11/08/13 7:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Chef Rosa Ross will hold a special cooking class at Scrimshaw in Greenport on Saturday as part of the Taste North Fork promotion.

A 2011 study completed by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council concluded that one of three critical issues facing the region’s natural assets is “expanding infrastructure for ecotourism and tourism.”

According to that study, one hurdle in reaching the goal of using those natural assets fully is “limited public access to some notable natural areas.” Recognizing that problem, this weekend’s Taste North Fork will serve as a pilot program to identify some pros and cons of offering free shuttle bus service to the public from hamlet to hamlet, all the way from Riverhead to Orient Point.

Taste North Fork was funded as part of a $335,000 grant funneled through the Long Island Regional Development Council, and tourism businesses from wineries to bed-and-breakfasts will offer discounts. It’s often said that studies sit on the shelves long after they’re completed, so it’s nice to see the area getting funds back from Albany to inject some late-fall life into the economy.

So get out and Taste the North Fork this weekend.

Read about Taste the North Fork events on northforker.com

11/07/13 7:00am
11/07/2013 7:00 AM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Tonight's Riverhead school board meeting is at 7 p.m.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A public forum on the Common Core State Standards Initiative was originally going to be held at Riverhead High School.

Close to a month ago, New York Education commissioner John King canceled the only meeting on Long Island he had scheduled for hearing direct feedback from the public about the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a controversial federal program that has dominated headlines over the past few months.

To his credit, Mr. King not only rescheduled the canceled meeting, originally planned for Garden City, but added three more as well – two in Suffolk County and another in Nassau.

But getting from the scheduling phase to the implementation phase – particularly in the case of the new meeting scheduled in Riverhead on Nov. 26 – appears to be a little more challenging than it should be.

State Senator Ken LaValle told News-Review staff this week that Riverhead High School’s auditorium wouldn’t be big enough to host the meeting. Mr. LaValle said he hopes to find a venue that can hold 1,000 people, 200 more than a brand-new Riverhead auditorium can handle.

And that leaves us scratching our heads.

As if getting the state education commissioner to Suffolk County wasn’t challenging enough – and, lucky us, his office even suggested meeting in Riverhead – Mr. LaValle, our elected official — it seems, is making the process even more complicated than it needs to be. A state education spokesperson told us last week, “We are working with the senator to pick a location” — but it sure doesn’t seem like it. While we’re being told by Mr. LaValle that the meeting won’t be held in Riverhead, the state’s website, as of presstime, still said it would be.

We certainly understand the desire to include as many people as possible in the meeting. This is an important topic that affects children all across Mr. LaValle’s district. However, we do have to question the logic of attempting to add 200 seats at the expense of throwing another wrench into this already messy and contentious process. It’s a sad state of affairs when leaders who play such a large role in our children’s future have such difficulty scheduling public meetings on a topic as important as this one.

Then they wonder why there’s so much skepticism surrounding the Common Core initiative in the first place.

11/03/13 10:00am

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This year’s special election for state Assembly features two formidable candidates in John McManmon, endorsed by the Democratic, Independence and Working Families parties, and Anthony Palumbo, running on the Republican and Conservative lines.

Both are newcomers to politics, having never held public office before. Both believe towns should have more control over how to regulate the deer population. They’re both lawyers. And both cite high property taxes as a main reason they are seeking the Assembly seat, though unfortunately, neither offered much in the way of cost-cutting ideas to offset the tax cuts they propose.

But each candidate offers a different set of strengths and weaknesses.

Profiles: Meet the candidates for State Assembly

We believe Mr. Palumbo is better suited to represent us in Albany.

Mr. Palumbo is quick to note he has “skin in the game” as a candidate for public office. The phrase sneaks in through the back door to allude to the fact that his opponent did not live in the district full-time, residing in Brooklyn when he announced this May that he wanted to represent the people who live and work here.

While we don’t doubt Mr. McManmon’s desire to improve the quality of life for district residents, we do think there is some truth to the point that it seems rather presumptuous for someone to announce their candidacy for public office while living somewhere else five out of seven days a week.

Mr. McManmon is smart, and having a Democrat in the Assembly majority could prove valuable for area residents. But a lot has changed since the 28-year-old graduated from Riverhead High School. He needs some time to figure out exactly how it has changed — and precisely how he can be of service to taxpayers.

Mr. Palumbo moved to New Suffolk 13 years ago to call the 2nd District his home. The Patchogue native has since worked as an assistant district attorney and currently runs a local law practice with his wife.

