11/20/14 12:30pm
11/20/2014 12:30 PM
President Barack Obama talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the Colonnade of the White House, Nov. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the Colonnade of the White House, Nov. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It’s finally happened. After years of near-total philosophical compatibility, Barack and I finally find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue. Up until now, I have agreed with the president on just about every domestic policy issue, foreign policy issue and every issue in between. But now I think he’s making a very big mistake in pushing for immigration reform via executive order.

It’s fairly obvious why he wants to do it this way — via executive order as opposed to legislation. He’s had it up to here with Republican obstructionism and he’s still smarting from the recent mid-term election butt-kicking the Democrats suffered. But he’s chosen the wrong issue and the wrong course of action to (finally!) flex his muscles.

While the objective of immigration reform is commendable, granting amnesty (and Social Security cards and driver’s licenses) to those who have entered our country illegally is at the very least shortsighted. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but the vast majority of our ancestors who came to this country did so legally. Giving a free pass to up to five million immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally is nothing less than a slap in the face to those who have abided by the law in the past and those who will abide by it in the future.

Republican leaders in Washington have vowed to “fight the president tooth and nail” on this issue, arguing that they “earned a chance at the polls to write their own immigration legislation in the Congress they will control next years,” according to The New York Times.

And if you think it’s hard for me to disagree with the president, you have no idea how much it pains me to agree with the Republicans. But on this issue, at least, they’re right and he’s wrong. And hopefully he’ll come to his senses before we’re forced to endure yet another partisan bloodbath in our nation’s capital.

There have been two developments in local news this week upon which I am compelled to comment. The first is decidedly upbeat, and it concerns (of course) the state championship won by the Mattituck High School boys’ varsity soccer team.

We’ve had our fair share of great athletic teams on the North Fork in the 40-something years I’ve lived here, and this one must be considered one of the very best. In shutting out their opponents in both their semi-final and final games, the Tuckers punctuated their championship season most emphatically. And the warm welcome they received when they crossed the town line Sunday evening was the sort of small-town stuff players and coaches alike will remember for the rest of their lives.

Development No. 2 could not be more downbeat. Riverhead attorney Tom Twomey’s sudden death at the age of 68 comes as a shock to those of us who have known and worked with him over the years. For many years, Tom was perhaps our region’s foremost environmental advocate, having been involved in almost every important environmental struggle over the past four decades — from farmland and Pine Barrens preservation to the successful nuclear power protests of the 1970s and ’80s.

And although he was involved in partisan politics, he was never overtly partisan or political. His was always a reasoned and diplomatic approach, and he helped move mountains in the process.

The East End has lost one of its most valued leaders with the passing of Tom Twomey — something all of us should remember every time we pass through the Pine Barrens between Exits 71 and 66 on the Long Island Expressway, every time we pass a vineyard or open farm field and every time we pass Hallock State Park Preserve — which, but for the efforts of Tom Twomey, might otherwise be the Jamesport Nuclear Power Plant.

11/07/14 11:00am
11/07/2014 11:00 AM

 

Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin addresses his supporters at the Suffolk County GOP gala at Emporium in Patchogue Tuesday. (Credit: John Griffin)

Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin addresses his supporters at the Suffolk County GOP gala at Emporium in Patchogue Tuesday. (Credit: John Griffin)

“Every election is like a job interview,” Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky and likely Senate majority leader, said in his acceptance speech Tuesday. This year, Democrats weren’t hired for lots of jobs.

Notably for East Enders, Lee Zeldin knocked off six-term incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop in the 1st Congressional District race. (more…)

09/12/14 1:03pm
09/12/2014 1:03 PM
Dennis McDermott, owner of The Riverhead Project, said the downtown eatery is closed for good.

Dennis McDermott, owner of The Riverhead Project, said the downtown eatery is closed for good. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The Riverhead Project, the downtown eatery widely heralded as a milestone in the revitalization of Riverhead, has gone out of business, according to the restaurant’s owner. (more…)

01/21/13 3:23pm
01/21/2013 3:23 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Inauguration Day partiers at Bedell Cellars, which provided wine for the inaugural luncheon in Washington, D.C.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Inauguration Day partiers at Bedell Cellars, which provided wine for the inaugural luncheon in Washington, D.C.

