12/18/13 1:48pm
12/18/2013 1:48 PM
PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO

The Wading River Fire District commissioner race isn’t over just yet.

A write-in candidate who appeared to have lost the election for the open seat by one vote has filed a lawsuit against the district and his incumbent opponent, claiming the district improperly cast aside 10 ballots that would have handed him the election.

A state Supreme Court judge has ordered that the district hold off on declaring an official winner, and produce all the ballots and voting machines to be examined, according to legal filings made last week.

Glenn Erick — the firefighter in the Wading River Fire Department who staged a write-in campaign to unseat incumbent commissioner Timothy Deveny — filed the suit against the Wading River Fire District, Mr. Deveny, and the Brookhaven and Riverhead Town Clerks last Thursday.

Mr. Erick claims that eight votes were invalidated because “notwithstanding the clear intent of the voters,” his name was written into the wrong location on the ballot. Instead of the box for the write-in candidate’s name, the claim notes that the names were written in a blank box on the ballot for the subject’s public office.

Two other ballots were reportedly not counted because Mr. Erick’s “first name was omitted and/or his last name misspelled.”

As a result of the mishandling, Mr. Erick claims the election swung in his opponent’s favor, and hopes the suit — first reported on RiverheadLocal.com — will earn him a seat on the board of commissioners.

He also alleges that those tallying the votes “removed themselves from public view” into a room where only the candidates were allowed to see the proceedings, according to the suit.

Mr. Erick’s attorney, Vincent Messina, said the suit — filed on Dec. 12, two days after the election — doesn’t claim the mistakes were made purposefully.

“We don’t want to imply nefarious intent,” Mr. Messina said.

He said that prior case law shows that in cases where there are only two candidates, and one is a write-in, it’s possible to determine who voters intended to vote for, even if they write the names in the wrong column or misspell them.

Mr. Messina added that Mr. Erick wasn’t seeking to convert other votes — like ones made for his family members — into votes for himself. He also found it strange that the results took so long to be announced.

“Normally they’d be done the next day, but they weren’t,” Mr. Messina said.

When reached by the News-Review last Wednesday to disclose the results of the election, officials at the district said the tallies were not available.

In a phone conversation Wednesday, district secretary Steven Donnelly said the results had been available on time and said there had been no delay in the results. He declined to comment on the lawsuit against the district because it was a pending matter.

The fire district’s attorney, Sal Sapienza, said in a phone interview the ten votes were discounted because the instructions on the electronic voting machines were clear.

“The board of elections determined that [for] eight of them … the people who voted didn’t follow the directions on the ballot,” he said, adding that mispellings of Mr. Erick’s name were allowed and that only cases where the board “couldn’t discern the intent” of voters were not counted.

He said the case law cited by Mr. Messina related to physical lever-operated voting machines, where voters were not “locked out” of using the wrong boxes.

“The basis of that decision may not be applicable in this case,” Mr. Sapienza said.

The fire district was ordered to provide “voting machines, ballots and other papers or worksheets” to Mr. Erick and his attorney to be inspected before Dec. 24.

Both parties are scheduled to appear before state Supreme Court judge Ralph Gazzillo on Jan. 6, according to court documents.

psquire@timesreview.com

10/25/13 12:51pm
10/25/2013 12:51 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Sean Walter and Angela DeVito on the Suffolk Theater stage.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Sean Walter and Angela DeVito on the Suffolk Theater stage.

Riverhead supervisor candidates Sean Walter, the incumbent Republican, and Angela DeVito, the challenging Democrat, took the stage on Thursday night at the Suffolk Theater for a debate co-sponsored by the Riverhead News-Review and RiverheadLocal.

The two answered questions about downtown, Enterprise Park at Calverton, Route 58 and more, even getting the chance to ask each other a question during the debate.

Check out their responses recorded here. And check back with us to check out video from the town board debate.

Candidates answer questions individually tailored to them:

Candidates speak about their vision for EPCAL: 

Candidates speak about their plans for avoiding a tax hike in coming years: 

Candidates on their plans for downtown: 

Closing statements: 

11/03/12 2:00pm
11/03/2012 2:00 PM

KATIE COE PHOTO | A power line that fell during the hurricane. Power outages could continue into next week, disrupting some polling places during the election.

