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Editorial / Op Ed





Editorial - Beautification Is In The Eyes Of The Beholder

Intersection of Rte. 111 and Rte. 347

(click on photo to enlarge)

Take a good look at the photo alongside this editorial. Is this the future of your street, a friend’s street or all of Smithtown? That’s a question one would hope Smithtown Republicans ask themselves as they go to the polls Thursday, September 10. Three Republican candidates Edward Wehrheim, Robert Creighton and Lisa Inzerillo are in a contentious battle for two seats on the town council.  Wehrheim and Creighton, incumbents, are being challenged by first time candidate Lisa Inzerillo.

A lot of mud has been slung in this campaign. Rhetoric intended to demonize and vilify the opposition has been the focus of this primary to the detriment of issues like planning, roads, parks, infrastructure. Very little has been heard about protecting the environment or how to address the challenging traffic problems we face. Even less has been said about how Smithtown will move forward to protect its drinking water and to accept and implement its master plan for land use, or perhaps to reject it.

The concept of being pro-business is too often a euphemism for change the code, grant zone changes, waivers and remove covenants. A business is good and residents will adjust mindset. It is unquestionable that Smithtown needs a strong commercial/business presence for our tax base, convenience and to support our quality of life. In order for a community to thrive residents and business need to coexist. But, we must not negotiate our quality of life, our safety or our sense of community.  

There is a direct correlation between who is elected to the Town Board and how the future of Smithtown will play out. We haven’t heard much about the agendas of those running for office. There haven’t been any debates. The primary is being fought in the mail. Those Republicans lucky enough to receive the mailings know that Wehrheim and Creighton are a team and Inzerillo has Supervisor Vecchio’s support. 

Look at the photo again. It is one example of how differently people viewing the same photo can see things. There are many people who look at the photo and say, so it was a vacant abandoned property that has been improved. It is better than what was there before.

There are others who will look at the photo and say,  why did we allow a gas station to be constructed across the street from another service station? How safe is it for the people pulling out onto 347 without the benefit of an acceleration lane? And how many price signs do they need? Haven’t we gotten beyond using American Flags as a marketing tool?  

Republicans need to ask themselves what they want for Smithtown. Everyone wants tax relief but we know that degrading our codes is not the answer.  Planning and a commitment to Smithtown today and tomorrow is the only way we will leave a healthy footprint for our children and our grandchildren.

Republicans must ask questions, demand answers and then they need to vote.



Editorial - The Intersection On Harned Rd And 25 Is Dangerous And Needs To Be Addressed

Intersection at 25/Harned/Indian Head/ Sunken Meadow ParkwayWhen I was on the Smithtown Town Board I was in a position to vote on a site plan that would allow a full service station with convenience store to be built on the corner of Harned Road and Rte. 25 in Commack.  Adjacent to the site is a complicated exit for Sunken Meadow Parkway. The public hearings for the proposal were contentious. Town Board was split with Councilman McCarthy and Councilman Crieghton supporting the proposal and Supervisor Vecchio, Councilman Wherheim and myself opposed.

The site was blighted and its remediation would be a huge improvement to the appearance of the corner. Many waivers had to be granted to accommodate the proposal. The problem for me was that it was a busy and often dangerous intersection. The proposed plan would certainly improve the site but how would it impact on this hazardous intersection?

I remember driving through the intersection one evening in December when there were Christmas trees being sold at the site. Immediately in front of me two cars collided as one tried to gain access to the tree lot (former gas station) by making a left turn from Harned into the lot as a second car was heading north on Harned. It wasn’t the most serious crash, but it was enough to reinforce my belief that the intersection was dangerous and to secure a no vote from me. 

The proposal was approved after I left the board by Councilmen McCarthy, Creighton and Councilman Malloy.

Since the development of the site I have witnessed an additional motor vehicle crash at the intersection.

