06/11/14 2:23pm
06/11/2014 2:23 PM
The water bill is designed to clean groundwater and prevent pollution and harmful algal blooms in the bays and Long Island Sound. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

The water bill is designed to clean groundwater and prevent pollution and harmful algal blooms in the bays and Long Island Sound. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

After an up-Island assemblyman recently pitched a clean water bill creating a timeline for improving wastewater treatment systems, matching legislation has been proposed in the state Senate, potentially clearing the way for sweeping water quality reform in Albany before the end of next week.

If signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the bill stands to affect property owners throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.  (more…)

04/24/14 12:51pm
04/24/2014 12:51 PM
East End Livestock and Horsemen's Association members take trail rides in the spring and fall each year after getting permission from the state parks department. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

East End Livestock and Horsemen’s Association members take trail rides in the spring and fall each year after getting permission from the state parks department. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Nature buffs who’ve been waiting more than a decade for access to Northville’s Hallock State Park Preserve will soon have their chance — as work to create an access way, visitors center, and trails is scheduled to begin sometime this year, according to a release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.  (more…)

04/16/14 8:00am
04/16/2014 8:00 AM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces new reforms to ease restrictions on farm wineries. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces new reforms to ease restrictions on farm wineries. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office)

Local wineries and farm breweries are celebrating recent statewide reforms they say will both reduce the financial burden on the local beverage industry and give them more freedom to sell and distribute their products. (more…)

04/11/14 10:00am
04/11/2014 10:00 AM
Two deer grazing behind a Cutchogue home on Tuesday. Lawmakers hope looser setback regulations will help manage deer populations. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder photo)

Two deer grazing behind a Cutchogue home on Tuesday. Lawmakers hope looser setback regulations will help manage deer populations. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder photo)

State leaders recently approved new regulations that will open up available land to bowhunters on Long Island, enabling them to target deer closer to structures than what was previously allowed.  (more…)

01/17/14 8:00am
01/17/2014 8:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER FILE PHOTO  |  Educators packed a forum at Eastport-South Manor High School in December to express their displeasure over Common Core.

CARRIE MILLER FILE PHOTO | Educators packed a forum at Eastport-South Manor High School in December to express their displeasure over Common Core.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to award $20,000 bonuses to teachers who are rated “highly effective” in local school districts’ teacher evaluation systems is at best a politically tone-deaf head scratcher. At worst, it’s a cynical attempt to placate tens of thousands of educators incensed about high-stakes testing tied to the rollout of the Common Core curriculum in New York.

Consider that 320 of the 610 teachers evaluated in the Riverhead, Mattituck-Cutchogue, Southold, Greenport and Oysterponds districts received “highly effective” ratings last year. If each of them were to receive a $20,000 bonus, it would cost $6.4 million. This from just one corner of one county. Think of the cost across the entire state.

To be fair, in his State of the State speech last week, Mr. Cuomo said such teachers “would be eligible” for the $20,000 bonus. (He’s yet to provide many details.) So let’s assume that not every “highly effective” teacher would receive a full bonus — or even any bonus at all —under his plan. How would it be decided which teachers did get bonuses? Implementing such a selective system would add to what already seems to be an exorbitant waste of resources in schools, as administrators spend more and more time observing and documenting teacher performance.

It’s also hard to imagine — especially after years of a stagnant economy — that the non-teaching public would welcome a move to further reward, by huge amounts, what are already the highest-paid educators in the U.S.

An incentive program in itself, isn’t a bad idea, but it should more closely align with incentives members of the general public might be offered — not a sum that’s over a third of 2010 median family income. Incentives could also be applied strategically to recruit and retain teachers in certain subjects, such as math or science, where a local district has a specific need.

Mr. Cuomo is misguided if he’s floating his plan as a way to get teachers to relax their resistance to high-stakes testing. The bonus program as pitched, should it be enacted, would only raise the stakes and would still be tied to a fledgling and very flawed system of testing. Besides, the best teachers aren’t motivated primarily by the prospect of making more money. For them, seeing their students excel is bonus enough.