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Wednesday
Dec052018

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP- Women Underrepresented In Elected Offices

 

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP

By Karl Grossman

There has never been a woman representing Suffolk County in the U.S. House of Representatives and there has never been a woman representing Suffolk in the New York State Senate—but that will end in the new year when Monica R. Martinez becomes a state senator.

The story of Ms. Martinez, born in El Salvador, an educator who had to sacrifice what was higher pay in her position as a middle school assistant principal after becoming a Suffolk County legislator, is a very American story especially in regard to the changing demographics of the United States.

“I came to this country at the age of three,” related Ms. Martinez of Brentwood in her literature during her run for the State Senate. “My parents sacrificed so much and fought so hard to give me the opportunity to succeed that I have dedicated my life to the belief we must make the opportunity to fulfill the American dream available to everyone. That is the reason I attended college and became a teacher, it is the reason I stepped up to serve the community in the Suffolk County Legislature, and it is the reason I am running today for the New York State Senate.”

Well, that’s the good news.

The bad news: there are but two females among the 10 town supervisors in Suffolk and there will be only men representing Suffolk in the U.S. House of Representatives—the case for more than two centuries. Although Ms. Martinez broke through a political glass ceiling, the other four senators from Suffolk will be men. And further, of the 12 members of the State Assembly representing Suffolk, only one in the new year will be a woman. 

One out of 12! That’s not fair or equitable considering that women comprise more than 50 percent of Suffolk County’s 1.5 million population. 

There have been two women in the Suffolk Assembly delegation this year and last. But incumbent Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino lost in last month’s election. 

The one woman in Suffolk’s Assembly delegation will be Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre of Wheatley Heights who was re-elected to a third two-year term. She is the daughter of immigrants to the U.S. from Haiti. Like Ms. Martinez, who received a bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University, a master’s degree in secondary education from NYU and an administrative degree in school leadership from Stony Brook University, Ms. Jean-Pierre is also well-educated. She received a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s in public policy from Stony Brook University.

Both have extensive community experience, Ms. Martinez as a high school social studies teacher and school administrator and Ms. Jean-Pierre as director of the Wyandanch Resource Center and before that a vice president of the Babylon Town Industrial Agency. And before that Ms. Jean-Pierre worked as community outreach director for former U.S. Representative Steve Israel and was an aide to Suffolk Legislator DuWayne Gregory, presiding officer of the Suffolk Legislature. Speaking of glass ceilings, he is the first African-American to attain what is considered the Number 2 position in Suffolk after county executive, 

“On the stumps and on the march, women broke down barriers in 2018,” was the post-election headline in The Christian Science Monitor. The headline was moderated with a sub-head in the middle of the page noting: “Women’s representation in federal government jumped in 2018, but they still make up less than a quarter of Congress.”

The U.S and Suffolk County still have far to go in terms of females in elected office.

Suffolk has already come far on this, relatively. When I first started covering Suffolk County in the 1960s, the county’s governing board, the centuries-old Suffolk County Board of Supervisors, made up of the supervisors of each of the county’s 10 towns, consisted of ten men. Its members throughout its history were only guys, white guys, incidentally.

The big breakthrough in terms of females in government in Suffolk County came in 1973 with the election of Judith Hope as East Hampton Town supervisor, the first woman town supervisor in Suffolk. Ms. Hope, however, was too late to be a member of the Suffolk Board of Supervisors, it having been phased out in 1970 for a Suffolk Legislature based on districts of equal population, a result of one-person-one-vote court decisions. The Suffolk Legislature has had an OK, but not great, female membership—currently five of the 18 legislative seats are held by women. Among them is Leslie Kennedy of Nesconset whose district includes Smithtown  And women have been presiding officers of the legislature. 

Ms. Hope went on to become chairwoman of the New York State Democratic Party—the first woman to head a major political party in New York State. And she subsequently launched the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee committed to the important mission of bringing more women into elected office in the state.

 

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books. 

Wednesday
Nov282018

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - Solar A Great Thing To Do Something We Have To Do

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP

By Karl Grossman

“Vibrant” is the word used by Dean Hapshe last week about the state of the solar power industry. A major reason for this—“the price of the panels has come down,” he noted. And although the LIPA rebates for installing solar are now gone, the cost of panels “has dropped to a half of what they were 10 years ago,” said Mr. Hapshe. Thus, solar is still a very economical investment. Also, federal and state incentives are still in place

Dean is project manager of Suffolk County-based Harvest Power. He’s a pioneer in solar energy, starting off in the field in 1980. He teaches solar power installation and design. Dean is, indeed, a dean of solar power.