On Friday, August 14th at approximately 11:40 am, I was heading south on Indian Head Road and was at the light in the lane heading straight onto Harned Rd.  I was the second vehicle behind an SUV (I drive a sedan) we were stopped for a red light. The Light turned green, the SUV moved and I followed. The SUV stopped and I stopped, the car behind me did not move into the intersection. Why were we stopped I wondered sitting half in the intersection. 

The jam up that left me out in the intersection after the light changed was a huge tractor trailer trying to make a left turn into the station as traffic heading north on Harned Rd. was backed-up. With no access to the lot, the tractor trailer driver was forced to wait and I was forced to sit in the intersection. The light changed and I was still hanging out half in and half out of the intersection.

Early Sunday morning view of intersectionWas there an accident? No, but it was incredibly stressful. Since I don’t travel that intersection very often I think experiencing three incidents like I have is indicative of a problem. While no one would suggest taking down the gas station, a no left turn sign (into the service station) on Harned and enforcement is warranted. 

Prohibiting vehicles heading south on Harned Road from making a left turn into the station would provide a safer roadway. People  in the area report that there have been numerous accidents although no fatalities. 

Before a fatality occurs Councilmen McCarthy and Crieghton need to find a way to make the intersection safe. If not the two councilmen who supported the gas station project than someone else on the Town Board needs to get the ball rolling with the County to make the intersection safe now before something serious happens.  



Editorial - That Was Some Storm!

What was that? That’s what many Smithtown residents were saying after a storm passed through the Town during the early morning on Tuesday. Instead of alarm clocks, we were awakened by thunder, rain, wind and hail the size of golf balls. The lightning was almost non-stop. When it ended most people were stunned by the amount of damage the storm brought.

While some areas of the Town were spared, Smithtown, Kings Park and St. James were hit hard. 25A was closed for at least eight hours as tree limbs and wires were cleared from the road. The Landing Golf Course had a huge tree upended and many more down. Tree limbs and debris could be seen scattered all over the course.

Thousands of Smithtown residents lost power. At one point there were over five thousand homes without power. As of this posting there are 289 without power. The LIRR canceled service from Pt. Jeff out east due to downed trees and wires on the tracks.

On my street a huge tree limb crushed the roof of a home. Fortunately, no one was injured. Wires were hanging and touching the roadway. Kings Park resident, Maureen Ledden Rossi reported that there were police officers with bullhorns announcing to residents the importance of staying away from downed wires.

Traffic lights were out, there was no power to many town buildings, or phone service at town buildings. 

The storm was powerful.

But, the real show began after the storm with the cleanup.  Town Departments performed professionally and with purpose.  Public Safety, Parks, and Highway were the heroes of the storm. Emergency preparedness is not something that happens during an event, it is the result of an ongoing search to do do things better, minimize damage, and to get everything back to normal. No doubt the departments are looking at their response to Tuesday’s storm and leaving no stone (or tree limb) unturned to see if there are changes warranted.

What was that Tuesday morning? That was a storm that Smithtown wasn’t expecting, but was prepared for. Congratulations Smithtown.


Storm photos


Editorial - Why?

Ask war veterans what war is like and they will tell you how horrible it is. Death, losing limbs, PTSD, family break ups are real costs of war. Yet we send Americans off to war without a declaration of war. Huge profits are made by private companies and yet we do not question the connection between America’s never-ending military actions and the companies who profit from the military actions. Why?

Indisputable FACTS show that profiteering at private colleges is an impediment to the future of students financial security.  Many for-profit institutions are subsidized by tax dollars. There are indications that institutions target veterans and impoverished people who will likely be subsidized by the federal government increasing their bottom line. Too often students are paying dearly for worthless degrees and certificates. Too often students take out loans that they can never repay. Many drop out of school and are indebted with no degree and no job. The Obama administration has worked out regulations that will hold these schools accountable. Some elected officials are trying to circumvent the regulations. Why?

