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09/24/12 8:09am
09/24/2012 8:09 AM

Randy Altshculer, left, and Tim Bishop, right, will take part in a debate we’re cosponsoring this Thursday at the Vail Leavitt Music Hall in downtown Riverhead.

About two weeks ago, we posted a poll asking our readers to vote on whether we should ban letters on national issues.

We gave readers two options: Yes, letter writers should stick to local topics or No, if the writer is local, so is the letter.

‘No’ won out … barely.

A total of 366 readers voted in the poll and 190 (52 percent) voted no.

When I discussed the issue internally with my fellow Times/Review editors, we agreed that letters on national issues should continue to be printed. There are several reasons for this:

– Like the answer states, any letter written from a local resident is a local letter.

– We want you to dictate what gets discussed on the letters pages, not us. Unlike the internet, where commenting is enabled for almost every story, the letters to the editor section is the only designated place in our print edition where anyone can have their say.

– One of the big reasons some folks, including 48 percent of people who voted in our poll, would like to have national letters banned, is due to the tone of the letters. Many folks told us they believed the letters stretched the facts, were based largely on biased cable TV news talking points and were just plain nasty. While I tend to agree with a lot of these concerns, I also see the value in a letter that gets our readers’ blood boiling a little. When one letter inspires other letters, I think that’s a good thing. Within reason, of course.

– National letters can have local impact. The line on which letters would be acceptable is a little blurry.

As always, we appreciate all the feedback we’ve received on this topic. It’s great to see such an engaged and passionate readership out there.

• Speaking of national issues, we’re co-sponsoring a Congressional debate at Vail Leavitt Music Hall this Thursday night between Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and his Republican opponent, Randy Altschuler of St. James.

The 90-minute debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m. I’d recommend getting their early since seating is limited to 250 people. We will, however, broadcast the debate live on our site for anyone who can’t be there. We’ll keep the video archived on our site, too.

This debate is the first of two we’re co-sponsoring along with The Press News Group of Southampton, publishers of the Southampton Press, Southampton Press Western Edition, East Hampton Press, and 27East.com. The second debate will be held on Oct. 15 at Bridgehampton School.

The first half of the Vail Leavitt debate will be focused on health care and the second half will cover general topics. The first half of the Bridgehampton debate will focus on the economy.

• We’ve received a bunch of emails, letters and web comments on Troy Gustavson’s column about driving drunk and DWI arrests this week. We are packaging many of your responses for an equal time in the paper. Check that out on newsstands Thursday. Subscribers can also access the responses digitally through our epaper.

08/20/12 8:00am
08/20/2012 8:00 AM

JOHN GRIFFIN FILE PHOTO | Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko delivers his State of the Town address in 2010. Mr. Lesko’s resignation in Brookhaven could spell change locally.

Whenever an elected town official resigns mid-term it has the potential to drastically shake up the political landscape in that town. It’s rare, however, that such a resignation can impact several towns.

That’s certainly the case though with last week’s announcement that Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko is stepping down next month.

What will make the resulting special election even more interesting is that it comes in a non-local year, giving every elected official in Brookhaven Town outside of Ken LaValle, Dan Losquadro and Dean Murray the opportunity to pursue the seat with no risk of losing their current post. [Both Mr. Losquadro and Mr. Murray might seek the seat anyway.]

Considering that Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine of Center Moriches is already the reported GOP favorite, according to Newsday, the election could have an impact on residents of Riverhead and Southold towns.

The North Fork Legislator seems a logical choice for Republicans. He’s a savvy pol with old-school charm and he’s been incredibly popular in recent elections for County Legislature. He’s also served countywide as a County Clerk.

The position might also interest Mr. Romaine as he nears the county term limit, and has spent each of his terms in the political minority on the Legislature.

Hurting Mr. Romaine’s chances might be the losses he suffered in the two largest elections of his political career, a bid for County Executive and Congress. A good portion of his voting base is outside of Brookhaven, too.

