08/14/13 10:27pm
08/14/2013 10:27 PM

A local reporter working in Egypt was among the journalists beaten and arrested along with protestors during the bloody clashes that led to the death of more than 275 people Wednesday.

Mike Giglio, a reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast in Cairo, wrote a first-person account of the incident for thedailybeast.com.

The son of Mike Giglio of Baiting Hollow and the stepson of Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, Mr. Giglio told the New York Times he was beaten despite showing credentials indicating he’s a working journalist.

“People are being told not to trust the international press, because what it’s reporting doesn’t always fit with the government’s media narrative,” he told the Times. At least two journalists were killed in the clashes, according to the Times story.

Ms. Giglio said she and her husband spoke with Mr. Giglio Wednesday and he said he’s doing OK.

You can read more of Mr. Giglio’s reports from Cairo by clicking here.

08/13/13 5:24pm
08/13/2013 5:24 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is currently engaged in a bitter primary battle with Anthony Coates.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio has currently raised more money than primary challenger Anthony Coates.

Republican Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is far ahead of running mate John Dunleavy and primary challenger Anthony Coates in terms of money raised and money spent in this year’s campaign, according to the latest Board of Elections disclosure reports.

The reports also show that Riverhead Town Democratic Committee has now raised more money than its Republican counterpart as of the latest filing period for this year.

Also, Democratic supervisor candidate Angela DeVito has raised nearly as much money as incumbent Republican Supervisor Sean Walter, despite the fact that Mr. Walter ran a separate campaign for Suffolk County legislator earlier in the year.

The Board of Elections requires all fundraising committees to file campaign disclosure reports in January and July, but also requires candidates involved in a primary or a general election to file additional reports, including a 32-day pre-primary report that was due Friday.

In Riverhead Town, there is a Democratic primary for supervisor between party nominee Angela DeVito and challenger Ann Cotten DeGrasse, as well as a Republican primary for two council seats that pits party nominees Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy against challenger Anthony Coates, who has specifically targeted Ms. Giglio in his campaign.

There’s also a council primary for the Independence party nominations in Riverhead, pitting Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy against Bill Bianchi, a Democratic nominee.

The other Democratic council candidate, Millie Thomas, is not running in the Independence Party primary.

In the Democratic race for supervisor, Ms. DeVito, to date, has raised $21,509 and spent $13,764, with $7,735 left on hand. Her biggest contribution was $1,000 from the Ironworkers Political Action League.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse has raised $6,588 and spent $3,920, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. For the year, she’s raised $8,353 and spent $6,422, and ended the most recent filing period with $3,929 on hand.

Mr. Walter didn’t have to submit a pre-primary report since he’s not involved in a primary, but he has raised a total of $26,452 and spent $19,964 so far this year, with much of that being raised when he was running a special election for county Legislature earlier this year.

The Riverhead Town Democratic Committee had not yet posted a pre-primary report on the state BOE website but, to date, per the July filing, the Democrats had raised a total of $25,686 and spent $15,344 this year. The committee shows a balance of $15,550.

By comparison, the Riverhead Republican Committee had raised $5,950 and spent $7,172 through the July filing and the end balance showed them in debt to the tune of $4,102. The Republicans filed a “no action” notice in the pre-primary report, indicating that they had neither raised nor spent any money since the July filing date.

“I think it’s obvious that people want to change this Town Board this year and are supporting us,” said Riverhead Democratic chair Marge Acevedo.

Neither Mr. Bianchi nor Ms. Thomas have set up campaign fundraising committees yet.

The primary vote date is Sept. 10.

In the Republican race for two town council seat nominations, Ms. Giglio’s latest reports show her raising $14,760 more and spending $12,780 more since the prior reports in July.

Adding up the totals from the January and July filings, she has raised a total of $54,824 and spent $49,317. She started in January with $6,066, giving her a closing balance of $11,571, according to the report.