He installed the system at our house in what as of the new year will be a decade ago. Our house is a classic “saltbox” more than 100 years old.  Solar for my wife and me has been well worth it. 

Even on cloudy days, the LIPA/PSEG meter on the house regularly goes backward—signifying that we’re producing more electricity than we’re using. The excess goes back to the grid. If over a year’s period, the excess is more than what one consumes over the year, you get a check for that extra amount. No longer is it the $200-plus a month we used to spend for electricity. 

In addition to the 38 photovoltaic panels on our roof, there are two thermal panels—which heat up water and send it into the house. Even if it’s cool outside, at play is a dynamic comparable to the heat which builds up inside a car from the sun when you leave a car parked. It might be 50 degrees outside but the thermometer on the hot water tank in our basement shows water coming down at 100 degrees and more. 

Although the LIPA rebate no longer exists, the federal incentive of a 30 percent tax credit for the cost of a solar installation is still here. It will reduce to 26 percent in 2020 and move further downward after that. But, noted Mr. Hapshe, through the years, when this incentive was in trouble, Congress got involved. Meanwhile, New York State still provides a $5,000 incentive towards the price of a system.           

And at the same time the cost of solar panels has substantially reduced, their efficiency—how much electricity they generate—has gone up. The efficiency rate of solar photovoltaic panels to produce electricity on homes, businesses and other terrestrial settings is now comparable to the efficiency of panels pioneered for use in space. 

The cost for an average residential installation today is $30,000 to $35,000, Mr. Hapshe said. Thus the “payback”—the time when the price of installation has met what had been one’s electricity cost—is about seven years, he said. For thermal the “payback” in terms of savings on oil or gas to heat water is half that.    

Mr. Hapshe of Patchogue got into solar because “solar energy is the right thing to do. God has given us this wonderful Earth and we must be stewards. I’m so glad I’ve done this.”

After graduating from Boston University, Mr. Hapshe went directly into the solar field. “I was sitting in the third-floor library at Boston U.,” he recalled, “thinking of what I would do when I got out of college Only two things came to mind, one was recycling and the other solar energy. When I got out of college, a friend of mine said her husband worked for a solar energy company and would I be interested? I jumped on that and got hired right away.” 

His commitment, “comes from years of realizing how beautiful this planet is,” witnessing the damage being done to the Earth and wanting to make things better. Because of climate change, for example, “I’ll never get to see the glaciers at Glacier National Park.”

“I feel I have to do my little part,” he said. “It’s all anybody can do. If we all do something together, we can have something for our children and our grandchildren.”

Harvest Power, headquartered in Islip Terrace, installs solar systems all over Long Island and elsewhere in New York State and now also in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It has 60 employees. It does both residential and commercial installations. It has done 30,000 installations so far.

            “Solar is a great thing to do,” said Mr. Hapshe, “and it’s something we have to do.”

And a year ago to bring solar-generated electricity to those who might not be able to have panels on their roofs because of their direction or configuration or they live in apartments, the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency and PSEG Long Island began a program in which solar panels are installed on large structures and the “green” electricity from them sold, he advised. Harvest Power is involved in installations and sale of electricity in this undertaking with structures now being utilized in areas in Suffolk including Center Moriches and Shelter Island.

 

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books. 

Thursday
Nov222018

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - Suffolk County Is Something To Be Thankful For

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP

By Karl Grossman

Although from New York City, I’ve lived in Suffolk County all my adult life. And, I was thinking the other day, that’s something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

My family, after living in Brooklyn and Queens, ended up in a lovely part of Manhattan—on Gramercy Park for 50 years until my mom and dad passed away. The apartment had two terraces on its east and west sides the glitter and excitement of Manhattan. My parents had the key to Gramercy Park itself, their favorite green sanctuary. 

Two weeks back, just after the scallop season opened, my wife and I were at the Southold Fish Market. If Norman Rockwell lived not in Massachusetts and Vermont but in Suffolk, he would have painted pictures of it. There was a handmade sign out front: “Wanted Scallop Openers.” Also outside was a huge bin filled with empty shells. Inside, folks in rubber waders were shucking scallops, a picturesque scene.

Moreover, Peconic Bay scallops are, hands-down, the finest scallops in the world—and I’ve tried many including those on Nantucket, said to be the nearest competition.