In the wake of state legislation creating fast-track opportunities for businesses looking to locate at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, we see Mr. Palumbo as someone who could complement his colleague in the state Legislature, state Senator Ken LaValle, in crafting further legislation to bring high-paying jobs to the East End. The 43-year-old is an effective communicator — even after being brought off his talking points.

Sending a freshman legislator of the minority party to Albany is a risk. The question arises: How much can someone in such a position accomplish? But playing politics in choosing public officials raises a whole other set of questions. We don’t see Mr. McManmon as someone who is able – at least, not yet – to legislate effectively at the state level. If his interest in serving the public is as real as he says it is, he’ll stick around, further acclimate himself to the issues at hand and work from the ground up to make the East End a better place to live.

Mr. Palumbo, meanwhile, has his work cut out for him should he make it to Albany. We’ll see if he’s up to the task.

11/03/13 8:01am
Albie DeKerillis and Al Krupski

Albie DeKerillis and Al Krupski

COUNTY LEGISLATURE
Two-year term, part-time
Salary: $96,958

ALBIE DeKERILLIS

Hamlet: East Marion

Occupation: Maintenance

Party line: Republican

About him: Mr. DeKerillis, 46, graduated from culinary school and served in the U.S. Army before continuing to serve in various roles on the North Fork. He has served on the Orient/East Marion Parks District as commissioner, chairman and treasurer and currently volunteers as an EMT in Greenport. He ran unsuccessfully for Town Board in 2009.

His pitch: Mr. DeKerillis says he is running for office because he wants to help county government get a handle on taxes, create jobs and protect open space and farmland. Diverse opinions can lead to new ideas, he says, and a fresh look at what can be done.

In his words: “When you elect me to represent you, I will do the absolute best of my ability, and work day and night to prevent what is now happening in Washington from ever happening in Suffolk County.”

 

AL KRUPSKI

Hamlet: Cutchogue

Occupation: Farmer

Party lines: Democratic, Independence, Conservative

About him: Mr. Krupski, 53, is a fourth-generation farmer who was born and raised in Cutchogue. He was first elected to office in 1985 as a Southold Town Trustee, a position he held for 20 years, the last 14 as chairman. In 2005, he was elected to the Southold Town Board and served for seven years. He was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in January of this year in a special election.

His pitch: Thirty years ago, when he was first asked to run for Town Trustee, Mr. Krupski recalls having no experience at all politically, being born and raised on a farm. But that farm experience, he said taught him how to work hard until a job was done, make decisions under ever-changing circumstances and to work with people are all lessons that he says he learned from the family he worked with.

In his words: “As a Suffolk County legislator, I know about the quality-of-life issues that are important on the East End and I will continue to work hard to protect them.”

11/03/13 8:00am

Krupski-web-1

Incumbent county Legislator Al Krupski is running for his first full term on the county level after winning a special election earlier this year against Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter. After earning two-thirds of the vote over Mr. Walter, someone who has proven himself on the town level, Mr. Krupski now faces someone who has less experience in public office in Republican candidate Albie DeKerillis.

Mr. Krupski is the clear choice to earn a full term in office this fall.

Mr. DeKerillis faces a steep uphill battle against Mr. Krupski, who has 28 years in public office under his belt. While seemingly hard-working and community-oriented — Mr. DeKerillis holds down two jobs while volunteering as an EMT — the Republican offers no clear plan to implement his number one priority, which he says would be bringing high-paying jobs to Suffolk County’s 1st District.

With budget woes a constant conversation at the county level, Mr. Krupski — endorsed by the Conservative Party as well as Democratic and Independence parties — brings a track record of fiscal right-mindedness that benefits residents in the 1st District and throughout Suffolk. Mr. Krupski went so far earlier this year as to reject spending $200,000 of borrowed money for a study that would have looked into the economic impacts the Peconic Bay Estuary offers, something he called a waste of taxpayer money. Given the Peconic Estuary Program’s library of reports, it’s clear those studies have already been done, and borrowing funds to study the issue again offers a questionable return on investment.

Mr. Krupski – a farmer himself – has focused most publicly on farmland preservation during his first 10 months in office, at one point earning the public scorn of some longtime environmentalists. But Mr. Krupski went back to the drawing board on his original plan to meet critics in the middle and further hone the plan. In addition, he has helped guide changes to the county farmland preservation code that were crafted with the support of those most in favor of saving what’s left. This flexibility is admirable, as is the effort to preserve the county’s remaining undeveloped land with a limited bankroll.