Ms. Giglio reported $4,542 in unspecified contributions in her latest report. Contributions of less than $100, such as those from people who attend fundraisers with a ticket price under $100, do not have to be listed by name.

Her biggest contributors named in the latest report are Phyllis Chulpsa of Smithtown and Composite Technologies of Calverton, each of which contributed $1,000.

Ms. Giglio’s campaign expenses show payments for fundraising events of $900 and $5,740 to Strategic Maneuvers and $1,500 to Third Rock, both of which have the same address as the Outer Banks Restaurant, which Ms. Giglio’s husband runs at the county’s Indian Island Country Club.

Mr. Dunleavy’s 32-day pre-primary report lists only $2,683 in additional contributions and $6,572 in additional expenses. For the year, including numbers from the prior reports, Mr. Dunleavy has raised $38,613 and spent $25,187. His campaign still has a balance $9,647 on hand.

His biggest contribution in the recent report was $1,000 from Randy Altschuler of St. James, who twice ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Republican line against incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop.

Mr. Dunleavy also received $808 from Rudy Saviano Inc., of Ronkonkoma, which does fundraising auctions.

And Mr. Coates’ latest disclosure report shows only $1,000 more in contributions and $492 more in spending. The entire $1,000 came from Ron DeVito, who is seeking to build an assisted living facility on Mill Road.

Adding up all the reports, Mr. Coates has raised $6,275 and spent $5,336, although he started the year with $2,512, having raised $2,708 at fundraisers in late 2012. He still had $3,449 on hand at the end of the most recent filing period.

Mr. Coates’ expenses showed charges of $61 for “gas for petition travel” and $29 and $11 for “meal for petitioner.” In past reports, he has listed his cell phone costs as a campaign expense.

tgannon@timesreview.com

08/01/13 6:00am
08/01/2013 6:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | The Summerwind Square complex and Joe's Garage and Grill downtown.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | The Summerwind complex and Joe’s Garage and Grill downtown.

Editor’s note: Below is an updated and more detailed version of a story first published Monday on riverheadnewsreview.com. This version also appears in the Aug. 1 edition of the Riverhead News-Review newspaper.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio says she didn’t know that two of her partners in the Summerwind Square apartment complex were also owners of Joe’s Garage and Grill — a restaurant located within the building —  when she voted in May to award that business two snack vendor contracts.

Had she known of her business partners’ involvement in the restaurant, Ms. Giglio said, she would have abstained on the snack vendor vote, explaining that the restaurant’s ownership changed just before the bidding process.

Ms. Giglio, who along with Ray Dickhoff, Martin Sendlewski and Wayne Steck, is a principal of Eastern Property Investor Consultants, LLC, the company that owns and is building Summerwind Square, a 52-unit apartment complex in the works on Peconic Avenue. Summerwind, which is not yet open, will offer apartments on the top three floors, as well as retail, including the restaurant, on its ground floor.

On May 22, through a competitive bidding process, the Riverhead Town Board awarded Joe’s Garage and Grill two snack vendor concession contracts for town beaches. The contract awards were recommended by recreation superintendent Ray Coyne, as is customary on bids. Joe’s Garage was the only bidder on one concession and was the high bidder, in terms of what it offered to pay the town, on the other, according to the resolution.

The town bid out snack vendor contracts for 13 locations, and Joe’s Garage was awarded contracts for the Iron Pier Beach and East Creek Marina concession stands, paying the town $1,000 for the East Creek concession and $500 for the Iron Pier concession for the summer months when the beaches are open. Of the 13 concession sites, seven received no bids, two received two bids and four received single bids, one of which was rejected.  The town contracts limit what snack vendors can sell to hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, french fries, clam strips, chips, soda, water and ice cream.

The Town Board’s vote was unanimous, with Ms. Giglio among those voting in favor of the contracts.

The first-term councilwoman’s opponent in this fall’s Republican primary to run for a town council seat, Anthony Coates, recently charged in an interview with the News-Review that Ms. Giglio should have abstained from the vote because Joe’s Garage is her tenant in Summerwind.