The GOP has a fairly deep pool of candidates to choose from with two Republican State Assemblyman living in Brookhaven, Dan Losquadro of Shoreham and Dean Murray of Patchogue; the leading contender off the Brookhaven Town Board, Councilman Dan Panico of Shirley; and another County Legislator in Thomas Muratore of Ronkonkoma.

That’s a decent pool of proven candidates in a year where the Suffolk GOP is already excited about its chances to grab a seat in the House of Representatives with St. James businessman Randy Altschuler back on the ballot after being narrowly defeated in 2010.

In fact, Mr. Lesko’s timing couldn’t have been worse for Suffolk Democrats, who were already looking to spend big to keep Congressman Tim Bishop in office.

Now they’ll have to raise even more money to keep control of the largest town in the county, where Mr. Lesko’s seat currently gives them a one-vote majority.

Newsday reports that Former Assemblyman Marc Alessi of Shoreham and Mr. Lesko’s top aide, Brian Beedenbender, are among the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination. Considering Mr. Alessi and Mr. Beedenbender lost their most recent elections — to Mr. Losquadro and Mr. Muratore, respectively — that’s not a great sign for the Democrats. Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri is also in the mix, but he comes with his own set of political baggage.

On the flip side, the other two townwide elected leaders in Brookhaven, John Rouse and Patricia Eddington, have both won on the Democratic line. But would they really want to move away from those two cozy posts?

Perhaps the Democrats’ best opportunity comes with having President Barrack Obama and Congressman Tim Bishop on the ballot, enabling their candidate to receive trickle-down votes from incumbents at the top of the ticket.

The fact that this special election comes in a presidential year, where voters are twice as likely to visit the polls, makes just about anything possible.

And should it be Mr. Romaine who earns the GOP nomination and ultimately the supervisorship, that could mean more than just a change in our local leadership on the County Legislature if local officials pursue his seat.

Just think about all the posts that could change hands at the town level if, say, one of the North Fork town supervisors pursued Mr. Romaine’s seat.

No matter how things shake out, the situation in Brookhaven is certainly worth keeping an eye on from out here.

Grant Parpan is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup. He covered Brookhaven Town politics from 2006 to 2011 as a reporter and editor of the former North Shore Sun newspaper.

07/23/12 8:00am
07/23/2012 8:00 AM

This weekend I spent a lot of time watching television news and reading various internet and print accounts of the movie theater shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.

In fact, I’m not sure I’ve watched this much television news in one week since September 2001.

One thing that kept bothering me as I watched the story unravel was the number of opportunists getting face time on television by sharing their thoughts on gun control. For every key player speaking out on the issue, there were 10 people who don’t matter appearing before the camera.

I haven’t seen Stephen Baldwin much since he was shooting extras in the 1995 film “The Usual Suspects.” But there he was Saturday on CNN, sharing his views on gun control, while making sure to get a plug in for his charity and his latest film project before the commercial break. I care about Stephen Baldwin’s thoughts on guns about as much as I would Smith or Wesson’s thoughts on cinema.

Noticeably absent from the discussion were the opinions on gun control of president Barack Obama and his November opponent Mitt Romney. Given the largest platform in years to share their thoughts on this always important topic, neither one offered anything of substance on the issue. At least not in the first 48 hours after the shooting.

Of course, I’m sure that is more reflective of the powerful gun lobby in Washington, D.C., than it is the two candidates’ lack of strong feelings on the subject. I’m sure if Mr. Obama was in his second term right now, he’d have come out blasting. Mr. Romney, too.

Instead the strongest opinions we heard on the issue this weekend came from man on the street interviews, the occasional Congressman, lame duck Mike Bloomberg and d-list Hollywood types like Alec, no Billy, no Danny, er Stephen Baldwin.

• There was plenty of good news around Riverhead this weekend, especially the story of Ron Rowe recovering from his injuries and returning home from the hospital. He told the News-Review on Saturday that “[he’s] really overwhelmed by it all. People are calling me from high school that I haven’t talked to in 20 years. I’ve lived here since the first grade. I think that makes me a native. You don’t realize how many lives you’ve touched.” May his health continue to improve.

