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Friday
Sep222017

Inquiring Legislators Want Answers About County Red Light Camera Program

Legislator Rob Trotta speaks at Miller Place press conference about reporting of red light camera statisticsSuffolk County Legislators Rob Trotta, Leslie Kennedy and Tom Muratore want to know why the county’s annual Red Light Camera Program Report does not include statistics on incidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists at red light intersections. Standing at the red light camera intersection of Miller Place Rd and 25A, Trotta slammed the program and called attention to two fatality’s, a pedestrian and a bicyclist, that occurred at the site. 

Trotta, a fierce opponent of the county’s red light program, wants to know if  Nelson & Pope, the engineering company that creates the Red Light Camera Program Report, was directed to withhold statistics that were included in its 2010, 2011 and 2013 reports. According to Trotta the engineer at Nelson & Pope said,“he was told ‘a few years ago’ not to include them.” The legislators have three questions they are demanding answers to: Who directed Nelson & Pope not to include information, why the data has been excluded and finally has the county violated  NYS Motor Vehicle & Traffic Law, section 111 - b4, 2m 1-4 which stipulates municipalities submit a report annually which includes the aggregate number, type and severity of accidents reported at intersections where a traffic-control signal photo violation- monitoring system is used and the number of violations recorded at each intersection where a signal system is used…”

Trotta stated, “Anybody who is hit by a car on a bicycle or a pedestrian are not being reported to State and that’s required by law. The vehicle and traffic law specifically states that the reports have to be complete and processed up to Albany by June of the year after it closes. If they don’t, if they’re not complete these are not, these are actually crimes for submitting false instrument for filing. And that’s when you knowingly send something to the State when you know the information is wrong.” 

Trotta is calling for an investigation. He has called on NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to open an investigation into the county’s underreporting of accidents for 2014-2015. “There are multiple reasons why this program should be shut down immediately and I am aghast that we are doing nothing and we are lying to the public by not including the pedestrians and the bicyclists.”

The red light camera program which generates $32 million in revenue for Suffolk County was the subject of a public hearing at the county legislature earlier this month with some legislators proposing to conduct a review and a suspension of the program until the review is completed.

Thursday
Sep212017

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - Legislators Vote Themselves A Pay Freeze

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP

By Karl Grossman

The members of the Suffolk Legislature had a difficult conversation this month on suspending automatic pay increases for four years—a freeze for all 18 of them as well as other top county officials. The measure, authored by Legislator Al Krupski of Cutchogue and co-sponsored by William J. Lindsay III of Oakdale, passed 16-2 after some strong and also some poignant remarks.

It has now gone to County Executive Steve Bellone whose pay would also be impacted. He has scheduled a public hearing starting at 10 a.m. next Thursday, September 28, in Media Room 182 at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. 

Since 1986 Suffolk legislators and other high county officials have gotten automatic yearly salary increases of four percent or the increase in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.

Mr. Krupski, who has declined a cost-of living raise three out of the four years he has been a legislator, in opening the discussion September 6 on the measure—titled “A Local Law to Freeze Salaries of County Elected Officials”—said: “A lot of people work in the private sector and don’t receive automatic increases.” Moreover, considering the “current fiscal condition” of county government—there is a $163 million budget deficit presently—“a four-year-freeze would show that…we recognize the current situation.”

Legislator Kevin McCaffrey of Lindenhurst said “I believe that our fiscal crisis needs to be fixed by a global solution, meaning everybody’s got to be involved in it. It’s got to be the unions, it’s got to be the exempts, it’s got to be the electeds….But I plan on supporting this because I think we need to show the way and we need to take the first step.”

However, Legislator Tom Barraga of West Islip declared: “I certainly understand the symbolism associated with this particular bill, but I will adamantly oppose it.” A long-time member of the State Assembly before becoming a legislator (and serving now for the maximum of 12 years and being term-limited from running for re-election this year), he said “the State Legislature” is a “classic example” of the error of enacting a pay freeze. 

For two decades, he said, there has been a freeze on salaries of members of the Assembly and Senate “and they have been losing for a number of years now, excellent representatives, because they can no longer afford to stay up there” in Albany. “There are very good people up there, all of them deserve raises, but every time they do it, there’s always a group that says, ‘Oh, no, you’re making too much’….The papers are against it, the media is against it.” Members of the Assembly receive $79,500 a year. “But to live in Nassau and Suffolk and being a full-time legislator on $79,500 a year, you can’t do it.”

“So bottom line,” he went on, “if you feel as an individual member that you have to do something along these lines and the salary [of Suffolk legislators] is $100,000, take 95 [$95,000], you’ve made your point. But don’t lay this on 18 members, it’s just the wrong way to go.”

