03/27/14 6:00am
03/27/2014 6:00 AM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The state Armory building on Route 58.

The state Armory building on Route 58. (Credit: file)

When I ran for Riverhead Town Board last year, I made positive suggestions that I believe might help the board through the embarrassing bickering “Honeymooners” moment it is struggling with now. Currently, the board is mud wrestling over important topics like what to do with the Second Street firehouse, the East Lawn building and the armory on Route 58. The board is in a tizzy over how to provide our town justices a safe environment to try cases and we seem to be back to square one on the animal shelter issue.  (more…)

11/15/13 11:00am
11/15/2013 11:00 AM
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Hall on Howell Avenue.

The road signs are gone (mostly), the ballots have been scanned, the results have been counted and it’s time for the new/old Town Board to make plans to govern. What should its priorities be? What’s the agenda?

Everyone has their own take; here’s my crack at what I think would represent two years of good work.

Can’t we all just get along?: A Town Board that fights over issues is fine; this last board fought over nothing. You’re all going to be together for at least two years, so shake hands and put the silliness behind you. Let’s all treat each other with respect. The five of you also need to sit down soon with the major boards like planning and zoning and clue them in that they have to be more open, more sensitive and include the public at the table.

Address our quality of life: Let’s face it, some of Riverhead is getting rough around the edges. It’s not the fault of either political party, it’s a natural occurrence, trees need pruning. Yes, there are more police downtown but I can tell you by sight where those that would do harm hang out. Let’s tackle the problem, not walk by it. Grangebel Park looks nice but it needs to become family-friendly. How about a schedule of events so we push the bad guys out? The interchange at Roanoke, Peconic and Main is a mess; it needs to be addressed. We have two live theaters downtown, let’s help them put people on the street.

PSE&G takes over for LIPA. They seem to get it; let’s work with them to bury some electric lines, particularly near farm fields so we preserve beautiful vistas. Let’s quickly select a proper vendor to restore the town’s East Lawn building and Second Street firehouse. Let’s get those buildings into tax-paying private sector hands.

There seems to be consensus that a movie theater is not coming downtown. Recruit one to Route 58 and, finally, we put a man on the moon, fix the downtown dumpster problem and get security cameras up for pete’s sake.

Good government: Revisit the issue of designating Riverhead a town of the First Class; it would make for a more responsive government. And, speaking of responsive government, everyone on the board says they are for term limits, so submit and pass a bill. While we’re at it, put some teeth into our ethics code. Right now there are too many loopholes. Close them.

Slay the financial dragon: We are looking at a huge tax increase in the eye unless we bring in new revenue or cut the size of government. Do both. On the expense side of the budget, no one wants to hear about staff decreases but, whether by attrition or layoffs, we still need to further pare down the size of government. On the supply side, we passed landmark legislation that will allow us to fast-track development at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. Good, now let’s get it done. 2014 must be the year we complete the subdivision at EPCAL and start to sell land at the former Grumman site. Let’s have a few large, cash-rich clients in mind so we make some land sales the first day we can. Let’s also continue the town’s lobbying efforts that proved successful at EPCAL to find state, federal and county money for infrastructure there.

Mind the gap: Riverhead town government is property rich and cash poor. 2014 or ’15 could bring a time of reckoning. Next year we may find ourselves not quite ready to sell property at EPCAL in time to avert a huge tax increase. That reality will make the pressure to make a bad deal at Grumman enormous. Riverhead can’t sell out our future because we need a payday loan. The board needs to take steps now to explore alternatives. Reach out today to find strategic partners in the private equity markets that can provide creative interim financing alternatives so we don’t have to sell out the town’s future to avoid the politically unpalatable.

As you can see, there’s much to be done and, working together, I know this board can do it. Enjoy Thanksgiving, then let’s get to work.

Anthony Coates is an investment adviser and Riverhead resident. He ran an unsuccessful primary for a Republican town council nomination in 2013.

09/12/13 6:00am
09/12/2013 6:00 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Anthony Coates delivers a concession speech Tuesday night.

To the editor:

I believe the voting public is always open to support a challenger who places ideas and principles above party loyalty. However, based on the primary election results, the Anthony Coates campaign seemed unsuccessful in articulating either.

