11/10/10 12:25am
11/10/2010 12:25 AM

With a new paper ballot system in place for its first general election, the Suffolk County Board of Elections knew it was in for a trying Election Day this year.
The troubles started early, with some residents having difficulty figuring out the new way to cast their votes. And the problems ended late, with many election districts not reporting final results until after midnight.
But nobody expected things to be this out of whack.
More than a week later, a winner has yet to be determined in a pair of local races that have seen major vote swings during the vote-counting process.
On election night, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) went to sleep with a lead of nearly 3,500 votes. By Friday, after the memory cards in each of the voting machines had been double-checked, he learned that he trailed Republican challenger Randy Altschuler of St. James by about 400 votes.
Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) left headquarters with only a 40 vote lead last Tuesday over incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi. When contacted Saturday, he said he now led by nearly 900 votes.
How could that be?
“If you know the process, you know how it can happen,” said Wayne Rogers, Republican commissioner for the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
That’s because human error can enter into the equation on election night. Results are phoned in by poll workers who read them off a tally sheet before entering them onto a worksheet. The person on the other end of the phone then keys the numbers into a computer and publishes them online.
With a new system in place, it is widely believed that workers had a more difficult time reading the tally sheet this year. And if that was the case, it wasn’t just a handful of workers having difficulty.
“The information we’ve received shows different numbers now than on election night in 38 percent of election districts,” said Bishop spokesperson Jon Schneider. “It’s not like there are only 10 election districts that wildly shifted.”
In the Assembly race, Mr. Losquadro said he picked up votes in several districts that had Mr. Alessi ahead by a wide margin.
“I knew my numbers were going to move,” he said. “When you see some election districts that had 92 percent or 86 percent for Alessi, you figure you’ll gain some votes there. I didn’t see any anomalies like that where I was leading big.”
The dramatic shift now has local Democrats, who have lost nearly 5,000 votes since election day in the two races, calling for a hand recount. Republicans have not expressed support for that, insisting any errors were not the fault of the new machines. Lawsuits were expected to be filed by Democrats early this week demanding the hand recount.
“At this point the only way to be sure of the accuracy of the count is to do a full hand recount of all the ballots,” said Mr. Schneider, who also serves as chairman of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. “There is a reason that Suffolk County residents insisted on having a paper backup and these circumstances demand we use it.”
It was a far cry from the tone of the Bishop camp last week, when they all but declared victory.
“The only people who think this race is ‘too close to call’ are on Randy Altschuler’s payroll,” Mr. Schneider said the Wednesday after Election Day. “Tim Bishop is leading by a solid margin, which will only grow as we count absentee ballots.”
Altschuler spokesperson Rob Ryan said the results now show the Altschuler camp had been right all along in its decision to not concede.
“We knew the Bishop team had jumped the gun on claiming victory,” he said.
On Monday, the Board of Elections began its state-mandated audit of 3 percent of all machines, according to Mr. Rogers. Absentee and military ballots won’t even be counted for another week. There are bout 9,500 absentee ballots in play in the congressional race.
Mr. Ryan said he believes a winner will not be declared in the congressional race until the end of the month.
Mr. Rogers, speaking in a Board of Elections building “filled with lawyers,” declined to estimate when the 2010 election finally would be over.
“We have a lot still to do,” he said.
grant@timesreview.com

11/06/10 5:22pm
11/06/2010 5:22 PM

Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro said Saturday that he believes he has defeated incumbent Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham), after a Suffolk County Board of Elections recanvassing has him leading by nearly 900 votes.

Mr. Losquadro, who said he was cautiously optimistic he would win after the first count Tuesday night, said he is now “confident” he will be declared winner when the final results become official.

“I don’t know if his camp is ready to concede or not, but I’m confident it’s not going to change from here,” Mr. Losquadro said.

Preliminary Board of Elections results had Mr. Losquadro ahead by just 40 votes when the polls closed Tuesday. But the Republican candidate, who currently serves as minority leader in the Suffolk County Legislature,  said he picked up votes in several districts that had Mr. Alessi ahead by a wide margin.