Legislator Rob Trotta of Fort Salonga said “to put this in perspective.” under current contracts the Suffolk County “PBA got and all the [county] police unions got a 3.5% raise every year for eight years at a cost of $400 million.” Mr. Trotta, a retired Suffolk Police detective who has been highly critical of those contracts, said “my point is we are already setting the example that we are taking either the cost of living or below and they’re getting three times that. So I personally think this is nothing more than an election year ploy…It’s ridiculous, absurd…I don’t need the money, I can live without it, but I feel for the other legislators here who are supporting families on it.”

Mr. Krupski responded to Mr. Trotta saying “it’s a small step in the right direction…If you don’t start somewhere, though, you’ll never…get to reducing our budget…It’s a good place to start with ourselves.”

Legislator Rob Colarco of Patchogue said: “I do this as a full-time job. I don’t have another job….I have three little ones…I am fortunate enough to be a county legislator in a county where I have a salary that earns enough that I can do this as a full-time job. And, certainly, my wife has to work, too, but I think that’s the story for most people on Long Island.”

Legislator Sarah Anker of Mount Sinai said that ‘being a single mom with three kids…it’s not easy. But the amount of money we make as a legislator is—it’s substantial. It’s better than most legislative salaries probably in the country.”

Robert Lipp, director of the legislature’s Budget Review Office, reported at the meeting fhat there would be, based on 1.09% automatic pay increases over the past four years, an annual savings of $25,789 with the proposed freeze.

Wednesday
Sep202017

Suffolk County 2017-18 Archery Hunting Season Info 

The Suffolk County Department of Parks offers deer hunting access to Suffolk residents during the 2017-18 NYSDEC Long Island Archery Hunting Season. The Department of Parks has additional requirements beyond current NYSDEC law. Please review all information closely and if you have any questions please check with any of the parks listed below.

The season runs from Sunday Oct. 1 to Wednesday Jan. 31, 2018

REQUIREMENTS:
Program is for SUFFOLK COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY.
Hunters must possess and carry afield the following:
1) Valid New York State Big Game License and tag
2) Valid Suffolk County Parks Green Key Card
3) Valid Suffolk County Parks Archery permit
FEES: Resident Green Key Card (18 & Up) $30.00
Res. Sr./Junior/Handicap/Volunteer/Aux. Pol./Gr. Key Card $15.00
Res. Disabled Veteran Green Key Card FREE
Archery Permit – Resident/Sr./Handicap/Volunteer/Aux. Pol./Veteran $38.00
Archery Permit – Resident Disabled Veteran (with Green Key) FREE
LOCATIONS TO PURCHASE PERMIT OR OBTAIN ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
PARK OFFICES: (Call Park prior to your arrival to insure staff availability.)
Administration Office, West Sayville Golf Course 854-4949 (8:30 AM-4:30 PM, Mon – Fri)
Cathedral Pines County Park, Yaphank 852-5502 (8:00 AM-4:00 PM, Mon – Sun)
Sears Bellows County Park, Hampton Bays 852-8290 (8:00 AM-4:00 PM, Wed – Sun)
Cedar Point County Park, East Hampton 852-7620 (8:00 AM-4:00 PM, Wed – Sun)
Indian Island County Park, Riverhead 852-3232 (8:00 AM-4:00 PM, Wed – Sun)

