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.

06/23/14 8:00am
06/23/2014 8:00 AM
State Senator Lee Zeldin, left, and primary opponent George Demos.

State Senator Lee Zeldin, left, and primary opponent George Demos.

They’ve been slamming each other in campaign advertisements for weeks, with each linking the other to Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, in one form or another. And come Tuesday, Republican voters will decide whether Lee Zeldin or George Demos will be their candidate to oppose incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in the fall.  (more…)

11/21/13 1:02pm
11/21/2013 1:02 PM
Bishop-McGann-Mercy-football-player-Mike-Frosina-102513

GARRETT MEADE PHOTO

Congress is considering a bill to strengthen public school procedures for preventing, detecting, and treating student-athletes who suffer concussions while competing in games and practices, a bill Congressman Tim Bishop supports.

Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton) joined fellow Democratic lawmakers today to  introduce legislation to strengthen k-12 schools’ procedures for preventing, detecting, and treating student-athletes who suffer concussions while competing in sports.

Primarily, the bill would set minimum safety standards for concussion management in public schools across the country with plans that educate students, parents and school personnel about how to recognize and respond to concussions — something the Congressman called a first.

“Concussions are an unfortunate reality of competitive sports from the sandlot to the Super Bowl,” Mr. Bishop said in a press release. “This legislation addresses the clear need for nationwide standards and new tools for students, coaches, and teachers on concussion prevention, management, and recovery.”

Mr. Bishop said he was the original sponsor of the bill when it was first introduced in 2009 and the Senate approved similar legislation earlier this year.

The National Federation of State High School Associations estimates that about 140,000 students playing high school sports suffer concussions every year, though many go unreported.

A fact sheet on the bill is available at:  http://timbishop.house.gov/uploads/Concussion%20fact%20sheets.pdf

The full bill text is available at:  http://timbishop.house.gov/uploads/11.13.13%20BISHNY_027_xml.pdf

10/01/13 1:44pm
10/01/2013 1:44 PM
Democrat, Congressman, New York

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop.

The following list of local offices and services impacted by the federal government shutdown was provided by Congressman Tim Bishop’s press office. We will update it as more information, including reports on the Plum Island research facility, becomes available:

Social Security District Office

The office in Patchogue is open to handle urgent issues such as appeals and benefit applications. Applications for a social security number and to replace a social security card (about 100 requests are received per day) will not be processed.

Social Security benefit payments will not be affected, and will be delivered on time.

Army Corps of Engineers

The Superstorm Sandy supplemental appropriations legislation will continue to fund work on Sandy-related construction projects including the Fire Island to Montauk Point Study and the emergency project to stabilize the beach in Downtown Montauk. Impact on Sandy construction projects and other future operations could be affected in the event of a prolonged shutdown.

106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Air Base

All or nearly all of the 218 “dual status” technicians who had been previously furloughed due to sequestration budget cuts will now be furloughed for the duration of the shutdown.

Calverton National Cemetery

Operations at the Cemetery are fully funded until Oct.15. Should the shutdown continue past that date, approximately two-thirds of the cemetery’s 100 employees will be furloughed, leading to reductions in the number of burials performed and maintenance such as groundskeeping at the cemetery.

Stony Brook University

The direct student loan program will not be affected.

The payment management system at the National Institutes of Health, SBU’s largest source of research funds, will be available, but administrative support will not. Researchers can draw down money from their grants unless the request needs to be reviewed or approved. New grant applications can be filed but they will not be acted upon until the workforce returns.

Federal Wildlife Preserves

Fire Island National Seashore will be closed to visitors. Residents and contractors will still be able to access Fire Island at Robert Moses State Park.

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley and Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Noyac will be closed.

IRS Facility

The IRS field office and the Taxpayer Advocate Service is also closed, employees are furloughed.

US Customs and Immigration Service

The USCIS field office in Holtsville and the entire agency is operating at full capacity because they are primarily funded by user fees.

10/01/13 1:05pm

The following is a statement released Tuesday by local Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) on the government shutdown in Washington:

“The House GOP has voted to ensure a harmful, and completely avoidable, shutdown of federal government operations beginning today. It is deeply reckless that the House leadership and its Tea Party-dominated caucus have abdicated their responsibility to govern and, instead, have chosen to pursue partisan political goals at the expense of the American people’s interests.

“I share the frustration of my constituents that Congress failed to reach an agreement to keep the government operating. However, having failed repeatedly to overturn the Affordable Care Act through the democratic and judicial processes, the House GOP has taken the government — and potentially the nation’s full faith and credit — as a hostage. Funding the authorized operations of the government and paying our bills is not a concession to Democrats. It’s our job.

“My GOP colleagues should not demand a ransom for simply fulfilling their responsibilities. That is not negotiating or governing in good faith. Giving in to these unreasonable demands would not only jeopardize affordable health coverage for millions of Americans but also further embolden those willing to use destructive tactics to get their way.