“I knew my numbers were going to move,” he said. ” When you see some election districts that had 92 percent or 86 percent for Alessi, you figure you’ll gain some votes there. I didn’t see any anomalies like that where I was leading big.”

Mr. Alessi did not immediately return a call for comment.

gparpan@northshoresun.com

11/02/10 7:57pm
11/02/2010 7:57 PM


Tim Bishop


A look at the local candidates in today’s election:

UNITED STATES CONGRESS

Tim Bishop

Tim Bishop, 60, (D-Southampton) is a lifelong Southampton resident who came to Congress after serving in the administration of Southampton College for 29 years, many of them as provost. He started at the school as an admissions counselor and retired in 2002.

Mr. Bishop says his priorities include focusing on job creation; protecting middle-class families and seniors; controlling spending; strengthening education; and protecting benefits for veterans. He supports legislation to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating alternative energy jobs. He has pledged to work to secure the United States from terrorism; to safeguard the environment; and to work toward getting Long Island its fair share of federal aid.

Mr. Bishop favors elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax; and supports expanding the Child Tax Credit and raising the maximum income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket to increase the number of people eligible to pay the lowest percentage of their personal income in federal taxes. He has promoted legislation to protect Long Island Sound and Long Island shorelines and beaches. He is pro-choice on the abortion issue and opposed the war in Iraq.

Like many  Democrats around the country, Mr. Bishop is charging that a lot of the money flowing to Republican and Tea Party candidates comes from foreign sources and is being contributed illegally.


Randy Altschuler

Randy Altschuler, 39, (R,C- St. James), grew up in New York City and moved to St. James in 2007. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds an MBA from Harvard. He was co-founder and CEO of CloudBlue, an electronics recycling company, and OfficeTiger, a company that supplies back room office staff for major corporations.

He remains executive chairman of CloudBlue but has suspended any active involvement with the company during the campaign, his spokesman Rob Ryan said.

Mr. Altschuler reportedly wanted to run for Congress in New Jersey, where he previously lived, but he never made the race.

He denies that he has outsourced jobs to other countries and said he instead has created more than 700 jobs for Americans.

Mr. Altschuler favors lowering taxes and reducing spending. He pledges to lower corporate taxes; support a fence on the U.S. southern border to improve security; repeal the health care bill; issue tax credits to students attending non-public and charter schools; support domestic energy production, including oil drilling, coal mining and natural gas extraction; and invest in creating alternative energy sources.

Mr. Ryan said Mr. Altschuler not only favors retaining the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 but would also favor cutting taxes further to give small businesses and individuals more money to invest.

Mr. Altschuler is pro-life on the abortion issue.

STATE SENATE

Kenneth P. LaValle

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, 71, has served in his current position since 1976. He is the Republican, Conservative and Independence party candidate.

Mr. LaValle is widely credited for his work as a former executive director of the Senate Education Committee and as chair of the state senate’s Higher Education Committee to improve education. Locally he is respected for his authorship of the 1993 Pine Barrens Preservation Act. He has also helped to establish numerous health care programs throughout the First Senate District.

Mr. LaValle was also one of the architects of the state’s STAR school property tax relief program.

Mr. LaValle, a graduate of Hempstead High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University in 1961 and received a master’s degree in education from SUNY New Paltz in 1964. He received his juris doctorate from the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 1987. He was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1993 and is a practicing attorney.

Mr. LaValle lives in Port Jefferson with his wife, Penny, and is the father of two grown children.

Jennifer Maertz

Jennifer Maertz, 34, currently serves as the vice chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. Ms. Maertz, a litigating attorney for the GEICO insurance company, was chosen by Democrats to face off against Mr. LaValle after former Democratic and Working Families Party candidate Regina Calcaterra was forced to drop out of the race because she had registered to vote in Pennsylvania for part of the last five years.

Ms. Maertz had sought the Democratic nomination for Brookhaven Town Board last year but was not chosen by party leaders. She had been working for Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign when the former candidate’s run was ruled invalid.