But one thing we do hope Mr. Krupski takes with him back to the Legislature, should he earn the votes, would be Mr. DeKerillis’ zeal to create high-paying jobs in the district, particularly at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Farm-related jobs are a vital part of the North Fork economy, but the future of the district’s western portion will rely heavily on whether or not businesses are drawn to EPCAL. Having a legislator in the majority who will promote positive change there should help hasten that process, and we hope Mr. Krupski continues to work with his peers and colleagues at the town and state levels toward that end. Mr. Krupski has shown during his time in office he can respond to his constituents’ needs and deliver for them.

11/02/13 2:00pm

Laverne Tennenberg

Incumbent Republican Assessor Laverne Tennenberg was first elected in 1989 and has served the people of Riverhead well ever since. She’s a smart and dedicated public servant who, as chairperson, has worked to keep office technology up-to-date. She’s also well-liked and personable, and she steers clear of controversy.

On the other hand, her Democratic challenger, Greg Fischer, seems to enjoy stirring the pot as much as he enjoys running for office. (He last ran for town supervisor on his own Riverhead First line in 2011.) He has made no clear, coherent case for why a change is needed in the assessors’ office. Even at the Democratic nominating convention he continued to carry on about instituting an elected board of trustees to run LIPA, something well beyond the scope of any office at the town level. The results of this latest campaign, we hope, will signal to Mr. Fischer that his 15 minutes are over.

10/24/13 7:00am
10/24/2013 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Waterfront homes in Jamesport along the bay.

For a weekend trip or even just one night, those wanting to stay in Riverhead Town have options that go beyond a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast. Just visit websites like homeaway.com and VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) to see what’s out there.

While renting private homes for short stays has long been a normal practice in town, neighbors have complained about living near these veritable hotels for perhaps just as long. They’ve had to deal with the raucous bachelor, bachelorette and wedding after-parties that come with them.

Such transient rental properties not only disturb neighborhoods but cost the state and county money as well. The owners of these homes often skirt tax laws, town officials say, by failing to pay the sales and hospitality taxes assessed hotels and motels. And the state has been acting through local municipalities to crack down on non-business operators who don’t acknowledge or observe rules that govern the legitimate innkeepers they compete against.

Of course, for every rowdy group of weekend visitors, there are probably dozens of other short-term renters who are well behaved and well meaning — and their money likely translates to a net gain for the overall local economy. So in some ways, it’s a shame a few bad apples are ruining what could be an otherwise quiet, win-win-win for renters, homeowners and the economy.

But this is a problem that has come up repeatedly for years, and it’s a good thing the Riverhead Town Board has finally done something about it, in the form of a local law passed last week that would require a minimum of 29 days for such residential rentals.

To prove the law is more than election-year pandering, Town Board members must make sure the rules get enforced. Neighbors who don’t see relief from these so-called party houses after Election Day should make their voices heard through letters to this newspaper or letters and calls to Town Hall holding officials accountable.

10/17/13 9:00am
10/17/2013 9:00 AM

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Thousands of frustrated parents and educators from across Long Island were expected to attend a forum at Garden City High School Tuesday night for an opportunity to speak with New York State Education Commissioner John King about Common Core curriculum and state testing.

Then the meeting was postponed.

The New York State PTA, which was to sponsor the event — one of a series of forums across the state — announced on its website Saturday that the event and three similar forums had been postponed indefinitely at the request of the commissioner’s office.

It was bad enough that only one forum was scheduled for Long Island on this very important topic — more than an hour from the North Fork, no less. Now it appears the discussion won’t happen at all.

Considering the concerns of parents and teachers across the state, we’d expect Mr. King to schedule more forums on the topic of Common Core, not suspend the few he had already scheduled.

The commissioner said in a statement this week that the first two forums on the topic — held in Poughkeepsie and upstate Whitesboro — had been “co-opted by special interests whose stated goal was to ‘dominate’ the questions and manipulate the forum.”

“The disruptions caused by the ‘special interests’ have deprived parents of the opportunity to listen, ask questions and offer comments,” his statement continued.

But news coverage of those two forums indicated that most speakers — who were granted just two minutes apiece after the commissioner had spoken for more than an hour — were teachers and parents. Aren’t those the very people Mr. King should be hearing from?

Since it appears the forums have only been postponed and not yet canceled for good, there’s still time for Mr. King to change his mind and carry on with the program. We hope he does, because the commissioner should be hearing more of what the public has to say, not less.