06/03/13 10:03am
06/03/2013 10:03 AM
Great job Riverhead police

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | State troopers at a crime scene in Polish Town last month.

Online registration forms are now available for an upcoming state police officer examination, a job in which troopers are paid more than $70,000 after one year, officials announced Monday.

Exams are scheduled for Oct. 5, Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 and are being offered at several locations in New York State.

“The strength of the New York State Police comes from our diversity, said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. “ We are actively seeking qualified, committed and motivated candidates from all walks of life to take the trooper exam this fall.”

“To this end, I have dispatched recruiters from across the state to find those individuals.”

Starting annual salary for state troopers is $50,374 during academy training with a bump to $66,905 upon graduation.

Troopers earn $71, 261 annually after the first year on the job, with location compensation bumps for downstate officers, including those in Nassau and Suffolk counties, officials said.

Those interested in becoming a Trooper can apply on-line at www.NYTROOPER.com.

Examination results will establish an eligibility list that may remain in effect for a maximum of four years, officials said.

Read below for eligibility requirements and more information from New York State police officials.

 

Troopers Exam

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

03/29/13 3:50pm
03/29/2013 3:50 PM

Aside from school aid bumps, other items in the New York State budget adopted Thursday include a “middle class” tax rebate for families with kids, a creation of a bar-type exam for prospective teachers and financial incentives for top-performing teaching.

The spending plan will also increase the state minimum wage, and provide more highway improvement funds for local towns.

The budget deal extends from last year a higher tax on top earners, which reportedly raises about $1.9 million annually.

The 2013-14 budget is the third consecutive state budget that’s been adopted before the April 1 deadline by which it’s supposed to be adopted. That hasn’t always been the case, as the state routinely missed the budget deadline for many years prior to that.

This is the first time since 1984 the state made the deadline three years in a row.

Overall, the $135 billion budget increases total state spending by under one percent, according to state documents.

“This budget agreement puts New York on track to have the third consecutive on-time, balanced, budget that holds increases in spending under 2 percent,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press release.

The adopted budget “includes direct tax relief for middle class families in the form of a $350 Family Tax Relief credit,” according to officials.

Over the next three years, each New York family with at least one dependent child and a household income between $40,000 and $300,000, will receive a “Family Tax Relief” credit in the amount of $350.  The statewide amount of these payments will be $1.23 billion over three years, beginning in 2014.

The budget extends the “middle class” personal income tax rate reductions enacted in 2011, which were due to expire in 2014. Those reductions will provide 4.4 million taxpayers with $707 million in tax relief per year, according to state officials

The new budget also calls for creation of “Bar Exam for Teachers,” officials said.

“To ensure the best and brightest are teaching our children, the State Education Department will increase the standards for teacher certification to require passage of a “bar exam,” in addition to longer, more intensive and high-quality student-teaching experience in a school setting,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The state also plans to reward “high performing teachers” under the new budget.

“To improve results and incentive high-performance, the budget implements a program that will offer $15,000 in annual stipends for four years to the most effective teachers beginning with math and science teachers,” the governor said.

A total of $11 million in incentives will be given statewide. Specifics were not available on how teacher performance will be judged.

Local municipalities on the North Fork will see an increase in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding under the new budget, which increased that fund by $75 million statewide.

“This nearly $7 million in funding for towns and villages in the First Senatorial District will allow us to put New York back to work by repairing roads and bridges,” said state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

This is the first time since 2008 that CHIPS funding has increased.

Locally, Riverhead Town will receive $372,218 in CHIPS funding for 2013-14, an increase of 26 percent over the previous state budget allocation.

Likewise, Southold Town will get $421,071, a 28 percent increase, Southampton Town will get $842,159, a 28 percent increase, and Shelter Island Town will get $123,321, also a 28 percent increase.

Greenport Village is getting $52,902, a 24 percent increase, and the tiny Village of Dering Harbor on Shelter Island, is getting $59,891, a 27 percent increase.

