09/28/14 6:05pm
09/28/2014 6:05 PM
(Credit: Governor Andrew Cuomo's office)

(Credit: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office)

On Shelter Island, Zephyr Teachout defeated Governor Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor. 

Shelter Island Town Democrats “are not far-left liberals by any means,” said Heather Reylek, long-time Shelter Island Democratic chairwoman. “Many are fiscal conservatives.”

Ms. Teachout beat Mr. Cuomo on the Island 55 to 46.

But it wasn’t just on the Island. Ms. Teachout did extraordinarily well in Suffolk County and statewide.  (more…)

08/24/14 9:27am
08/24/2014 9:27 AM
The crowd at Harvest East End, held again at McCall Wines in Cutchogue. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

The crowd at Harvest East End, held again at McCall Wines in Cutchogue. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

When asked at the food and wine bash Dan’s Harvest East End on Saturday which New York wine was his favorite, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he could not choose.

“We love our wine in New York,” Cuomo said. “I love them all equally.” (more…)

07/21/14 8:00am
07/21/2014 8:00 AM
Southold Town trustee candidate Abigail Field, left, of Cutchogue signs a petition to create the Women's Equality Party line. The petition was being circulated by a group of fellow Democrats at the King Kullen in Cutchogue Sunday, including Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, center, and local committeewoman Lynn Summers of Southold.

Southold Town trustee candidate Abigail Field, left, of Cutchogue signs a petition to create the Women’s Equality Party line. The petition was being circulated by a group of fellow Democrats at the King Kullen in Cutchogue Sunday, including Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, center, and local committeewoman Lynn Summers of Southold.

Days after lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul announced she and Gov. Andrew Cuomo intend to run on a new Women’s Equality Party line, local Democrats were out collecting signatures to make sure the line gets added to the ballot in time for the November election. (more…)

06/26/14 2:25pm
06/26/2014 2:25 PM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs legislation on Monday at the University of Binghampton related to tightening controls on heroin. (Credit: Office of Gov.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs legislation on Monday at the University of Binghampton related to tightening controls on heroin. (Credit: Office of Gov.

“They say in drug abuse treatment, the first step is to admit the reality, right?” Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked last week. “We should not deny the problem we currently have with heroin.”

Legislation to combat the growing epidemic of heroin and opioid use — a problem that has reached the East End in recent years — was considered the “top priority” in Albany last week as the state legislative session came to a close, and Mr. Cuomo touted a package of 11 separate bills designed to address “the problem” from all angles.

Calling the epidemic a “public health crisis,” the governor unveiled legislation June 18 that was designed with four particular goals in mind: assisting enforcement against illegal trafficking of such drugs, helping with emergency response in overdose situations, improving treatment options for individuals suffering from heroin and opioid addiction through insurance reforms and creating public awareness campaigns with reach to school-age children, adults and even prescribers, who are the legal gatekeepers to opioid drugs.

“I believe that this is a comprehensive approach. It has a public safety component, has a public health component and also has a public awareness campaign,” he said during a press conference about the bills, flanked by leaders of both legislative houses, as well as the state’s health commissioner.

The 11 bills were passed unanimously June 19 and were signed into law Monday during a press conference at Binghamton University. The governor said funding for all of the measures and other treatment services would be addressed in the next budget cycle.

At the same time, Mr. Cuomo announced plans to hire 100 additional experienced investigators for the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has already asked that some of these new hires be placed with the East End Drug Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional unit that investigates drug activity in the area.

In a letter to Mr. Cuomo requesting additional police resources, Mr. Spota called Suffolk County “ground zero in this crisis.”

According to data released in February by Dr. Michael Lehrer, chief toxicologist with the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office, heroin-related deaths have increased countywide by almost 300 percent in the past four years — from 28 in 2010 to 64 in 2011 and 83 in 2012, with at least 82 deaths reported in 2013. 

06/20/14 4:02pm
06/20/2014 4:02 PM
Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced an agreement yesterday on a bill to establish medical marijuana. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office)

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced an agreement yesterday on a bill to establish medical marijuana. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office)

New York State is on track to become the 23rd state in the country to allow the sale of medical marijuana. State Senators passed a measure Friday afternoon, the Assembly did the same Thursday night and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is poised to sign the bill.

