06/25/14 4:00pm
06/25/2014 4:00 PM
Police at the scene of the fatal hit and run on Route 58 near Woodcrest Avenue in  July 2013. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

Police at the scene of the fatal hit and run on Route 58 near Woodcrest Avenue in July 2013. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

Harsher punishments for those who flee the scenes of serious car accidents will have to wait another year, lawmakers say, after a pair of bills — one passed by the state Senate, another by the Assembly — failed to get enough support in the opposite house.

The legislative session in Albany ended last week with no agreement on the bills.

In May, the Senate had approved legislation — co-sponsored by state Senator Ken Lavalle — that would have increased penalties across the board for those who flee from accidents, minor or serious. That bill died in the Assembly transportation committee.

Meanwhile, the Assembly passed their own bill last Thursday night, with just hours left in the legislative session.

That legislation was co-sponsored by local Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, and would have created a new charge for those who flee serious or fatal accidents while driving with a suspended license or a prior conviction for drunk driving or leaving the scene of an accident.

In an interview this week, Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said there wasn’t enough time left to compromise on the differences between the two bills. The Assembly’s bill also lacked support in the Senate. 

06/12/14 3:38pm
06/12/2014 3:38 PM
Police at the scene of the fatal hit and run on Route 58 near Woodcrest Avenue in  July 2013. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

Police at the scene of the fatal hit and run on Route 58 near Woodcrest Avenue in July 2013. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

With just five days left in the New York State Assembly session, North Fork and East End lawmakers are making a last-minute push to drum up support for bills that would increase penalties for hit-and-run drivers who flee the scene of serious accidents.

Those bills — including one co-sponsored by the North Fork’s assemblyman, Anthony Palumbo — are currently stalled in committee, where they have sat since January. The legislators say they have until Tuesday to get a bill out of the committee and onto the floor for a full Assembly vote. (more…)

03/18/14 6:00am
03/18/2014 6:00 AM

palumboheadshot_canvas

Since the moment I was sworn in as your assemblyman, the one topic that seems to come up in just about every conversation is the implementation of Common Core. I have listened to parents, educators, students and taxpayers about the myriad Common Core issues and problems that plague our children and schools. The Common Core mandate provides for a series of new national education standards administered at the state level through a series of federal mandates and grants. Though well-intentioned, the rollout and implementation of Common Core has been acutely fl awed, raising the ire of most parents and stakeholders in the education system. (more…)

08/30/13 7:00am
08/30/2013 7:00 AM

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Friends set up a memorial on Route 58 for hit-and-run victim Kristina Tfelt a few days after her death.

It should go without saying that tough drunk driving laws have prevented countless deaths here and across the United States. But there are also the laws of unintended consequences.

Local and state law enforcement officers and prosecutors have come to notice a loophole in state penal law when it comes to prosecuting drivers in fatal hit-and-run accidents. It’s a hole that lets real criminals off on lighter sentences, creating another set of victims in the form of surviving family members left to cope not only with the loss of a loved one but also with the feeling that justice had never been served.

As things stand, there’s actually an incentive for drivers who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol to flee serious accidents rather than stay on scene and, say, call 911 for immediate help. That’s because standing by could lead to much harsher charges. Heading home — or hiding out — gives a driver time to sober up. And self-preservation can be a powerful emotion in an emergency.

The state Senate has supported legislation that would impose harsher penalties for leaving the scene of a fatal crash. These penalties can be just as harsh as the same vehicular manslaughter laws someone could face if he or she were found to have been driving drunk during such a crash. But the bill stalled in the state Assembly in the last legislative session.

It’s being said that Albany lawmakers are concerned that some people, who may or may not be drunk, could end up being punished too severely for panicking and fleeing the scene of an accident. And safeguards to prevent decent people from serving long prison sentences should be addressed in any changes to the law. But such concerns are no excuse to do nothing.

Certainly, lawmakers could agree that rewarding drunken people for fleeing crash scenes — even in non-serious accidents, which can be quite pricey for victims — is a problem that must be dealt with. While stiffer penalties may not deter such incidents, there are real issues of justice at hand.

07/12/13 5:00pm
07/12/2013 5:00 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz says she won’t run for Assembly this year, but plans to seek a state legislative seat in 2014.

There will be no Democratic primary in the fall to determine who will face Republican Tony Palumbo in the race to fill the North Fork’s vacant State Assembly seat.

Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, who after failing to receive the Democratic nomination that instead went to John McManmon, an Aquebogue attorney, had vowed to force a primary. But on Friday Ms. Maertz announced that she instead has her sights set on running for either State Senate or Assembly in 2014.

She said she did not submit the required nominating petitions to the Suffolk County Board of Elections by the July 11 deadline because she expected a challenge to her petitions from the McManmon camp. Mr. McManmon is the son of deputy Democratic Board of Elections commissioner Jeanne O’Rourke.

Ms. Maertz said she raised what she believes is a conflict of interest, but neither the state nor the county BOE took the matter further.

“It’s not worth the time and expense of litigation, particularly where there are conflict of interest issues that have not been addressed,” she said.

It’s unclear whether Ms. Maertz, who in challenging the leadership’s choice, could have filed the requisite 500 petition signatures in time. Southold Democratic chairman Art Tillman said his committee gathered 230 signatures for Mr. McManmon, but only 26 for Ms. Maertz.

Mr. McManmon called Ms. Maertz’s decision to drop out “really great news for our campaign. It allows us to move on and concentrate on the general election.”

He and Mr. Palumbo, a New Suffolk attorney, are seeking to serve out months remaining term of former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, who left the office in March following his victory in a special election for Brookhaven town highway superintendent. A third candidate, Joan Sele of Rocky Point, filed petitions this week to run on the Independence line, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

tkelly@timesreview.com

06/18/13 10:10am
06/18/2013 10:10 AM

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele (left) alongside Congrssman Tim Bishop in October 2012.

Who needs Albany?

Riverhead will soon have its own mini-State Legislature right on Second Street. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) has joined as a partner in the Riverhead-based law firm of Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin and Quartararo.

State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) joined the same law firm as counsel in 2003.

Mr. Thiele will join the firm effective July 1.

He has been the South Fork’s representative in the assembly for the past 18 years, and this year, he’s even been called upon informally to represent the North Fork on a fill-in basis. The North Fork’s assembly seat remains vacant after former assemblyman Dan Losquardo was elected Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent earlier this year.

Prior to being an assemblyman, Mr. Thiele served as Southampton Town supervisor, as a county legislator on the South Fork and as Southampton Town attorney.

He also is currently the chairman of the Southampton Town Independence Party.

At the law firm, Mr. Thiele will be engaged in a general practice, including real estate, estate planning, litigation, municipal and environmental law, and will work primarily in the law firm’s Riverhead office, according to a press release from the law firm.

The firm was founded in 1973 and has offices in Riverhead, East Hampton, Southampton, Southold and Hauppauge. It has 26 lawyers and a professional staff of more than 30.

Founding partner Tom Twomey has some experience with state politics himself. His wife, Judith Hope, is a former chairperson of the state Democratic Committee, as well as a former East Hampton Town Supervisor.

tgannon@timesreview.com

06/14/13 8:00am
06/14/2013 8:00 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

In politics, there is an old axiom about news coverage: It doesn’t matter what they say about you as long as they spell your name right.

Even so, I want to set the record straight. Last week, without bothering to call me for comment prior to publication, Times/Review executive editor Grant Parpan published an op-ed regarding my residency as a candidate for the New York State Assembly. It presented only half of the facts and a half-baked version of the law.

Here’s my side of the story.

I have been a resident of the North Fork since my family moved here and I was enrolled in kindergarten at St. John the Evangelist Grammar School in Riverhead. My first job was at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead. I went to Riverhead Middle School and then Riverhead High School, where I played varsity baseball. I also represented Riverhead High School on News12’s Long Island Challenge quiz show.

After graduating from Riverhead High School, I went to Tulane University in New Orleans on an academic scholarship. When Hurricane Katrina struck, this very paper covered my experience. I returned to school in New Orleans. And I pitched in. I’m very proud of the disaster relief work I did in the years after the terrible storm. After I graduated from Tulane, I returned to my home, Riverhead. My next stop was Columbia Law School. When I graduated from Columbia, I returned to my home, Riverhead.

In 2011, I began a job at one of the country’s leading law firms, located in lower Manhattan. My practice there varies from representing some of the country’s best-known companies to, on a pro bono basis, being an advocate for families of children with autism. It’s a job infamous for 12- and 14-hour workdays and so, because it would be impossible to make a daily commute from my home, I spend weeknights at a modest apartment in Brooklyn.