At Charlie Manwaring’s Southold Fish Market, not only are shellfish and finfish sold,  but there’s a café. At it, scallops are perfectly cooked. “Dredged in flour and cooked in butter with some garlic in a hot pan,” I was told. You’d never find scallops so fresh, so good, so sensationally cooked in the Big City. On the menu is a tale beginning with: “ONCE UPON A TIME…a young boy learned to clam and fish from his father and grandfather….That young man….Charlie…still works his heart out at the job he loves. He and his crew look forward to showing you what our surrounding waters and the hard work of our local baymen can offer.”

We were on the North Fork so I could get an epidural injection from a fantastic doctor to deal with pain in a hip. That’s a thing about Suffolk, there’s quality all over the place.

Dr. Frank Adipietro presides at the Dr. Frank J. Adipietro Interventional Pain Center, an entire wing of Eastern Long Island Hospital. The hospital is right on the water in Greenport. It’s quite a contrast, besides its setting, to hospitals in New York City. Here medical care is remarkably friendly, personal and on a small-scale—yet still of the highest-quality. (That shot by the next morning had virtually eliminated the pain.)

I’ve always gotten a kick out of quaint Greenport. 

We took the North Ferry going back and I thought of the other place where there are small white ferries like this: the San Juan Islands off the state of Washington. A big difference is that waters there are frigid. Indeed, on those ferries are signs warning of hypothermia in an instant if one falls into the water. Happily, Suffolk waters are swimmable much of the year.

Driving across bucolic Shelter Island, past the sign warning motorists that there may be turtles on the road, I thought of the contrast between this sweet island and much of the area where I’m a journalism professor in now mostly heavily built-up Nassau County. 

We were on the South Ferry, named the Lt. Joe Theinart, going to North Haven. Lt. Theinart of Shelter Island was killed in 2010 at age 24 by the explosion of an improvised bomb in Afghanistan. On entering Shelter Island from the ferry, you see, nearly a decade later, a hand-written sign declaring: “We Love You Joey” and a depiction of a heart.

Service to the nation has long been revered in Suffolk, as the host of monuments to Civil War and World War I (many extended to World War II) service attest. There’s also a monument in Huntington to a patriot of the Revolutionary War—Nathan Hale who at 21 answered General George Washington’s request and volunteered to be a spy behind enemy lines on Long Island. He began his mission on the shores of Huntington Bay. He was later captured and hung by the British. He famously declared as his last words: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

My wife, Janet, was from nearby Huntington Beach when we met in 1959 on the first week for us at Antioch College in Ohio. (As of the new year, we’ll have been together for 60 years.) A half-year Antioch internship at the Cleveland Press inspired me to get into journalism as quickly as I could. Janet and I went to Suffolk. Thinking I needed some more college to get a job in journalism, for a year and a half I attended then Adelphi Suffolk College in Sayville and started and was editor there of the first newspaper at a four-year college in Suffolk which I named The New Voice. 

We first lived in Islip, then Brentwood, then Sayville and now, going on 45 years, Noyac.

From the South Ferry we drove through beautiful Sag Harbor and then adjacent Noyac. It was to Sag Harbor that my paternal grandparents came from Hungary, met, married and settled more than a century ago, later moving to the city. I became a reporter in Suffolk in 1961. Janet,  now retired as a teacher, and I raised two sons, Adam and Kurt, in Suffolk. It’s been a good life here.

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books. 

Thursday
Nov152018

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - Quite An Election In Suffolk County And The Nation

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP

By Karl Grossman

           What a midterm election—in Suffolk County and the nation!

           When I entered my polling place, a poll-watcher commented about how it had been an extremely busy day. That was true of voting across the nation. For years, voter apathy has been bemoaned in the United States. Perhaps the 2018 midterm election will mark a change.

            The biggest contest in Suffolk was in the lst Congressional District where Republican Lee Zeldin of Shirley held his own and will have a third term. However, Democrat Perry Gershon of East Hampton waged a strong, well-organized campaign. Indeed, this newcomer to politics in receiving 46% of the vote did better against Mr. Zeldin than Democrat Anna Throne-Holst in 2016 with 41.8% and Tim Bishop, the Democratic incumbent, in 2014 with 44.5%

            Will Mr. Gershon pull “another Otis Pike”—in that Democrat Pike initially lost his race in 1958 against lst C.D. incumbent Stuyvesant Wainwright of Wainscott. Mr. Pike of Riverhead then embarked on a two-year marathon of going to virtually every meeting of civic and community groups in the lst C.D., mixing with residents at every opportunity, not stopping campaigning. And in 1960 he defeated four-term Republican Wainwright. Mr. Pike held the lst C.D.seat for 18 years, longer than anyone in history, from 1789 when it was first representative was Declaration of Independence-signer William Floyd of Mastic.

