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Sunday
Nov122017

Responders Remembered 9/11 Park Veterans Day Ceremony 

John FealNesconset’s Responders Remembered 9/11 Park board members held their first Annual Veterans Day Candlelight Vigil. The park located at 316 Smithtown Blvd, Nesconset has granite walls containing the names of people who responded to the tragic events of 9/11 and who died as a result of their service. Cancer has prematurely taken the lives of responders and John Feal, the creator of the park and president of the FealGood Foundation, has made it his mission in life to make sure that their lives and sacrifice is not forgotten.

On this night, with the granite walls behind him and a huge pine tree decorated with red, white and blue lights in front of him, John Feal had another message he felt compelled to share. That message was that in this troubled world we need to remember and to focus on the many things that unite us. Mr. Feal’s Veterans Day message was regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, political affiliation, religion, economic circumstances, whether you are fat or skinny, we are Americans and we share American values.

Mr. Feal’s words were echoed by Martin Aponte, President of the Responders Remembered 9/11 Park and the speakers who followed. Before making brief comments Legislator Leslie Kennedy and husband John Kennedy, Suffolk County Comptroller stood in the crowd with their candles, freezing with everyone else. Their day started hours before when they attended the St. James Veterans Day Ceremony at 10 am followed by attending almost every other Veterans ceremony in the Town of Smithtown. Their day was long but their respect and support for Veterans was apparent. Town Clerk Vincent Puleo also spoke acknowedging our Veterans and giving thanks for their efforts to keep Americans safe.

The brief ceremony ended one-half hour after it started but John Feal’s message, that we are all Americans who can benefit by listening to each other and by speaking respectfully to each other, seemed to make the light from the candles a little brighter. 

 

Tuesday
Nov072017

November 7 Election Results

Election Results: Unofficial

Town Supervisor

William G Holst  - 10,047

***Edward R Wehrheim - 16,268

Kristen Slevin - 2,250

Write-In - 79

Town Clerk

Justin W Smiloff 9,933

***Vincent A Puleo 16,125

Conrad A Chayes Sr 1,643

Write-In 8

Superintendent of Highways

***Robert J Murphy 23,024

Write-In 86

Town Council - Two Positions

Amy L Fortunato 9,755

Patricia Stoddard 9,101

***Thomas J McCarthy 12,429

***Lynne C Nowick 13,532

Robert P Doyle 5,424

Thomas Lohmann 5,086

Write-In 18

Suffolk County Legislature

12th Legislative District

Kevin L Hyms 5,886

***Leslie A Kennedy 12,188

Write-In

13th Legislative District

Colleen T Maher 6,601

***Robert Trotta 13,808

Write-In 10

District Attorney

***Timothy D Sini 180,421

Raymond G Perini 106,228

Christopher Garvey 4,283

Write-In 100

Suffolk County Sherrif

***Errol D Toulon Jr 141,006

Lawrence M Zacarese 139,652

Peter J Krauss 4,613

Write-In 95

Proposal Results are for Suffolk County only. These are statewide proposals.

Proposal One - Question Constitutional Convention -  Yes 40,820 - No 264, 035

Proposal Two - Amendment Allowing the complete or partial forfeiture of a public officer’s pension -

Yes 206,455  - No 91,904

Proposal Three - Amendment Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes -

Yes - 142,769 -  No 150,805

Wednesday
Nov012017

Assemblyman Fitzpatrick Is A Yes On All Three Nov. 7 Ballot Proposals

By p.biancaniello

NYS Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick’s advice to Commack Community Association members is do your research, and if you truly want to see campaign finance reform or term limits, you need to vote yes for a  NYS Constitution Convention when you vote on November 7th. 

NYS Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick speaking to members of the Commack Community Association about the proposed NYS Constitution ConventionFitzpatrick advised the audience that there has been much misleading information being presented which he blamed on unions and special interest several times he repeated the phrase “pensions will not be touched”. The Assemblyman suggested people do research and he mentioned specific sites including the League of Women Voters,  Newsday’s editorial Myths and realities of a NYS Constitution Convention, and Rockefeller institute citizens guide by Jim Malatras. For an opposing perspective he recommended Jerry Kremmer’s Patronage, Waste and Favoritism Guide.

