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Smithtown Animal Shelter

Zane – 2 year old puggle mix male/neutered. Looking for big personality in a small package? Zane may be the dog for you, he would prefer a home with older children and no other pets.

The Smithtown Animal Shelter has many kittens for adoption, the little ones are handled and socialized by our volunteer staff they are friendly have their initial shots and de-worming.










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April at Sunken Meadow





Decline in smoking means decline in state revenue

By Ali Eaves,

Special to Stateline [Tuesday, July 20, 2010]

Americans are smoking less and less. That’s good news for public health, but it creates an ironically nasty side effect for many state budgets. They have grown dependent on an annual stream of money from tobacco companies, and that money is itself dependent on the number of people who consume cigarettes.

The payments to states come each year as dictated by the Master Settlement Agreement, a 1998 settlement between 46 states and most of the big tobacco companies, in exchange for states’ promises not to sue the cigarette manufacturers over health claims. States have received $73 billion to date from participating tobacco companies. The payments are calculated each year by a formula that partly relies on the smoking rates in each state. Predicting the payments is never an exact science, but this year’s unwelcome 16 percent drop in funds is thought by many experts as the beginning of a long-term downward trend. 

Smoking rates have been steadily declining since the 1980s, to the point where only 20.6 percent of adult Americans indulge, according to the most recent data. The average decline in federally-taxed sales during the past decade is around 3 percent per year, according to numbers from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau — but a string of tax increases in 2009 was enough of a disincentive to move that number to more than 8 percent.

Raising taxes on tobacco products has long been a favorite revenue strategy for cash-strapped states, and last year nine states increased their cigarette taxes. The federal tax increase of 62 cents, however, probably had the most to do with the big drop in nationwide smoking rates. Standard & Poor’s predicts that the decline in consumption over the next few years will be around 4 or 5 percent per year, and if that’s correct, the settlement payments will continue to fall.

Money withheld

A second factor that has been driving payments downward is the claim of the major tobacco companies that they have unfairly lost business to other companies — smaller tobacco producers that did not take part in the settlement — as a result of the deal. If this is the case, under the settlement, participating tobacco companies are allowed to scale back their payments. But states can still claim full payments if they can prove that they have enforced laws to make non-participating companies pay their share to the states, too.

According to Eric Lindblom of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, each state has gone beyond what is required by the settlement to enforce and strengthen those laws. Regardless, most of the participating companies have been withholding a portion of their payments — as much as 18 percent — since 2006, banking on a ruling that at least some states haven’t properly enforced these laws dealing with non-participants in the deal.

Since 2006, this disagreement has put payments worth a total of $6.3 billion into question. Binding arbitration has begun just this month among 45 states and two dozen participating cigarette companies to determine whether the 2006 payment should be subject to the $1.1 billion reduction that tobacco companies say they have a right to. The following years' payments will be settled separately, but the decision in the current case will set an important precedent for those adjustments because it will finally define adequate enforcement. The timeline is uncertain, but the dispute is not expected to be resolved before next year’s payment on April 15, 2011.

If the states win, the tobacco companies will have to pay back the withheld amount with interest. The flip side is quite severe. Any states that lose will have to reimburse the tobacco companies for the entire national adjustment for that year. According to the National Association of Attorneys General, in the worst-case scenario, a losing state could end up paying back its entire settlement payment for one year — in many cases, that means hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead of paying the tobacco companies directly, the payback would most likely come in the form of deductions from future settlement payments.

Potential impact on programs

States can use their settlement payments for a variety of purposes, but many earmark it for special programs that depend entirely on the tobacco payments for funding. This is the case for the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, which provides grants for farm diversification and helps shift the state’s economy away from a dependence on tobacco. Recently, Governor Steve Beshear promised that the fund would be protected if the tobacco payments fell below the state’s projections, but that may not help much. This year, the state forecasted a reduction in tobacco payments of 11 percent. The actual payment was down 17 percent, so Beshear’s promise helped save some of the funding, but the program still had to suffer the 11 percent cut. The numbers are even grimmer in the future: If predictions are correct, between now and 2012, the fund’s budget will go from $6 million to $1.5 million. 

“Moving forward is the question,” says Joel Neaville, of the Kentucky Agriculture Development Board. “Are we going to be able to do what the program is supposed to do with reduced revenue and uncertainty in the future?” 

North Carolina’s Health and Wellness Trust Fund, which funds smoking cessation, obesity prevention and other health programs, also receives all its funding from the tobacco settlement payments. It’s supposed to receive one quarter of the payment each year, but the General Assembly often diverts money for other projects and to close budget gaps. On top of that, after a 16.5 percent reduction in the tobacco payment this year, the fund is expecting some cuts and will probably scale back on some benefits and freeze new programs in the works. 

—Contact Ali Eaves at aeaves-temp@pewtrusts.org

The above article written by Ali Eaves is a reprint of Tuesday, July 20, 2010 Stateline.org


Chase bank in West Babylon Robbed by Man With Simulated Bomb

Just days after a Chase bank in Setauket was robbed by someone wearing a Darth Vader costume Suffolk County Police are investigating a robbery that took place today at a Chase bank in West Babylon. This time the bank robber had a simulated bomb strapped to his back.  The Police are asking the public to contact Crime Stoppers with any information regarding these robberies.   

Suffolk County Police Major Case detectives are investigating the robbery of a Chase bank branch in West Babylon by a man who had a simulated bomb strapped to his body.

