10/20/13 5:20pm
10/20/2013 5:20 PM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk opening her State Senate campaign in the summer of 2009.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk opening her State Senate campaign in the summer of 2009.

New Suffolk attorney Regina Calcaterra was one of several subjects featured in a CBS Sunday Morning cover story on human resiliency and the “science of survival,” which first aired this morning.

Ms. Calcaterra, an aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, was interviewed by CBS news correspondent Susan Spencer about how she overcame a difficult childhood with an abusive mother and years spent living in foster homes. Her childhood is the subject of Ms. Calcaterra’s recently released memoir “Etched in Sand.” (She sat down with The Suffolk Times for an interview on the day the book was released.)

Asked if she believes she’s resilient, Ms. Calcaterra said, ”Yes, absolutely, I do. If I’m pinged or knocked down, I get up very quickly and just move forward, and I always have.”

“Do you get annoyed at people when they get all upset about life’s little issues?” Spencer asks later in the interview.

“Absolutely, I do,” laughed Calcaterra. “I actually think that it’s good that they get upset about the small things, because then they didn’t experience such pain and suffering. So then they’ve had a good life, if the little things set them off.”

Editor’s Note: Ms. Calcaterra first appears at the 3:54 mark of the video.

08/06/13 12:18pm
08/06/2013 12:18 PM
COURTESY PHOTO  |  Regina M. Calcaterra wrote a memoir detailing her life in foster care on Long Island.

COURTESY PHOTO | Regina M. Calcaterra wrote a memoir detailing her life in foster care on Long Island.

You may know Regina Calcaterra from her run in the 2010 election for New York State Senate. Or maybe you recall her tenure as the chief of staff for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Now you can read about the New Suffolk attorney’s life before she was in the public spotlight in a memoir detailing her childhood growing up as the middle of five siblings in foster care and on the streets of Long Island.

Ms. Calcaterra’s memoir, “Etched in Sand,” was released by a division of HarperCollins Tuesday. She’ll be attending a book signing and reception at Clovis Point Vineyards on Main Road in Jamesport on Saturday, Aug. 10.

Ms. Calcaterra, 46, now working for Governor Andrew Cuomo as executive director of a state commission investigating public corruption, said she worked on the book for several years and even took memoir-writing classes in New York City.

She took a few minutes from her busy schedule to discuss the book on the day of its release.

Q: Did you keep a journal growing up, or was most of the book reconstructed from memory?

A: The book was reconstructed from my memory and my siblings’ memories as well. I was working on the first four chapters for years, because, in my mind, those are the most pivotal chapters of my life. It’s only five months of my life, but it’s four chapters, and the irony is the rest of the book covers 45 years of my life.

I also worked with a co-writer [Krissy Gasbare], who I would submit a chapter to, and because she had written her own memoir in the past, she would go through it and tell me what it is that I wasn’t sharing with the reader. She had a remarkable talent for pulling things out of me.

My siblings also added a lot to the book. Sometimes it was humorous and sometimes it was not.

Q: What did you learn about yourself from writing the book?

A: I learned so much, and it also brought back some memories that I had buried and hadn’t had to think about for a long time. One of those memories was when I was sexually abused in a foster home by two boys. That was disturbing.

But writing made me relive these memories that have been with me for some time and it enabled me to shed them.

What I loved about it was that, looking at myself now and my drive and intensity, and my protectiveness of my coworkers, family and friends, it allowed me to reflect and learn where that all comes from. I never had reflected on how my character was built because I’ve always been focused on trying to succeed.

Q: You’re so open with your past in the book. How might that impact your career in public service?

A: I’m not going to worry about how it is going to affect my career. If I were worried about that I wouldn’t have written the book. If anything, I think it enhances [my career] because I talk so much about the role of public servants and the role government plays in our lives — good and bad.

I provide many different scenarios in there where I had good teachers and bad teachers and good social workers and bad social workers, and I am basically saying that everything they do matters. When they touch a person a certain way, they do not realize the ripple effect that’s going to have.

The book highlights to those in government how important everything they do is and how they have to take it seriously.

Q: A major part of the book is when, as an adult, you took your father to court in an unprecedented move to force him to take a paternity test. Did it ever seem to you that lengthy battle might not work out in the end?

A: My concern with that litigation was that, because there’s no other case in the U.S. where an adult brought a DNA paternity test against an adult, it might have an adverse impact on all future adults seeking paternity tests. As an attorney I understood the [negative] effect that could have had on future cases.

Q: Did that process bring personal closure to you?

A: It did, tremendously. The abuse that I received from my mother far exceeded the abuse that my siblings had because we had five different dads, and my father broke my mother’s heart. He hurt her the most, so in turn she would hurt me the most and did not even want me existing. She did what she could to isolate me, and the abuse I received was extreme.

It gave me closure because it ultimately gave me the answer to a question I asked my mother many times in my life, which is how it was that he hurt her so badly. I wanted to know if he beat her or he raped her, if I was conceived that way. I needed to know what about my very existence hurt her so much. But she said he didn’t, she said that he was very loving.

But I got my answer in the brief when his lawyer wrote that [I was] a 34-year-old New York attorney who was successful and doesn’t need a father. Then in the next sentence, he wrote about [my father’s] wife of 34 years. When I put the math together, I realized that when my mother was pregnant with me, he married another woman.

I finally had my answer of how he broke my mother’s heart.

Q: You talk in the book about your love for your siblings’ children. Did you ever want children of your own?

A: I’ve always wanted children of my own. Now that I’m 46, the time when I can have children of my own has passed. I have always wanted to adopt a foster child , so that can be done at any time. That option is always open, but that’s something [ my partner] Todd [Ciaravino] and I would have to work through. One day that may happen.

