06/27/13 8:00am
06/27/2013 8:00 AM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Boaters enjoying a day out on the Peconic Bay last summer.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Boaters enjoying a day out on the Peconic Bay last summer.

Back in the 1970s, the Suffolk County Legislature passed landmark legislation banning laundry detergents containing phosphates, which were blamed for causing foaming on surface waters. At the time it was considered cutting-edge environmental protection, but reality never matched the hype.

Residents in the densely populated western townships, where water quality problems were said to be most acute, simply drove across the county line into Nassau to buy detergents that worked far better than the replacements Suffolk law permitted. The issue resolved itself when detergent companies updated their formulas and dropped the compounds Suffolk had banned.

Over the years county lawmakers also attempted to regulate the use of video display monitors, the computer screens that predate today’s flat panel models, in the workplace and to impose tough new pesticide application limits. In both cases, the laws were struck down. In both cases, the Legislature had overstepped its limits.

The lawmakers may have been well within their authority last year in passing legislation requiring boaters to earn safety certificates before leaving the dock. But the knee-jerk reaction to a boating fatality was just as off the mark as those earlier bills and served only to churn up mud rather than chart a course to safer boating.

The law’s biggest flaw is a sin of omission in specifying who is required to take an 11-hour course and pass an exam to earn the right to cruise out on the water. Suffolk residents, even those who may have been boating all their lives and know local waters well, must take the ridiculously long course and pass the test. Meanwhile, nonresidents, even those who may never have set foot in a boat before, are exempt.

The bill passed by an 18-0 vote, which means the full legislature, and County Executive Steve Bellone, who signed the measure into law, either failed to recognize or were unmoved by the obvious — and potentially dangerous — contradiction.

While the return of summer weather has the new safety regulations on the minds of many boaters, the good news is there’s no need to panic since the law won’t take effect until the next boating season.

In response to former Times/Review publisher Troy Gustavson’s column calling for a written “boat operator’s test,” county comptroller Joseph Sawicki of Southold recently wrote to county Legislator Steve Stern (D-Huntington), the bill’s sponsor, asking him to take a second look at the law. We hope Mr. Stern and his colleagues will do just that — look past the emotion that fueled its passage and come up with a logical and workable alternative. Including all boaters and trimming the requirement down to an operator’s test is a good place to start.

05/14/13 9:42pm
05/14/2013 9:42 PM
Alain "Albie" de Kerillis of East Marion.

Alain “Albie” de Kerillis of East Marion.

The Suffolk County Republican Committee on Tuesday night nominated Alain “Albie” de Kerillis of East Marion as the committees’ candidate to take on incumbent Democrat Al Krupski in the race for the county Legislature seat representing the towns of Southold, Riverhead and parts of eastern Brookhaven Town.

County Republicans held their nominating convention at the Ramada Inn in Holtsville, at which they nominated candidates for county Legislature seats and renominated incumbents Tom Spota for district attorney, Angie Carpenter for treasurer and Vince DeMarco for sheriff.

Mr. Spota and Mr. DeMarco have both run with Democratic backing in the past as well.

The Republicans did not nominate someone to run for the state Assembly seat left vacant when Dan Losquadro was elected Brookhaven highway superintendent in March — but they are expected to do so soon.

“We’re just finishing up some discussions among the leaders, and we will do an announcement on [an Assembly nominee] hopefully by the end of the week,” county Republican chairman John Jay LaValle said after the convention.

Mr. de Kerillis, 46, was not present at the convention, and could not be reached for comment.

He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he was a paratrooper. He’s also a member and former captain of the Greenport Fire Department, a volunteer at Maureen’s Haven, which provides food and shelter for the homeless, a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Paris, France, and a commissioner of the Orient/East Marion Parks District.

He works for Riverhead Building Supply in Greenport and ran for Southold Town Board in 2009, but finished third in a race for two seats.

“Albie is a lifelong Republican and he’s in the private sector now and that’s what we like,” Mr. LaValle said. “He’s served his country with distinction. He’s a pretty well rounded guy.