The campaign strategy to go negative instead of focusing on a positive reform agenda — what he would do differently from the incumbents — never materialized and Mr. Coates paid the price at the ballot box. That stated, I would hope all of us can refrain from continued personal demonization of any candidate and stick to the important issues the town has to wrestle with.

Unless you have been willing to run for office and opened your entire life and family to public scrutiny, personal attacks of any individual with the courage to run for office is uncalled for, and perhaps the reason why so many good, qualified folks stay out of the fray.

Steven Romano, Riverhead

09/10/13 6:30pm
09/10/2013 6:30 PM
GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Councilwoman Jodi Giglio celebrates her primary election win with fellow Town Board members James Wooten (left) and George Gabrielsen.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Councilwoman Jodi Giglio celebrates her primary election win with fellow Town Board members James Wooten (left) and George Gabrielsen.

Riverhead Town Democratic Committee nominee Angela DeVito beat challenger Ann Cotten-DeGrasse by 501 to 229 votes in the primary race for the Democrats’ supervisor nod Tuesday.

In the at-large Republican race for two Town Council nominations, Jodi Gilgio was the top vote-getter with 912, followed by John Dunleavy with 878 and Anthony Coates with 484, according to the county Board of Elections.

And in the Independence Party primary for Town Council, Ms. Giglio led the three-candidate pack with 68 votes, followed by Democratic nominee Bill Bianchi with 65 and Mr. Dunleaby with 37. That was also an at-large race.

The News-Review had reporters at all the candidates’ camps and reported live from 8:30 p.m. The polls closed at 9 p.m.

Click below for the live reports, including quotes, photos and reactions from the candidates and supporters.

Riverhead voters head to the polls on primary day

Brief bios on primary candidates for town office

Republican rivals square off at primary debate

Supervisor hopefuls on how they would run town

09/09/13 8:00am
09/09/2013 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at Monday's debate.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at an Aug. 26 debate

Voters in Riverhead Town who are registered with the Republican, Democratic or Independence parties will head to the polls on Tuesday for primary day.

Below is a brief biography of each of the candidates.

TOWN SUPERVISOR

Angela DeVito

Angela DeVito

Hamlet: South Jamesport

Occupation: Retired

Primary Race: Democratic

Angela DeVito, 65, is the committee nominee for supervisor. She is a longtime workplace safety advocate with related degrees from Columbia University and the University of Utah School of Medicine. She retired in 2000 from a NYS health department occupational medicine program at SUNY/Stony Brook and then served as director of workforce development for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk counties. She is an active civic leader who has served on the town Industrial Development Agency and the Riverhead school board.

Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse

Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse

Hamlet: Jamesport

Occupation: Retired teacher

Primary Race: Democratic

Supervisor hopeful Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse, 70, also known as Ann, taught at Riverhead High School for 32 years before retiring in 1997. During her time in the district she served as the head of the teacher’s union, Riverhead Central Faculty Association, from 1992 to 1997. She is the current president of the Riverhead Board of Education, to which she was first elected in 2008. She’s also a co-founder of the North Forth Breast Health Coalition, a charity and advocacy group that assists breast cancer patients.

TOWN COUNCIL

John Dunleavy

John Dunleavy

Hamlet: Calverton

Occupation: Retired police officer

Primary Race: Republican, Independence

Republican incumbent and committee nominee John Dunleavy, 72, is running for a third four-year term as a town councilman. Mr. Dunleavy is a U.S. Navy veteran and former Grumman Corporation employee who later joined the Riverhead Town police department where he came to head the department’s juvenile aid bureau for 15 years before retiring in 1988. He then worked in banking until 2007. Mr. Dunleavy was first elected councilman in 2006.

Jodi Giglio

Jodi Giglio

Hamlet: Baiting Hollow

Occupation: Owner of Bennett Enterprises

Primary Race: Republican, Independence

Republican incumbent and committee nominee Jodi Giglio, 45, is running for her second four-year term as a town councilwoman. Ms. Giglio has a business background, which includes relocating corporate executives for United Van Lines and serving as an on-site construction superintendent for a Long Island townhouse project. She owns and runs Bennett Enterprises, which assists landowners with residential and commercial applications.