A man entered the bank, located at 733 Sunrise Highway, at 9:40 a.m. today and showed the branch manager what appeared to be an explosive device strapped to his body and demanded cash. The man was given cash and he fled through the back door of the bank and was last seen on foot headed east toward Hubbards Path.

The man discarded the device behind the shopping center where the bank is located and it was discovered by a Suffolk County police officer. Officers from the Emergency Service Section responded and determined the device was a simulated bomb.

 The man was described as white, between 50 and 60 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall with a thin to medium build. He was clean-shaven with short, graying hair. He was wearing a pinstriped suit jacket, which was recovered at the scene.

 Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.



Suffolk County Legislature Supports NYS 911 Good Samaritan Bills


(Smithtown, NY) All 18 Suffolk County legislators have signed a letter addressed to Governor Paterson and the Long Island delegation asking for their support in passing legislation (S-5191A/A-8147A) and signing it into law, which would provide a limited exemption from prosecution for individuals calling for medical assistance in response to a drug or alcohol overdose. The letter states, “While we in the Suffolk County Legislature certainly recognize the importance of enforcing state and local laws, we believe that additional consideration must be given when it comes to preventing needless deaths.” This effort was spearheaded by Legislator Lynne C. Nowick who read a letter from the parents of the late Natalie Ciappa who believe their daughter would be alive today if someone had called 911 instead of cleaning the room. In addition, representatives from about 30 organizations attended the press conference to lend their support. According to Legislator Nowick, “A 911 Good Samaritan Law has been enacted in Texas, Colorado and New Jersey and we need one in New York to save a life.”


Caption: Pictured at the press conference are Suffolk County Legislator Lynne C. Nowick (center) and from left, Legislators Vivian Viloria-Fisher, Thomas Cilmi and DuWayne Gregory.


Bishop Introduces Long Island Sound Improvement Act

Port Jefferson— Congressman Tim Bishop was joined by local officials and Citizens Campaign for the Environment to announce new bipartisan legislation to protect and restore Long Island Sound.  Bishop went to Port Jefferson Harbor to announce the Long Island Sound Improvement Act, which he is introducing with Congressman Peter King.  The legislation will improve and restore water quality in Long Island Sound by providing new funding and provides regulatory tools for states and municipalities to protect waters throughout the Sound’s watershed. 


“This bipartisan legislation will allow us to take the next steps in the effort to protect the Long Island Sound,” Congressman Bishop said.  “Long Islanders know there is an important connection between the health of our environment and the health of our economy.  This legislation allows us to protect both.”


The legislation authorization continued appropriations of $40 million for the Sound as well as new funding—$125 million in the first year, and $250 million per year thereafter – for wastewater infrastructure repair, construction, and upgrades, including stormwater systems, and green infrastructure technology and approaches.


“This is a great day for our community and a great day for the Long Island Sound,” Assemblyman Steve Englebright said. “One of the reasons people want to live on Long Island is to have access to this resource.”


Over the past two months, Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) has collected over 16,000 handwritten letters, which have been sent by members in New York and Connecticut to their federal elected officials in support of this legislation.


“We applaud Congressman Bishop’s leadership to protect the Long Island Sound,” Maureen Dolan-Murphy, Executive Programs Manager at CCE said.  “Last year, dolphins returned to the Sound.  This shows things are working and this legislation will allow us to do even more.”


The legislation also extends the footprint of the Long Island Sound program through the whole watershed that drains into Long Island Sound. This includes elements of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. It also seeks to improve accountability by requiring evaluations of the Long Island Sound program every two years to determine whether activities are meeting goals set out in the management plan.


“This is a cost we need to mitigate,” Suffolk County Legislature Deputy Presiding Officer Vivian Viloria-Fisher said.  “We need to lower nitrogen into the Sound, but without the help of the federal government, it becomes an unfunded mandate on our community.”


“I congratulate Tim Bishop and Peter King for fighting to restore this funding,” Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine, whose district spans the further along the Sound of any legislator, said.  “It is critical to our community that we keep the Sound clean and never allow it to become a dump again.  We need the ability to implement systems to make sure we’re catching runoff before it enters the Sound.”


The legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency to develop new regulations for regional stormwater general permits. Under this authority, communities have the option of coordinating their stormwater management activities under a regional stormwater general permit. This practice has been demonstrated to reduce the overall cost and increase the effectiveness of stormwater controls. The legislation would provide a more attractive federal cost-share to entities that voluntarily join regional permits.


“Congressman Bishop has been a leader for the Long Island Sound, whether it’s fighting Broadwater or fighting nitrogen loading,” Brookhaven Town Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld said.  




So, the Congress and administration has given up on an energy bill.  Who are these *&#@s who are willing, each time they fill up their cars with gas, to fund some of the most regressive tyrants in the world with hard earned US dollars which seem to leach into terrorist funding as well?


Where is forceful, principled leadership from Obama to motivate Americans to undertake a Marshall Plan to wean us from fossil fuel, to thumb our noses at those Middle Eastern thugs who enrich themselves at our expense?  Where is his rhetorical skill and his persuasive power to energize the public to insist of their elected officials that now is the time to act?


We are funding our own executioners.


Also, please read Paul Krugman  who offers Democrats a short simple mantra to counter the GOP rewrite of tax and economic history .


And Shirley Sherrod...


Woe is we.  Saturday Night Live skits gone very wrong.