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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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Tuesday
Jan082019

FYI - Town Board To Vote On Appointments 

Smithtown Town Board To Meet Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - Agenda

On the January, 8th agenda are the following appointments:

Supervisor Edward R. Wehrheim hereby appoints Donald Musgnug as Budget Officer for fiscal year 2019.

Supervisor Edward R. Wehrheim hereby appoints Kaila McNallly to the Youth Advisory Board, term of office from January 9, 2019 through December 31, 2020.

Supervisor Edward R. Wehrheim hereby appoints William Alptekin to the Youth Advisory Board, term of office from January 9, 2019 through December 31, 2020.

Supervisor Edward R. Wehrheim to designate Councilman Thomas W. Lohmann as part time Executive Assistant to the Supervisor, effective January 9, 2019.

The Town Board to appoint Anthony Tanzi as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, term of office from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2023.

The Town Board to appoint Desmond M. Ryan to Planning Board, term of office from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2023.

Part time appointment of Hon. John J. Toomey, Jr. to the position of Assistant Town Attorney to the Town of Smithtown Planning Board, at the annual pay of $20,000.00 effective January 8, 2019.

Monday
Jan072019

Congressmen Suozzi And King Introduce Leg To Reinstate Full SALT Deduction

Today, Congressmen Tom Suozzi and Peter King announced bipartisan legislation - the “King-Suozzi bill” - that would provide tax relief for Long Islanders. The bill, H.R. 257, would retroactively reinstate a full deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). In 2017, a $10,000 cap was put on SALT deductions that has negatively affected middle-class families, particularly those living in high cost of living areas like Long Island. Reinstating a full SALT deduction will provide these families with tax relief; not more tax burdens.

“The tax bill was a punch in the gut for Long Islanders, and all New Yorkers, who already subsidize other states by paying more in taxes than we receive back from the federal government,” said Congressman Suozzi. “The limitation of this critical deduction has resulted in a devasting tax increase for the middle class. My district is in the top ten in America state and local tax deduction claims. In New York’s third district, over 250,000 families, or 43 percent of households, claim this deduction at an average rate of $18,300.”

“Eliminating deductions for local and state taxes will have a devastating effect on Long Island,” said Congressmen King. “We give far more to Washington then we get back. For every dollar we give, we get $.79 back. That’s a $48 billion shortfall and hurts our middle class Long Islanders. This legislation is critical.”

Long Island was particularly hard hit by the $10,000 cap on SALT deductions. In the Congressmen’s districts, nearly half of all tax filers claimed the deduction with an average of nearly $20,000. Capping the deduction has cost Long Islanders, and all New Yorkers, billions more in additional taxes. The average SALT burden is above the $10,000 cap in 52 of 62 counties in New York. The additional tax burden is especially unfair because New York is already a net donor to the federal government, sending $48 billion more in taxes to the federal government than we receive in return.

“This is an existential issue for Long Island.  There is no Republican or Democratic position. It is about the survival of Long Island’s middle class which sorely depends on this exemption to makes ends meet. The response by Congressmen Peter King and Tom Suozzi not only seeks to protect every Long Island homeowner from this threat, but demonstrates that bipartisanship remains strong on Long Island,” said Kyle Strober, Executive Director, ABLI, a Long Island advocacy organization.

Monday
Jan072019

Senator Schumer - LI Is Experiencing Alarming Shortage Of Shingles Vaccine

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed today that Long Island is experiencing an alarming shortage of the Shingles vaccine, that left unsolved, could result in many people getting Shingles or spreading the chickenpox virus to others this winter. 

“To think that in the midst of a shingle shot vaccine shortage across Long Island, that the FDA is shutdown, is a worrisome thought and a problem that must be addressed,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The shingle shot shortage across the Island is a two-pronged worry because not only does a shortage mean more people might suffer the painful and harmful shingles virus itself, but it means that young people, particularly babies and children, even those with compromised immune systems who have never had chickenpox themselves, are at a greater risk to communicate the bug. That’s why I am urging the FDA to go above and beyond, to do whatever it can, amidst this needless shutdown and pull out all the stops to step in and help remedy this shortage before it becomes a full-on crisis. And it is why I am, once again, urging the President to see the light here and stop holding agencies that have nothing to do with the debate at hand hostage.”

Schumer, today, publicly pushed emergency FDA staff still working amidst the shutdown to: 

1)      Consider this shortage an emergency.

2)      Step in more directly and work as a go-between between the manufacturer and others to ensure locals know when new shipments will arrive, and how to best publicize the news. 

3)      Expedite any and all regulatory hurdles that might prevent shipments of the already-approved vaccine from making its way to the U.S. as fast as possible.

4)      Prioritize shingles vaccine shipments to New York and other states with higher populations because the risk of spreading the communicable chickenpox virus which emerges through the shingles virus is highest among populated states, including New York.    