• Riverhead also got its first dog park this Saturday after several delays.

• Riverhead Raceway honored three drivers killed on the track over the years at its race event Saturday.

[email protected]

07/16/12 11:00am
07/16/2012 11:00 AM

Despite what most people think, newspaper reporters are not ghouls.

Most of us don’t get a charge out of sad news, like fires, car wrecks, drownings and the like. To many, it’s the worst part of the job.

There’s really no worse night’s sleep for a reporter than the hours before having to cover a morning funeral, especially if a victim or victims’ family has been complaining about coverage — names that were spelled wrong, details not fully provided by police or whomever, etc. — leading up the event.

We do it because our editor told us to. In other words, it’s part of the job.

And things have been busy, so to speak, in the TimesReview Newsgroup’s coverage area over the last few months, especially the weekends.

That’s why this weekend was so welcome. No one was hurt, maimed or worse. We had a few DWI arrests but hope those who were caught end up being all the safer behind the wheel because of it. (There’s a glass-half-full way to look at it.)

The best part of all, business wise — of course, bad news is good for a media group’s bottom lines — is that site traffic was good.

Yep, the websites were humming along all weekend, despite it being beach weather.

For the curiosity seekers, here were our most-read stories that posted Saturday or Sunday, in order:

Shelter Island fireworks called off, twice

Jason Kidd nabbed on DWI in Southampton Town

Video: 1 minute from the all-classes Greenport HS reunion

Guest Spot about on North Fork becoming like the South Fork

3 busted for DWI Saturday night in Riverhead

Arcade store returns to Greenport

Photos from the Mattituck street fair

Seniors feud over financials at Calverton community

It was nice for a change to see people flocking to stories about street fairs, fireworks and high school reunions, as opposed to car crash photos.

• Managing three websites as the lone editor on a weekend can be quite a task, so I’ve mastered the art of scanning press releases to see if they’ll make for potential news items.Or so I thought I mastered the art.

Below is a funny email exchange I had with reporter Paul Squire Sunday afternoon. Squire was referencing a press release he had attached from the Southampton Town Police Department, which I had already “read.”

From Squire: Damn shame this is way outside our coverage area. I think East Hampton Patch had the scoop.
Me: Yeah, drunken Texan flies into the woods. Good [stuff].
Squire: It’s Jason Kidd the basketball player, not just some drunk Texan! 😀
Me: OMG!

I had read the email quickly to find out where it happened, and where the victim/suspect was from. But I overlooked the name!

We ended up posting something short on the Kidd crash to riverheadnewsreview.com anyway, even though it happened outside the coverage area. I figured there were enough Knicks fans in Riverhead who would want this news. Plus, it happened in Southampton Town, a chunk of which is in our coverage area. (And I had a nice tid-bit from a source that Kidd had just bought a house in Water Mill.)

I didn’t get any complaints.

Michael White is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at 298-3200, ext. 152., or [email protected].

03/12/12 10:00am
03/12/2012 10:00 AM

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Blue Waves girls basketball players signing mock News-Review covers for fans after the team's big win Friday night in Farmingdale.

For about half the cost of going to a movie, my wife and I were kept entertained Friday night by the show that is the Riverhead Blue Waves girls basketball team.

My wife isn’t a big basketball fan, but there she was, up on her feet for much of the game as the Waves scratched and clawed their way ahead of the Baldwin Bruins in Farmingdale to win the Long Island championship.

Web editor Grant Parpan and I were especially nervous when the waves were down, because under our feet sat a box of 500 full-color glossy mock-up front pages of the Riverhead News-Review, posters announcing the team Long Island champs. Grant could barely speak as the team went down by 10 points in the 2nd quarter. “We’re the biggest jinx around!” was all he kept saying. (Not that I was the steady, calming voice of confidence.)

