- Click for Restaurant Directory_____

 

A Sign of Our Times

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Grand Jury Report critical of Smithtown town
gover
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

 

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Sign of our Times

By Eric Sailor

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Thursday
Oct122017

County Exec Bellone Endorses Bill Holst For Smithtown Supervisor

SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE BELLONE ENDORSES BILL HOLST FOR SMITHTOWN TOWN SUPERVISOR

Bill HolstSuffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today endorsed Democrat Bill Holst for Town Supervisor.  Holst, a key leader in the Smithtown community for decades, is running for the town leadership post in the first openly competitive race in decades.  

“Bill Host is the only candidate in this race who has the vision and experience necessary to lead Smithtown residents,” said County Executive Bellone.  “Having Bill Holst as a partner in Smithtown Town Government would provide residents the strong leadership that is necessary to continue moving important initiatives such as improving our regional water quality and furthering our economic development efforts in the beautiful hamlets throughout Smithtown. I have known Bill for over 20 years and I have no doubt that he is the smart, innovative and capable leader that can keep Smithtown moving in the right direction.”

Over the last thirty years, Bill has served as the president of the local school board, as an officer of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce and was twice elected as a Suffolk County Legislator. As a Legislator, Bill spearheaded efforts that were critical to revitalizing downtown areas in the hamlets of Smithtown, Kings Park, St. James and Nesconset and was a driving force behind countless historic preservation initiatives throughout our communities. Bill has also worked passionately with civic groups, boy and Girl Scout troops and youth sports organizations and championed their efforts every step of the way.

Bill Holst commented, “I am very pleased to have earned the confidence and support of the County Executive. I look forward to the opportunity to work with him to move Smithtown forward.”

Holst is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality tickets along with Town Council candidates Amy Fortunato and Patricia Stoddard as well as Town Clerk candidate Justin Smiloff.  The election is on Tuesday, November 7.

 

 

Thursday
Oct052017

AG Jeff Sessions Announces $500,000 Grant For SCPD

CENTRAL ISLIP, NY – Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that as part of several Department of Justice actions to reduce the rising tide of violent crime in America, the Suffolk County Police Department has been awarded a $500,000 grant through the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative to reduce gun and gang-related violence in high crime areas.  The grant will support enforcement strategies targeting individuals responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime as identified through evidence-based research and analysis, and expand community outreach programs for at-risk youth.

The awarding of the grant was announced by Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney General, Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Timothy D. Sini, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD).

“The Department of Justice today announces the foundation of our plan to reduce crime: prioritizing Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that has been proven to work,” stated Attorney General Sessions.  “Let me be clear – Project Safe Neighborhoods is not just one policy idea among many. This is the centerpiece of our crime reduction strategy.  Taking what we have learned since the program began in 2001, we have updated it and enhanced it, emphasizing the role of our U.S. Attorneys, the promise of new technologies, and above all, partnership with local communities. With these changes, I believe that this program will be more effective than ever and help us fulfill our mission to make America safer.”

“The Project Safe Neighborhoods grant will strengthen the Suffolk County Police Department’s efforts to identify, arrest and prosecute those offenders responsible for doing the most harm in communities plagued by gang-related violence, as well as support prevention programs for youths who are at risk for gang recruitment,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde.  “This Office is committed to helping communities develop resiliency against gang recruitment so as to diminish gangs, their number and strength, as well as to continuing our prosecutive efforts directed at those who choose the wrong path and engage in gang violence.”

“The Suffolk County Police Department and its law enforcement partners have implemented an extremely aggressive strategy to eradicate MS-13 from our communities,” stated SCPD Commissioner Sini.  “This grant will further those efforts. On behalf of Suffolk County, I want to thank the Department of Justice for its continued partnership.”  

Crime analysis has identified several street gangs, including MS-13, Bloods, and Crips, which have been responsible for gang and gun crime in “hot spot” communities in Suffolk County. The PSN project has three objectives: utilize “hot spot” policing to coordinate and narrow the focus of intervention strategies in communities identified by the SCPD Criminal Intelligence section including Wyandanch, North Amityville, Central Islip, Brentwood and Huntington Station; target the small number of persons responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime; and provide alternatives to gang and criminal activity through mentoring and truancy programs, including the Brentwood Youth Recovery Initiative that was started in response to the murders of Brentwood High School students Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas on September 13, 2016 allegedly by MS-13 gang members. 

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs and providing additional tools to these programs. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York has partnered with the district attorney’s offices in Queens, Brooklyn, Richmond and Nassau Counties to reduce and prevent gun violence.

The grant is part of a recommitment to PSN announced today by Attorney General Sessions in a memo directing United States Attorneys to implement an enhanced violent crime reduction program that incorporates the lessons learned since the initiative was launched in 2001. 