Anthony Coates

Anthony Coates

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Investment consultant

Primary Race: Republican

Republican challenger Anthony Coates, 52, is seeking his first term in public office. He’s been active in public service since age 16, when he was an aide to a county legislator. He helped run a home heating oil company and is a former publisher of the Record newspapers, which were based in Port Jefferson. He’s also been a political adviser to local and nationally elected officials and worked as a financial portfolio manager.

Bill Bianchi

Bill Bianchi

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Owner of Bianchi-Davis Greenhouses

Primary Race: Independence

Democratic committee nominee Bill Bianchi, 82, is a former Bellport resident who served as a state assemblyman from 1972 to 1994. Mr. Bianchi got started in public service as a South Country school board member and president. He then was part of a lawsuit that effectively ended the county’s Board of Supervisors in favor of a Legislature. He’s worked continually in the orchid business and co-owns orchid greenhouses off Doctors Path.

*Sources: the candidates

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Supervisor hopefuls on how they‘d run town

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Republican rivals square off at primary debate

08/29/13 2:30pm
08/29/2013 2:30 PM
ANTHONY COATES COURTESY PHOTO |  Anthony Coates

ANTHONY COATES COURTESY PHOTO | Anthony Coates

They’re worried. Yesterday, Councilman Jim Wooten sounded retreat and the Old Guard Republicans started circling the wagons because they are worried.

They are worried it might be closing time for their clubhouse.

I came to the race for Town Council vowing to shake up Town Hall and it seems there is a whole lot of shaking going on. Harry Truman said, “I never gave ‘em Hell, I told the truth and they thought it was Hell,” and that’s what’s happening here in Riverhead.

I have dared speak the truth about public officials that care more about their pensions than the public good. I have dared speak out about the constant cost overruns that are a result of Town Board mismanagement. I have dared speak out about council members that are rarely at their desks. I have dared speak out about tax breaks that are given out to the Republican Party’s friends and family network but not to you. I’ve called for term limits and for reforms to keep politics out of Town Hall. I have called for full disclosure and I’ve offered a positive plan to get this town moving forward.

You see folks, it’s all about jobs. Oh, not your job, it’s about theirs and their ability to live off the system. Councilman James Wooten is not happy that I was honest with the public when I spoke out about the odd jobs he holds in addition to the municipal pension he receives and his salary as a councilman. Councilwoman Jodi Giglio was not happy when it was uncovered that she has had avoided paying her proper property taxes for over a decade, because she failed to get permits for her home — though she owns a permit expediting business that represents developers.

Ms. Giglio was not happy when it came to light that she and her partners received every tax break under the sun and $2.4 million in taxpayer money for their subsidized housing project downtown. Those are the facts and I didn’t report them, this newspaper did. The council members didn’t like that I put a video on YouTube showing them not in their offices. The recreation department head was not happy when I made an issue of the fact that he presided over huge cost overruns at the Calverton ball fields and still got an $8,000 raise.

Mr. Wooten calls that, “Negative” I call it telling the truth.

Truth brings reform and reform worries the Old Guard because they fear change. The tired Clubhouse knows I am a reform candidate that means what he says, that I won’t take “no” for an answer and they are worried I will win; they wouldn’t be attacking me if my message were not getting through.

When I go door-to-door, I see that people are wising up to the fact that the “in” crowd at Town Hall has had it their way for about 50 years and their legacy is that Riverhead is the highest taxed, poorest and most indebted town on the East End. This town can do better.

The Old Guard sees power slipping out of the grasp of their cynical fingers and they are worried. I was the Town Board’s pal when I ran their campaigns for 10 years. I was the Town Board’s pal when they unanimously appointed me to the BID board, but now that I have spoken out about their attitude of entitlement and how they milk the system, I am a bad man and they have called me names.

I have been and I will continue to be your watchdog. I have no interest in being part of their club. They can threaten me, call me names, yell, scream, stomp their feet and hold their breath but I don’t care because I have vowed to run a different type of campaign and I am.

I’m not in it for the salary, as they are. I’m not in it for the title, as they are. I am about public service, not self service.

I am in it to represent you and they are worried because they know their time is just about up.

Mr. Coates is a downtown resident and financial adviser who is running a Republican primary for a Town Council nomination.

08/28/13 2:30pm
08/28/2013 2:30 PM
FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (left) in  Town Hall.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (left) in Town Hall.

I have sat back and watched and listened to all the obvious political hand wringing and bullet points presented throughout this primary season.