We waited until the last buzzer sounded and the game was officially over before opening that box. Then we were swarmed. It was awesome to then see the players autographing them for their fans. (See photo.) Riverhead point guard Jalyn Brown told News-Review sports editor Bob Liepa she felt like a celebrity.

Jalyn and the rest of the Waves will feel like even bigger celebrities this weekend, as they head off to the state championship tournament in Troy, N.Y. How do they match up? Check back at RiverheadNewsReview.com this week for previews by sports editors Bob Liepa and Joe Werkmeister.

Then be sure to follow along on our live blogs if you can’t make the games, for the most detailed coverage of the play-by-play anywhere. As one commenter said during Friday night’s live blog, it’s really like being at the game.

• While there’s no greater escape than sports and the teams that captivate us, be it as a town or a city or a nation, we all recognize the true heroes are found elsewhere.  On Saturday night, 55 veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars could be found in Riverhead’s Polish Hall, at an event called Operation Forever Grateful, hosted by the town and organized by Councilman John Dunleavy, along with Liz Stokes and Linda Hulse. (Check back at noon for more photos from the event.)
Among the younger veterans honored was Marine Corporal Alfred Grossklaus Jr. of Aquebogue, a 2005 Riverhead High School graduate who was shot in the back and badly injured during an ambush by insurgents in Afghanistan last June. A Purple Heart recipient, he was discharged from the military in December.
“We definitely know we’re appreciated, but it’s nice to have something like this,” he told News-Review writer Tim Gannon.
• A small crowd also assembled Saturday morning in Jamesport to discuss the proposed YMCA for Main Road. Click here to read what they said about the Y project, and check the News-Review newspaper Thursday for additional information.
•  I can’t stand the complaining. For one morning of one Monday you’re a bit more tired than usual due to Daylight Savings Time. It’s just one day, people! The tired feeling will go away soon. Then, for the rest of the next seven months you’ll be driving home in the daylight, mixing barbecue back into the dinner rotation and for some, playing that extra round of golf. A lost hour of sleep is a small price to pay.

For me, Daylight Savings Time is the true beginning of spring, and everything that goes with it.

So have that second cup of coffee and enjoy it.

[email protected]

Michael White is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached by email or at (631) 298-3200, ext. 152.

02/27/12 9:00am
02/27/2012 9:00 AM

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead guard Melodee Riley has posted career scoring highs in two of the Waves' three playoff wins to date.

Basketball is one of the toughest high school sports to end your season on a win and the Riverhead girls basketball team is about to find out why.

The Blue Waves (20-1) are just four wins from a state title and considering they’ve already won 20 games in a row, there’s no reason to believe they can’t go all the way. But in order to do so, they’ll have to play in five consecutive finals games at neutral sites far from home.

First up is tomorrow night’s Suffolk County Class AA final against unbeaten League IV champion Hauppauge (21-0) at 5 p.m. on the campus of Farmingdale State College. If you can’t make the opening tip you can follow along with our live blog, where we’ll be updating the score with every basket.

If the Waves can win that one they’ll be guaranteed at least two more games, a non-elimination Section XI final against the small schools champion Friday at Farmingdale and a critical Long Island title game against the Nassau County champion at Hofstra University March 10.

A win in the L.I. championship would send Riverhead to Glens Falls for the state semifinals on March 17 for a chance to play for the state title the following day.

It’s a grueling schedule that will see them play nothing but the best teams moving forward, and they’ll have to play each high-stakes game more than an hour away from home.

They’ll face bigger teams with talented players and big-game experience. But the way this Riverhead team is playing, there’s no reason to believe the winning has to stop anytime soon.

• Speaking of states, congratulations to the three Shoreham-Wading River wrestlers who made all-state this weekend.

• Blame it on Meryl! We had no winners in our Oscars challenge this year, with no one correctly picking Meryl Streep as the Best Actress winner. I also failed to correctly pick Meryl in my column last week, but got 20 out of 24 right in my Oscar pool at home to secure the grand prize: a bottle of Coppola pinot noir.

