08/28/14 6:00am
Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio at Tuesday night's Town Board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio at Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

To the editor:

There’s more to add to Marge Acevedo’s excellent column last week that outlined the Republican’s total culpability in running up the tab at the landfill and leaving our town with a large budget deficit that can’t be closed without either a large tax hike or borrowing more money.  (more…)

04/07/14 10:13am
Richard Luzzi, a resident of Riverhaven mobile home park, addresses Thursday night's Riverhead Planning Board meeting. (Credit John Stefans)

Richard Luzzi, a resident of Riverhaven mobile home park, addresses Thursday night’s Riverhead Planning Board meeting. (Credit John Stefans)

They asked for input, and they sure got it.

The Riverhead Town Planning Board heard emotional – at times angry – testimony last week from a group of residents whose mobile home park abuts the facilities of Gershow Recycling, which operates on a 3.5-acre property on Hubbard Avenue that for more than six decades was the home of Fred J. Gallo Used Auto Parts.

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09/19/13 6:00am

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Democratic nominees, from left, Icilio ‘Bill’ Bianchi, Millie Thomas, Angela DeVito and Greg Fischer in May.

To the editor:

Grant Parpan’s column last week walked us through the corrosive infighting that we’ve witnessed among the members of the all-Republican Town Board these past four years. He ended it with a wonderful quote from Republican Councilman Jim Wooten, who observed: “If I were a Democrat, I’d seize the momentum. I hate to say it, but it’s true. They have a real opportunity here.”

I agree with Mr. Wooten. But we Democrats have an advantage that extends far beyond voter disgust with the self-dealing government we have all had to put up with, to our great detriment. Our unquestioned potential to take back Town Hall is found more fundamentally in the highly qualified and selfless candidates who will appear on the Democratic line on Nov. 5: Angela DeVito for supervisor and Bill Bianchi and Millie Thomas for council.

These good people also have a unified Democratic Committee behind them – the strongest party organization I’ve seen in decades, led by our new town leader, Marjorie Acevedo, a dynamo with boundless energy and smarts. Our current supervisor — the modest, self-effacing and breathtakingly charming Sean Walter — is fond of referring to his opponents as “toast.” This November, it will be Mr. Walter and his Republicans who will be toast.

John Stefans, Northville

Mr. Stefans is a Riverhead Town Democratic Committee member.

03/24/13 10:00am
JEFF J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES PHOTO  |  Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

JEFF J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES PHOTO | Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Progressive Catholics are reportedly less than enthusiastic about the election to the papacy of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He is, after all, a 76-year-old conservative theologian who has spoken out forcefully and consistently against same-sex marriage, women in the priesthood, abortion and contraception

But if these stands place him out of touch with the modern world, as some suggest, there is another out-of-touch aspect to Pope Francis that we all might welcome: his abiding concern for the poor, a sensitivity that seems to have all but disappeared from public discussion, particularly in the United States.

In the last presidential campaign, even so-called liberals avoided speaking up for the poor. Neither party proposed policies to lift people out of poverty. Debates centered on helping the middle class. And whenever an alarm over income inequality was raised, the issue was dismissed as nothing more than class warfare, envy and an attempt to punish success.

Yet in America, poverty is on the increase and the gap between rich and poor is now wider than it’s ever been — wider, in fact, than in any other industrialized nation. Taking off on the notion that a rising economic tide lifts everybody’s boat, large or small, President Kennedy once quipped, “A rising tide lifts all yachts.” But what JFK only joked about is now the new normal. Those able to buy luxury yachts are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, with the top 1 percent of Americans now possessing 40 percent of the wealth in our country and the bottom 80 percent holding only 7 percent.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16 percent of our population, or roughly 49 million people, live below the poverty line. Even the proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 has been pronounced dead on arrival, even though such a modest increase would still fall short of the income needed to support a family.

Globally, the statistics are more unsettling. At least 80 percent of humanity lives on less than a dollar a day. The richest 20 percent of the world’s citizens account for three-quarters of global income. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 22,000 children die every day due to poverty and 28 percent of children in the developing world are estimated to be underweight or stunted.

Media outlets in recent days have reported much evidence of the new pope’s humility and humanity — for example, the austere life he lived as archbishop of Buenos Aires, renting a small apartment, cooking his own meals and taking a bus to work. But most compelling, perhaps, was his taking Francis as his name to honor Saint Francis of Assisi, son of an Italian count who devoted his life to the oppressed and downtrodden.

Last week in Rome was a beginning full of promise. At the very least, the new pope may succeed in influencing the public dialogue by bringing the poor out of the shadows — if not out of the slums.

John Stefans is a retired banker, Northville resident and former Riverhead News-Review editor.

03/26/11 4:30pm

Healthy eating is not just about losing weight.  Learning how to “eat smart” is about making food choices to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. You can improve your health with what you eat to boost your energy, sharpen your memory and even stabilize your mood.

Healthy eating habits can be learned and it’s important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down between activities. Eating with other people, particularly children, has numerous social and emotional benefits and allows you to model healthy eating habits. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.

Take time to enjoy mealtimes. Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of what’s in our mouths.

Listen to your body.  Are your really hungry? Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. Try a glass of water first. Stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough, so eat slowly.

Don’t skip breakfast. A healthy breakfast can jump-start your metabolism.  Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day, rather than the standard three square meals, to keep your energy up and your metabolism going.

Eat healthy carbohydrates and fiber, especially whole grains, for long-lasting energy. Healthy carbs digested slowly help you feel full longer and keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable. Unhealthy carbs, such as white flour, refined sugar and white rice digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.

You need good sources of healthy fat to nourish your brain, heart, cells, hair, skin and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood and help prevent dementia.

Choose monounsaturated fats — from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil and olive oil, as well as avocados and nuts, like almonds, hazelnuts and pecans, and seeds, such as pumpkin and sesame — or polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.

Protein gives us energy to get up and go and keep going. Protein is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy. A lack of protein in our diets can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity and weaken the heart and respiratory system.

Focus on quality sources of protein, like fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu, eggs, beans or nuts. Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, try different protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu and soy products. They will open up new options for healthy mealtimes.

Calcium and vitamin D are essential for strong, healthy bones. Vitamin D is essential for optimum calcium absorption in the small intestine. Recommended calcium levels are 1,000 mg per day or 1,200 mg if you are over 50. Take a vitamin D and calcium supplement if you don’t get enough of these nutrients from your diet. Great sources of calcium include dairy products; dark green, leafy vegetables; dried beans; and legumes.

If you succeed in planning your diet around fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your healthy diet — sugar, salt and refined starches. Aim for at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day. Eat fresh and local produce whenever possible.

Healthy eating starts with great planning. You will have won half the healthy diet battle if you have a well-stocked kitchen, a stash of quick and easy recipes and plenty of healthy snacks. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  In general, healthy eating ingredients are found around the outer edges of most grocery stores — fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, whole grain breads and dairy products.

Try to cook one or both weekend days or on a weekday evening and make extra to freeze or set aside for another night. Challenge yourself to come up with two or three dinners that can be put together without going to the store, using items in your pantry, freezer and spice rack. A delicious dinner of whole grain pasta with a quick tomato sauce or a quick and easy black bean quesadilla on a whole wheat flour tortilla could act as your go-to meal when you are just too busy to shop or cook.

John Sweeney is director of nutritional services at Eastern Long Island Hospital.