05/29/13 11:43am
05/29/2013 11:43 AM
McManmon of Aquebogue, NYC

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

It appears New York City attorney John McManmon has the support he needs to run for the state Assembly seat vacated by Republican Dan Losquadro last year.

Suffolk’s Democrats left the decision to the Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold town committees and on Wednesday morning Mr. McManmon held a mathematically insurmountable lead for the Democratic nod.

The Southold committee is scheduled to hold its convention Wednesday evening, the last of the three to do so, but its numbers are not enough to change the outcome.

Other Democratic contenders included Cutchogue winery owner Jim Waters of Manorville, Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, East End Arts director Pat Snyder of Jamesport, Suffolk County Park Police officer Tom Schiliro of Manorville and Riverhead attorney Ron Hariri.

Suffolk’s Democrats gathered on May 20, but rather than select an Assembly candidate the party took the unusual step of putting the choice in the hands of the party committees within the 2nd Assembly District, which extends from north central Brookhaven east to Fishers Island.

Riverhead’s Democrats met first, holding their convention last Thursday night, and offering their support for Mr. McManmon. The voting was weighted based on the number of gubernatorial votes cast in each town in the last state elections.

The Riverhead committee gave 4,280 votes to Mr. McManmon. He picked up another 1,843.5 at the Brookhaven contention Tuesday night to give him a total of 6,123.5. Ms. Maertz received 2,196.5. Even if Southold gave all of its votes to Ms. Maertz, which appeared unlikely, she would still come in second to Mr. McManmon. None of the other candidates came close.

Although its votes won’t affect the outcome, Southold was expected to support Jim Waters, the owner of Waters Crest Winery and a Manorville resident.

“I think he’s extremely well qualified and we’re going to do all we can to support him,” said Art Tillman, Southold Democratic Committee leader.

Although it appears he’s receive the nomination, there’s been a backlash over Mr. McManmon’s candidacy based on his residency. Mr. McManmon, 28, works for a Manhattan law firm called Millbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCoy, and his address is listed as that of his parents in Aquebogue, although some have said he lives at an apartment on Dean Street in Brooklyn.

He said last Thursday that although he lives in Brooklyn during the week for work purposes, he still votes here.

Mr. McManmon’s father, James, is an attorney who works for OTB and who has made three unsuccessful runs at a state Assembly seat. His mother, Jeanne O’Rourke, is a deputy commissioner for the Board of Elections.

“If you check with the Board of Elections, John has been registered from his family address since he was 18,” said Riverhead Democratic Committee chairwoman Marge Acevedo. “His job is in New York City and he travels back and forth. His residency should not be in question at all. There are no real jobs out here and people should take that into consideration. Once everybody meets him they’ll know he was born and bred in Riverhead.”

Referring to the name of Riverhead School District athletic teams, she added, “He’s a Blue Waves kid.”

tkelly@timesreview.com

05/22/13 5:00pm
05/22/2013 5:00 PM

Suffolk’s Democrats and Republicans have both held nominating conventions, but neither party has decided who will run in November for the North Fork’s open State Assembly seat.

The Suffolk GOP met last Tuesday in Holtsville, but held off on naming a candidate for the Second Assembly district. After the convention, Republican chairman John Jay LaValle said he expected to have a candidate selected by Friday or possibly Monday.

On Monday, he said he expected a decision by Tuesday, but no candidate had been chosen by Tuesday night.

The GOP has screened a number of candidates, including Southold Councilman Chris Talbot, former Ed Romaine aide Bill Faulk of Manorville, Southold Trustee Bob Ghosio, Mattituck attorney Stephen Kiely, New Suffolk attorney Anthony Palumbo, Mount Sinai attorney Raymond Negron and John Kreutz, Brookhaven Town deputy receiver of taxes. Mr. Talbot has opted not to seek re-election to the Southold Town Board this year.

By controlling 67 percent of the district, the Brookhaven GOP would appear to have the upper hand in the selection process.

Suffolk’s Democrats gathered Monday night, but rather than select an Assembly candidate the party took the unusual step of putting the choice in the hands of the Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold committees. The 2nd Assembly District extends from north central Brookhaven east to Fishers Island.

Riverhead’s Democrats will meet first, holding their convention Thursday night, followed by Brookhaven on May 28 and Southold on May 29.

“This appears to be a close race at this point,” said Southold Democratic chairman Art Tillman. He asked that party members not commit to any one candidate prior to the convention.

“Our small party will have greater influence if we can proceed united at this point and this requires party discipline,” the chairman said in a recent email to committee members.