“I remain hopeful that there will be a change of heart among my colleagues and the destructive effects of this shutdown will be reversed soon. My offices on Long Island and in Washington will remain open to serve my constituents during this period. It is important to note that Social Security payments, and Medicare and Medicaid coverage are funded through a mandatory appropriations process and will not be affected.”

11/08/12 6:00am
11/08/2012 6:00 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Senator Ken LaValle delivers his acceptance speech Tuesday. Mr. LaValle has served in the New York State Senate since 1976.

The past couple years haven’t left us feeling warm and fuzzy about our government.

The historically partisan 112th Congress accomplished very little before returning home Sept. 21, the earliest it’s broken up to begin an election season in more than 50 years.

Our state government’s most effective moments over the past 15 months were spent undoing past missteps, like battling the MTA tax and finally approving marriage equality.

At the county level, we’re constantly reminded that we’re broke, then we have to stand by and listen as legislators and the county executive argue over just how broke we are. Meanwhile, the only fixes they seem interested in making are short-term and we remain no better off financially then we were the year before.

Our one saving grace here on the North Fork has been strong local representation. Now, it appears, we’ll need our elected leaders to flex their muscles more than ever before.

According to early election reports and projections, each of our local elected officials at the state and federal level will likely serve in the minority caucus next year. That will certainly be the case for Congressman Tim Bishop and state Assemblyman Dan Losquadro — and it appears Ken LaValle could be back in the minority in the state Senate.

If a Republican is elected this February to replace Ed Romaine in the County Legislature, we’ll also be represented by a freshman legislator in the minority party.

Now that the election is over, we need our representatives to turn their attention to delivering for the North Fork. And we need them to fight harder than ever before.

We will need firm leadership in battling issues like water pollution as we move forward in the months following superstorm Sandy. We will also need our representatives to continue to fight development and preserve the remaining parcels of open space in our communities, even as funding becomes tougher to come by. Additionally, we keep hearing reports that the helicopter noise issue is being resolved, but that’s usually followed by the sound of choppers overhead.

And, of course, these elected officials will have to do their part to mitigate tax increases as they work to level record deficits.

Each of the local representatives re-elected this week received the support of this editorial board. They received our support because we believe they have what it takes to tackle the many issues facing our communities.

Now, even as they serve in the minority caucus, they have to prove it.

07/31/12 1:54pm
07/31/2012 1:54 PM

Randy Altschuler, left, and Tim Bishop

In an email to campaign supporters Tuesday, congressional hopeful Randy Altschuler said new polling numbers show Congressman Tim Bishop is in “BIG trouble.”

But Bishop’s camp likened Mr. Altschuler’s poll to little more than a BIG joke.

The poll, which was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, shows Altschuler leading by four points, with 47 percent of likely voters in support of the Republican businessman from St. James and 43 percent in favor of the Southampton Democrat. Ten percent are undecided, the poll shows.

“We just came out of the field with my first poll of the general election and the results confirm what we are all feeling on the ground,” Mr. Altschuler said in his email. “Career politician Tim Bishop is in BIG trouble.”

Bobby Pierce, Communications Director for Bishop for Congress, called the poll a do-it-yourself operation, and he pointed to a New York Times blog post that labeled Pulse Opinon Research polls as “bias and inaccurate.”

Mr. Pierce urged Altschuler’s camp to release polls he said were conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, an international polling and research firm. Campaign finances show that Mr. Altschuler’s campaign has spent more than $50,000 to McLaughlin & Associates since July 2011, including nearly $17,000 in April.

“We haven’t seen them release any poll from them,” Mr. Pierce said. “That’s a real polling company.”

Mr. Pierce said the most recent third-party poll conducted in the race, which many media outlets have pegged as one of the key races around the country this year, shows Mr. Bishop ahead 24 points.

“Randy saw that poll and figured he better buy his own poll,” he said. “You’d think he would buy a little more than a four-point lead.”

Altschuler spokesman Chris Russell said that poll was conducted by the House Majority PAC. “That is effectively an arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” he said.

Mr. Pierce said the Bishop campaign hasn’t done its own poll since March, but that survey, conducted by Global Strategy Group, had the Congressman ahead by 17 points.

This is not Mr. Altschuler’s first attempt to unseat Mr. Bishop. He lost to an incumbent Mr. Bishop by just 593 votes two years ago, in a vote count that stretched out over several days.

In his email to supporters Tuesday, Mr. Altschuler said he believes the majority of the voting public is on his side this time around.

“After nearly ten years of voting for trillions in higher taxes, more spending and irresponsible debt that has helped to drive more than 30,000 jobs off of Long Island, the people of Suffolk County are tiring of Tim Bishop,” he wrote.

gparpan@timesreview.com