I will say never in my life, much less my political one have I seen such dirty politics, name calling, character assassinations and blatant bully tactics.

One can only hope and vote for the people that best represent them in the community, especially in a local town such as Riverhead. This new shade of western politics has no place in our community. I have seen and listened to once committed and dedicated community leaders get caught up in the frenzy, all of a sudden there is an axe to grind with heads to roll.

It’s just plain dirty politics.

This current Town Board has worked very closely with all the different entities that make up Riverhead Town, and with noticeable results. This board has dealt with the problems facing the future of our Town, and has been working to move forward.

What really irks me is all the attention being afforded to one political strategist, Anthony Coates, who from the time he arrived in our community has created a cloud of darkness and controversy. This is a man who couldn’t give a satisfactory answer to the first question posed to him at Monday evening’s debate regarding what he’s been doing the last five years to earn a living.

He only provided a very artful dodge to the question. Yet, he was quoted in a News-Review opinion piece as having earned “oodles of money” some years back.

It seems to me to be more like noodles of money.

Over the years we have been subjected to double headed llamas, the destruction of a Republican campaign for supervisor in 2005 and most recently, a public dismissal of his own candidate for county Legislator as a shoe he could longer shine.

How can we support a candidate whose allegiance is so fickle? It’s sad, really; I know there has to be a person in there somewhere. When your whole life is built around political maneuvering it’s easy to get caught up and actually believe the rhetoric you spew.

This town has changed a lot in the last 10 years, despite its growth I sincerely hope that it never loses its charm and hometown atmosphere.

Narcissistic political advisers and animated buffoonery are not the face of Riverhead, at least not where I sit.

I can name at least 10 civic and community leaders who are far better qualified and deserving to represent the town in government, who truly have the ability and proven desire through actions already displayed, not just talked about.

Mr. Coates isn’t even close on any list, except his own. Please don’t get caught up in the hype, this town is moving forward and the team in place has set a good course for the future, lets not muddy the waters with just plain unadulterated politics at its worst.

James Wooten is a retired Riverhead Town police officer and Republican town councilman currently in his second term in office.

08/27/13 11:27am
08/27/2013 11:27 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at Monday's debate.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio.

Republican council candidates Jodi Giglio and Anthony Coates both called into question each other’s backgrounds during Monday night’s Riverhead Town primary debates at the Suffolk Theater.

This while Councilman John Dunleavy sat in between the two bitter rivals.

At one point, Mr. Dunleavy expressed gratitude that he didn’t have to get involved in the dispute, providing a moment of levity for a crowd of more than 200 people.

Mr. Dunleavy did, however, criticize some of his neighbors and management at the Foxwood Village community, while explaining his vote to allow the developer of a Costco-anchored shopping center  to clear trees right up the property line of the retirement community where he lives.

The debate, entitled “Riverhead at the Crossroads,” was sponsored and moderated by the local media outlets Riverhead News-Review and RiverheadLOCAL.com.

RELATED: See the entire video of Monday night’s debate

In the Republican primary, incumbent party designees Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy are facing a challenge from Mr. Coates for two available seats in an at-large election.

Mr. Coates, who has been a political adviser to incumbent Republican supervisor Sean Walter, said he “is running to bring a new voice” to the board. Mr. Coates has endorsed Mr. Dunleavy’s candidacy, and has been critical of Ms. Giglio.

Ms. Giglio has claimed — and said again at Monday night’s debate — that Mr. Coates, who changed his registration from Democrat to Republican last year, turned against her only after she voted against appointing him to a “legislative secretary” position proposed by Mr. Walter in March 2012.

Mr. Coates would have gotten paid $65,000 for one year to help lobby the state on issues at town land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL). In her closing statements, she called Mr. Coates “obsessed” and said his campaign blog mentions her 15 times while rarely mentioning important issues like jobs, taxes and public safety.

Mr. Coates said he did the EPCAL job voluntarily even after he wasn’t hired, making trips to Albany with Ms. Walter to lobby state officials on proposed, EPCAL-related legislation

Ms. Giglio claimed it wasn’t until the town hired former congressman George Hochbrueckner to lobby on EPCAL issues that “results started to happen.”

Ms. Giglio was asked about her permit expediter business, and whether she’d be willing to disclose her clients.

“Absolutely,” Ms. Giglio responded. The town requires officials to file a disclosure statement in March and that lists “all of my business affiliations,” she said.  Ms. Giglio said she has recused herself on any vote involving a former client, and that she is not doing any expeditor business in Riverhead Town.

“That’s just not accurate,” Mr. Coates said. “Your disclosure statement is a piece of swiss cheese. It says nothing.”

He said Ms. Giglio has voted for proposals involving Ray Dickhoff and Martin Sendlewski, who are her partners in the Summerwind Square county-subsidized affordable apartments and retail project on Peconic Avenue.

He also criticized her for having time to oversee the Summerwind project but not getting proper permits for construction work at her Baiting Hollow home, as has been reported.

Mr. Coates said he’s seen Ms. Giglio in Brookhaven Town Hall working with a team of engineers on a proposal there, and then “hours later, you’re the councilwoman in Riverhead, with that same team of engineers that you called co-workers in Brookhaven.”

Ms. Giglio said that’s “simply not true…It’s just another bullying tactic and a character assassination.”

She said Summerwind Square was approved before she was on the board.

“I’m just glad I don’t have to get in on this conversation,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “I don’t represent anyone but the taxpayers of the Town of Riverhead.”

“John is a retired police officer,” Ms. Giglio responded. “I am a young working person.”

The candidates also were asked about the controversial land clearing on the north side of Route 58 for The Shops at Riverhead project, which will feature a Costco Wholesale as its anchor store.

The trees were cleared up to the property line at Foxwood Village.

Mr. Dunleavy, who lives in Foxwood Village, explained that a committee at Foxwoods picked a resident there to represent the neighborhood at Planning Board meetings, saying the unnamed rep “didn’t know what was going on.”

He said the owners of the property should have represented Foxwood Village at Planning Board meetings, as was the case with the Glenwood Village development, where the owner negotiated with the Planning Board as a developer was planning an adjacent shopping center. In that case, the property owner convinced the developers to build a sound wall and to leave 30 feet of trees as a buffer.

Mr. Dunleavy said he voted for the clearing permit for the Costco project because it met the town code.

Ms. Giglio said the site plan for the Costco project was approved by the Planning Board “long before we approved the clearing permit.”

She said the Planning Board allowed the developer to clear the property and that the Town Board “is not happy” with that decision.

Mr. Coates said that if he’s elected, “I will communicate to those agencies before a crisis happens” to ensure decisions represent the will of the Town Board.

Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy both said they didn’t feel the Town Board should be imposing its will on the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals. Ms. Giglio said the Town Board’s job is to make the town code works, and that the board is proposing land-clearing legislation to ensure that the type of clearing that happened with the Costco project doesn’t happen again.

Mr. Coates also was asked about his background and what he does for as living.

As has been reported, Mr. Coates worked for John McNamara, the former Port Jefferson businessman who was convicted of defrauding General Motors out of millions of dollars in the 1980s. Mr. Coates, who ran businesses for Mr. McNamara and acted as publisher of The Record newspapers, was never charged with any wrongdoing in that case. He said he’s proud of the work he did during that time.

He said that since 2003, he’s worked as an independent investment adviser and that people can look up his qualifications with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

However, Mr. Coates is not listed on FINRA’s online broker check, which only includes licenses from the past 10 years. He has said in interviews that his current work doesn’t require a license from FINRA.

On the subject of EPCAL, Ms. Giglio said she supports the current efforts to subdivide the land into 50 small lots while Mr. Coates said the town still needs to figure out how to pay for sewer and infrastructure improvements there, which will cost more than $30 million.

Mr. Dunleavy said he and former supervisor Phil Cardinale negotiated a contract with Riverhead Resorts, the company that had proposed a “snow mountain” at EPCAL, that earned the town $7.5 million in deposits, even though the sale never occurred.

He said “everybody laughed at ski mountain,” but that the town is still using that money.

Mr. Coates said the town has been working on some issues for 10 years with no solution and “has been run by the same cast of characters for the last 50 years.”

The event raised $1,045 for the Brendan House, a Sound Avenue facility that will provide 24-hour care for people with brain injuries.

tgannon@timesreview.com

Monday night’s debate also featured Democratic supervisor candidates Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela DeVito.