Ms. Maertz, who lives in Rocky Point, is a graduate of St. John’s University and Touro Law School and received an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology. She has also served on the Rocky Point Civic Association, North Shore Youth Council and Brookhaven Business and Community Alliance.

She supports state budget reform, property tax relief and better jobs for Long Island communities. She often distinguishes herself as supporting marriage equality. Mr. LaValle voted against gay marriage.

STATE ASSEMBLY

Marc Alessi

Assemblyman Marc Alessi, 34, of Shoreham, has been in office for five years, having won a special election to fill the remainder of Pat Acampora’s term in 2005, and then being re-elected twice. He is on the ballot on the Democrat, Independence and Working Families lines.

An attorney, Mr. Alessi says he has been instrumental in bringing reform to LIPA’s management and in passing legislation requiring state review of health insurance rate increases. He says he opposed the MTA payroll tax and was instrumental in getting train service restored and improved on the North Fork. Mr. Alessi now is working on legislation designed to keep high tech industry within New York State, where many patents are developed but not implemented.

Before his election to the Assembly, Mr. Alessi was the downstate director of intergovernmental affairs for the state comptroller, where he says he helped uncover corruption in school districts like Roslyn and William Floyd.

Mr. Alessi has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and completed his law degree at Touro Law School, where he studied health care law.

He and his wife, Gretchen have a son and daughter.

Dan Losquadro

Dan Losquadro, 38, also of Shoreham has represented the Suffolk County Legislature’s sixth district for the past seven years and has been the leader of the Legislature’s Republican minority since 2006. He is on the ballot on the Republican, Conservative, Green Party and School Tax Relief lines.

Before his election to the Legislature, Mr. Losquadro was a claims adjuster and fraud investigator for State Farm Insurance, investigating such incidents as arson, auto thefts and staged accidents.

He says he wants to run for Assembly because New York has “high taxes, a lack of good jobs and a terrible business environment” and he feels the Democratic majority in both the Assembly and the state Senate primarily represent the interests of New York City interests, and Long Island interests need to be better represented.

Mr. Losquadro grew up in Wading River, graduated from Shoreham-Wading River schools and graduated from SUNY/Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree in history. He and his wife, Lynn, a teacher, have a son and a daughter.

11/01/10 2:11pm
11/01/2010 2:11 PM

Assemblymen Marc Alessi and county Legislator Dan Losquadro

Marc Alessi

Assemblyman Marc Alessi, 34, of Shoreham, has been in office for five years, having won a special election to fill the remainder of Pat Acampora’s term in 2005, and then being re-elected twice. He is on the ballot on the Democrat, Independence and Working Families lines.

An attorney, Mr. Alessi says he has been instrumental in bringing reform to LIPA’s management and in passing legislation requiring state review of health insurance rate increases. He says he opposed the MTA payroll tax and was instrumental in getting train service restored and improved on the North Fork. Mr. Alessi now is working on legislation designed to keep high tech industry within New York State, where many patents are developed but not implemented.

Before his election to the Assembly, Mr. Alessi was the downstate director of intergovernmental affairs for the state comptroller, where he says he helped uncover corruption in school districts like Roslyn and William Floyd.

Mr. Alessi has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and completed his law degree at Touro Law School, where he studied health care law.

He and his wife, Gretchen have a son and daughter.

Dan LoSquadro

Dan Losquadro, 38, of Shoreham has represented the Suffolk County Legislature’s sixth district for the past seven years and has been the leader of the Legislature’s Republican minority since 2006. He is on the ballot on the Republican, Conservative, Green Party and School Tax Relief lines.

Before his election to the Legislature, Mr. Losquadro was a claims adjuster and fraud investigator for State Farm Insurance, investigating such incidents as arson, auto thefts and staged accidents.

He says he wants to run for Assembly because New York has “high taxes, a lack of good jobs and a terrible business environment” and he feels the Democratic majority in both the Assembly and the state Senate primarily represent the interests of New York City interests, and Long Island interests need to be better represented.