             Is it possible that Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman will be the Democratic candidate to run in two years in the lst C.D. considering his mighty showing against incumbent County Comptroller John M. Kennedy, Jr.?

             Even though Mr. Schneiderman of Southampton has lived his adult life on the East End—and candidates from the relatively lightly populated East End have not been seen as doing well in countywide races—he came 1% away from upsetting Republican Kennedy from Nesconset. Mr. Schneiderman grew up in Hauppauge, graduated from Hauppauge High School.

             Mr. Kennedy was Suffolk County legislator for five two-year terms (his wife, Leslie, now holds the seat), was an official at many other levels in Suffolk government and is the incumbent comptroller. Still, Mr. Schneiderman did very well and at this writing was not conceding with thousands of absentee ballots still not counted.

             If Mr. Schneiderman, long an Independence Party member, had received the Independence line with the 6,490 votes it pulled in—it was outrageous with his Independence background he did not—he’d have won. A former East Hampton supervisor and six-term county legislator, he need not leave his Southampton supervisor’s post to go for Congress in two years. 

            Will Mr. Kennedy run as the GOP candidate next year for Suffolk County executive?

            Long Island had a key role in Democrats gaining a majority in the New York State Senate in Election 2018. From Suffolk, Democrat James Gaughran of Northport, a former Suffolk County legislator who is chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority, unseated 11-term Republican incumbent Senator Carl Marcellino of Syosset. Longtime—very longtime—Senate incumbent Republican Kenneth LaValle of Port Jefferson won by good margin to his 22nd (!) two-year term. But his important—for Long Island and the state—chairmanship of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee might be collateral damage. Mr. LaValle has been ideal as chair of that committee as a former teacher and school administrator. 

            I’ve been a guest lecturer in the class he taught at what was Dowling College—and the guy can teach. He knows education personally. But the New York State Legislature is very partisan. I know this from having for years been sent to Albany to cover the closing week of its sessions when I reported and wrote a column at the daily Long Island Press. If you are a senator or assemblyperson from the minority party, you are relegated to being a near political outsider. Will the Senate under Democratic control allow Mr. LaValle to continue as committee chair? That’s unlikely.

             Finally, Andrew Cuomo won re-election to a third term as governor by a solid—59%—margin but it’s considered doubtful he will run for a fourth four-year term. And, before that, it’s likely he will try to be the Democratic candidate against President Trump in 2020.

             Who might be the Democrat to potentially be his successor? I’d say State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Long Islander who won re-election last week by a bigger margin—66.5%—than even Mr. Cuomo—or any candidate for a state government administration post.

             Mr. DiNapoli is remarkably independent, a straight-shooter strong on ethics, affable and thoroughly competent. He’s quite the environmentalist, too, was co-chair of the Suffolk-based State Legislative Commission on Water Resource Needs of Long Island. A resident of Great Neck Plaza, he served 10 terms as a state assemblyman before being appointed to an open term as state comptroller and then was elected twice to the position. He would make an extraordinary governor.

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books. 

Friday
Nov092018

Suffolk County Is The Place To Go For Holiday Events

 

SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE BELLONE ANNOUNCES PARKS SCHEDULE DURING HOLIDAYS

Girl Scouts Holiday Light Show Returns to Smith Point County Park

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the holiday events schedule for Suffolk County Department of Parks facilities this holiday season. After another successful year with strong attendance across all County parks, beaches and campgrounds, holiday events aim to continue to promote Suffolk’s robust network of pristine parks.

“As the holiday season approaches, we are proud to continue our tradition of offering family-friendly activities year-round at our cherished Suffolk County Parks,” said County Executive Bellone. “Many of these activities have become a staple of our community and we look forward to sharing the holiday joys with friends and loved ones this winter.”

The County Executive additionally announced that for the first time since the Girl Scout’s Holiday Light Show has been at Smith Point County Park, the show will include a Holiday Village hosted by J & B Restaurants. The village will feature a live Santa Claus, a photographer, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, bottle beverages, and snack items for sale, along with stuffed animals, Santa hats, assorted antlers, headbands, and light up items for sale. Additionally, the Holiday Village will serve as a drop-off point for non-perishable food items to be donated to Long Island Cares. 

Holiday Events Schedule as Follows:

November 23, 24 and 25

Sagtikos Manor Gift Shop

11:00 AM - 3:00 PM:

Visit their gift shop and do all your shopping for the holidays. The Sagtikos Manor Gift Shop has some new items in for the season. Get away from the frantic crowds and browse in a delightful tranquil setting. Entrance and parking is in the rear of the manor.