Fitzpatrick acknowledged that his yes vote puts him in a minority as polls indicate a majority of voters plan to vote no. He was peppered with questions about how much a constitution convention would cost. The actual cost of the last convention in 1967 was $7.5million*  a 2018 convention could cost taxpayers somewhere in the range of $50 - $75 million. A price Fitzpatrick is willing to pay for the opportunity to update the NYS Constitution, bypass the (at times obstructionist) legislature and enact real changes to campaign finance, term limits and ethics. If New Yorkers approve the proposal every word in the constitution is subject to change.

There are three proposals on the November 7th ballot.

Proposal one - Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same? “The New York State Constitution requires that every 20 years the people decide if a Constitutional Convention should be held to consider amendments to the State Constitution. The purpose of this Ballot Question is to allow the voters of New York State to determine whether a Constitutional Convention will be held according to the procedure provided by the State Constitution.” League of Women Voters 

Proposal two - AN AMENDMENT Allowing the Complete or Partial Forfeiture of a Public Officer’s Pension if He or She is Convicted of a Certain Type of Felony. “The proposed amendment to section 7 of Article 2 of the State Constitution would allow a court to reduce or revoke the pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s duties.” League of Women Voters

Proposal three - An Amendment Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes. “The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation.” League of Women Voters

After explaining the three proposals Assemblyman Fitzpatrick encouraged everyone present to vote.**

**Edited to reflect that Assemblyman Fitzpatrick was discussing his vote and was suggesting people educate themselves not telling them how to vote. 

* The 1967 convention cost was $7.5 million the $37 million figure was the calculation by Gerald Benjamin of what the $7.5 million would be in 2015 dollars (from a media workshop given for the press on the con-con in 2015). The Rockefeller Institute document contributors are using an estimate of from $50-75 million.

Friday
Oct272017

$1 Million Investment Generates $65 Million In Fees Paid By County Residents 

Legislator Robert Trotta is angry, frustrated and determined to speak out about Suffolk County’s policy of using fees to fund the general budget, a policy he claims are hidden taxes. Trotta, joined by legislators Cilmi, Kennedy and Muratore held a press conference Wednesday, October 25th in which he ripped into the Bellone administration and Democrats in the legislature for using real estate transactions as revenue generators to fund the county’s budget.

On Tuesday, October 24 the Government Justice Center filed a lawsuit challenging the County’s practice of charging fees in excess of the cost of the service. In particular they point to a new fee (2017) being assessed by the county called the Real Estate Transaction Fee. The basis for the lawsuit according to the Government Justice Center is, “ Under state law, fees charged must not exceed the cost of the service.” 

Jason Elan speaking for the Bellone admistration stated, “This is a politically motivated lawsuit filed by Albany insiders who lack any understanding on how government costs are apportioned yet have no problem saddling taxpayers with the cost of fighting this completely frivolous complaint.”

Suffolk County Clerk Judith Pascal, speaking at the press conference, stated that she advised the Bellone administration in a letter dated October 3, 2016 of her opposition to the new fee. Pascal’s letter gives a historical analysis of a Mortgage Satisfaction Filing which is due when paying off a mortgage “was $80.50 in 2010 and has since increased to $255.50. Should this “Mortgage Fee” increase be approved, filing an identical document in 2017 would cost Suffolk residents $575.50.” The legislature approved the fee and the program is set to generate $65,000,000 for a program that costs $1,000,000 to run.

The problem according to Trotta  is that “Steve Bellone and the Democratic majority have hid behind raising taxes so they can spend like drunken sailors.”

Those at the podium concurred that the county has a spending problem. Leslie Kennedy suggested that there is a difference between wants and needs and emphasized that the county get back to focusing on the issues of “health, safety and infrastructure.” 

Cilmi, said the poster boards surrounding the speakers did not include all fees and named impact assessment fees, parks and recreation fees and cremation fees as additional fees that residents are forced to pay. ”The administration continues to be cavalier in the assessment of these fees and they have all been rubber stamped by the democratic majority in the legislature.”