The Attorney General also announced the following Department of Justice initiatives to help reduce violent crime nationwide:

  • Additional Assistant United States Attorney Positions to Focus on Violent Crime –The Department is allocating 40 prosecutors to approximately 20 United States Attorney’s Offices to focus on violent crime reduction.
  • More Cops on the Streets (COPS Hiring Grants) – As part of our continuing commitment to crime prevention efforts, increased community policing, and the preservation of vital law enforcement jobs, the Department will be awarding approximately $98 million in FY 2017 COPS Hiring Grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
  • Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force’s (OCDETF) National Gang Strategic Initiative –The National Gang Strategic Initiative promotes  creative enforcement strategies and best practices that will assist in developing investigations of violent criminal groups and gangs into enterprise-level OCDETF prosecutions.  Under this initiative, OCDETF provides “seed money” to locally-focused gang investigations, giving state, local, and tribal investigators and prosecutors the resources and tools needed to identify connections between lower-level gangs and national-level drug trafficking organizations.
  • Critical Training and Technical Assistance to State and Local Partners –The Department has a vast array of training and technical assistance resources available to state, local and tribal law enforcement, victims groups, and others.  To ensure that agencies in need of assistance are able to find the training and materials they need, Office of Justice Programs will make available a Violence Reduction Response Center to serve as a “hot line” to connect people to these resources.  
  • Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGIC) – The Department has provided grant funding to support a comprehensive approach to identifying the most violent offenders in a jurisdiction, using new technologies such as gunshot detection systems combined with gun crime intelligence from NIBIN, eTrace, and investigative efforts.  These FY 2017 grants were awarded to Phoenix, AZ, and Kansas City, MO.
  • Expand ATF’s NIBIN Urgent Trace Program – The Department will expand ATF’s NIBIN Urgent Trace Program nationwide by the end of the year.  Through this program, any firearm submitted for tracing that is associated with a NIBIN “hit” (which means it can be linked to a shooting incident) will be designated an “urgent” trace and the requestor will get information back about the firearm’s first retail purchaser within 24 hours, instead of five to six business days.
Thursday
Oct052017

Democrat Bill Holst Reveals His First Video Campaign Ad

Candidate for Smithtown Supervisor Democrat Bill Holst has come out with his first campaign video. 

Sunday
Oct012017

Flanagan Proposes Making Property Tax Cap Permanent

 

             FLANAGAN: MAKE PROPERTY TAX CAP PERMANENT IN 2018

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan today called on the Governor and State Legislature to make the property tax cap permanent next session, a move that would send a strong signal that New York is firmly on the side of hardworking taxpayers and is committed to creating new jobs so middle-class families can have a future here.

The proposal is part of a pro-taxpayer, pro-business agenda that Flanagan first outlined in an address to the Business Council of New York State’s annual meeting in Bolton Landing.  As part of his remarks, he also committed to advancing a comprehensive regulatory reform package.

A signature initiative of the Senate Republican Conference, its members first achieved passage of the property tax cap in 2011. Since then,it has saved taxpayers a whopping $41 billion.

 “Perhaps more than anything else we have done as a Legislature, the property tax cap has had an extraordinarily positive impact on hardworking taxpayers and their families.  It has slammed the door on the massive, double-digit property tax increases of the past, and brought certainty to businesses and to taxpayers. By any objective measure, the property tax cap has been an enormous success,” Flanagan said.

Two years ago, the state renewed the property tax cap for an additional four years, but the possibility exists that a future Legislature could undo the measure and soak property taxpayers with new and higher taxes.

“It’s time to take the next step on behalf of New York taxpayers. Let’s make the property tax cap permanent and do it in 2018,” Flanagan said.

Just as importantly, Flanagan noted, making the property tax cap permanent would also show that New York values job growth and economic progress, and can partner with the private sector to encourage job creation, not be an obstacle to it.

“Making the property tax cap permanent will be an engine for economic growth. Let’s get it done,” he concluded.

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.

Tuesday
Sep262017

Congressman Zeldin Offers Advice On Preventing Unwanted Calls

Rep. Zeldin Releases Fact Sheet on Preventing Unwanted Telemarketer Calls

Washington, DC - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) released a fact sheet, which can be viewed here, to provide information to constituents on how to prevent unwanted telemarketer calls. A copy of the text is below:

Preventing Unwanted Telemarketer Calls

Technology has rapidly expanded the ability of scammers to make a massive amount of illegal phone calls from anywhere in the world. Unwanted calls are the number one complaint from consumers when filing complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). While the Do Not Call Registry prohibits sales calls, telemarketers often bypass the registry, by spoofing caller ID information, masking their real phone numbers.

If you are a victim of these harassing phone scams, you have options:

Tell the unwanted callers that you do not consent to the call. Then make a record of the number and file a complaint with the FCC at 1-888-225-5322. There is also a hotline at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report calls (1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Option 2 is to speak with a representative).

Contact your phone provider and ask them to block the number. Also ask them if they charge extra for this service. It doesn’t make sense to pay an extra fee to block numbers, being that telemarketers often change Caller ID information.

