03/13/13 12:00pm
03/13/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Town historian Georgette Case (right) rings the brass bell as (from left) town clerk Diane Wilhelm, councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy, and Supervisor Sean Walter look on Wednesday morning.

Town historian Georgette Case stood outside the front doors to Town Hall Wednesday morning, vigorously ringing a brass bell and announcing, “Here Ye, Here Ye, Here Ye! It’s 9:30 o’clock. The stage has arrived from Albany with great news on the 13th of March, 1792.”

After celebrating the 220th anniversary of the establishment of Riverhead Town last year, Ms. Case proposed making it an annual celebration. So this year marked the first of what will be an annual reading of the law that established the Town of Riverhead.

The act in came to pass after residents of Southold Town complained of their town being “too long.”

“WHERAS many of the freeholders and inhabitants of Southold in Suffolk county have presented to the legislature, that their town is so long, that it is inconvenient for them to attend at town meetings and also to transact the other necessary business of the said town; and have prayed that the same may be divided into two towns,” the act said.

At the ceremony Wednesday in front of a handful of media members, Supervisor Sean Walter said, “We have succeeded to secede.”

photo@timesreview.com

03/07/13 6:00am
03/07/2013 6:00 AM
Suffolk theater

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The theater marquis and the sky above downtown Riverhead.

To the Editor:

It was with great pride that I attended the opening night of the newly renovated Suffolk Theater Saturday.

Upon arrival to Main Street, I was immediately brought back to the 1930s. Out front, oscillating spotlights, vintage autos, a red carpet and doormen transported guests to another era, a vision of the past with all the great indications of a grand future for Main Street.

It was difficult not to feel as if I were back in time in this beautifully refurbished theater. While the original décor was preserved, the functionality of this theater has been modernized to state-of-the-art. No longer is it just a movie theater. Tier seating throughout the theater replaced the stagnant seats with a nod to cabaret theater and foreshadowing the high-end productions that owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi envision to implement with the highly talented artistic team led by executive director Bob Spiotto and a new group of creative employees to breathe 24-hour life into our Main Street revitalization momentum.

But back to the future, or should I say back to the past. A full orchestra played on the stage and the dance floor was full of people enjoying the music of the 1930s and 1940s. Young women dressed as “flappers” and men in zoot suits with wide-brim hats mingled among the cigarette girls, G-men, Keystone cops and VIPs in traditional tuxedos.

All to the backdrop of the traditional art deco theater details, a masterpiece and important testament to Riverhead’s great history as the cultural center for the East End and Long Island. Every last detail was set to re-create the mood for this evening, down to a cheeky statue of Marilyn Monroe from the classic movie “Bus Stop” over a subway grate with the air blowing her skirt up.

In another corner, Humphrey Bogart in his classic look from the movie “Casablanca” looked on with approval. From the marquis on the outside, this may seem to be just a movie theater but on the inside it is so much more. From the ticket booth at the entrance with the original tile floor, you would think you were entering the old theater.

Until the theater doors open. Inside lies the new Riverhead.

JOHN DUNLEAVY, CALVERTON

To read all of the Letters to the Editor, pick up a copy of the News-Review on newsstands or click on the E-Paper.

12/27/12 8:00am
12/27/2012 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead councilwoman Jodi Giglio, right, and Supervisor Sean Walter, center, didn’t always agree in 2012.

There were some public apologies made in 2012 after disputes within the all-Republican Riverhead Town Board.

After a simmering feud between Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio boiled over in June with a Walter tirade in Town Hall, it was the supervisor who apologized during a Town Board meeting days later for “being out of line” for screaming and cursing at Ms. Giglio. According to several accounts, Mr. Walter lost his temper with the councilwoman while suspecting her of working behind his back to get his friend and adviser, Anthony Coates, banned from town cars and Town Hall.

Ms. Giglio called the public apology “nice,” but never said she accepted it. She later filed a harassment complaint against Mr. Walter with town police, though she reportedly asked for no charges to be filed and requested the report “for documentation purposes.”