Mr. Losquadro grew up in Wading River, graduated from Shoreham-Wading River schools and graduated from SUNY/Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree in history. He and his wife, Lynn, a teacher, have a son and a daughter.

tgannon@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 27, 2010

10/31/10 7:48pm
10/31/2010 7:48 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTOJoe Kummer, a resident of Thurm's Estate's and president of the Mobile Manufactured Homeowners Association of Suffolk at his home in Calverton.

Mobile homeowner Joe Kummer, who lives in Thurms Estate in Calverton, has seen his rent increase $225 since an upstate company bought the park in 2006. Mr. Kummer told about 50 members of the Mobile/Manufactured Homeowner’s Association of Suffolk Inc. at their meeting at Riverhead Town Hall Saturday the sting of the rent increase would not hurt so bad if the company reinvested it into the park, perhaps by painting the community center or repaving its roads.

“The rent is going up… yet [the owner] is refusing to do anything for us in the park,” said Mr. Kummer, who is the president of that organization.

An extra $225 a month could force some mobile homeowners, many who are seniors living on fixed incomes, out of their homes, Mr. Kummer said, which is a threat to what many consider to be the last form of truly affordable housing on Long Island.

That’s why Assemblymen Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) and Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who represent the North and South fork respectively, are co-sponsoring legislation in the State Assembly that will give mobile homeowners the right to collectively take their landlords to court over unjustifiable rent increases. State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) will sponsor the bill in the senate.

The assemblymen announced the legislation at Saturday’s meeting.

“You are defenseless to unscrupulous park owners,” Mr. Thiele told the crowd.

“Tenants shouldn’t have to worry about affording their monthly lot rent,” Mr. Alessi said. “They don’t really have any other options if their landlord decides to increase rates unjustifiably. It is very expensive to relocate and there is often no place to move even if someone wants to.”

Mr. Alessi said similar legislation passed in the assembly in 2009, though it was not approved in the State Senate. He and Mr. Thiele are hoping the bill will be adopted this time around. Mr. Alessi noted that the problem of rent increase for mobile homeowners is unique to eastern Long Island where real estate is very expensive.

The assemblymen are also seeking legislation to require manufactured homeowners to pay real property taxes on the land their home sits on. Currently the land owner pays the property taxes. Mr. Alessi said doing so would allow mobile homeowners to directly apply for tax rebates instead of the rebates being credited to the owner of the mobile home park. The park owner is then responsible to distribute the tax rebates to tenants, though there is no oversight of the process.

vchinese@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 16, 2010

10/31/10 6:30pm

Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) has introduced two bills aimed at job creation on Long Island.

The first would increase tax credits for start-up companies. His second bill, if it were to become law, would give tax credits to investors as an incentive to invest in companies in the state, and would also give tax credits to companies for expenses such as testing, prototyping, designing, lab equipment, product promotion, market research and licensing fees.

Mr. Alessi argued that New York State lacks the business ecosystem to foster innovation, but has a wealth of potential jobs looming due to the state’s many assets, including the workforce, research and patents. The state is currently losing jobs to places with similar tax issues, he said, such as Boston, Mass., Silicon Valley, Calif., and Houston, Texas.

Mr. Alessi, who chairs the Assembly’s subcommittee on the emerging workforce, said the state needs to offer assistance in business planning and, most importantly, provide incentives for investors to grow small businesses in the state. His recommendations come after a year of researching New York’s assets, the findings of which he published in a report released Monday.

“We have more engineers and researchers per capita in our area than most other areas in the U.S.,” he said at a press event in Shoreham. “With that intellectual quotient, we should be doing a whole lot more in terms of creating new products and creating new jobs.”

The goal of both bills is help facilitate the process of turning concepts into products.

“This is the new model for creating jobs in New York State,” he said. “The old model of throwing tax money at a target to bring retail jobs to New York State — those jobs are coming anyway, and it’s a waste of our tax dollars.

“These targeted tax credits will make a difference and will create good-paying jobs right here in our community,” Mr. Alessi said.

samantha@northshoresun.com


This post was originally published Oct. 13