Schumer said that this Shingle shot shortage, being experienced by local and big-name pharmacies across the Island, warrants some of the FDA’s essential agency staff to step in and help remedy the problem with the manufacturer, and most importantly, improve communication with locals who are currently in the dark in terms of when new shipments of the vaccine will arrive locally. The Senator was joined by the Long Island Pharmacy Society, doctors and Long Island residents currently waiting for their Shingles vaccine as he made the case for action. He said this shingle vaccine shortage is a perfect example of why the President should end the shutdown and open the other agencies of the federal government that have nothing to do with paying for a wall.

The Senator and local officials and residents further detailed the impacts of the shortage and the risks as they made the case for the FDA to go above and beyond in helping to rectify the situation.  

The vaccine, Shingrix, approved last year to prevent shingles, has been in high demand since GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturer of the vaccine, came out with its shingles vaccine that is 90% effective, while others were much less effective, as low as 40%. There is a shortage of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) shingles vaccine because not enough was produced to meet the high demand for the uniquely effective vaccine. 

Many people, especially older adults, do not understand the seriousness of shingles and the complications that could arise with the disease, especially in the spread of the communicable chickenpox virus. The shingles vaccine, which reduces the chances of an older adult getting shingles, and reduces the severity of complications and spread of chickenpox, is recommended for most people over 50. However, people are finding it extremely difficult to get across Long Island and even in New York City.

“The shingles vaccine greatly reduces the chance of getting shingles said Dr. Sunil Sood, Chief of Pediatric Medicine at Southside Hospital. Not only is it important for older folks to get it for their own health, but also to decrease the chance of spreading it to young children who they may be around. Many young children are susceptible to chickenpox – chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus.”

Schumer explained that the lack of communication between pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and the manufacturer of the vaccine, GSK, could be better, which leaves patients, doctors, and pharmacies alike in the dark about when the next shipment of Shingrix will arrive. Reports indicate that the wait time for the vaccine may depend on where you live and other factors such as large pharmacy chains’ ability to move supply around. But even on populated Long Island, finding the vaccine proves far more difficult than it should.   

Shingles is an extremely painful and debilitating rash that can lead to even more severe complications. The virus (also called herpes zoster) occurs when the varicella-zoster virus (VZV)—the same virus that causes chickenpox—is reactivated in the body. The varicella-zoster virus remains in the body for life and older people are more susceptible to shingles because their immunity to the virus declines at the cellular level. Aside from the painful rash, shingles can produce typical virus symptoms including chills, fever, upset stomach or headache. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that there is a shortage of GSK’s Shingrix vaccine due to high levels of demand. As a result of this shortage, GSK has implemented order limits and providers have experienced shipping delays. The CDC has reported that order limits and shipping delays are likely to continue throughout 2019. Schumer explained that this uncertainty regarding the timing of shipments is extremely concerning to the adults at risk of contracting the virus and spreading the communicable VZV chickenpox virus to those who have never had the ailment or have a compromised immune system.  

While GSK plans to make even more doses available in the US in 2019, the communication between all entities needs to be improved immediately, Schumer argues. The CDC has issued a message to protect older adults from shingles by providing “did-you-know?” facts regarding the disease. 

These facts include:

  • There are about a million new cases of shingles each year in the United States.
  • Anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles. That means 95% of adults are at risk.
  • While you cannot spread shingles, one can spread the chickenpox virus at the same time.
  • Approximately one-third of the U.S. population will get shingles. The risk rises after 50 years of age. Half of people living to age 85 have had or will get shingles.
  • Among those who get shingles, more than one-third will develop serious complications. The risk of complications rises after 60 years of age.

 

Thursday
Dec202018

Congressman Zeldin Votes With Republicans To Fund The Wall

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) issued the following statement after voting in favor of theContinuing Appropriations Act of 2019 (House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 695), which includes $5.7 billion for physical border barriers, $7.8 billion in disaster relief and funds the remaining portions of the government until February 8, 2019:

“It should be a bipartisan success to secure our nation’s borders, aid Americans affected by natural disasters and provide certainty and consistency in funding our federal government. It’s time to truly negotiate and compromise for the greater good. The election is over. I urge the Senate to follow suit, avoid a government shutdown and do what’s right for the Americans they’re sworn to represent. With a Republican President, Republican controlled Senate, and Republican controlled House that will be Democrat controlled in January, the idea of the only acceptable solution being 100% of what Democrats are demanding is just not the right answer. Negotiate… and… compromise.”

Wednesday
Dec122018

Legislator Trotta Seeks To Recoup $1.5 Million From Former Police Chief Burke


Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta 13th L.D.
The Ways & Means Committee will meet Thursday at 12:30pm in Hauppauge. One of the topics that will be discussed will be Legislator Trotta’s bill to recoup, from the former Chief of Police James Burke, $1.5 M paid by Suffolk County taxpayers to settle a lawsuit with Christopher Loeb. 
 

Legislator Trotta has been very vocal in his outrage and recently expressed his criticism saying “Crime Does Pay in Suffolk County …Christopher Loeb, a petty thief, gets $1.5 million from the Taxpayers, and James Burke, convicted criminal and former Chief of Police, earns $600,000 pay out and a Multi-million Dollar Pension from the Taxpayers.”