When asked by the newspaper to explain her vote, Ms. Giglio said she didn’t think she should have had to abstain just because Joe’s Garage is a tenant. The issue was a competitive bid, she explained, and she didn’t stand to gain anything from Joe’s Garage receiving the vendor contract.

But the bid packets on file at the Riverhead town clerk’s office, which were then reviewed by the News-Review, show Mr. Dickhoff and Wayne Steck to be owners of Joe’s Garage, along with Mr. Dickhoff’s wife, Natalie, and Paul Steck.

The Stecks are owners of the Wayne Paul Construction Company in Melville, according to the company website.

Ms. Giglio and her husband, Mike, were previously involved with Wayne Paul Corporation in a once-proposed golf course and residential development called The Links at East Quogue, according to reports published in The Southampton Press. Mr. Giglio was partners with Wayne Steck and George Heinlein in a development called Country Estates at Commack in the 1990s, according to Wayne Paul Corporation’s website.

As for the restaurant, Ms. Giglio is not listed as an owner of Joe’s Garage and Grill, which is a separate corporation from Eastern Property Investor Consultants, according to the Department of State division of corporations.

When told by a reporter last week of Mr. Dickhoff’s ownership in the restaurant, Ms. Giglio then spoke to Mr. Dickhoff, who informed her he is an owner of Joe’s Garage as well, she said.

“I didn’t even know that when you asked me,” she told the reporter, adding that had she known, she would have abstained from voting on the snack vendor contracts.

Ms. Giglio said she had previously believed only Paul Steck was involved in the restaurant, along with Michael Katz, a deli owner from Manhattan. She said at some point in April, before the bidding process, the ownership changed and she wasn’t made aware of it.

She also produced a copy of a lease agreement dated August 2012 between Summerwind principal Wayne Steck and Michael Katz, which described Mr. Katz as the tenant and Mr. Steck as an EPIC managing member.  The document is signed by Mr.  Katz.

“How could she not have known?” Mr. Coates said of Ms. Giglio’s explanation. “It was in the bid packet. Was she not telling the truth when she said she didn’t know? Or did she vote on this without reading the bid packet? This is wrong in that she voted for a tenant of hers, it’s wrong that she voted for a business partner and it’s wrong that she didn’t read the bid packet.”

Ms. Giglio countered that only the recreation department head reviewed the bid packets before making a recommendation and that the resolution read only “Joe’s Garage.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/31/13 12:00pm
07/31/2013 12:00 PM

The Riverhead News-Review and RiverheadLOCAL.com are partnering with the Suffolk Theater to host a pair of Riverhead Town debates this election season.

The first event will be held Monday, Aug. 26, in advance of the Sept. 10 Republican primary for town council and the Democratic primary for town supervisor. All five candidates vying for the two posts have accepted an invitation to participate in the debate. The second debate will be held Thursday, Oct. 24, before the Nov. 5 general election.

“We’re very excited to be working together to bring these debates to the public,” said Times/Review Newsgroup executive editor Grant Parpan. “Given the current political climate in this town, there’s no doubt these events will be good shows worthy of the theater’s grand stage.”

Both debates will be moderated by Mr. Parpan, RiverheadLOCAL editor and publisher Denise Civiletti and News-Review editor Michael White.

“Riverhead is at a crossroads,” Ms. Civiletti said. “The next town board will be making crucial decisions that will affect our future for generations to come. Voters need to know where the candidates stand on important local issues.”

The Aug. 26 debate will feature Democratic supervisor candidates Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela Devito, followed by Republican town council candidates Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio,

All questions for the debates will be written in advance by the three moderators and the candidates will be given time to make closing statements. Readers can submit questions in advance to denise@riverheadlocal.com or mwhite@timesreview.com.

The events are scheduled for 7 p.m. and the theater will offer beverage service before and after the debates. The bar will open at 5 p.m.