In addition to salaries taxpayers are indebted to pay for the health care costs and pension costs for the life-time of government employees. Our young people are being brought to their knees by the financial decisions made by elected officials.  In the 90’s Suffolk County Legislators voted automatic pay increases for legislators. The result of this legislation is Suffolk County Legislators in 2015 receive almost $100,000 in salary plus health benefits and pensions. Nassau County legislators do not have the same deal they earn under $40,000 a year in salary. Why?

Corruption and indictments in Albany are more than a disgrace, the bad behavior is an embarrassment that cost taxpayers real money. Ethics reform was a hot topic in Albany a few weeks ago, but not so much now that the legislative session has ended. New York residents have seen both Senate Majority Leader Skelos and in the Assembly, Speaker Silver charged with very serious crimes. Too many electeds have betrayed the public’s trust. NBC timeline of corrupt NYS officials. One of the simplest ways to send a message that corruption by elected officials is unacceptable is for the public to demand that NYS Law is changed to ensure that elected officials who are found guilty of committing a felony forfeit their pensions. This has been discussed in Albany it is an idea that should be supported by everyone. Elected officials have not moved forward on changing the law yet. WHY?

In October/November before election 2016 Albany will be sending out checks to homeowners. WHY?

Isn’t it time to change the dialogue from why? to this is why we are voting for your opponent.



Editorial - Before NYS Evaluates Others It Needs To Clean Up Its Own House

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Luke 6:41 King James Bible

Things keep getting worse in Albany. It seems a tad ironic that State officials, salivating over teacher evaluations, have neglected to do a self-check on New York State Government’s  (hold your nose) esteemed public servants. Watch and listen to our politicians as they once again beat their chest, gnash their teeth and bemoan betrayal by their colleagues. Some electeds are offering angelic interpretations of the law citing “innocent till proven guilty” as a reason for not calling for the banishment or at least shunning of Skelos and Silver.

Elected officials who betray the public trust and cast their putrid aura over New York State Government are abusers. Their deplorable actions certainly don’t warrant their colleagues acting as cheerleaders, offering encouragement with statements saying “he has my full support” or signing a letter of support. If you so desire, commiserate in private with those arrested, charged or soon to be indicted. But remember your job is to be the voice of your constituents, who by-the-way are disgusted, angry, disillusioned and tired of the abuse suffered at the hands of our elected public servants.

Time and time again we hear that charges are not convictions. There are a number of scholars who believe the State Legislature has the authority to expel one of its own.* In fact Governor Pataki was said to be moving towards recommending to the Senate that it remove Comptroller Alan Hevesi before he plead guilty to a felony and was forced to leave office.  It is interesting to note that according to The New York Times  Mr. Skelos is taking a leave of absence from his lucrative legal career at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. According to the article, Skelos’s name and bio were removed from the firm’s website. Apparently, Skelos’s private employers aren’t about to wait until he is proven guilty before severing their ties. The public is not so lucky, we are stuck with him until he decides to leave. 

Skelos has been arrested, has been the subject of a five year investigation by the Department of Justice, has had significant charges levied against him; but states, I will be exonerated and will not give up my position. He is not thinking about constituents. He needs to be shown the door and those who are propping him up need to be put on notice that they will not be welcomed back when they are up for office.

Does corruption run deep in Albany? Apparently it does. Is every elected official corrupt? Of course not. But Albany needs to clean up its act before it does anything else, especially evaluate the work of others.


*(Monserrate and the Question of Pink Slips for Elected Officials -Jerry H. Goldfeder in The New York Law Journal, January 20, 2010 - “The law also permits the Governor to “remove” a public official under certain circumstances,7 or recommend to the New York Senate that an official be removed.8 New Yorkers faced the latter situation two years ago when Governor George E. Pataki considered recommending to the Senate that it remove then-Comptroller Alan Hevesi for misdeeds involving the use of his state car. (That legal and political to-do was resolved when Mr. Hevesi pled guilty to a felony.”) 


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