As is the case with the GOP, Brookhaven’s Democrats may have the final word on the nominee.

Democratic contenders include Cutchogue winery owner Jim Waters of Manorville, Riverhead attorney John McManmon, Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, East End Arts director Pat Snyder of Jamesport, Suffolk Park Police officer Tom Schiliro of Manorville and Riverhead attorney Ron Hariri.

Ms. Maertz, who twice ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat, is the only candidate with prior political experience.

The Assembly seat opened up when Republican Assemblyman Dan Losquadro of Shoreham won a March special election for Brookhaven highway superintendent.

tkelly@timesreview.com

03/29/13 3:50pm
03/29/2013 3:50 PM

Aside from school aid bumps, other items in the New York State budget adopted Thursday include a “middle class” tax rebate for families with kids, a creation of a bar-type exam for prospective teachers and financial incentives for top-performing teaching.

The spending plan will also increase the state minimum wage, and provide more highway improvement funds for local towns.

The budget deal extends from last year a higher tax on top earners, which reportedly raises about $1.9 million annually.

The 2013-14 budget is the third consecutive state budget that’s been adopted before the April 1 deadline by which it’s supposed to be adopted. That hasn’t always been the case, as the state routinely missed the budget deadline for many years prior to that.

This is the first time since 1984 the state made the deadline three years in a row.

Overall, the $135 billion budget increases total state spending by under one percent, according to state documents.

“This budget agreement puts New York on track to have the third consecutive on-time, balanced, budget that holds increases in spending under 2 percent,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press release.

The adopted budget “includes direct tax relief for middle class families in the form of a $350 Family Tax Relief credit,” according to officials.

Over the next three years, each New York family with at least one dependent child and a household income between $40,000 and $300,000, will receive a “Family Tax Relief” credit in the amount of $350.  The statewide amount of these payments will be $1.23 billion over three years, beginning in 2014.

The budget extends the “middle class” personal income tax rate reductions enacted in 2011, which were due to expire in 2014. Those reductions will provide 4.4 million taxpayers with $707 million in tax relief per year, according to state officials

The new budget also calls for creation of “Bar Exam for Teachers,” officials said.

“To ensure the best and brightest are teaching our children, the State Education Department will increase the standards for teacher certification to require passage of a “bar exam,” in addition to longer, more intensive and high-quality student-teaching experience in a school setting,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The state also plans to reward “high performing teachers” under the new budget.

“To improve results and incentive high-performance, the budget implements a program that will offer $15,000 in annual stipends for four years to the most effective teachers beginning with math and science teachers,” the governor said.

A total of $11 million in incentives will be given statewide. Specifics were not available on how teacher performance will be judged.

Local municipalities on the North Fork will see an increase in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding under the new budget, which increased that fund by $75 million statewide.

“This nearly $7 million in funding for towns and villages in the First Senatorial District will allow us to put New York back to work by repairing roads and bridges,” said state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

This is the first time since 2008 that CHIPS funding has increased.

Locally, Riverhead Town will receive $372,218 in CHIPS funding for 2013-14, an increase of 26 percent over the previous state budget allocation.

Likewise, Southold Town will get $421,071, a 28 percent increase, Southampton Town will get $842,159, a 28 percent increase, and Shelter Island Town will get $123,321, also a 28 percent increase.

Greenport Village is getting $52,902, a 24 percent increase, and the tiny Village of Dering Harbor on Shelter Island, is getting $59,891, a 27 percent increase.

The new budget also raises the minimum wage in New York State from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour, but over three years.

“Recognizing that New York’s minimum wage is unlivable and that 19 other states have higher minimum wages than New York, the budget raises the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour over three years, beginning with $8.00 by the end of 2013, $8.75 by the end of 2014, and $9.00 by the end of 2015,” the governor said.

The budget also provides hiring tax credits to businesses that hire returning veterans and young people.

The credit will equal 10 percent of wages paid for hiring veterans, and 15 percent of wages if the veteran is disabled, officials said.

The budget includes a refundable tax credit for businesses that hire people under the age of 20, which officials say will save those businesses a total of $112 million over three years, statewide.

tgannon@timesreview.com

03/26/13 10:59pm
03/26/2013 10:59 PM
FILE PHOTO | Local school districts are expected to receive restored state aid next year.

FILE PHOTO | Local school districts are expected to receive restored state aid next year.

Although Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $146.6 billion budget released in January included  a 5.5 percent increase in state aid for local school districts, additional aid has tentatively been restored as the state Legislature continues to finalize the 2013-14 spending plan.

According to a new state aid report, the Riverhead School District will receive a total increase of $2,846,369 in aid next year. The Shoreham-Wading River School District’s total aid is projected to be a $647,339 increase.

The state Legislature is expected to approve its budget by the April 1 deadline.

Here’s a comparison of the governor’s proposed budget and the tentative agreement, both comparing state aid projected in 2014-13 to the current fiscal year.

These figures include aid received for building projects.

Riverhead

Governor’s proposed budget: $18,751,826, up 6.37 percent.

Tentative agreement: $20,451,658, up 16.17.

Shoreham-Wading River   

Governor’s proposed budget: $8,735,106, up 5.51 percent.

Tentative agreement: $8,924,075, up 7.82 percent.

03/07/13 8:00am
03/07/2013 8:00 AM
EPCAl in Riverhead, FAA

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A view of the EPCAL site from the sky.

After years of fighting, it appears Riverhead Town and the state Department of Environmental Conservation are close to reaching a consensus on what land is developable at the town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton, and what needs to be preserved as open space.

And by consensus, we mean the town has given up fighting over whether the grasslands by the EPCAL runways, which were once used for testing fighter jets, should be preserved for migratory birds.

It looks like Riverhead will get to develop about 600 acres on the land that was given to the town for economic development to compensate for the jobs lost when the Grumman Corporation left.

This, after the EPCAL reuse plan approved by the federal government in 1998 identified more than 2,000 acres that could be developed at EPCAL. And just a few years ago, the town planned to sell two EPCAL parcels comprising 1,055 acres, though the deals fell through.

How did the town lose all this land without a penny of compensation?

It appears the state is requiring the town to protect EPCAL grasslands for endangered birds. But birds can fly, and preserved grasslands exist at the 385-acre Otis Pike Preserve across Route 25. Supposedly, the only reason the birds started feeding by the runways is because the town didn’t cut the grass there during all the years the land sat unused.

If you believe the town got stiffed, you can blame bureaucrats, the system, politics and small-minded and short-sighted town officials. But it’s hard for the public to tell. The process by which we learn of decisions on EPCAL matters is shadowy and often secondhand, based on town officials’ descriptions of closed-door meetings between town representatives and staff at the DEC, or just DEC officials themselves.

The regional director of the DEC isn’t allowed to speak directly to the media, so questions must be addressed to public relations people, sometimes based in Albany, who never seem to answer them fully.

The people making the decisions on the state end are not elected, it seems.

So where were our elected state leaders through all of this, when town taxpayers and the region as a whole needed real leadership?

They never seem to say much of anything. State Senator Ken LaValle and outgoing Assemblyman Dan Losquadro — and before him, Assemblyman Marc Alessi — should have been out there, taking a stand on this issue.

Do they support preserving hundreds of acres for birds at the expense of development or not?

They should let the people know, one way or the other. But it seems they prefer to work (read: hide) behind the scenes and collect the endorsements of environmental organizations while never taking any responsibility for the decisions being made by state agencies.

02/23/13 8:00pm
02/23/2013 8:00 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | T.J. Fabian of Shoreham-Wading River has his hand raised as a state champion Saturday night at Times Union Center in Albany.

Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian dominated through four rounds of the Division I New York State Wrestling Championships, clinching the 126-pound state title with an emphatic pin of Keanu Thompson in the finals Saturday night at Times Union Center in Albany.

Fabian, closing in on a technical fall, pinned Thompson with nine seconds left in the match.

Fabian became the fourth state champion in school history, joining a prestigious list headlined by four-time champion Jesse Jantzen.

“It’s the best feeling in my life,” Fabian said.

After a disappointing third-place finish in the county tournament, Fabian responded with a near flawless tournament at the state championships. He gave up only one point in his four victories.

“Getting the first seed in states helped me so much,” he said. “I got a great spot in my bracket. I was just excited for every match.”

Fabian came out firing in each match, scoring quick takedowns and constantly beging the aggressor on the mat.

A four-time league champion, his hard work paid off with the ultimate prize. And he’ll leave Shoreham with the all-time record for career pins (132), according to coach Joe Condon.

In the semifinals Saturday morning Fabian pinned Fredrick Dunau of St. Anthony’s in 3 minutes 32 seconds.

Fabian won his first two matches Friday by a combined score of 17-0.

Fabian, a two-time state placewinner, finishes the season 51-1. His career record is 185-24.

To follow along from the finals, click on the live blog below.