Admission to the debates will be $5; all proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

07/30/13 12:08pm
07/30/2013 12:08 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Just two petitions have been challenged in Riverhead Town this election season.

Only Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, who is running a Democratic primary for Riverhead Town supervisor, and Mike Panchak, the Riverhead Republican Committee’s candidate for highway superintendent, have had specific objections filed against their nominating petitions for this fall’s town elections.

Since the deadline for filing objections has passed, that means there will be a Republican primary for Town Council in September, with Anthony Coates challenging committee nominees John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio.

The challenge against Mr. Panchak came from Keisha Washington Dean, who is a member of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee.

Ms. Dean claimed that since Mr. Panchak is not a registered Republican, he requires a certificate of authorization from the Republican leadership, and failed to get that certificate, sometimes called a “Wilson Pakula,” by the July 15 deadline.

“It’s still in the hands of the Board of Elections,” Mr. Panchak said.

He said he plans to run whether he’s on the Republican line or not because he’s still going to be on the Conservative line and no challenges were filed on his position there.

Mr. Panchak, who is challenging incumbent Democrat George ‘Gio’ Woodson, is not registered with a political party, and is listed as a “blank” by the Board of Elections.

“We missed the filing period to give him a Wilson Pakula,” said Republican vice chairman Mason Haas of Mr. Panchak. “Normally we would have caught this mistake. However, the distractions of late has unfortunately caused us to have missed the filing deadline for the Wilson Pakula and Mr. Panchak may be a casualty of that.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, whose name appears on the ballot as Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse, filed 429 signatures, and three different people filed objections to them, including Ms. Washington Dean. Maxine Kleedorfer of Baiting Hollow also challenged all of Ms. Cotten’s petitions on the grounds that she listed her address incorrectly.  Jeanne Luboja of South Jamesport is the third person to file petitions against Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, who is challenging Democratic party nominee for Angela DeVito for supervisor, listed her address as 8 Legend Lane in Jamesport, although the town changed her address to 37 Legend Lane for the e-911 emergency phone system. In addition, since she gets mail delivered to a mailbox, her mailing address should be Legend Lane in Riverhead, since the Jamesport Post Office doesn’t deliver to mailboxes in front of homes.

The Board of Elections will rule on both cases in the coming weeks.

Mr. Coates said he filed general objections to the Republican petitions, through his girlfriend, Cleo Beletsis, but decided not to file specific objections because it would be too much of a distraction.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/29/13 3:38pm
07/29/2013 3:38 PM
Joe's Garage

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A Joe’s Garage truck parked outside the restaurant Thursday.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio says she didn’t know her partner in the Summerwind Square apartments complex was also an owner of Joe’s Garage and Grill — a restaurant located within the building —  when she voted in May to award two snack vendor contracts to the restaurant.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The Summerwind Square complex downtown.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The Summerwind Square complex being built on Peconic Avenue downtown.

Ms. Giglio said that had she known of her business partner’s involvement in the restaurant, she would have abstained on the snack vendor vote.

Ms. Giglio, along with Ray Dickhoff and Martin Sendlewski, is a principal of Eastern Property Investor Consultants, LLC, the company that owns and is building Summerwind Square, a 52-unit apartment complex in the works on Peconic Avenue.

Summerwind will offer apartments on the top three floors and stores and a restaurant on its ground floor.

On May 22, in a competitive bidding process, the Riverhead Town Board awarded Joe’s Garage and Grill two snack vendor concession contracts for town beaches.

The town bid-out snack vendor contracts for 13 locations, and Joe’s Garage was awarded contracts for the Iron Pier Beach and East Creek Marina concession stands, paying the town $1,000 for the East Creek concession and $500 for the Iron Pier concession for the summer months, when the beaches are open.

The Town Board’s vote was unanimous, with Ms. Giglio among those voting in favor of the contracts.

Her opponent in this fall’s Republican Town Council primary, Anthony Coates, who has issued a continual stream of criticism of Ms. Giglio in his campaign, later charged in an interview with the News-Review that Ms. Giglio should have abstained because Joe’s Garage is her tenant in Summerwind.