North Fork representatives Ken LaValle and Anthony Palumbo split  on the measure, with Mr. Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson) opposing the bill today and Mr. Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) voting in favor last night. (more…)

05/17/14 12:00pm
05/17/2014 12:00 PM
Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller File)

Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller File)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hosting a number of meetings to better understand groundwater resource needs in Nassau and Suffolk counties, in hopes of developing a wastewater management plan for the region.

On Monday, state and local officials, environmental and business leaders and researchers will be on hand discuss issues related to wastewater, septic systems and possible future solutions.

The meeting will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center, according to a statement from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Representatives from the DEC , Stony Brook University, the Town of Southampton, Environmental Facilities Corporation and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery are expected to speak.

The plan’s goal will be to increase resiliency against future storms, improve water quality and provide additional protections for Long Island’s groundwater resources, according to the release.

On May 28, discussion will be opened up to the public for an evening meeting. The public can also submit written comments at Monday’s meetings or by emailing liwaterquality@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Information on where the May 28 meeting will be held has not yet been released.

A final meeting scheduled for June will present recommendations on how to address wastewater and septic problems to Mr. Cuomo, the release states.

03/11/14 10:00am
03/11/2014 10:00 AM
Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Credit: NYS Executive Chamber, courtesy file)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday new Common Core implementation recommendations doesn’t include slowing down or halting teacher evaluations. (Credit: NYS Executive Chamber, courtesy file)

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday his newly formed Common Core Implementation Panel has released its preliminary recommendations on how the the state could improve rolling out new academic standards within New York public schools.

(more…)

03/05/14 8:00am
03/05/2014 8:00 AM
Talmage Farm Agway worker Rachel Harrison-Smith with a customer last week in Riverhead. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Talmage Agway worker Rachel Harrison-Smith with a customer in Riverhead. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Water quality advocates are up in arms over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to roll back a 1996 law that requires commercial users of pesticides to report information to the state. Instead, the governor is looking to “streamline” pesticide tracking by keeping tabs on sales.

Advocates statewide are saying the existing law should be strengthened, not revoked.

The Pesticide Reporting Law, which was spearheaded by Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), requires pesticide applicators such as landscapers and exterminators, to report to the state Department of Environmental Conservation each year, outlining exactly when, where and the type of pesticides they had used. It also requires large distributors who sell restricted pesticides to private users, such as farmers, to report similar information.

Mr. Cuomo wants to restructure that reporting system — requiring all retailers that sell pesticides, right down to the nearby hardware corner, to report their sales from major distributors — with the aim of getting an even better understanding of pesticide use within the state, according to an executive budget proposal.

The proposal, according to Mr. Cuomo’s office, would have the added benefit of tracking residential use, not just commercial.

But in a letter to state legislators, signed by representatives from 40 different environmental and heath advocacy groups, including Group for the East End, the North Fork Environmental Council, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, the advocates called the change “grossly inadequate and represents a significant step back in the right-to-know principle that people expect.”

The 1996 law, championed in part by Long Island breast cancer advocacy groups, was meant to provide transparency in chemical use on Long Island — so researchers could better understand how pesticides might impact human illness, according to the letter signed by advocacy groups.

The information on chemical uses collected under the law was then compiled by the state DEC, and released publicly in an annual report — providing the public, researchers, and health professionals with information on chemicals being used within their communities, according to past reports.

Richard Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens, an environmental advocacy group, said the potential move would take away the public’s ability to see exactly where chemicals are being used, during a time when researchers are still trying to better understand such pesticides’ affects on water quality.

“You would not want to lose those information on those specific sites and uses,” Mr. Amper said.

But the last annual report was completed in 2005, according to the state DEC website, which also noted that there were “concerns regarding the quality of the data received from the regulated community.”

DEC officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Environmentalists say a strengthened law, improving the quality of the information applicators must report, would provide data not just for health studies, but also for agricultural, ecological, water and air quality research — which often goes on to be used in creating public policy at local, state, and national levels.

While large distributors may be used to reporting such information — since they have to do so under the current law — for smaller retailers, it could mean added paperwork and overhead, said Bill Van Schaick, manager of Talmage Farm Agway in Riverhead.

“The burden is just being shifted from users in the industry to the retailers who provide them with their products,” he said. “I understand the point behind it, we want pesticides to be used responsibly and we all want to protect the environment — but they are putting all that burden on us.”

Mr. Van Schaick said depending on what retailers will be required to report, it could ultimately mean a reduction in the number of options a store could offer to its customers.

“We may look to cut down the number of items we offer,” he said. “It may be easier to track 300 items, rather than 1,000 items.”

cmiller@timesreview.com