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Editorial / Op Ed

 

 

 


Friday
May082015

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.

Pat

*(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.”) 

 

Sunday
Apr122015

Editorial - SC Republican Misleader Comes To Smithtown

Suffolk County Republican MISLEADER John J. LaValle comes to Smithtown -

On April 8, 2015 Councilman Ed Wehrheim held a fundraiser at the Watermill Caterers* in Smithtown. Mr. Wehrheim’s friends, family and allies attended showing their support for Councilman Wehrheim as he readies himself for his 2015 campaign for Town Councilman.  Kudos to Mr. Wehrheim.  The kumbaya moment included support for Councilman Creighton and Deanna Varricchio (Receiver of Taxes).  

Enter into the picture John J. LaValle, Chairman of the Suffolk County Republican Committee, AKA the Republican MISLEADER. LaValle came to the fundraiser in his official capacity as the benevolent leader of Suffolk County Republicans showing support for his buds Wehrheim & Creighton. 

Mr. LaValle earned his MISLEADER title due to the blatently erroneous emails he sent to County Republicans in the 2013 Primary. In the emails LaValle misrepresented who Smithtown’s Republicans designated as candidates in the Smithtown Republican Convention. In his email the MISLEADER replaced designated party candidate Patrick R. Vecchio with Councilman Robert Creighton and left off party designee Thomas McCarthy, mentioning only Kevin Malloy despite both being party designees. 

Smithtown Republicans didn’t buy into the LaValle email. They voted for Vecchio, McCarthy and Nowick who ousted party designee Malloy. Republicans voted against their party’s designee for legislator.

The result in 2013 was Team Vecchio won and Team LaValle lost. 

Message to Councilman Wehrheim, people have short memories when it comes to accomplishments but long memories when it comes to deceiving them. 

Editorial - John J. LaValle - Party Leader OR Party Cheater?

WRONG! Sloppy Or Deliberate? SC Republican Chair LaValle Sends Email Blast With Wrong Information 

Pat

*Wording was changed to reflect the name Watermill Caterers not Watermill Restaurant as originally posted.

Friday
Mar272015

Editorial - Special (Boring) Election On Tuesday, March 31

On Tuesday, March 31, 2015 a small group of voters in the 12th Legislative District will go to the polls. They will decide who will fill John Kennedy’s vacant seat.  Those who go to the polls or send in an absentee ballot will have a choice between two women, Leslie Kennedy and Deborah Monaco.  Neither one of them has ever held an elected position. Both women are political beings, Deborah a long time employee of the Suffolk County Board of Elections and Leslie, legislative aide to and wife of the district’s former Legislator, John Kennedy. John Kennedy gave up his legislative seat after being  elected to the position of Suffolk County Comptroller in November. 

Only one woman, Leslie, has been campaigning for the position. Deborah did not actively seek the nomination nor the legislative position.  Deborah Monaco is a long shot, political people will tell you she has little or no chance to win. Leslie Kennedy is the huge favorite to win the election and to fill the seat on the legislature that her husband vacated. 

It is not unusual for a person to seek a seat vacated by their spouse. It happens more often than you think, although usually when a spouse is deceased. In the U.S. Congress seats filled by spouses have been called  “widow’s seats”.  

Through gerrymandering the 12th LD is predominantly a Republican District. It would be very hard for a Democrat to win in the 12th LD and so it is no surprise that Deborah has not been actively campaigning for the almost $100,000 + benefits position. There is also no surprise that Leslie would want the position that comes with a great salary and benefits, a constituency that she is already familiar with having served as her husband’s legislative aide, she has name recognition and there is a large Republican voter registration. Seems like a slam dunk for Leslie.

What is troubling, is that without discussion, without debates, without campaign literature, without knowing what the candidates priorities are voters will go to the polls and pull a lever.  I would have liked to have heard a discussion about the economic challenges the County is experiencing. There should have been a discussion about the candidates position on the the police contracts, pension costs that we have encumbered our children and grandchildren with. I would like to have heard a discussion about mental health programs that could have a positive effect in reducing our incarceration rates.  What about violence against women, children, parents. We didn’t hear any of this and it is to the detriment of the voters that we did not have discussion.

Kudos to the woman who is elected to fill John Kennedy’s remaining term. November will bring about another election for a full two-year term and you will be able to run as the incumbent. I sincerely hope you will be prepared to tell the voters how you are going to address the many challenges facing Suffolk County. 

Residents deserve better than this boring non-issue election. Expect more of the same in November unless voters speak up and demand issue based elections.

Vote on Tuesday, March 31. The polls will open at 6am and remain open until 9pm. 