Things quieted down for awhile — at least publicly — until three council members, Ms. Giglio, James Wooten and George Gabrielsen, pulled a controversial resolution off the floor, meaning it wasn’t on the agenda, at a Nov. 7 Town Board meeting.

The resolution called for the sudden firing of Town Board coordinator Linda Hulse, whom Ms. Giglio said lost some councilmembers’ trust.

“This is an evil act right here,” Mr. Walter said of the measure, lamenting the fact that Ms. Hulse was never told ahead of time.

“How many other employees are you planning to fire this way?“

Mr. Walter tried to stall the vote and sway some minds as the board argued publicly for over an hour, but to no avail. The move passed 3-2.

Mr. Dunleavy, who voted against the firing, said he was never informed of the plan and said Mr. Hulse should have been told, too.

“This is a coward’s position to let them go without talking to them,” he said.

Mr. Dunleavy then accused Mr. Wooten of being “rude” ever since he got elected. “That’s not true,” Mr. Wooten responded.

At the start of the next week’s more cordial Town Board work session, a regretful Mr. Wooten apologized for the way the firing was handled.

“I was reminded last night it was very unprofessional,” he said, choking up a bit. “It wasn’t businesslike, and for that, I’m sorry.”

Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen offered no apologies.

At an event in Jamesport that same night, where Mr. Coates announced plans to run for Town Board in 2013, Mr. Walter said “Giglio is toast.”

mwhite@timesreview.com

12/07/12 9:26pm
12/07/2012 9:26 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Supevisor Sean Walter (left) and Councilman George Gabrielsen during a recent Town Board meeting.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Supevisor Sean Walter (left) and Councilman George Gabrielsen during a recent Town Board meeting.

So Riverhead Councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy have already said they’d be interested in running for supervisor if incumbent Sean Walter gets elected to the county SLegislature on Jan. 15.

And Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she isn’t interested in running for supervisor — unless she was asked to.

But what about Councilman George Gabrielsen?

He’s not ruling it out either.

He said in an interview that if he doesn’t feel the right person is running, he would seek the position himself.

“The biggest thing facing the town right now is that the supervisor has to be someone who is fiscally conservative,” Mr. Gabrielsen said. “Because by the year 2015 or 2016, we’re going to be out of reserve funds.”

Mr. Gabrielsen said he thinks Mr. Walter is fiscally conservative and has the town on the right path financially, having shrunk the size of government and concentrated on getting the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL) redeveloped.

But if Mr. Walter wins the Legislature seat, the town needs someone to follow the same path, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

“The EPCAL subdivision must be finished, and we may have to downsize government,” he said.

Mr. Gabrielsen said he is very busy right now, with the town position, his farm, and land he owns upstate.

“I’m working 10-12 hours a day,” he said. “But there comes a point where you see where the town is going, and if I feel that person (running for supervisor) wasn’t going to get the job done, then you have to sacrifice your lifestyle to save the Republic, so to speak.”

The councilman said the town supervisor must come from a business background.

“I know I could do it, it’s just the commitment needed at this point in my life,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll find that candidate.”

Town assessor and outspoken opponent of the county’s homeless sex offender trailer parked outside the Suffolk County jail said Thursday night he wouldn’t rule out a run either — given the right circumstances.

He said many people have brought it up to him.

“But right now, Sean hasn’t even won,” Mr. Haas said. “So it’s really too early.”

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio also left open a possibility that she might run for supervisor if Mr. Walter is elected to the county seat.

“I have no intentions of running for supervisor at all, but if the party came to me and say we want you to run, then I might consider it,” she said in an interview.

“But as of now, I have no intentions of running. I love my job as councilwoman and I love my private sector work.”

Ms. Giglio had sought to be the Republican party’s candidate for town supervisor in 2009, when it appeared she and Mr. Walter might be headed for a primary.  But in a last minute agrement at the Republican committee’s nominating convention, she agreed to run for council, while letting Mr. Walter run for for supervisor.

The current all-Republican board has had a number of public disagreements since then, many of them involving disputes between Ms. Giglio and Mr. Walter.

tgannon@timesreview.com

Additional reporting by Michael White

12/05/12 1:00pm
12/05/2012 1:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (from left), Councilman John Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter in Town Hall.