The new budget also raises the minimum wage in New York State from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour, but over three years.

“Recognizing that New York’s minimum wage is unlivable and that 19 other states have higher minimum wages than New York, the budget raises the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour over three years, beginning with $8.00 by the end of 2013, $8.75 by the end of 2014, and $9.00 by the end of 2015,” the governor said.

The budget also provides hiring tax credits to businesses that hire returning veterans and young people.

The credit will equal 10 percent of wages paid for hiring veterans, and 15 percent of wages if the veteran is disabled, officials said.

The budget includes a refundable tax credit for businesses that hire people under the age of 20, which officials say will save those businesses a total of $112 million over three years, statewide.

tgannon@timesreview.com

03/04/13 12:00pm
03/04/2013 12:00 PM

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | New York Agri-Women member Erica Leubner discusses her trip to Japan with the group’s members at the Hyatt Place in Riverhead in 2012.

New York Agri-Women, the state chapter of a national organization devoted to the interests of women farmers, is again returning to Riverhead Town this spring, after holding its annual meeting last year at the Hyatt Place on East Main Street.

The group will hold a forum titled “Women in the Business of Farming on Long Island” on March 21 from 8:30 a.m.to 3 p.m.at Stonewalls Restaurant on Reeves Avenue.

Attendees at the event will hear the personal experiences of women involved in orchards, organic vegetables, wine grapes, greenhouse products, agritainment and aquaculture on eastern Long Island.

The conference, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch, costs $40 for New York Agri-women members and $40 for non-membres.

For more information, contact Beck Wiseman at becky.wiseman21154@gmail.com or Debbie Schmitt at debs573@yahoo.com.

01/09/13 10:38am

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | School board president William McGrath (right) said the district could lose nearly half a million dollars in state aid this year because of a union dispute.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district is poised to lose nearly half a million dollars in state aid for the current school year after negotiations over a state-required teacher performance review plan with the administrators union have stalled, school board officials revealed at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Board president William McGrath said state education commissioner John King notified the district on Dec. 28 that unless the performance review plan for teachers and administrators — called an APPR — is approved by Jan. 17, the schools would lose out on state aid increases for the 2012-13 school year totaling $457,000.

Mr. McGrath said contract negotiations with the nine members of the administrators union were holding up the APPR plan’s acceptance.

“The district has continued attempts to bargain as to the APPR as required by law,” Mr. McGrath said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Our efforts in this regard have been thwarted by the administrators association, which has refused to conclude such bargaining without a settlement of a contract negotiation where the association’s demands regarding benefit changes and salary increases have been rejected by the board.”

The cut in state aid would represent roughly 5 percent of the district’s $8.3 million in total state aid for the 2012-13 school year.

If that state aid is lost, the district would have to cover the funds this year, Mr. McGrath added. The cut in state aid would also have an effect on next year’s budget, as a rollover budget would have to change to reflect the decreased state aid total, school officials said.

The district originally submitted the APPR plan on July 1, with only the signatures of the board and the head of the teachers union, after a general counsel for the state education department informed the district it could still have its plan reviewed without signatures from all the bargaining units.

On Dec. 28, Mr. King reversed that policy, stating all APPR plans across the state that would be reviewed needed to have all the proper signatures, Mr. McGrath said.

Mr. McGrath said the board will “continue to act in good faith” and praised the teachers union for its cooperation, but said no deal has been made with the administrators union as of Tuesday.

Stephen Donohue, president of the administrators union and principal of Wading River Elementary School, was unable to be reached for comment first thing Wednesday morning.

School officials said they are unsure what will happen if they miss the Jan. 17 cutoff date. There is no guarantee that state aid lost after that date will be returned should the district and the administrators union later reach an agreement.

psquire@timesreview.com

09/19/12 8:00am
09/19/2012 8:00 AM

The New York State Comptroller’s Office has begun an audit to look into undisclosed areas in the town’s finances, officials confirmed last week.