Pat

Tuesday
Feb032015

Editorial - Reform In Albany? Not Today Say Assembly Democrats

Reform in Albany?  Not today.

It’s a disgrace. Given the opportunity to alter the rancid atmosphere in Albany,  Democrats have spoken loud and clear. The message for voters is “NOT TODAY”. Behind closed doors the Democrats decided to unanimously elect Carl Heastie to fill the Assembly speaker position.  

It is worth noting that instead of patting themselves on the back for selecting a reformer, the best Democrats can do is congratulate themselves for installing the first black speaker in NYS history. Carl Heastie is about to become one of the most powerful men in NYS government. The third man in the three-men in a room scenario. 

So who is Carl Heastie? He is a man without any substantial legislative initiatives and without a record of supporting just about anything. We know that he received $23,441 in per diems for travel to Albany during the 65 or so days the Legislature was in session last year.  We know he was investigated for his use of campaign funds and that there were no charges brought against him. We know he never signed on to Assemblyman David Buchwald’s legislation to revoke the pensions of elected officials who are convicted of committing a felony involving breach of public trust. He has not advocated for reform of the legislature. And we know that whatever else Mr.Heastie may or may not be, he comes from one of the five boroughs of NYC; a very important factor in his canonization. 

The Democrats missed the opportunity to elect the first black speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Heastie, in a process that was transparent and competitive. Mr. Heastie may or may not be a sound and effective leader, he deserves the opportunity to be judged on his record. But, as he begins his reign as speaker instead of hope and excitement for the new speaker, the public is left with a feeling of disdain for a process that is at best enigmatic.

The stench of the Tammany Hall-like corruption permeates throughout Albany. How much better would it have been for Assembly Democrats to embrace reform and governance that serves in the public’s interest?

Congratulations Mr. Heastie. Here’s hoping that you prove to be the best Speaker the Assembly ever had. It is unfortunate that the Democrats didn’t give you the opportunity to come out of the gate having succeeded in an open contest.

Reform in Albany? Not today!, say Assembly Democrats.

Pat

Sunday
Nov022014

Editorial - Suffolk County Ballot Proposals

There are two Suffolk County Proposals on Tuesday’s Ballot - Ballot Proposal #4 (Suffolk County Proposal #1) and Ballot Proposal #5 (Suffolk County Proposal #2)

Ballot Proposal #4 - Suffolk County Proposal Number One - A Charter Law to Consolidate Financial Management Functions in The County Department of Audit and Control. Enactment of this proposed Charter Law would abolish the office of the Suffolk County Treasurer.  The Department of Finance and Taxation, which is currently headed by the Treasurer, would also be eliminated. The message from the County Executive is that the consolidation of these two departments would lead to savings of more than $800,000. There are 62 counties in New York State and Suffolk County is the only one that has two separate departments headed by elected officials.  Those opposing this consolidation claim that the savings from consolidation would be much less and losing an elected position diminishes the publics right to have a say in county government. 

Smithtown Matters Urges a YES to Ballot Proposal #4.

 

Ballot Proposal #5 - Suffolk County Proposal Number 2 - A Charter Law Amending the 1/4% Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program (DWPP) for Enhanced Water Quality Protection, Wastewater Infrastructure and General Property Fund Tax Relief for Suffolk County….Resolution No. 579-2014 is a Charter Law that extends the sunset period found in Local Law No. 44-2011 from 2013 to 2017 to allow the use of excess Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund balance for deposits to reserve funds for the payment of County bonds or retirement contributions to provide general property tax relief; mandates, commencing in County Fiscal Year 2018 and continuing   through Fiscal Year 2029, the restoration of funds allocated from the Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017;(LWV)

Diverting money from our Drinking Water Protection Program is unacceptable. Paying that money back by bonding is making taxpayers pay twice without getting the service they paid for in the first place.  Additionally, we shouldn’t burden our children and grandchildren with debt due to retirement costs payable in 2014-2017.  

Smithtown Matters encourages voters to vote NO on ballot proposal #5

Pat

Saturday
Nov012014

Editorial - Smithtown Matters On NYS Ballot Proposals

Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 4 is fast approaching. In this day and age voters have access to a lot of information so vote wisely on the ballot proposals which will be found on the back of your ballot.  

LWV info on 2014 Ballot Proposals

There are five ballot proposals. Three New York State Proposals and two Suffolk County Proposals. 

SMITHTOWNMATTERS’ EDITORIAL POSITION ON NYS BALLOT PROPOSALS -

NYS Ballot Proposal #1 is about the drawing the state’s electoral map.  This is being touted as a step forward to the political gerrymandering that currently takes place.  State residents were promised an independent commission.  “Under the proposed amendment to the State Constitution, the commission will consist of ten non-legislative members: eight members who are appointed by the four legislative leaders and two members appointed by the original eight, who cannot have been enrolled in either of the two major parties in the preceding five years. The amendment would prohibit certain individuals from serving on the commission, including: any person who has served in the New York state legislature in the last three years, statewide elected officials, members of Congress, spouses of these groups, legislators’ staff, lobbyists, state officers or employees and party chairs.” (LWV)

The new plan is supported by many who think that a small step in the right direction is enough.   It is not.

SMITHTOWN MATTERS URGES A NO VOTE ON NYS PROPOSAL #1

NYS Ballot Proposal # 2 is a no brainer. A yes vote will allow for our NYS elected officials to receive bills electronically. This is a faster and more environmental way of handling the 1,000 plus pieces of legislation that routinely cross an officials desk. A digital bill may be read on line or printed according to the legislator’s preference.

SMITHTOWN MATTERS SUPPORTS NYS PROPOSAL #2

NYS Ballot Proposal #3 - The NYS Bonds for School Technology Act - A yes vote would allow NYS to borrow up to $2 billion for Pre K classrooms and to modernize classroom technology.  There is very little support for this proposal outside of NYC.  The technology will be outdated well before the bonds are paid off. Borrowing $2 billion puts the state close to it borrowing limit.

SMITHTOWN MATTERS URGES A NO VOTE ON NYS PROPOSAL #3

Pat

Monday
Oct272014

OP-ED Legislator Trotta Urges Voters To Say NO To County Proposition # 5

Everyone loves open space and wants to protect our drinking water, but Proposition #5, which is on the ballot on Election Day, is much more about cash flow than it is about water quality.  While no one cares more than me about protecting our drinking water and preserving open space, in looking at the details of this Proposition, which, you pay me to do; I can tell you that the voters are being misled. You are not being given the whole story -

This Proposition would permit the county to potentially raid more than $100 million dollars from the Sewer Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund over the next several years in order to pay the county’s bills. This while borrowing $30 million for other environmental programs, including sewer expansion. Why would we borrow for sewer expansion while spending the money that is already available in the fund on other things?   This is simply a way to balance the budget this year while pushing off paying our bills to our children and grandchildren!

Why are taxpayers “paying back” money to the open space program when no money was taken out of it?  The surplus sewer money should be used for installing sewers in our downtowns, which would stimulate economic development, create employment, and have a far greater impact on protecting our drinking water than buying open space (likely on the east end). Not to mention, open space is taken off the tax rolls!

Not surprisingly, there is no plan in place to repay the $100 plus million dollars that will be raided from the Reserve Fund, therefore, the county will likely have to borrow once again, creating even more debt to burden future generations.

Does this really give the voters a choice? A separate resolution, IR-1746, has been introduced in the Legislature, which creates an agreement between the county and the environmental community that would make the proposed amendments to the Drinking Water Protection Program whether the voters approve Proposition #5 or not.  So clearly they are not serious about giving voters a choice.    

If the County Executive says his number one concern is our drinking water, why is he taking money that could be used to expand sewers and protect our drinking water and using it to pay the county’s bills? The environment and the quality of our drinking water should not be used as bargaining chips and funds established to protect taxpayers and our environment should not be turned into ATM’s.  I recommend that you vote NO on Proposition #5.

Robert Trotta

Suffolk County Legislator, 13th District

Wednesday
Sep172014

Editorial - McCarthy Vote An Ethics Board Issue

When elected officials appear to be acting inappropriately or unethically it is a citizens responsibility to try to seek a remedy. At the September 9, 2014 town board meeting Councilman/Deputy Supervisor Thomas McCarthy voted on a salary increase for the position of deputy supervisor. The very position he holds. The resolution, item 4.O,  authorized an increase and set the salary for deputy supervisor at $35,000 per annum. The resolution was approved in a three-two vote with Councilmen Creighton and Wehrheim voting NO and Councilwoman Nowick, Supervisor Vecchio and Councilman/Deputy Supervisor McCarthy voting YES.  

As it was a week ago it remains my opinion that Mr. McCarthy, as the sole beneficiary of the resolution, had an ethical and professional responsibility to abstain from voting. Over the past week I have sought professional opinions from a broad spectrum of knowledgeable people. It is my informed opinion that Mr. McCarthy violated Smithtown’s ethics code.  For this reason I have submitted a letter to the Town’s ethics board requesting that they investigate this matter.

Pat

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