“If Rob Trotta and other legislators care that deeply, they should stop complaining and simply do their jobs.  We will work with any legislator of any political party that puts forth a credible alternative to any existing county fee, but this stunt shows once again that Rob Trotta is only interested in playing politics.” said Elan.
-
Trotta responded to the Elan’s statement by saying he can point to hundreds of areas where the county is misspending taxpayer dollars he rattled off a few ” a $150,000 guardrail replacement project, hiring an architect to design a plain white addition for the property section of a police building and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Wyandanch Rising Project. 
-
Despite the harsh rhetoric Republican legislators said they would like to work with the Democratic majority to reduce spending and according to Legislator Muratore address Suffolk County’s opioid crisis.

 

 

 

Friday
Sep292017

Edward Wehrheim Smithtown's Republican Candidate For Town Supervisor

 

By Stacey Altherr

Edward Wehrheim 2017 Smithtown Republican Nominating ConventionSmithtown Councilman Edward Wehrheim knew he would run for the seat held for four decades by his former friend and political party colleague when he realized that the town was not moving forward because of infighting and side-taking.

“I spent a fair amount of time being disillusioned with the board,” he said. “No communication, work sessions with no agenda… always hit with something you weren’t privy to before. I always thought it was no way to run a government.”

So he ran a primary against his former friend Patrick Vecchio. Wehrheim was backed by the Smithtown Republican Committee, and unseated the longest serving town supervisor in Long Island history in the dramatic primary, winning by 85 votes after the absentee ballots were counted.

If he beats his Democratic opponent, attorney Bill Holst, and independent candiate Kristen Slevin, his council seat will be an appointed position, with someone else filling out his term.

Wehrheim is a lifelong Kings Park resident. A Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S Navy, he started in Smithtown as a laborer, eventually becoming director of the town’s parks, buildings and grounds department. He was tapped to fill an empty seat on the town board in 2003, and has been on that council for 14 years.

Working on a platform of getting things done for businesses and residents, he includes a source of irritation to many residents, a real revitalization of the downtowns –Kings Park, St. James, Smithtown. He got frustrated with movements forward that would be stalled for years, he said, despite sporadic talk by the board on downtown redevelopment.

“It took a few years to realize, because there were promises made, which would happen in the election cycle, and then it all went away,” Wehrheim said. 

“Look at the municipalities that border us,” he said. “Huntington, Brookhaven… Those downtowns are all thriving. They are getting grant money, putting in sewers…they are putting in a lot of planning for those walkable downtowns. I think it is particularly important to those ones who are raising children here. And I think they see it is not part of the growth.”

Wehrheim is also running on the Independence and Conservative party lines, as are his two running mates: Tom Lohmann and Robert Doyle, who were running for council seats. Both Lohmann and Doyle will stay on those minor party tickets, both lost the primary to Republican incumbents Lynn Nowick and Thomas McCarthy.

If he wins the supervisor seat, Wehrheim wants to work to repair relationships between the council members, and improve transparency, especially the way meetings are held. Often, he said, the lines were blurred in what was discussed in executive session that should be held in a public forum. A case in point was a discussion held in executive session recently by the comptroller, he said, on capital project money.

“I said, ‘You can’t discuss that now,’ and it stopped,” Wehrheim said. He also vows that all council members will be privy to the same information and discussions.

Pointing to an expensive brush and leaf collection program that failed, and that he was never told about, despite his experience in that area, he knows what is like to not be privy to important conversations. The candidate vows to include all council members in the decision-making process.

“I was being left out of major decisions, in my estimation, and it was getting worse and worse, he said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I need to step up and change that, because it’s wrong.’” 

“You are elected by the people. You have the right to know everything going on.”

 

Stacey Altherr is a former Newsday reporter now living in Sarsasota, Florida. Her beats included Smithtown, where she covered governmental affairs.  She now runs a café in Longboat Key near her home and writes freelance. Altherr has won many awards, including a 2010 Society of Silurian Award for community service journalism for a multi-part series, “Heroin Hits Main Street,” and a third-place National Headliner Award for public service for a multi-part year-long investigation on spending at fire districts on Long Island.