I am now leaving my job to devote myself to our district and this campaign. I am doing so for several reasons. I think public service is a noble calling. I think politics should be a conversation about policy, and not a forum for personal invective. I want to do what I can to make sure that my community is a place where my friends and neighbors can find decent jobs, afford homes and build their lives.

Of course, I’m certain my political opponents don’t care about any of that. They have fixated on the apartment I maintain in Brooklyn. This is a red herring, but it appears Mr. Parpan has taken the bait. There is nothing wrong with someone maintaining a second residence, whether for convenience or necessity. If you know me well, you know that I am diligent and careful. I would not pursue this opportunity to serve unless I knew I was well within both the spirit and the letter of the law. Mr. Parpan and I may disagree about what the law should be, but he has no reason to suggest that I have been dishonest. My primary and legal residence has always been squarely in the middle of this Assembly District. It’s the center of my family life and social life. It’s the center of my political life. It always will be.

I’m running for New York State Assembly because my neighbors deserve a strong voice in Albany. If you’re considering my candidacy, I hope you won’t make the same mistake that Mr. Parpan did. If you still have questions about me or about my residency (or, heck, even about the very important issues facing the North Fork) please reach out to me at McManmonForAssembly@gmail.com. I’ll respond personally.

The author is the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Assembly District seat.

06/07/13 8:00am
06/07/2013 8:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

The residency requirement to run for New York State Assembly is defined very briefly on the NYS Board of Elections website. In fact, the definition is only one sentence long.

It says: “You must be a resident of the state for five years and a resident of the district for 12 months immediately preceding the election.”

That one sentence is why I believe the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Assembly District special election should not be permitted to run for that office.

John McManmon does not dispute that he spends most nights in an apartment on Dean Street in Brooklyn, more than 90 minutes away from the district he wants to represent.

However, the 28-year-old attorney believes he is eligible — and many local Democrats agree — because his parents live here in Aquebogue. That’s the address on his driver’s license and he votes out here using that address.

He only stays in Brooklyn to ease the commute to his job at the Manhattan law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, his supporters argue. He visits home frequently, they say.

It’s my opinion that Mr. McManmon is a resident of Aquebogue on a technicality at best. In the true spirit of the seat, and in the best interests of the people who live here, he should not be running for this office at this time.

But area Democrats are acting as if nobody has a right to question this. They seem offended anyone would have a problem with a man who spends his nights in Brooklyn and his days in Manhattan representing the North Fork in Albany.

In one of the great foot-in-mouth quotes of the year, Riverhead Town Democratic Committee chairwoman 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. There are no real jobs out here and people should take that into consideration.”

Now let’s dissect that spin:

• His residency should not be in question? At all? He freely admits he doesn’t live here.

• No real jobs? For lawyers? A Google search for “Attorney Riverhead,” one of the few American communities with more courthouses than McDonald’s restaurants, returned the maximum 25 pages of search results.

Speaking of questions, does Mr. McManmon pay New York City’s income tax on residents? If so, how can he be a resident both here and there?

It’s a particularly sad display that given several months to find a candidate in a special election for a seat that will be vacant for eight months before the newly elected takes office, Democrats couldn’t even settle on someone who actually lives here. As Democrats continue to control the majority in Albany’s lower house, basic logic says a local Democrat might be able to accomplish more than a Republican.

And the GOP nominee hasn’t exactly hit the ground running for the office. So far, all Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk and party leaders have offered in the early stages of his campaign is a few sound bites on cleaning up corruption in Albany that sound like they were written by state Republican officials. It’s nice to think a local Republican could use his minority seat to clean up the capitol. It’s nice to think about unicorns and magical wizards, too.

Word on the street is that some unhappy Democrats might take legal action in an attempt to challenge Mr. McManmon’s candidacy. They should. His right to vote in Riverhead Town should be questioned as well. While they’re at it, how about looking into the city income tax he could avoid by using his parents’ address?

I live literally a few blocks outside of the 2nd Assembly District, less than 10 minutes from the house where my parents have lived for 35 years, which is inside the district. I work on the North Fork and spend more time here than anywhere else.

That said, I don’t feel I have the right to vote in this district, let alone run for office here. Neither should John McManmon.

 Grant Parpan is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at gparpan@timesreview.com or (631) 354-8046.