The audit will look into areas highlighted by a recently completed “risk assessment,” said state spokesman Mark Johnson.

Mr. Johnson said the state could not discuss which areas of the town’s finances the audit will look into.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter had invited the audit during his first term, but the state had required that the town complete previous audits that were never finished before a new audit was started.

Those audits —for the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 — were all completed, Mr. Walter said.

“Early this year I went in and saw them, asked them to come in to do the audit in the spring,” Mr. Walter said, adding that the state said they’d need to do a risk assessment first.

Mr. Walter said the assessment was supposed to last two to three weeks; due to the complexity of the town’s different districts like water and sewer, state workers finished the assessment more than two months later.

Mr. Walter said he will welcome the state’s audit results.

“I’m a big boy,” he said. “If the comptroller comes in and says something was done wrong, even though I may not have been the reason, I take responsibility.”

psquire@timesreview.com

09/06/12 5:00am
09/06/2012 5:00 AM

National Parks Service historian Edson Beall said it simply: Owners of income-producing buildings in the downtown area just added to the National Register of Historic Places “are free to do as they please.”

“That includes tearing down the building,” he told the News-Review, in an attempt to dispel misconceptions about the federal designation.

Downtown business people and property owners are free to do what they will, he said — unless, of course, they are receiving generous state and federal tax credits to help fund historically appropriate rehab work and renovations in the district.

The historic designation carries no restrictions for people not using tax credits.

Sadly, misunderstandings concerning the designation abound, with the knee-jerk reaction being that another layer of government will soon be sticking its nose in more of the moving parts of our daily lives. These assumptions are wrong and have taken away from this notable achievement.

With the designation, 46 properties, each at least 50 years old, now qualify for tax credits ­— and more will qualify as the years go on.
The state and federal credits — which are full refunds (read: cash) from the government, not just deductions — can amount to up to 40 percent of the value of exterior improvements. That’s a huge chunk of what could amount to pricey rehab projects — projects that might never get done without the financial incentives.

What a potential boon for downtown. What a group of volunteers to get it done.

So celebrate, Riverhead. As Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, said in an interview this week. “You’re on the map!”

This milestone was accomplished thanks to the drive and knowledge of the town’s volunteer Landmarks Preservation Commission members — “and without any taxpayer dollars,” said Ms. Giglio, Town Board liaison to the commission.

Led by Richard Wines of Jamesport, commission members spent countless hours over more than three years lobbying government officials for support for the designation application, then poring over and compiling pages of information — some of it hard to find — and giving updates and presentations to the board and public, all while meeting strict deadlines.

This all for no reason other than that these volunteers recognized the huge benefits inclusion on the National Register could offer.

The commission is now pushing to get Second Street, just one block north of Main, and its intersecting streets onto the register. Everyone should support this effort.

For over two centuries, downtown Riverhead has been “an important center of business, culture, entertainment and government” on Long Island’s East End, Mr. Beall said.

Federal recognition will only help ensure that this status is preserved and that Riverhead flourishes for centuries to come.

08/31/12 8:00am
08/31/2012 8:00 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz (left) and Bridget Fleming are squaring off in a Democratic primary for the opportunity to oppose Senator Ken LaValle.

Over the years, the list of Democratic opponents against longtime incumbent state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) reads like a “Who’s Who” of candidates nobody remembers.

Some of them were on the ballot, but went the entire campaign without making much noise on the campaign front.

This year, there’s a Sept. 13 primary between two Democratic candidates who are seeking to take on the 36-year incumbent.

Jennifer Maertz, 36, an attorney from Rocky Point, lost against Mr. LaValle two years ago as a last-minute replacement for Regina Calcaterra, who was knocked off the ballot on a residency issue.

Now Ms. Maertz will square off against Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor. Ms. Fleming was elected to fill the remaining year of a vacated council term in 2010 and then was elected to a full four-year term in 2011. Prior to that, she was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs.

The two squared off in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Southampton League of Women Voters in the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Both candidates took their shots at the incumbent, who was not present.

“The incumbent senator has been in office for 36 years,” Ms. Fleming said of Mr. LaValle, 73. “He’s become over these many years a part of the culture in Albany, more responsive to special interests than to the immediate needs of the people in the first district.  He has overseen steady tuition hikes and failed to protect our economy while moving to raise his own salary.”

“We send more tax dollars upstate than we get in return,” Ms. Maertz said. “And upstate, the opposite is true. And this has been going on a very long time and our state senator has done nothing about it and has not changed this. Do you want to know why? Because the Republican party has its power base in upstate New York and he has to go along with the party.”

The two candidates agreed on a number of the issues raised by audience questions in Wednesday’s forum, such as the need to fully repeal the MTA payroll tax, support for same-sex marriage, and support for a Shinnecock casino, but not on the East End.

One area they differed was on campaign funding. While both supported public financing of campaigns, Ms. Fleming said one of the reasons to vote for her and not Ms. Maertz was that she has raised far more money and would have a better chance in November against Mr. LaValle because of that.

According to the most recent campaign disclosure forms on file, Ms. Fleming’s campaign had raised $44,020 at the end of August and had $56,802 left, while Ms. Maertz hadn’t raised anything in the most recent filing period and had a total of $3,206 remaining.

“It’s one of the reasons I think you should chose me on Sept. 13,” Ms. Fleming said. “In order to be viable, you’ve got to be able to raise money. It’s such a shame, but our opponent, Ken LaValle, has gotten $76,000 from Albany PACs (Political Action Committees). These are the business council for the industry PAC that write checks to (Senate Majority Leader Dean) Skelos, a check to (State Senator John) Flanagan, a check to LaValle. They come out for the incumbents because that’s the way things operate.

“And that’s got to change. We don’t have a level playing field and we turn into to a government where we have incumbents who are in office for decades and who have lost touch with their constituents.”

Mr. LaValle’s latest campaign disclosure forms show he had raised $198,591 in the most recent filing period and had $252,590 remaining in his campaign war chest.

“I agree with you on public financing of campaigns but I disagree that funding should be the number one reason you should be choosing a candidate,” Ms. Maertz responded. “If that were true, then neither one of us should be here because neither one of us is going to outspend Ken LaValle this year. I believe the voters of this district are more sophisticated than that. I believe that with today’s technology you can get the word out about these elections online and by old fashioned door-to-door campaigning and talking to voters. Voters are not going to be looking at how much money you have in the bank, they’re going to be looking at your viewpoints on the issues, your dedication to serving,  and your follow through with your commitments, and your interest in serving the people.”

Another slight disagreement came during a discussion on same-sex marriage. Both candidates said they supported same sex marriage, and both were critical of Mr. LaValle’s vote against the issue, in which he said the people of the district were “not ready” for it.

Ms. Maertz said polls showed the people of the district overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. But she added, “while legislatures must answer to their constituents, when it comes to civil rights issues, I don’t care what the constituents say. It’s a matter of civil rights. You cannot impose segregation, for instance, because you feel the polls are in favor of it.”

Ms. Fleming responded, “Having served as an elected official now and having been reelected for a second term, I do care what the constituents say. I support marriage equality unquestionably, but I do care what constituents say. Sometimes you have to adjust and be sure that you’re serving the community you’re serving.”

Ms. Maertz said that on civil rights issues, “I don’t care if 70 percent of the people were against it,” she’d still vote in favor.

On the issue of the state’s 2 percent tax cap, both candidates felt changes were needed.

Ms. Maertz feels there should be more exemptions to give schools and governments more leeway, and Ms. Fleming said Southampton Town had to eliminate some needed services to comply with the cap. Both candidates felt there should be more relief from state and federal mandates, if there’s going to be a tax cap.

The date of the primary, Sept. 13, falls on a Thursday.

tgannon@timesreview.com