The Suffolk County Legislature on Tuesday set Jan. 15 as the date of a special election pitting Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter against Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski to fill the county legislature seat recently vacated by Ed Romaine’s election as Brookhaven Supervisor.

And while the election is still more than a month away, candidates are already lining up to fill Mr. Walter’s shoes, should he win.

Riverhead Councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy both said this week that they would be interested in running for Riverhead Town Supervisor if Mr. Walter gets elected to the Suffolk County Legislature.

Mr. Dunleavy threw his hat in the ring during a brief conversation with reporters during a break at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

Mr. Dunleavy was lamenting the fact that decisions where being made without anyone telling him, such as the decision to remove a resolution Tuesday calling for a settlement with a developer who had sued over a planned project in Calverton.

“That’s why I’m going to run for supervisor if Sean gets elected to the county,” he said. “But it’s too early to say now, because if he doesn’t get elected, he’s still supervisor.”

In some towns, like in Brookhaven, the town code requires special elections be held to fill vacancies within 60 to 90 days of the vacancy occurring, Mr. Dunleavy said. But not Riverhead.

“We don’t have that,” he said. “That’s why we went without a councilman for almost a year [when former Councilman Tim Buckley stepped down].”

Mr. Dunleavy also said that the cost of a special election is borne by the county, not the town.

“Everyone thinks the town pays. They don’t,” he said. “The county does.”

Mr. Dunleavy’s fellow Riverhead councilman, Jim Wooten, also said he’d be interested in running for supervisor, if a vacancy arises.

“I’ve always had an interest in serving in that capacity,” Mr. Wooten said. “I think I have that skill set.”

If Mr. Walter is elected to the county Legislature, it would take three votes on the Town Board to appoint a deputy to fill in until a special election is held, and it would up to the Republican committee to decide who the party’s candidate for a special election would be, Mr. Wooten said.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” he said. “Right now, I think all hands are on deck to support Sean and get him elected to the Legislature.”

Mr. Wooten said he doesn’t want it look like “it’s me against John,” but he added, “if the opportunity arose to run for supervisor … I would want to be considered.”

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who has expressed interest in running for supervisor in the past, said this week that she is not interested in running for supervisor, unless she is asked to do by the Republican party.

Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy both were screened by the Republicans to run for the legislative nod, which ultimately went to Mr. Walter.

Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen, who thus far has not sought to run for any other positions, could not be reached for comment.

Riverhead’s current deputy supervisor, Jill Lewis, is not an elected official and would not be able to vote on issues if the supervisor left.

tgannon@timesreview.com

11/26/12 6:49pm
11/26/2012 6:49 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk Republican leaders have chosen their nominee for the 1st District seat in the County Legislature, and the last man to hold the post indicated Monday that Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter could be the choice.

Suffolk Republican leaders have chosen their nominee for the 1st District seat in the County Legislature, and the last man to hold the post indicated Monday that Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter could be the choice.

Speaking after his inauguration as Brookhaven Town Supervisor, Ed Romaine said Monday that he’s hearing party officials are giving “serious consideration” to Mr. Walter, who emerged last week as a finalist for the job. Riverhead council members John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio, and Romaine aide Bill Faulk, are the other three finalists.

Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle confirmed Monday that a nominee has been selected by the Republican Committee and that a press release will be issued Tuesday morning, but he declined to name which of the four finalists would get the nod.

“We’ve made our decision,” Mr. LaValle said Monday afternoon. “I just can’t say who it is yet.”

Mr. Walter, Ms. Giglio and Mr. Faulk all said Monday that they had not yet heard from party officials.

Democrats have already chosen Southold Councilman Al Krupski as their nominee.

Mr. Romaine said whoever the nominee is, they’ll have a challenge going up against Mr. Krupski in just a six-week election cycle.

“I know [Mr. Krupski] and he’ll put up a good fight,” Mr. Romaine said.

Mr. Romaine confirmed that the election will likely be held Jan. 15, a date he said will be voted on at the County Legislature’s meeting next Tuesday. By law, the election must be held within 90 days of the previous Legislator leaving office.