Tuesday’s election will likely be disrupted in some areas due to power outages and inaccessible polling places, said representatives of the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Friday.

“We are currently assessing the situation regarding the accessibility of our polling places,” said Election Commissioners Anita Katz and Wayne Rogers in a press release Friday afternoon. “Once we establish which of our polling places are inoperative, we will make arrangements to relocate those election districts, notify voters and accommodate the electorate to the best of our ability.”

The county will be extending absentee voting hours, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. tonight and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Board of Elections headquarters on Yaphank Avenue.

No East End locations had been evaluated on the Board of Elections’ most recent list of polling place relocations as of late Friday. Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Times/Review will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Newsday reported Thursday that, of the 700 polling sites in Nassau and Suffolk , only 331 were currently able to receive voting machines.

“We are doing everything possible to ensure that our elections will move forward as scheduled,” said the commissioners.

byoung@timesreview.com

10/31/10 8:12pm
10/31/2010 8:12 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO Voters in the Riverhead Fire District authorized the district to sell the former Riverhead Building Supply properties on Ostrander and Union Avenues for $1.3 million Tuesday.

Voters in the Riverhead Fire District authorized the district to sell the former Riverhead Building Supply properties on Ostrander and Union avenues for $1.3 million.

There were 35 votes in favor, four opposed and one vote that was challenged, according to fire district secretary Bob Zaweski.

Meanwhile, another land exchange involving the Riverhead Fire District took a step forward at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, when the board voted to let Supervisor Sean Walter execute all documents required to transfer town-owned land off Route 58 to the fire district in exchange for the former fire headquarters on Second Street.

The fire district has a contract to sell the Ostrander Avenue property — which was donated to the fire district in 2000 by Riverhead Building Supply — for $1.3 million to Atlantis Marine World, which is hoping to use it for parking, according to Dennis Hamill, chairman of the Riverhead Board of Fire Commissioners. The property encompasses seven tax map parcels and is about four acres total, he said.

By law, voter approval is needed to sell fire district property, Mr. Hamill said. With the approval in hand, that deal can now move forward, he said.

In addition to the $1.3 million, the district will begin to collect tax payments on the property as it once again becomes privately owned, Mr. Hamill noted. “It’s a win-win situation,” he added.

“The generosity of the Goodale family should be acknowledged,” Mr. Hamill said, referring to the owners of Riverhead Building Supply.

Initially, the fire district intended to build a new fire headquarters on the property, but later determined that traffic in that area was not suitable for a firehouse. The district instead got voter approval in 2007 to build a new $14.7 million fire headquarters on Roanoke Avenue.

A fire in August 2009 destroyed one of the Ostrander Avenue buildings and the fire district subsequently demolished all of the structures on the seven parcels and put the land up for sale.

Atlantis has been using one of the Ostrander Avenue lots for parking for several years under an agreement with the fire district.

The other deal involves land the town owns that has been leased to the fire district for years. It is used as a firematic training site, as well as for annual motorized drill competitions. The district has sought to acquire the land for years. It has access of Route 58 and also abuts town land at Stotzky Park.

The land was technically owned by the town-run Riverhead Water District, and the Town Board on Tuesday passed a resolution transferring ownership to the town.

The Second Street firehouse was replaced by the new Roanoke Avenue headquarters and the district has been trying to sell it. Town Board members have said they would like to use the facility for the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, even though ambulance officials have repeatedly said they don’t want it because it’s not in a good location for an ambulance barn.

tgannon@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 19, 2010

10/31/10 5:38pm


Tim Bishop, Marc Alessi and Ken LaValle

The Riverhead News-Review gives its picks for next week’s state and federal elections:

Tim Bishop for Congress

He’s a Democrat in a heavily Republican district, which makes every election a tough one for Congressman Tim Bishop of Southampton. But this year may well be his most difficult race yet.