As North Fork wine was being poured during Monday’s inaugural luncheon on the occasion of the country’s first African-American president taking his second oath of office, this time on Martin Luther King Day, the Cutchogue winery that produced that vintage was holding a celebration of its own.

Among the first to arrive at Bedell Cellars, whose 2009 merlot was served in D.C., was East Marion resident Sarah Malone. As an African-American who remembers the racial strife of the civil rights movement, the day was an especially poignant reminder of the history made four years ago.

“It’s for real now,” Ms. Malone said, “The first election was special, but this one is even better.”

She said the president gave a “fabulous” inaugural address. “He made reference to everything, that he knows he is being sworn in there because of Martin Luther King Jr’s foot soldiers,” she said. “I’ve been sitting at home watching this all unfold, even the election. But this, to be out with people, makes me feel like I’m there.”

Ms. Malone was one of the many at Bedell Cellars watching the inaugural celebration on the tasting room’s television, sipping wine while members of the United States Supreme Court and Congress also enjoyed a North Fork wine at the inaugural luncheon.

Bedell’s winemaker, Richard Olsen-Harbich, thanked Senator Charles Schumer for adding their wine to the menu. He also acknowledged those who also had their hand in the wine’s creation.

“Kelly Urbanik, Kip Bedell and Seferino Cotzojay started this wine and made the initial decisions about how it was going to be fermented and some of the blending requirements,” Mr. Olsen-Harbich said. “When I came here in 2010, the first thing I did was bottle the 2008 wines, so this wine was in barrels at the time. Drew Sepielli, one of our interns and cellar master in 2011, worked with me from summer of 2010 till last year and also spent a lot of time taking care of this wine, so it was truly a team effort.”

He said the choice of Bedell’s wine at the luncheon speaks well for the entire region.

“This achievement gives our region a seat at the table with the best in the country and I think we deserve it,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and seeing this happen after so long is just incredible.”

01/09/13 5:00pm
01/09/2013 5:00 PM

Bedell Cellars’s 2009 Merlot will be served at President Barrack Obama’s inauguration luncheon Jan. 21.

The presidential inaugural luncheon is a tradition that dates back to 1867, but this year’s bipartisan breaking of bread between the United States Congress and Supreme Court will feature something entirely new – Long Island wine.

Bedell Cellars’ 2009 merlot, a lauded local wine, will be served with bison at the Jan. 21 luncheon, which will celebrate the new year and the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Bedell’s road from its Southold vineyard to the president’s palate began at New York Farm Day, according to winery CEO Trent Preszler.

“[It's] an annual event held in Washington D.C. featuring New York agricultural products,” Mr. Preszler said. “It’s all thanks to New York senior senator Charles Schumer (D – N.Y.) and Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. We’ve been working on this for several months now and are proud to finally be able to share the news with the world.”

The CEO, who holds a doctorate in viticulture, said merlots are historically important to Bedell, but that 2009’s vintage is ideal for the traditional toast as a wine that’s “truly expressive of the New York winemaker.”

Founding winemaker Kip Bedell said the vintage is a “classic Long Island merlot” with “ripe tannins and a beautiful balance between fruit and acidity.” The quality of the wine, he said, speaks not only to the crop, but to a successful winemaking style.

“It’s got beautiful fruit characteristics, though 2009 wasn’t as hot as the following year,” he said. “In almost any given year, we can make pretty nice wine. Once the grapes get up to the winemaker, it’s about directing those grapes into the best wine you can make with them. If there’s not a great year with tons of color and tremendous acidity in the fruit, there are ways to make the wine balanced and drinkable, without, say, aging it in oak for a long time so it comes out tasting like a toothpick.”

Mr. Bedell said the 2009 merlot, which has netted Bedell Cellars numerous awards since its release, is a fine choice for the celebration and should make for a “delicious” pairing with the bison.

“Serving Long island’s own Bedell Cellars merlot at the Inaugural luncheon shines a spotlight on one of New York’s world-class wine industry,” Senator Schumer noted in a press release this week. “President Obama, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet will all get a taste of Long Island’s finest with the addition of Bedell Cellars. I’m pleased to be able to showcase a fantastic New York company, one of many wineries that strengthen our New York’s economy.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com