With the Democrats having already announced their candidate, he said the Democratic majority in the Legislature would prefer to schedule the election for as early as possible.

“They’re not going to schedule it for Feb. 9,” Mr. Romaine said.

Of the four finalists for Legislature, only Ms. Giglio was absent from Mr. Romaine’s inauguration at a packed Brookhaven Town Hall Monday afternoon. Mr. Walter, who has been locked in a public battle with Ms. Giglio that has escalated in recent weeks, attended the inauguration with his political adviser, Anthony Coates, who has already announced his intention to unseat Ms. Giglio next November.

gparpan@timesreview.com

11/20/12 10:28am
11/20/2012 10:28 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members John Dunleavy, Sean Walter and Jodi Giglio (top, left to right) all screened for a COunty Legislature seat Monday.

The Suffolk County Republican Party screened eight candidates — seven from Riverhead Town, including Supervisor Sean Walter and councilpeople Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy  — to run as the Republican candidate in a special election this February to fill the county Legislature seat left vacant by Ed Romaine, a party official said.

Ms. Giglio, Mr. Dunleavy and Mr. Walter met with county party leadership and the chairs and vice chairs of the Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold town Republican committees Monday night to screen for the position, said Riverhead town GOP chairman John Galla.

Others who screened Monday include Bill Faulk, who served as an aide to Mr. Romaine during his time in the Legislature; former Conservative Committee chair James Saladino; Catherine Stark, the daughter of former town supervisor and councilman Jim Stark who now serves as chief of staff to County Legislator Jay Schniederman; Frank Seabrook; a ZBA member and conservative blogger; and Ed Densieski, a town Planning Board member and former Riverhead councilman.

“They all did exceptionally well,” Mr. Galla said of the candidates. “Everyone was on their game.”

The Republican candidate will be decided by the party and not through a primary because the vote to fill Ed Romaine’s seat will be a special election.

Mr. Faulk of Manorville was the only person who screened who resides outside the town’s limits.

No other candidates from other towns screened for the position Monday night, Mr. Galla said, though he added it wasn’t too late.

Though he could not provide a timetable for when the party would reach a decision, Mr. Galla said it would have to be soon because of the upcoming election and holiday seasons.

“We would rather do this sooner as a opposed to later,” he said. “Going into the holidays, this is an interesting dynamic. Some people are going to be out of town.”

Suffolk County Republican Party chairman John Jay LaValle could not be reached for comment.

psquire@timesreview.com

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the GOP had screened seven candidates.

11/14/12 8:17am
11/14/2012 8:17 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Anthony Coates in his downtown apartment earlier this year.

Anthony Coates, a political adviser to Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, is running for a seat on the Riverhead Town Board.

Mr. Coates has scheduled a dinner party at 6 p.m. in the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport to announce his intention to run this year.

Mr. Coates, who switched his party registration from Democrat to Republican in July and formed a “Vote Coates ’13″ political fundraising committee earlier in the year, had announced last month that he’d be unveiling his political intentions at the Nov. 15 gathering, but at the time, he wouldn’t confirm whether he’d be running for a Town Council seat or for the county Legislature seat that will soon be vacated by new Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.

By running for the town seat, Mr. Coates will be challenging two incumbent Republican council members, Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy, both of whom have indicated they intend to seek reelection.

Mr. Walter and Ms. Giglio have feuded on many occasions since both took office in 2010, including this past week, when the two publicly argued at length over a resolution to fire a town employee.

By running a primary, however, all three candidates must run and the top two vote getters win, so Mr. Coates could conceivably bump Mr. Dunleavy and end up running with Ms. Giglio in the general election.

Mr. Coates stated in a press release, “Riverhead voters need to shake up the system and vote differently.” He added, “”I think Riverhead deserves a government worthy of our people. We have been voting the same way for fifty years in this town. It is time for new leadership and a new day in Riverhead.”

Mr. Coates describes himself as a former investment banker, a former publisher of The Record newspapers, an aide to a former presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, a public affairs advisor to numerous elected officials and a current member of the town’s Business Improvement District Management Association.

tgannon@timesreview.com