• The News-Review wishes Kay Davis of Hairstyles in Motion well in her retirement. More than 30 years in business in this town is quite the impressive feat and we wish her well in future endeavors.

• Do you have a tattoo and a story to tell about it?

[email protected]

02/20/12 7:45am
02/20/2012 7:45 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Help us name the turkey that's been roaming Polish Town the past couple weeks.

Maybe the Polish eagle should be changed to a turkey. That’s one joke Polish Town resident and News-Review photographer Barbaraellen Koch emailed me over the weekend, in a thread about a wild turkey that’s been seen roaming around Polish Town for about two weeks now.

We spoke with some of BE’s neighbors this week, including one woman who said the turkey has been stopping by for food every day, and has even spotted  it playing with her dog.

Of course it’s not too uncommon to see wild turkey roaming the East End. But one turkey who keeps coming back all by himself, day after day?

Barbaraellen had the idea this week that we should have a naming contest so Polish Town residents have something to call their new friendly mascot.

Leave a comment below or email me to let us know what you think the turkey should be called. We’ll announce the winning name on Page 10 of Thursday’s paper.

• Speaking of contests, the Second Annual Times/Review Academy Awards Contest will be back Thursday.

Once again we’ll be giving away a $100 gift certificate for Mattituck Cinemas to one reader who correctly identifies the Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress winners at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

One change to the contest this year will be that we will not just give it to the first person who comments with six correct picks. Instead we will enter the names of all the winners for a random drawing, this way it’s not a speed contest.

Having seen nearly all the nominated films — I’ll have seen them all within the next several days — I’ll give my prognostications online and in the paper Thursday. Once my column is published online at 6 a.m. Thursday you can begin leaving your picks of who you think will win in a comment at the bottom of my column. We’ll close commenting at 7 p.m. Sunday. We’ll also allow you to enter your picks with a comment below for those of you who want to enter now before you forget,

Here’s a list of all this year’s nominees. Good luck!

• Check back on the site later this morning for our preview of three basketball games involving North Fork teams today. We’ll have a reporter/blogger at each game, so if you can’t make any of tonight’s contests just follow along with the play-by-play on our website.

• Anybody else like chili and chicken salad as much as I do?

• In case you missed it this weekend there were more problems at the Budget Host Inn in Riverside.

• Last but not least, I couldn’t end this column without mentioning Linsanity (it’s actually mandated now that all media outlets mention Linsanity once a day). As a Knicks season ticket holder the past two years, I couldn’t be more pleased with Jeremy Lin’s rapid rise to NBA superstar. Here’s to hoping his story gives people in our community who’ve been told they can’t do something new hope that they can.

[email protected]

02/13/12 12:00pm
02/13/2012 12:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | A $45,000 Take Five winner was purchased at Mattituck Handy Pantry.

Two months ago, a girl I went to high school with won a $208 million Megamillions jackpot with a ticket she bought at the King Kullen up the road from my house.

Last week, I read about another woman who won a $1 million Lotto prize at the 7-Eleven closest to my house.

Now, I’ve learned that someone claimed a more than $45,000 Take Five prize at Handy Pantry right down the road from my office in Mattituck.

I guess I can’t be too upset when I never even buy lottery tickets.

The latest winner, Harry Pumillo, won his prize during the Feb. 3 Take Five drawing. His gross payout: $45,102.

It may not be megamillions, but even after taxes, that will be a nice cash haul.

I can think of a few ways to spend it; what would you do with that type of payout?

• Speaking of cash hauls, kudos to the more than three dozen people who braved the snow-rain mix Saturday to participate in Cash Mob in downtown Riverhead. Check out our pics from the event.

• Four local winter track athletes have qualified for states.

• Tonight’s North Fork Environmental Council meeting will cover a number of topics that are important to many North Forkers.

• Winterfest got under way this weekend, and in case you missed it, we took photos and shot video at a couple events. The North Fork wine and jazz series continues on weekends through March 18. Here’s a complete calendar of events courtesy of our Wine Press blog.