When asked about the matter earlier this month, Ms. Giglio said she didn’t think she should have had to abstain on the snack vendor vote just because Joe’s Garage is a tenant. The issue was a competitive bid, she explained, and she didn’t stand to gain anything from Joe’s Garage receiving the vendor contract.

But the bid packets on file at the Riverhead town clerk’s office show Mr. Dickhoff to be an owner of Joe’s Garage, along with his wife, Natalie Dickhoff, and Wayne and Paul Steck.

The Stecks are owners of the Wayne Paul Construction Company in Melville, according to the company website.

Ms. Giglio is not listed as an owner of Joe’s Garage and Grill, which is a separate corporation from Eastern Property Investor Consultants, according to the state Department of State division of corporations

When told by a reporter last week of Mr. Dickhoff’s involvement, Ms. Giglio then spoke to Mr. Dickhoff, who told her he is an owner of Joe’s Garage as well, Ms. Giglio said.

“I didn’t even know that when you asked me,” she said, adding that had she known, she would have abstained from voting on the snack vendor contracts.

Ms. Giglio said she had previously believed only the Stecks were involved in the restaurant. (Editor’s note: Ms. Giglio later clarified her statement to mean she had believed only Paul Steck was involved, not Wayne steck who is a Summerwind principal.)

“How could she not have known?” Mr. Coates said of Ms. Giglio’s explanation. “It was in the bid packet. Was she not telling the truth when she said she didn’t know? Or did she vote on this without reading the bid packet?

“This is wrong in that she voted for a tenant of hers, it’s wrong that she voted for a business partner and it’s wrong that she didn’t read the bid packet.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

Read more in the Aug. 2 New-Review newspaper.

07/24/13 3:30pm
07/24/2013 3:30 PM
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

The Riverhead Town attorney’s office now says Councilwoman Jodi Giglio does not have to pay another $1,500 in fees to get a building permit for a second-story addition to her Baiting Hollow home, contradicting an earlier stance taken by the town building department.

The move comes after Ms. Giglio, who’s claiming that “political rivals” in the town dragged out the process when they realized she was getting close to obtaining permits, hired an attorney to investigate the situation.

Over several years, Ms. Giglio and her husband, Mike, had built the second-story addition, a finished basement, an inground pool, a hot tub and a deck. All had gone without certificates of occupancy until recently.

On June 20 of this year, the Giglios were issued COs for the basement, first applied for in 2009, and the pool, first applied for in 1999. But a letter dated June 20 from building inspector Richard Podlas said a Sept. 29, 2009, building permit for the second story had expired in 2010 and the Giglios would have to pay a $1,500 renewal fee before the CO could be issued for that addition. The letter was sent again July 11, according to the town.

Ms. Giglio said last Wednesday that she had not received either copy of the letter. She claimed she had paid the $1,500 building fee in 2009 and should not be required to pay it again. The fee represents a triple fee, a penalty the town previously imposed on applicants who had built structures without a permit.

Complicating matters was an Oct. 20, 2012, letter from Mr. Podlas saying Ms. Giglio owed a $403 permit fee for the pool and a $1,160 fee for the basement. The letter stated that these fees would be added to the Giglios’ “open permit” for the addition, “which Leroy Barnes put hold on, so therefore this permit does not have to be renewed, even though it expired.”

The wording of the letter brought charges from political rivals that Ms. Giglio was being given a waiver.

“It sounds like, from the way that reads, that by putting a hold on it, whatever that means, it allowed her to get a favor that otherwise would be unavailable to the public, and it seems like, although it’s not abundantly clear, it allowed her to avoid having to renew the permit again and pay the fee again,” said Anthony Coates, who is challenging Ms. Giglio in a Republican primary this September.

Supervisor Sean Walter, who also originally thought the letter from Mr. Podlas meant the fee was being waived, said Friday that the entire Giglio building permit file was being turned over to the town attorney’s office. On Tuesday, he said he wasn’t commenting on the case anymore.