Earlier this year, the Suffolk Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee settled a federal lawsuit brought by Christopher Loeb against Suffolk County. Mr. Loeb was beaten, while handcuffed, by then Suffolk County Chief of Police James Burke. For his actions, Mr. Burke was arrested and convicted on civil rights violations and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Burke was sentenced to almost four years in Federal prison. 

According to Suffolk Legislator Rob Trotta, a retired Suffolk County Police Detective and 10 year member of the FBI Violent Crime Task Force, “As Police Chief, James Burke took an oath to fulfill the obligations of the office of Chief of Police and to up hold the laws of this county and this state and he did not. His admitted criminal activity and gross misconduct constituted not only a violation of the law, but also a breach of the agreement he made with the county. Burke’s actions have harmed the county and its taxpayers. Upon leaving the county, Burke received a lump sum payout of $630,000 and he receives a yearly pension of almost $150,000. It’s clear that he has the means to pay the taxpayers back and he should pay. The taxpayers should be outraged that County Executive Bellone allowed this conduct to go on and did nothing about it.”

Legislator Trotta’s legislation directs the County Attorney to commence legal action to seek reimbursement from Mr. Burke to recover the 1.5 million dollars of taxpayer money that was paid to Mr. Loeb to compensate him for Burke’s illegal actions. “I believe as an elected official we have a fiscal responsibility to recoup the taxpayers’ money from Mr. Burke,” said Legislator Trotta.

Tuesday
Dec042018

County Executive Bellone Reminds The Public Help Is Available This Winter

COUNTY EXECUTIVE BELLONE ANNOUNCES WINTER WEATHER PROTOCOLS FOR RESIDENTS IN NEED OF SHELTER

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced available housing and heating assistance for residents through the county during the cold weather months.  The Suffolk County Department of Social Services Safe Beds Program is operational and will provide emergency shelter to those in need during inclement weather, which is defined when the air temperature is at or below 32°F, including wind chill.

“As winter approaches, the county will provide available heat and shelter for those seeking to escape the frigid conditions.” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “We encourage anyone who is in need of temporary housing, emergency fuel or other assistance to contact the Suffolk County Department of Social Services immediately.”

Dennis Nowak, Acting Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services said: “The Department of Social Services stands ready to assist Suffolk County residents that require our services during severe cold weather.”

Housing Assistance:

 

Temporary housing assistance is available for those who wish to apply in-person at Suffolk County service centers located in Deer Park, Coram, Hauppauge and Riverhead. Specific addresses and information on these centers can be found below and at www.suffolkcountyny.gov. Outside of normal business hours please contact emergency services at 631-854-9100.

Service Center Locations

South West Center

2 South 2nd Street

Deer Park

(631) 854-6600

Smithtown Center

200 Wireless Blvd.

Hauppauge

(631) 853-8714

Coram Center

80 Middle Country Road

Coram

(631) 854-2300

Riverhead Center

893 East Main Street

Riverhead

(631) 852-3500

MacArthur Center         

3455 Veterans Memorial Highway

Ronkonkoma, New York 11779

HEAP

 

Residents who receive Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits and are in need of fuel or emergency burner repair are advised to contact the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Home Energy Assistance Program immediately at 631-853-8820. If assistance is needed on weekdays after 4:30 p.m., weekends or holidays, residents can call the Department of Social Services Emergency Services Unit at 631-854-9100.

For Renters

 

Between October 1st and May 31st, when outside temperatures drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, internal dwelling temperatures must be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit, day and night. Each dwelling is required by law to have heating facilities that are properly installed, and maintained in safe and good working conditions, and are capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms and water closet compartments. Residents whose landlords are not in compliance with this requirement are advised to call the Suffolk County Department of Health Temporary Residence Unit at 631-852-5900. Temporary interruptions necessary while performing repairs or alterations are permissible.

The County Executive additionally provided the following winter weather tips for homeowners and residents to stay safe: 

  • Protect your pipes. Run water at times to help prevent your pipes from freezing.
  • Make sure portable heaters are placed on a flat, leveled surface and to keep all flammable objects, including cloth, papers and rugs, away from it.
  • Drive with caution and be mindful of your surroundings.  During the winter, roads may ice over and become slippery even if no precipitation is present.  
  • Check on friends and loved ones who are elderly or may be sick during the extreme cold or during snowfall.
  • When outdoors, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Be aware of the warning signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech.  Infants and children who are suffering from hypothermia may appear to have very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
  • Unvented or malfunctioning space heaters can emit carbon monoxide so make sure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operating properly and have fresh batteries.
  • Pets should never be left outside while you are at work or out of the house for any extended period of time.
  • Walks should be limited to less than 15 minutes if the temperature is below freezing.
  • If your dog must be outside for any reason this winter, monitor them closely and be sure to bring them indoors if they begin to show signs of distress.

For more information on the County’s winter weather protocols and snow removal preparations or for more winter weather safety tips, log on to www.facebook.com/stevebellone or www.suffolkcountyny.gov.

 

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