Q: The beauty of memoirs is that readers can learn from the author’s experience. How might your story help others in a situation similar to yours and what they can take away from this book?

A: That they control their own destiny. Regardless of what hand they’re dealt, they can change it. Everyone’s born into different situations, but be grateful you were born in the United States because there are enough resources here to pull anyone up and out.

You may feel powerless in your situation, but it’s up to you to change that, and that’s what my book chronicles. It was a long, hard journey that was sometimes dark, but I knew I was the only one who was going to change it and make my life worthwhile.

gparpan@timesreview.com

05/23/13 9:15pm

TIM KELLY PHOTO | New Suffolk Attorney Anthony Palumbo has secured the GOP nomination for state Assembly.

More than two months after Dan Losquadro left office to run the Brookhaven Town Highway Department, local Republicans have finally identified their choice to replace him in the New York State Assembly.

Anthony Palumbo, 42, an attorney from New Suffolk, has secured the GOP nomination, according to Suffolk County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle.

“He screened very well and has a great grasp of the issues, but what really pushed him over the top is his background as a former prosecutor and head of the [District Attorney's] East End Bureau.,” Mr. LaValle said. “Considering all the corruption scandals going on in the New York State Assembly, having someone like Tony Palumbo up there sends a very strong message.

“I’m certain that it won’t be high on Sheldon Silver’s to-do list, but there is no question the state Assembly needs to enact better anti-corruption measures and ethics reforms. Corruption equals waste, and waste equals higher taxes, and people are not in the position to tolerate corrupt politicians who are going to increase their taxes.”

Mr. Palumbo said recent scandals in Albany were also his biggest reason for running.

“The primary reason is the corruption and nonsense going on in Albany,” he said. “It’s to the point here we’re all a little disappointed with them.”

A graduate of St. John’s Law, Mr. Palumbo and his wife, Tracy, live in New Suffolk with their son, Ryan, 9, and Madeline, 6.

He said the challenge of working in the minority in the Assembly does not concern him, since he senses many people are frustrated with the status quo.

“From a lot of the comments made after the recent arrests of state legislators … cleaning up Albany appears to be a universal theme,” he said. “We have to start somewhere.

Mr. Palumbo practices law in Mattituck with Bill Goggins, who earlier this week received the support of the Southold Town GOP for a run at a town justice seat. Mr. Palumbo said he believes he can bring something new to the North Fork and to Albany.

“As a new face to the whole [political] landscape, I can hopefully be a breath of fresh air to the voting public,” he said.

The Suffolk GOP had met last Tuesday in Holtsville, but held off on naming a candidate for the Second Assembly district until today.

The GOP had screened a number of candidates, including Southold Councilman Chris Talbot, former Ed Romaine aide Bill Faulk of Manorville, Southold Trustee Bob Ghosio, Mattituck attorney Stephen Kiely, Mount Sinai attorney Raymond Negron and John Kreutz, Brookhaven Town deputy receiver of taxes. Mr. Talbot opted not to seek re-election to the Southold Town Board this year.

Democratic contenders include Cutchogue winery owner Jim Waters of Manorville, Riverhead attorney John McManmon, Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, East End Arts director Pat Snyder of Jamesport, Suffolk Park Police officer Tom Schiliro of Manorville and Riverhead attorney Ron Hariri.

Suffolk’s Democrats gathered Monday night, but rather than select an Assembly candidate the party took the unusual step of putting the choice in the hands of the Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold committees. The 2nd Assembly District extends from north central Brookhaven east to Fishers Island.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Attorney John McManmon was the Riverhead Democrats’ choice for Assembly Thursday night.

Riverhead’s Democrats met first, holding their convention Thursday night, and offering their support for Mr. McManmon.

There has been a backlash over Mr. McManmon’s candidacy based on his residency. Mr. McManmon, 28, worked for a Manhattan law firm called Millbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCoy,  and his address is listed as that of his parents in Aquebogue, although some have said he lives at an apartment on Dean Street in Brooklyn.

He said Thursday that although he lives in Brooklyn during the week for work purposes, he still votes here.

Mr. McManmon’s father, James, is an attorney who works for OTB and who has made three unsuccessful runs at a state assembly seat. His mother, Jeanne O’Rourke, is a deputy commissioner for the Board of Elections.

“If you check with the Board of Elections, John has been registered from his family address since he was 18,” Riverhead Democratic committee chair Marge Acevedo said. “His job is in New York City and he travels back and forth.  His residency should not be in question at all.”

Brookhaven Democrats meet May 28 and Southold’s committee meets May 29 and a candidate will not be announced until then.

Ms. Maertz, who twice ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat, is the only candidate with prior political experience.

Southold Democratic Chairman Art Tillman said Thursday that Glenn Friedman of South Jamesport has also thrown his hat into the ring for the Democrats’ 2nd Assembly District nomination.

Mr. LaValle said Governor Andrew Cuomo put in a certificate of necessity for a special election in  New York City, but not on Long Island, so it would seem that there will be no special date for the Assembly seat and the election will be held in November.

tkelly@timesreview.com

08/14/11 10:20pm
08/14/2011 10:20 PM

The New Suffolk Waterfront Fund hosted its annual 5K run and kids’ walk on Saturday morning to benefit the preservation of the New Suffolk waterfront. Eleven-year-old K.C. Grady of Darien, Conn. took first place in the kids’ fun run and two runners tied for the win in the 5K. According to Finish Line Road Race Technicians, the company that timed the race, Sean Norberg, 20, of Shoreham and Nicholas Petsky, 19, of Manorville both finished with a time of 16:57. Shawn Fitzgerald, 37, of Cutchogue arrived at the finish line just one hundredth of a second later. Robin Lynn, 18, of Glen Gardner, NJ, took first place for women with a time of 20:00.

 

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KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO