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A Sign of Our Times




Grand Jury Report critical of Smithtown town
nments supervision
of commercial
property demolition…

The Grand Jury Report is public record and available at the link below. It is 40 pages, but double spaced, and well worth the few minutes it takes to read it.

Please feel free to share your comments with us.

Click on link for Full Report






Sign of our Times

By Eric Sailor

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New Empire Pass No Car Decal Shareable And On Sale

The Empire Pass is your key to all-season enjoyment at New York State Parks. It provides unlimited day-use vehicle entry to most facilities operated by NY State Parks and the State Dept. of Environmental Conservation including forests, beaches, trails and more. Learn where the Empire Pass is accepted.

Purchase your Empire Pass Card for $65 (regular price $80) now through March 31st. This new wallet-sized Empire Pass Card can be shared among household members, caregivers and more. It is not assigned to a specific vehicle— no more decals!

Purchase online or at a state park near you. 


Assemblyman Fitzpatrick's Budget Statement - Senator Schumer On Toys R Us


Budget Statement from Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick 

“I am disappointed by the Assembly Democratic Majority’s proposed budget which employs some interesting and contrary approaches to wise budgeting. It is an irresponsible plan that would increase taxes on New Yorkers by $2 billion, give no purpose for, and withhold, $535 million worth of excess funds, and does little to nothing to create savings in government. We must do better in the final budget for our residents.” 

Statement from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer Toys R Us Gift Cards

On the heels of swirling reports concerning the future of retailer Toys R Us, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has announced today that he is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to step in amidst very real and serious concerns for the company’s longevity, particularly as it relates to gift cards purchased by consumers. Schumer is asking the FTC to take an immediate look into the company to ensure no laws are being violated as a rumored liquidation process ensues, and most importantly, to ensure consumers have time to get cash back for unused gift cards. Schumer also urged the FTC to publish consumer education around the difficulties surrounding gift card redemption once a retailer enters bankruptcy.  

“With the entire Toys R Us operation at risk of shutting its doors for good, I am urging the company to redeem outstanding gift cards for cash so they are not as worthless and unwanted as a lump of coal in a stocking,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.” This past holiday season, buoyed by fresh debt financing, Toys R Us gave an ‘all clear’ to consumers, selling toys and gift cards as part of normal operations. However, it appears the music is about to stop for the iconic retailer and consumers could be left in the lurch when it comes to the loss of a whole lot of money in unspent gift cards. It would be a sad toy story if those same consumers got gamed by aToys R Us closure and left holding useless gift cards that were intended to bring a smile to the face of a child. That is why it is critical for the FTC to take an immediate look at how the company is handling this unique situation and determine just how many gift cards are out there. Consumers deserve the chance to turn their Toys R Us gift cards into cash before it is too late and the FTC can help ensure any laws to help this happen are being followed in real time.”  


Congressman Zeldin Sides With Those Fighting For Gateway Tunnel Project


Rep. Zeldin Joins NY/NJ Members Urging Funding for Hudson River Gateway Tunnel Project

WASHINGTON - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) joined Representatives Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Peter T. King (NY-1) , Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), John J. Faso (NY-19), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Dan Donovan (NY-11), Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), and Claudia Tenney (NY-22) in urging Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to continue Congressional funding for the Hudson River Gateway Tunnel project amid reports he had be urged not to fund the infrastructure project. 

“The Northeast is an economic powerhouse.  It is home to 51 million people – one in seven Americans – and four of the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.  The Northeast accounts for 30 percent of all jobs in the United States, 20 percent of the Nation’s gross domestic product and contributes $3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy,” the Members wrote. “The Northeast Rail Corridor is the region’s backbone. It is the most heavily used passenger rail line in the United States serving more than 750,000 people every day on more than 2,200 intercity and commuter trains.  The Northeast Rail Corridor is a moneymaker for Amtrak and the Federal Government.  In 2016, nearly 3.5 million riders spent $593.7 million on seats on the high-speed Acela Express between Union Station in Washington and South Station in Boston.”

A PDF of the signed letter is available here.


Senator Schumer Offers His Plan For Rebuilding NY's Aging Infrastructure


Schumer’s Infrastructure Plan Will Create Jobs And Provide The Federal Funding Needed To Upgrade Upstate LI/New York’s Crumbling Water-Sewer Systems, Roads, Bridges, Energy Grids, Improve Access To High-Speed Internet And Build New Schools

Schumer: This is A Real Plan to Rebuild Our Decrepit Roads, Bridges & Water-Sewer Systems

On a call with Reporters, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced his Jobs and Infrastructure Plan that would make a historic $1 trillion federal investment to help modernize Long Island’s and New York’s crumbling infrastructure and create thousands of jobs that New York’s economy desperately needs. Schumer highlighted specific infrastructure projects in Long Island and across  New York that need upgrades including roads, bridges, large transit systems, water-and-sewer systems, and the electrical grid, as well as the creation of new projects for rural broadband, storm- and flood-mitigation and resiliency, new schools and workforce-training facilities

“There is no question Long Island needs more help from the federal government on important infrastructure projects, and this plan helps deliver the help— without crushing local Long Island taxpayers,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We need to pave the way for real infrastructure funding that revives our economy, ensures public safety and doesn’t crush local taxpayers with billions of dollars in past neglect. This new infrastructure and jobs plan does just that, providing direct federal resources and investment to fix New York’s aging sewers, transit needs, roads, schools and bridges.

Schumer added, “We have unveiled a new plan, because it is clear we need a wide-sweeping infrastructure strategy – and we need it now. The administration talked a big game on infrastructure investment, but then delivered a plan that just won’t get the job done. Well, this plan will; Our plan would create more jobs than the administration plan, build more projects, and build the infrastructure America actually needs, not just what crony donors and private investors can profit from. It is one of the most comprehensive overhaul proposals in a generation, and now I, along with my colleagues in the Senate, are challenging the administration to work with us on this broad plan that will sustain our positive economic growth, create millions of jobs, and build a modern economy.”

In New York alone, the implications of minimal investment in infrastructure over the last few decades has become increasingly apparent. Schumer pointed to an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report stating that over half of New York’s 17,000 bridges are over 75 years old, and New York’s roadways are in increasingly worse condition, costing drivers hundreds of dollars a year in extra operating costs. In fact, ASCE estimates that poor road and bridge conditions in New York cost the average family with two cars over $1,000 a year.

Furthermore, downstate transit systems require tens-of-billions just to maintain a state of good repair. In addition to roads and transit systems, New York’s water and sewer systems are also starving for federal investment. Schumer highlighted that one out of every four of New York’s wastewater facilities is operating beyond its useful life, and 30 percent of New York’s 22,000 miles of underground sewers are more than 60 years old. A report by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli put New York’s combined water and sewer needs at more than $30 billion.

A list of local projects that could benefit from the infrastructure proposal appears below:

  • Long Island
    • East Side Access
    • Sewer upgrades in Suffolk County
    • LIRR Upgrades
    • Smith Point Bridge overhaul in Suffolk
    • Continued upgrades to Nassau and Suffolk Sewer treatment plants

Specifically, the plan would be paid for responsibly through the following five measures:

-          Return The Top Individual Tax Rate Back To 39.6%

    • The Senate GOP’s lowering of the top rate to 37 percent was nothing more than a tax giveaway to the super rich, and such a provision would increase federal revenues to pay for infrastructure improvements by $139 billion over 10 years.

 -          Restoring The Individual Alternative Minimum Tax To 2017 Law

o   The AMT ensures that high-income earners cannot avoid taxes by abusing deductions and other loopholes, and returning it to 2017 law would not only ensure the top 1 percent pay their fair share, but it would also increase federal revenues by $429 billion over 10 years. 

-          Restoring The Estate And Gift Taxes

o   In their tax bill, Republicans doubled estate tax exemption levels to $11 million for individuals and a whopping $22 million for married couples, a maneuver that benefited no one other than millionaires and billionaires. Using the $83 billion in federal revenues it would bring back over 10 years could pay for massive infrastructure improvements that would benefit middle-class families.

-          Closing The Carried Interest Loophole

o   Despite campaign promises to end the carried interest loophole, President Trump and the Senate GOP let it continue, which enables Wall Street high fliers to continue disguising their income as capital gains to avoid taxes. Closing this loophole would increase federal revenues by $12 billion over 10 years. 

-          Bring The Corporate Tax Rate To 25% 

o   Raising the corporate tax rate to a competitive 25 percent would allow American businesses to stay competitive without providing a massive windfall to special interests that results in stock buybacks and CEO bonuses being prioritized over hiring new employees and increasing workers’ pay. Before the Republican tax bill, many corporations supported a 25 percent rate as a fair tax rate.  Reversing this trickle-down economic policy would bring in $359 billion that could be put toward infrastructure improvements across the country.



NYS Senate Passes School Safety Package


The New York State Senate has passed a package of critical school safety measures that would strengthen security and help keep students safe. The bills increase the ability of schools to hire qualified security personnel; create new state funding mechanisms for infrastructure investments that improve school safety; increase access to school-based mental health services; expand state actions and intelligence coordination to protect schools against attack; and strengthen penalties for crimes on school grounds.  

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “Schools must be safe havens, where students can learn and teachers can teach. In New York, we must act swiftly and decisively to implement additional measures in schools throughout our state to give students, parents, and teachers the resources and peace of mind that they deserve.”

The bills passed include:

Increasing the Ability of Schools to Hire Qualified Security Personnel:

Create a School Resource Officers Education Aid Program and Grant Availability: 
S7811A and S7810A, sponsored by Senator Pat Gallivan - These new bills define the term “school resource officer” to include a retired police officer, retired deputy sheriff, or retired state trooper, or an active duty police officer, deputy sheriff, or state trooper. School districts throughout the state except New York City would be authorized to receive state funding to hire a school resource officer (SRO) or contract with the state, a county, city, town, or village for their services. The officers would be charged with providing improved public safety and/or security on school grounds and be authorized to carry and possess firearms during the course of their duties if licensed to do so. 

Senator Gallivan said, “As a former state trooper and Erie County Sheriff, I believe strongly in the SRO program as a way to enhance safety in our schools.  In addition to providing security, these trained law enforcement officers build a relationship with the school community by working with administrators, staff, students and parents to help identify safety issues, train personnel and resolve conflicts before they become more serious. It is time to expand this program and provide resources so that every school benefits from having an SRO on-site.” 

Police Officers Guard all New York City School Entrances: 
S6798A, sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder - The bill improves upon the current placement of unarmed resource officers in New York City schools to provide necessary and potentially life-saving security for children, teachers, and administrators. A New York City police officer would be required to be present at public and private schools during instructional hours and for at least one hour before and after school is in session.
Senator Felder said, “A specially trained, armed police officer stationed at the entrance of every school provides instantaneous security. They are a deterrent to murderers seeking to kill our children.”

Peace Officer Status for School Resource Officers:
S1144A, sponsored by Senator Gallivan - The bill provides retired police officers with peace officer status when they are employed by a school district as a school resource officer.

Adjusting the Earning Limitations for School Resource Officers: 
S7791, sponsored by Senator Gallivan – This bill helps promote the availability of qualified security personnel that could be hired in schools, the bills would increase the earnings limitations for retired police officers while employed by the schools. Earnings would be increased from the current $30,000 per year limit to $50,000 per year.

Improving School Safety with Infrastructure Investments:

Security Hardware Aid Program:
S7790, sponsored by Senator Thomas Croci - The new bill would provide state education aid to school districts for acquiring safety technology and improving security of their facilities. 

Improve the Smart School Bond Act Allocation Process: 
S7846, sponsored by Senator Elaine Phillips - This new bill requires the Smart Schools Review Board to meet monthly and approve plans submitted by schools, provide updates on pending applications, and notify schools within seven days of a plan being rejected or modifications being sought. It also requires the state Department of Education, Division of Budget, and State University of New York to develop a process to notify districts of the status of their applications, respond to district status inquires within seven days, and for the Board to pay for approved projects within 30 days.

Senator Phillips said, “The State Education Department is withholding valuable financial resources, which could be used to assist schools throughout the state with enhanced safety and security efforts to protect our children. Over the last few weeks, I have reached out to school superintendents in my district, including David Flatley, President of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents, to learn first-hand what their needs are as we work to ensure New York schools remain safe locations for our children to receive the best education and opportunities possible. Access to funding for increased safety and security upgrades is one of their top priorities. Because of this, I have introduced legislation that would require the Smart School Review Board to meet monthly, notify school districts in a timely matter and provide much needed funding to districts within 30 days when approved.”

Guardians for Schools License Plate: 
S7847, sponsored by Senator James Tedisco - A new “Guardians for Schools” license plate would be created to give New Yorkers the ability to take part in a statewide effort to keep children safe from violence. The plate would raise money to help pay for school resource officers, security training, mental health counseling, security cameras and other school building modifications to improve school safety. The bill would create a dedicated fund solely for school safety, supported by the fees paid when motorists choose to purchase a Guardians for Schools license plate from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Senator Tedisco said, “Today, my Senate Majority Colleagues and I took a holistic and comprehensive approach — not a political one — to protecting our most vulnerable population in school settings by passing several public safety bills including my ‘Guardians for Schools’ New York State License Plate to help our school districts pay for the expense of improving school safety, and ‘Suzanne’s Law’ to increase criminal penalties for assaults and abductions on school grounds by one category higher to show that New York has zero tolerance for violent crimes committed on school grounds.  We should be asking nothing less to protect our kids as we do to safeguard our legislators, staff, state officials, the media, and visitors at our state Capitol. That includes providing for schools that want them with armed school resource officers, metal detectors, additional mental health screening and counseling services, security cameras, and other building modifications to improve school safety.”

Increasing Access to School-Based Mental Health Services:

Create a New Mental Health Services Coordinator Aid Program and Grants:
S7805, sponsored by Senator Croci - This new bill establishes a Mental Health Services Program Coordinator Education Aid Program for the state to reimburse school districts outside the city of New York. Schools would be eligible for $50,000 in state funding for the hiring of a mental health services coordinator. The coordinator is defined in the bill as a mental health services professional, with qualifications determined by regulation by the Commissioner of Education, whose role and responsibility will be to work with students, faculty, and other mental health and health care professionals to identify, report, and address mental health issues that could pose a risk to public safety in any public or non-public school.

Senator Croci said, “The mental health crisis we are witnessing in our communities demands our schools have the professionals in place to identify young people in crisis.  It is imperative that we get these students the mental health services necessary, before they turn to violence.”

Assess and Improve Mental Health Resources in Schools:
S7838, sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie - This new bill requires the state Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of full and part-time school counselors, school social workers and school psychologists in each school, the ratio of students to the number of school counselors, the ratio of students to the number of school social workers, the ratio of students to the number of school psychologists in each school, and when such staff is working in more than one school. Upon completion of the report, the state must propose how to increase the number of school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists to meet the nationally accepted ratios, taking into consideration the specific needs of individual school districts and the region in which such school district is located.

Senator Ritchie said, “When students leave for school in the morning, no parent should have to worry about whether their child is safe. However, in today’s world nearly every parent does. The safety of our children—especially in a place like a school—has to be among our top priorities. It is for me, and I know that by taking steps, such as improving mental health services for students, increasing the availability of School Resource Officers and making investments in improved security, we can ensure that our children and those who work so hard to help them achieve brighter futures are safe.”

Expanding State Action to Protect Schools Against Attack:

Define School Shootings as Terrorism and Improve Intelligence to Prevent Attacks: 
S7813A, sponsored by Senator Terrence Murphy - This new bill enables individuals to be charged with committing an act of terrorism if they knowingly and unlawfully discharge a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, a place of worship, a mass gathering of 25 or more people, or in a business of one or more employees and protects such sites under counter-terrorism laws.  The bill also codifies the operations of the New York State Intelligence Center and makes it responsible for the collection, integration, receipt, processing, evaluation, analysis, fusing, dissemination, sharing, and maintenance of intelligence information to aid in detecting, preventing, investigating and responding to acts of terrorism, including school shootings. The Center would cooperate with the state Division of Homeland Security among other state, local, and federal government agencies, as well as - for the first time – include schools and the state department of education as part of that collaboration. The bill also requires the establishment of a new Buffalo office to the current fusion centers in Albany and New York City and increase the information-sharing and analysis capabilities of the state.

Senator Murphy said, “Given the continued acts of extreme violence that have needlessly cost the lives of innocent victims, we need strong legislation that will protect the lives of our children and families, whether they are at school, attending a concert or in a place of worship. This legislation rightfully classifies premeditated acts of violence against large groups of people as terrorism and allows law enforcement to treat these threats as such.  In addition, it gives the New York Intelligence Center the tools it needs to collect, investigate and share information with all stakeholders that will ultimately prevent future tragedies from occurring.”