Scroll to the bottom to see updated brackets heading into the finals. A live blog from the semifinals and consolations is below that.

Division I New York State Wrestling Championships by

02/22/13 3:30pm
02/22/2013 3:30 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian won 7-0 in the 126-pound quarterfinals against Nick Toutant of Indian River Friday at the New York State Championships in Albany.

Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian’s quest for a state championship began with a pair of dominant wins Friday afternoon at Times Union Center in Albany.

After a bevy of upsets, his road to a state title will take an unexpected route.

Fabian, the top seed at 126, opened his tournament with a 10-0 major decision over John McHugh, a junior from Columbia (Section II). Fabian followed that with a 7-0 win over Nick Toutant, a sophomore from Indian River (Section III).

He’s yet to surrender a point.

When the bracket came out, it looked like Fabian would be in line to face former state champion Mark West of Hauppauge in the semifinals. But West, the No. 4 seed, went down in the first round, 7-3, against Fredrick Dunau of St. Anthony’s.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed and defending state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers (Section I) lost in the quarterfinals when he was pinned in 3 minutes 27 seconds by Keanu Thompson of Grand Street Campus. Realbuto was second in the state two years ago.

In another quarterfinal, No. 3 seed Chris Arraoz of Wantagh lost his quarterfinal match against Antonio Deluco of Rome Free Academy (Section III).

The semifinals begin 10 a.m. Saturday.

Click below for a live blog from Day 1 of the New York State Wrestling Championships.

02/15/13 4:00pm
02/15/2013 4:00 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Former congressman George Hochbrueckner addressing the Riverhead Town Board in October.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | George Hochbrueckner addressing the Riverhead Town Board in October.

State legislation needed to create a special commission to fast-track development proposals at Riverhead Town’s Enterprise Park at Calverton was re-introduced in both the state Senate and Assembly last week, officials said.

The bill last year was approved in the Senate but never even came up for a vote in the Assembly.

Supervisor Sean Walter, who has touted the proposed commission as a key to redeveloping the former Grumman site now referred to as EPCAL, said he’s heading up to Albany the week of Feb. 25 to meet with some key Assembly members.

“Congressman Hochbrueckner is my new strategy,” Mr. Walter said of Assembly efforts this go-around. “Last year I went as far as a Republican supervisor for the Town of Riverhead could go, and congressman Hochbruecker is the next step.”

Former congressman George Hochbrueckner, a Democrat who lived in Coram when he held New York’s First Congressional seat in the mid-1990s, was recently hired by the town as a lobbyist on EPCAL issues, since he was the congressman who wrote the legislation that got EPCAL turned over to the town for economic development once the Grumman Corporation left.

In addition to being a congressman, Mr. Hochbrueckner, who now lives in Laurel, served as a state assemblyman before he ran for Congress.

The bill proposed last week is exactly the same as the one submitted last year, according to Drew Biondo, an aide to state Senator Ken Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson), who is again sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), is again the main sponsor in the Assembly, with Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) and Assemblyman Ed Henesssey (D-Medford) as co-sponsors.

The bill is based on legislation used in Devens, Mass, in that is seeks to get all of the players involved in processing development applications at EPCAL in the room at the same time, so that projects aren’t stalled by having to go from one level of government to another.

If approved, it would establish a seven-member commission comprising five Town Board members, along with one member each appointed by the governor and the county executive. There also would be two non-voting, ex-officio members who would come from civic or environmental groups.

Mr. Walter said that he and deputy supervisor Jill Lewis, deputy town attorney Annmarie Prudenti and community development agency director Chris Kempner are also heading upstate with him. They have even registered as state lobbyists for the upcoming trip to Albany, he said.

Mr, Walter said Ms. Prudenti suggested this.

“I personally don’t think the town supervisor has to register as a lobbyist to speak with state representatives,” he said.

Last year, Mr. Walter said there were some officials in the Assembly who wanted the bill to be redrafted to help their own districts, and others who feared it would set a bad precedent in their districts.

“I think it just ran out of time in the Assembly,” Mr. Biondo said.

The commission, which would also have a paid executive director, would be similar to the state Pine Barrens Commission, in that an overall plan for the area in question is developed first, and development applications that comply with that plan can be approved quickly.

The town would retain zoning power, but any plan that is submitted and deemed a complete application must be acted on by the commission within 90 days, or it is automatically approved, according to the proposed legislation.

If the bill fails again, Mr. Walter said that assuming he is re-elected in November, he probably would resubmit it for a third try the next year.

tgannon@timesreview.com