01/14/18 6:00am
01/14/2018 6:00 AM

By all appearances — and, in government, appearances are as critical as anything else — the Town Board in Riverhead under new Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith acted in a bizarre fashion last week.  READ

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01/05/18 3:38pm
01/05/2018 3:38 PM

So much for everybody getting along.

Just two days after an inauguration ceremony where newly sworn-in Riverhead Town Board members of both parties said how they felt they could all work together, the board had its first debate along party lines on Wednesday. (more…)

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01/01/18 4:31pm
01/01/2018 4:31 PM

In trying to decide what to say at her inauguration speech Monday, newly sworn-in Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she kept coming back to a 2014 commencement speech given by Naval Admiral William McRaven at the University of Texas at Austin. READ

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11/30/17 5:06pm
11/30/2017 5:06 PM

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is looking to ensure the Town Board continues the tradition of having an invocation or prayer before each regular meeting after he leaves office in January, and plans to offer a resolution to that effect at Tuesday’s meeting. The supervisor-elect is not sure that’s necessary.

The resolution that will likely be considered Tuesday shifts responsibility for compiling and maintaining a database of local clergy from the supervisor’s office to the town council office. He said Councilman Jim Wooten has indicated a willingness to do so.

Mr. Wooten was absent from Thursday’s Town Board work session where the issue was discussed, but Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy said they had no problems with the move.

“It’s a very civil way to start the meetings,” Ms. Giglio said.

“You never go wrong when you can invite God into the room,” Mr. Walter said.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said he would want to see how the newly elected board members, Supervisor-elect Laura Jens-Smith and Councilwoman-elect Catherine Kent, felt about it. They will replace Mr. Walter and Mr. Dunleavy, respectively, next year.

Ms. Jens-Smith said afterward by phone that she does not have a problem with having an invocation before a meeting, but she does not feel it should be something required by resolution.

Ms. Kent could not be immediately reached for comment.

The resolution up for vote on Tuesday says the database “shall be compiled using reasonable efforts” to identify all churches, synagogues, congregations, temples, mosques and other religious assemblies in the town, and that the Town Board, in December of each year, “shall mail an invitation to the leader” of each entry in the database and inviting them to participate.

The board first adopted the practice in August of 2010, after Mr. Walter brought it up in January of that year. Since then, the board generally has a local preacher read a short prayer before each meeting. While there was a mixed reaction when it was first suggested, there has not been much controversy since.

In March of 2015, the board adopted by resolution a formal policy for the invocations, which cited a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling validating prayers at public meetings.

“Legislative prayer lends gravity to public business, reminds lawmakers to transcend petty differences in pursuit of a higher purpose and expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society,” the court wrote in its decision.

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11/17/17 6:00am
11/17/2017 6:00 AM

Some of the biggest issues before the Riverhead Town Board over the past eight years are now within one vote of potentially being reversed thanks to the Nov. 7 election results, which saw Democrats Laura Jens-Smith and Catherine Kent elected, pending the final count from the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

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