only favors retaining the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 but would also favor cutting taxes further to give small businesses and individuals more money to invest.

Mr. Altschuler is pro-life on the abortion issue.

STATE SENATE

Kenneth P. LaValle

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, 71, has served in his current position since 1976. He is the Republican, Conservative and Independence party candidate.

Mr. LaValle is widely credited for his work as a former executive director of the Senate Education Committee and as chair of the state senate’s Higher Education Committee to improve education. Locally he is respected for his authorship of the 1993 Pine Barrens Preservation Act. He has also helped to establish numerous health care programs throughout the First Senate District.

Mr. LaValle was also one of the architects of the state’s STAR school property tax relief program.

Mr. LaValle, a graduate of Hempstead High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University in 1961 and received a master’s degree in education from SUNY New Paltz in 1964. He received his juris doctorate from the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 1987. He was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1993 and is a practicing attorney.

Mr. LaValle lives in Port Jefferson with his wife, Penny, and is the father of two grown children.

Jennifer Maertz

Jennifer Maertz, 34, currently serves as the vice chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. Ms. Maertz, a litigating attorney for the GEICO insurance company, was chosen by Democrats to face off against Mr. LaValle after former Democratic and Working Families Party candidate Regina Calcaterra was forced to drop out of the race because she had registered to vote in Pennsylvania for part of the last five years.

Ms. Maertz had sought the Democratic nomination for Brookhaven Town Board last year but was not chosen by party leaders. She had been working for Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign when the former candidate’s run was ruled invalid.

Ms. Maertz, who lives in Rocky Point, is a graduate of St. John’s University and Touro Law School and received an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology. She has also served on the Rocky Point Civic Association, North Shore Youth Council and Brookhaven Business and Community Alliance.

She supports state budget reform, property tax relief and better jobs for Long Island communities. She often distinguishes herself as supporting marriage equality. Mr. LaValle voted against gay marriage.

STATE ASSEMBLY

Marc Alessi

Assemblyman Marc Alessi, 34, of Shoreham, has been in office for five years, having won a special election to fill the remainder of Pat Acampora’s term in 2005, and then being re-elected twice. He is on the ballot on the Democrat, Independence and Working Families lines.

An attorney, Mr. Alessi says he has been instrumental in bringing reform to LIPA’s management and in passing legislation requiring state review of health insurance rate increases. He says he opposed the MTA payroll tax and was instrumental in getting train service restored and improved on the North Fork. Mr. Alessi now is working on legislation designed to keep high tech industry within New York State, where many patents are developed but not implemented.

Before his election to the Assembly, Mr. Alessi was the downstate director of intergovernmental affairs for the state comptroller, where he says he helped uncover corruption in school districts like Roslyn and William Floyd.

Mr. Alessi has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and completed his law degree at Touro Law School, where he studied health care law.

He and his wife, Gretchen have a son and daughter.

Dan Losquadro

Dan Losquadro, 38, also of Shoreham has represented the Suffolk County Legislature’s sixth district for the past seven years and has been the leader of the Legislature’s Republican minority since 2006. He is on the ballot on the Republican, Conservative, Green Party and School Tax Relief lines.

Before his election to the Legislature, Mr. Losquadro was a claims adjuster and fraud investigator for State Farm Insurance, investigating such incidents as arson, auto thefts and staged accidents.

He says he wants to run for Assembly because New York has “high taxes, a lack of good jobs and a terrible business environment” and he feels the Democratic majority in both the Assembly and the state Senate primarily represent the interests of New York City interests, and Long Island interests need to be better represented.

Mr. Losquadro grew up in Wading River, graduated from Shoreham-Wading River schools and graduated from SUNY/Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree in history. He and his wife, Lynn, a teacher, have a son and a daughter.

11/02/10 7:52pm

A Calverton man reported to police that someone swiped his wallet from the Shell gas station market on Lake Avenue in Riverside Friday after he had accidentally left it on the counter.

Investigators are reviewing surveillance video that shows a short, white, heavyset man wearing a red sweatshirt, gold cross and chain, and blue jeans taking the wallet from the counter and putting it in his pocket. Police did not release the footage. The wallet contained about $300.

• A 22-year-old Greenport man reported that two women stole $500 from him in a room at the Budget Host Inn on Lake Avenue in Riverside Tuesday. The man said the two suspects left the area in a white pickup truck with a white cap and tinted windows. Additional information was not available. Police said the victim needed a translator.

• Giedrius Karvelis, 30, of Forge Road in Calverton reported his boat becoming disabled in the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays and was towed to a boat ramp by the Coast Guard last Thursday afternoon on Dune Road in Hampton Bays, after which officers performed an immigration check and found that Mr. Karvelis had an expired visa. The Coast Guard then contacted Southampton Town Police, who held Mr. Karvelis for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

• Alper Yildiz, 33, of Priscilla Avenue in Flanders is accused of punching and slapping a woman during a heated argument, police said. Mr. Yildiz allegedly hit and kicked the victim in the face and head, then threw her to the ground and continued beating her, according to police. The victim also told investigators Mr. Yildiz grabbed her by the hair, picked up a kitchen knife and said, “somebody is going to die.”

Mr. Yildiz was arrested and charged with menacing, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

• Paul Fishburne, 61, of Bridgehampton was charged with felony driving while intoxicated Sunday afternoon on Lake Avenue in Riverside, police said. Mr. Fishburne was stopped for a traffic violation when a records check revealed he had a prior DWI conviction — raising the charge to a felony — and that his license was suspended, which resulted in an additional charge of first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, also a felony, police said.

• Manuel Loja, 23, of Dolphin Way in Riverhead was charged with DWI about 6:30 a.m. Saturday on Flanders Road and Maple Avenue in Flanders after he was pulled over for driving erratically, according to police, who said his car was observed drifting across a yellow line in the roadway.

• A 100-gallon propane tank was reported stolen from a home on Indian Avenue in Flanders last Thursday. The tank, which was connected to the house, was disconnected and moved, police said. The tank is valued at $150.

• A car that was left on Flanders Road in Riverside in an attempt to sell it was vandalized last Wednesday morning. Someone broke the windshield and stole the battery from under the hood, police said.

• A truck cooler carrier containing fishing equipment and valued at $200 was reported stolen from a home on Oak Avenue in Flanders Oct. 22.

Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.