Robocall-blocking technology now legally exists and is available for your use. If you use robocall-blocking technology already, let your phone company know which numbers are producing unwanted calls so they can help block those calls for you and others.

Register with the Do Not Call Registry online at www.donotcall.gov, or by calling toll-free - 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you wish to register. You may register up to three numbers at one time.

Explore free online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Don’t purchase any service until reviewing the application’s privacy policy on protecting your personal information. 

If you have an iPhone, Android, or other type of smartphone, you can also utilize the cell phone’s individual call blocking service. For example, for an iPhone, if you determine a number is from a spam caller, tap the “i” on the number that just called your mobile device and scroll to the bottom of the screen and click “block this caller.” All phone numbers that are manually blocked will appear under Blocked Contacts. Methods for blocking calls vary according to the specific device; you can contact your provider for further instructions.

 

Current Efforts to Block Violators’ Calls:

Under a new initiative announced by the FTC, when consumers report Do Not Call or robocall violations to the agency, the robocaller phone numbers consumers provide will be released each day to telecommunications carriers and other industry partners that are implementing call-blocking solutions.

Filing complaints to the FTC brings more cases. While the FTC does not resolve individual consumer problems, each complaint helps the FTC investigate the company and has led to successful law enforcement action.

The FTC has been teaming with the private sector, offering rewards for companies that come up with a technical solution to filter out illegal calls. Last year, the FTC challenged contestants to create tools people could use to block and forward robocalls automatically to a honeypot – a data collection system that researchers and investigators can use to study the calls. 

 

 

 

Monday
Sep252017

Edward Wehreim Defeats Supervisor Vecchio In Republican Primary

 

Smithtown Republicans will have a new candidate at the top of their ticket come November. Edward Wehrheim has won the Republican primary. The September 12th primary was too close to call with Ed Wehrheim leading Vecchio by 39 votes. Absentee ballots and affadavits were counted today. Although the numbers are not official at the end of the count it appears Ed Wehrheim had an 84 vote advantage over Vecchio.

 

Saturday
Sep232017

Highway Superintendent Robert Murphy On Salary Increase

 

Robert Murphy holds the elected position of  Smithtown’s Superintendent of Highways. He has been in the position since being appointed to fill the vacancy left by Glenn Jorgensen’s departure in 2015. In 2016 he was elected to serve the remaining term which ends December 31, 2017. He is up for reelection in November and is running unopposed. According to Murphy the feedback he has received from members of the town board has been very positive. One would think that it would be smooth sailing for Murphy’s election bid. But the reality is with less than six weeks before the election Robert Murphy is getting hammered with negative press about his recent budget for the Highway Department. 

In his budget proposal Robert Murphy has included a $40,000 salary increase for the position he holds as highway superintendent. The position he is running unopposed for, the position he is expected to win.

Supervisor Vecchio, in a phone conversation with Smithtown Matters said “NO” to the increase.

Robert Murphy is standing strong in defense of his proposal. According to Murphy there are many reasons why the position warrants higher pay, “There has been an increase in the job responsiblilities of the superintendent of highway including Governor Cuomo’s shared services initative.” With the goal of saving taxpayers money Smithtown will now be sharing responsibility for maintaining roads in the town’s three villages Nissequogue, Head of the Harbor and Village of the Branch. He has been praised for the work he has been doing. Some of his foremen and  some department heads in other departments have higher salaries, even though he has more employees and a budget that is one quarter of the town’s budget. In nearby towns the position pays much more than the current $110,000 he receives. And by the way he made the same salary proposal last year.

Murphy, in a phone conversation with Smithtown Matters said, “I’ve been played like a deck of cards.” After talking about increased responsibilities he pointed out that he made the same proposal in the budget he submitted in 2016 and he received a $13,824 increase and no press. This year he included the increase with the expectation that he might get a modest increase. What he did get was a lot of press. What’s different this year? Murphy is running on the Republican ticket that supports Ed Wehrheim for Supervisor.

Superintendent Of Highway Robert Murphy speaks at Patrick R. Vecchio’s candidacy announcementMurphy was at Vecchio’s candidacy announcement standing at the podium and speaking about his support for the Supervisor. What  changed? He is a Republican and the Smithtown Republicans selected Ed Wehrheim at the nominating convention.  He says he was warned that there would be consequences if he didn’t support Vecchio for supervisor, but it is a safe bet that he did not expect the consequence to be the bad press he is receiving. 

Murphy acknowledges that he is asking the public to vote for him and he acknowleged that he knew what the salary was when he accepted the appointment and when he ran to fill Jorgensen’s unexpired term. He knows that there are some people who will say he is being greedy; he, however, is steadfast in his belief that the unlike other elected positions superintendent of highway requires a full time commitment, oversees 130 town employees and has a responsiblity for a large part of the town’s budget.

Murphy has already had his budget meeting with Supervisor Vecchio and according to Murphy it went well. Murphy offered assurances that regardless of the salary he will continue to do his best to meet the needs of Smithtown residents.