Mr. Bishop hopes to make history of sorts by becoming eastern Suffolk’s first congressman since Otis Pike to serve more than four two-year terms. Mr. Pike, one of Riverhead’s favorite sons, served 18 years before retiring in 1978.

This year Mr. Bishop faces an unusually well-financed opponent in businessman Randy Altschuler, who has spent at least $2 million of his own money on the race. That’s a pittance considering the $100 million New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent to win a third term. But it offers positive proof that Mr. Altschuler, who reportedly wanted to run for Congress in New Jersey before moving to St. James two years ago, is a carpetbagger and political opportunist trying to buy a congressional seat.

One of the first people to reach that conclusion was none other than Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle. “The reality is I’ve never seen a candidate try to run for office with more flaws than Randy Altschuler,” he said earlier this year. “Absent his personal wealth, he wouldn’t even be considered for this seat.”

Mr. Altschuler created Office Tiger, a company that outsources jobs, moving them overseas where wages are cheap. That didn’t sit well with the GOP chairman, who in a pre-primary interview described outsourcing as “a death knell.” He added that Mr. Altschuler “achieved impressively, but it’s been on the backs of the hardworking men and women on Long Island.”

Amen.

Mr. Altschuler is drawing from his personal fortune in the belief that a favorable alignment of the political stars — the perceived anti-incumbent sentiment and Tea Party-type anger at the Obama health care and stimulus packages, both of which Mr. Bishop supported — will secure him a coveted seat in Congress. Mr. Altschuler’s victory certainly wouldn’t come through a record of public service or an understanding of the district, its issues and its people, all glaringly absent from his résumé.

In contrast, Mr. Bishop has been an eager, energetic and successful advocate for the East End. Say what you will about his votes on those two hot-button issues, the record is clear: Tim Bishop is honest, accessible and hardworking, attributes in short in supply in Washington.

It’s a simple choice between self-aggrandizement and proven public service. Tim Bishop has earned another term and we enthusiastically endorse his re-election.

Ken LaValle for State Senate

It’s been a strange two years politically for veteran state Senator Ken LaValle.

He ran unopposed in 2008, but this year he seemed destined to face what might have been the most difficult election of his 34-year career. That fight wasn’t to be, however, as state courts ended Democrat Regina Calcaterra’s promising campaign over a residency glitch. As a result, Mr. LaValle is running against a little-known, underfunded challenger who entered the race just over two months ago.

He’s had a long and distinguished career, but the question at the core of the Calcaterra challenge was simply whether it is time for a change. Not now. Mr. LaValle’s opponent, Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, has never held political office and only stepped in to prevent the incumbent from getting another free pass. She’s failed to make the case for turning out an accomplished veteran with significant seniority. We endorse Ken LaValle.

Marc Alessi for State Assembly

We thought the 1st Assembly District fight would have rivaled the local battle for Congress, but Dan Losquadro, a Republican Suffolk County legislator, has run an uninspired campaign against incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi. At times Mr. Losquadro has seemed nonexistent.

Aside from the usual party rhetoric, Mr. Losquadro speaks of Long Islanders’ interests suffering at the hands of a Democratic Party that funnels money and power to New York City. That may be true, but he’s failed to highlight his own accomplishments and how those would translate into his becoming an effective representative in Albany; it’s as if he thinks any warm body would do, as long as that person is in the opposition party.

Mr. Alessi, on the other hand, is highly active and always at the forefront in battles for his constituents. And some of those battles have yielded real results, including helping secure the MTA’s retreat on North Fork service cuts, drawing the FAA’s attention to helicopter noise and finding federal aid for Riverhead flood victims. We need a smart hustler like Mr. Alessi representing us; that’s how our interests get heard.

Andrew Cuomo for Governor

We’ll say this much for Carl Paladino: He’s energetic and entertaining.

But he’s also scary.

His admirable energy would serve him well in Albany, but a governor must inspire and lead, not merely threaten and frighten.

Andrew Cuomo has more than proven himself as an energetic, talented and accomplished leader in his service as secretary of housing and urban development during the Clinton administration and, more recently, as the state’s attorney general.

New York needs strong leadership, not a dictatorial ideologue. New York needs Andrew Cuomo as governor.