November 24 – December 23

Santa Visits St. James General Store

St. James General Store, St. James, Every Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 PM — 4:00 PM:

Families can enjoy visiting with Santa Claus, shopping, and viewing many museum pieces that highlight the rooms. Artifacts from the Victorian time period line the shelves, mingled with the large assortment of merchandise for sale. There are displays of ledgers and old photographs in museum cases. The store is on the National Register of Historic Places.            

November 28

Vanderbilt Museum Tree Lighting

Vanderbilt Museum, Centerport 4:00 PM:

This free, fun, family-friendly tree lighting features singers from the Northport Chorale and the Carriage House Players theater company, carol singing, hot chocolate and cookies, and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. 

Holiday Lighting of the Big Duck

Big Duck, Flanders 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM:

The event features a visit from Quackerjack, the Long Island Ducks baseball team mascot, duck carols led by students from the Riverhead Middle School Show Choir, refreshments and the ever-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus by fire truck.

November 29 — December 30

15th Annual Girl Scouts Holiday Light Show

Smith Point County Park:

All proceeds of the drive-through show benefit children’s services. The Holiday Village will be back with Santa. Cost: $20/car; $40 for mini bus/RV; $70 for coach and school buses. No cash; Only credit/debit cards will be accepted for payment. For more information, visit www.holidaylightshow.org, email lightshow@gssc.us, or call (631) 543-6622.

December 1-2 & December 8-9

Deepwells Holiday Boutique

Deepwells Farm Mansion, St. James 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM:

Dozens of artisans create boutiques throughout the decorated 1845 Greek revival style farmhouse featuring hand-crafted gifts, stained glass, jewelry, handmade marionettes, dolls, painted Santas, pottery, floral arrangements, candles, organic soaps, Christmas ornaments, fiber arts, holiday items and more. Enjoy complementary hot cocoa and cookies in the beautifully decorated mansion and get a glimpse into the past while supporting The Deepwells Farm Historical Society.

December 1 and December 2

Christmas at Meadow Croft

Meadow Croft, Sayville 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM:

Join Meadow Croft Estate for Christmas music played on the grand piano, rooms beautifully decorated for Christmas, and learn some of the history of this historic home. Head on out to The Carriage House for St. Nicks workshop - visit with old St. Nick himself, have your picture taken, enjoy some cookies and cocoa and view the great train display! Visitors must stop at the main house first to get their pass to the Carriage House. Adults $5, Seniors and children $3.

December 2

Family Yuletide Day

Walt Whitman Birthplace, Huntington Station, 1:00 PM:

Event includes Holiday Sing-Along starting at 1p.m., followed by a visit with Santa, cookie decoration, face painting, ornament crafts, old-time games, and tours. Child Admission is $9. To register or for info: 631-427-5240, ext. 113 or educator@waltwhitman.org

December 8

‘Tis the Season’

Long Island Maritime Museum, West Sayville, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM:

The event celebrates the area’s Dutch heritage. Events include lantern tours, holiday ornament crafts, photos with Sinterklaas, hand bell ensemble, hot chocolate, and more. The museum will be collecting donations for Toys for Tots. Reservations are required. Admission is $5 per person and includes a gift for each child. Call 631-854-4974 for information.

December 8 and December 9

A White House Christmas Tradition Holiday House Tours 

Sagtikos Manor, 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM (Tours leave every 15 minutes):

Experience Christmas at the White House through the eyes of some of America’s First Ladies. You will be escorted on a tour through the festively decorated first floor of the manor by costumed docents. Shop for seasonal greenery made by the Friends of the Manor Gardens and for holiday themed gifts in the gift shop. Space is limited and reservations are highly recommended. $25 adults, $20 seniors (60 and over) and students, $8 children (5-12). If paying by check, mail reservation form by 12/3/18. For tour day/times and mailing instructions visit the SagtikosManor website at: http://sagtikosmanor.org/  . If booking online and paying with credit card, reserve by 12/5/18. $30 at the door day of the event as space allows.

December 8 and December 9

Open House Tours, Yaphank Historic District.

19 Mill Rd, Yaphank, 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM:

The Yaphank Historical Society In conjunction with Curtain Up Entertainment Presents An 1855 Christmas at the Hawkins House. The house will be decorated for the holiday, and the family will be busy with holiday tasks, having tea with friends, wrapping gifts and enjoying the season .Reserved Ticket Prices - - Adults: $15; Children 4-12: $8.00 Reservations are essential. Timed Tickets must be picked up at the Swezey-Avey House the day of your tour, prior to arriving at the Hawkins House. Complimentary refreshments will be served at the Swezey-Avey House. Call 631-924-4803 for more information