Increase Active Shooter Drills: 
S7845, sponsored by Senator Felder - The bill helps schools better prepare in the event of a school violence incident by requiring that two of the four annual “lock-down drills” conducted by schools be held as “active shooter drills.” Schools can then request School Safety Improvement Teams to provide recommendations on how to conduct lock-down and active shooter drills.

Senator Felder said, “Our emergency response drills must address current threats. Students and school personnel must be properly trained in life-saving practices.”

Upgrade School Safety Improvement Teams: 
S7832, sponsored by Senator Croci - This new measure expands the membership of existing required school safety improvement teams to include representatives of the state Division of Homeland Security, State Police, Department of Criminal Justice Services, Office of General Services and Education Department. It provides for a 120-day response timeline for such teams; provides for on-site examinations of the teams at the request of the school district, BOCES, non-public school, or county vocational and educational board; and allows for the provision of state education aid for the performance of school safety upgrades recommended by a team examination.

Strengthening Penalties for Crimes on School Grounds:

Protect School Communities From Violent Threats: 
S2521, sponsored by Senator Gallivan - The bill expands the existing laws in place to prevent school bomb threats so that other types of threats can be prosecuted as well. Under current law, an individual who threatens a fire, explosion, or release of a hazardous substance on school grounds is guilty of a class D felony of falsely reporting an incident in the first degree. This measure would also make it a felony for someone to issue a threat of intentional acts or a continued course of action of serious physical harm to 10 or more people on school grounds. 

Prevent School Assaults and Abductions: 
S2881, sponsored by Senator Tedisco - The bill, “Suzanne’s Law”, increases the penalties for assault or abductions that take place on school grounds, including nursery schools, and college campuses. Similar to Drug-Free School Zones, the bill would create “Assault- and Abduction-Free School Zones” in which sentences for certain crimes committed against a person on school grounds would be one category higher than existing law specifies.

The bills will be sent to the Assembly.

In the last year alone, the Senate successfully extended a 10 percent increase in building aid for schools to fund additional security measures like door hardening, metal detectors, and other related infrastructure. The Senate also secured $25 million in new funding for non-public schools, day cares, and community centers at risk for hate crimes and $15 million for non-public schools to increase their security. Initiatives like these will continue to be a part of this coming year’s budget negotiations.

Additional safety measures are expected to be unveiled next week as part of the conference’s Security Agenda. The Senate will also be considering the following measures to further enhance school security:

Increase Weapon Detection Capabilities:
Legislation to be introduced by Senator Martin Golden - In order to increase the ability of schools to detect guns more effectively, the Senate will soon be proposing legislation to introduce scanner technology as an improvement over traditional metal detectors.

Senator Golden said, “How we provide a safe learning environment is important.  When you compare these smart scanners with traditional metal detectors, the difference is like night and day.  We need to protect our students without making them feel as if they are passing through a TSA checkpoint on their way to class.  This technology does just that. I urge all New Yorkers to support this common sense proposal to give both our students and parents’ peace of mind.”

Personal Security Alarms: 
Legislation to be sponsored by Senator Ritchie - The Senate will consider a bill establishing school safety standards to provide teachers and other school personnel who have significant contact with students with personal safety alarms to be used in emergency situations. These would be wearable devices that once activated by the pressing of an emergency button alerts first responders to an emergency.


Zeldin Picks Up Independence Party Endorsement


Brookhaven, NY - Zeldin for Congress is proud to announce that the Independence Party has endorsed Congressman Lee Zeldin for re-election in New York’s First Congressional District:

“Lee Zeldin is our community’s leader, our fighter, and our voice in Washington. He has proven time and again that he will work across party lines to accomplish victories for Long Island. We need more leaders in Congress like Lee Zeldin. The Independence Party proudly endorses Lee Zeldin for reelection to Congress,” stated Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay.

“I am very grateful of the continued support of Chairman Frank MacKay and the Independence Party and appreciate his great endorsement of my 2018 re-election campaign. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to serve as Frank’s hometown Congressman. I am looking forward to celebrating a big win with him in November,” stated Congressman Lee Zeldin.