“He’s someone working in the private sector who knows what’s going on out there.”

“Albie is a strong candidate, he’s a solid Republican and he’s a tireless campaigner,” said Southold Republican leader Peter McGreevy.

In the County Legislature’s second district, which represents the South Fork, the Republicans nominated Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi to challenge incumbent Jay Schneiderman of Montauk, who was elected as a Republican but has since switched his registration to the Independence Party. He was re-elected with Democratic backing two years ago.

Mr. Nuzzi has been on the Southampton Town Board for eight years, and thus, cannot serve any longer as a councilman under that town’s term limit laws.

Mr. Nuzzi said he considered running for supervisor, but decided instead to run for Legislature.

The North Fork’s seat on the county Legislature had been held for many years by Ed Romaine, but when Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko resigned last fall, Mr. Romaine ran for that seat and was elected.

That set off a special election to fill his county seat, and Mr. Krupski, a former Southold Town Board member, handily defeated Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter in January for the remainder of the term.

Shortly afterward, Mr. Losquadro ran for a vacant Brookhaven Town highway superintendent seat and won, leaving his old Assembly seat vacant.

To date, it doesn’t appear that Governor Andrew Cuomo intends to call a special election to fill the Assembly seat, instead waiting for the November general election date.

Mr. Cuomo has not publicly commented at all on his plans for the vacant Assembly seat.


02/05/13 10:15am
02/05/2013 10:15 AM
BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Police Chief James Burke (right) and Parents for Megan's Law director Laura Ahearn (left) before the public safety committee this morning.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Police Chief James Burke (right) and Parents for Megan’s Law director Laura Ahearn (left) before the public safety committee this morning.

The 38 homeless sex offenders in Suffolk County who are currently living in construction trailers in Riverside and Westhampton would be spread out, one per shelter, at county-run shelters throughout the county and would be monitored more closely by county police.

That’s if the plan, crafted by the Suffolk County Police Department and the Parents for Megan’s Law advocacy group, is approved by the county Legislature today.

Police Chief James Burke and Parents for Megan’s Law director Laura Ahearn pitched the plan to the Legislature’s public safety Committee in Hauppauge last Thursday morning.

Chief Burke assured the committee that the sex offenders would not be housed in shelters that serve families.

“That is true and that is for the record,” said Chief Burke, when asked by committee members for assurance the offenders would not have contact with families.

The “terrible” policy of clustering sex offenders together must end, the chief insisted.

“Let’s face it. If I took 20 bank robbers and put them under the same roof, at the end of the week, what would I come up with?” he said. “Twenty better bank robbers.”

Chief Burke told the committee that the department’s intelligence database will be updated to include information on the activities of the more than 1,000 sex offenders throughout the county, which can be cross-referenced and easily searched by officers in the field.

Officers will check in with the homeless sex offenders each night to ensure that they are staying where they are assigned, he said.

“They’re gonna know that we know where they are,” he said.

Chief Burke said the department expects costs of the new program to be significantly less than the $4 million the county is currently spending to house the sex offenders on the East End, since the department will be utilizing police personnel who are already in the field.

Ms. Ahearn unveiled her group’s new eight-point plan, which includes hiring two teams of retired police officers to verify addresses of [non-homeless] sex offenders and verify the work addresses of Level 3 sex offenders. Offenders at lower levels are not required to report their work addresses to police.

She said 60 percent of Level 3 offenders don’t currently report their work addresses, even though they are required to by law.

Enforceability in the five East End towns, which all have their own police departments, would depend on local police chiefs signing on to the county’s plan, said Chief Burke.

He said the county’s resources and intelligence would be made available to any other police department that signs on to the plan.

“I think right now, this is the better way to go at this time,” said Public Safety Committee chairwoman Kate Browning of the plan. “We need to make sure that we’re doing right by our communities. I definitely think this is going to be a much stronger effort than the CHI shelters.”