“It’s up to the town attorney’s office,” Mr. Walter said.

Mr. Barnes, the former building department coordinator referred to in the October 2012 letter, said on Friday that he had held up all other permits until a building permit was obtained for the basement. He pointed out another 2009 letter in the file, on which he had written by hand, “On hold. Finished basement no permit.”

Deputy town attorney Bill Duffy said Tuesday that he is recommending the building department not require the $1,500 fee because the Giglios paid it in 2009 and the town “never released the permit, so you can’t claim it expired.”

Ms. Giglio charged on Tuesday that politics were involved in her not getting the permits, citing Mr. Walter’s claim that “Giglio’s toast,” made at a fundraiser for Mr. Coates.

“This is dirty politics and has been dragged out for political purposes,” she said in a statement to the News-Review. “When my political rivals realized I was closing out the matter with the building department, things were suddenly held up in the building department and additional things were requested.”

When asked for comment Tuesday, Mr. Walter laughed but declined comment on that claim.

However, Mr. Coates, when asked for comment, said the issue arose long before this year.

“This issue has gone on for 14 years,” he said. “She arranged for tax abatements, permits and everything else for the Summerwind project [of which she is an owner] during this same time and ignored her personal property until I asked a question. She likes to blame other people for her problems. She’s blamed her husband, me, the supervisor, the media, her attorney, her architect and the building department, when the fault lies directly with her. None of this exonerates her from 14 years of willful neglect in a tax avoidance scam.”

The additions to the home, except for the pool, were not reflected in the town’s tax assessment records from 2003 to 2013, meaning that the Giglios were not taxed on the improvements. Ms. Giglio has said she will pay the taxes due on those improvements.

Ms. Giglio also questioned how Mr. Coates had obtained so much information about her building permits since he had never filed a Freedom of Information request with the town to see the file.

Mr. Coates said he has never seen the file and had only asked questions of Republican leaders in response to rumors that the building permits were lacking.

“And all of a sudden a chain of events began,” he said.

“I raised the issue and, boy, did they step over themselves trying to cover up the situation,” he said. “I haven’t said a word about what’s in the file. I’ve reacted to her statements and to what’s been in the press.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/18/13 8:00am
07/18/2013 8:00 AM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and other Town Board members are responsible for making and, sometimes, enforcing laws in the town.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and the other Town Board members are often responsible for bringing enforcement actions against code violators.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio has no good excuse and should blame only herself for the mess she’s created by not getting the proper permits and certificates of occupancy for work done on her home in Baiting Hollow.

As her detractors are quick to point out, Ms. Giglio is a permit expediter who helps business owners here and elsewhere in Suffolk County to navigate the red tape of local bureaucracies in order to get things built. And if she knew there were ongoing, major permit issues at her house — which she said she discovered while trying to refinance in 2009— she should have put some of her business dealings on hold until she cleaned up her own mess. Because, all the while, she has been paying less in property taxes than she should have.

We won’t call her a liar, as her political challenger has. Maybe she’s confused, or just isn’t that great an expediter. But it seems more than fishy that permits and COs are just now getting issued during a re-election race.

Politics helped push this matter to the forefront of the news and set off a political firestorm after initial reports on Friday by RiverheadLocal.com. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter where or with whom the information originated, or why it was leaked. The problems are all there, in black and white, in the Giglio file at the building department on Howell Avenue. It’s a file that could very well cost Ms. Giglio the election. As a Town Board member, she makes decisions each week on enforcement issues involving others accused of skirting town code — and these revelations severely damage her credibility.

Of course, we understand she’s not alone. There’s a pervasive sense of entitlement at all levels of government, as if getting special breaks and favors is built into a benefits package for an elected leader or department head. Ms. Giglio isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to face criticism, or worse, for sidestepping the law. But her situation right now should serve as a reminder of the consequences.