RULES AND REGULATIONS: All NYSDEC Regulations Apply. In addition, Suffolk County Parks Archery Hunters must comply with the following:
1. Hunters must park in designated parking areas only.
2. No overnight parking.
3. Parking permits must be displayed on the vehicle dashboard and be fully visible. One permit is issued per hunter. If two (2) hunters utilize one vehicle, both parking permits must be displayed in vehicle and the parking area is then considered full.
4. For the safety of all, hunters must wear at least a 6” X 6” Blaze Orange Patch on their outside garment plainly visible. The patch must be displayed on the upper body (above waist). All persons participating in the Youth Mentoring Program must wear Hunter Orange (shirt, jacket or hat).
5. SHARE THE WOODS: Hikers are permitted in these areas throughout the archery season.
6. Temporary tree stands are permitted, but must be removed by the conclusion of hunting season. Be advised that your tree stand may be subject to use by others if left in place. Parks is not responsible for damaged, lost, or stolen property.
7. Attention: In addition to NYSDEC reporting requirements, all successful archery hunters must also report success to the nearest park office (Cathedral Pines, Sears-Bellows, Cedar Point, or Indian Island). If Parks is to continue offering Archery Hunting opportunities we need to know success ratio, area productivity, etc. Your cooperation will help ensure the continuation of the program. If the nearest Suffolk County Parks office is closed or unmanned, call the Administration Office Monday- Friday 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. at (631) 854-4949.
8. Please respect private property postings. When hunting in unfamiliar areas, check with local park personnel for boundaries of parkland.
9. Failure to comply with any of the above may result in the forfeiture of all hunting privileges.
SEASON DATES:
SUNDAY, OCT. 1, 2017 TO WEDNESDAY, JAN. 31, 2018
1. Arshamomaque Preserve & County Park – Greenport, Southold *
2. Beagle Club County Park – Calverton, Riverhead
3. Buckskill County Park – Wainscott, East Hampton **
4. Corey Creek Park – Southold, Southold *
5. Dwarf Pine Plains County Park – Westhampton Beach, Southampton
6. Edward V. Ecker, Sr. County Park – Montauk, East Hampton
7. East Moriches County Park – East Moriches, Brookhaven
8. Flanders County Park – Flanders, Southampton
9. Gorden Heights County Park – Gordon Heights, Brookhaven
10. Hog Creek Woodland – Springs, East Hampton **
11. Jacob’s Farm – Springs, East Hampton **
12. Laurel Lake County Park (Aldrich Lane) – Laurel, Southold
13. Laurel Lake County Park (Sound Avenue) – Mattituck, Southold
14. Laurel Valley County Park, – Noyac, Southampton
15. Long Springs County Park – North Sea, Southampton
16. Manorville Hills County Park – Manorville, Brookhaven
17. Manorville Prairie County Park – Manorville, Brookhaven
18. Middle Island County Park – Middle Island, Brookhaven
19. Miller Place Yaphank Road County Park – Miller Place, Brookhaven
20. North Fork County Park – Northville, Riverhead
21. North Neck County Park – Montauk, East Hampton
22. Northwest Creek County Park – Northwest Harbor, East Hampton **
23. Northwest Harbor County Park – Northwest Harbor, East Hampton
24. Peconic Headwaters County Park – Ridge, Brookhaven
25. Pine Meadow County Park – Eastport, Southampton
26. Rock Hill County Park – Manorville, Brookhaven
27. Ruth Oliva Preserve at Dam Pond – East Marion, Southold *
28. Saw Mill Creek County Park – Riverhead, Riverhead
29. Saw Mill Creek Headwaters County Park – Riverhead, Riverhead
30. Seatuck Creek County Park – Eastport, Southampton
31. Six Pole Woodland – Wainscott, East Hampton **
32. Sound View Dunes – Peconic, Southold *
33. South Manorville County Park – South Manorville, Brookhaven
34. Stony Hill Woods County Park – Amagansett, East Hampton
35. Suffolk Hills County Park (North and South) – Northampton, Brookhaven/Southampton
36. Three Mile Harbor (Boys & Girls Harbor) – Northwest Harbor, East Hampton **
37. Warbler Woods County Park – Yaphank, Brookhaven
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2017 TO WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2018
38. Cedar Point County Park – East Hampton
39. Inlet Pond County Park – Greenport, Southold
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2017 TO SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2017
40. Hubbard County Park – Flanders/Hampton Bays, Southampton
* NOTE: These properties are co-owned with the Town of Southold. Town residents may also hunt these parks with a town permit. Hunters must shoot within designated zones. (In addition to NYS DEC and County reporting requirements, please report success to Southold Town at (631) 765-1283.)
** NOTE: These properties are co-owned with the Town of East Hampton. Town residents may also hunt these parks with a town permit.
Contact the New York State D.E.C. Check Station at 924-3156 for information on hunting Suffolk County Parklands managed under the New York State Cooperative Agreement Program.

 

Saturday
Sep162017

Daytime Lane Closures On Route 231 Begin On September 18

TRAVEL ADVISORY:

Lane closures expected on State Route 231 
in the Towns of Huntington and Babylon, Suffolk County

Motorists should expect lane closures for concrete pavement repairs of State Route 231/Deer Park Avenue in the Towns of Huntington and Babylon, Suffolk County.

Beginning on Monday, September 18, there will be short term lane closures on State Route 231 between the Southern State Parkway and Interstate 495/Long Island Expressway between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Portable variable message signs have been placed along the 4.5-mile route with additional information regarding the closures. 

This is part of a $6.4 million New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) project to maintain the roadway that is expected to be completed in the winter of 2018/2019. Work for this project is being completed during off peak hours.  

Motorists are reminded to drive carefully through the work zone, obey any speed restrictions that may be in place, and the instructions of the flag persons for their safety and the safety of the highway work crew.  As with most road and bridge projects, work may be cancelled, postponed, or prolonged due to inclement weather. 

For real-time travel information motorists should call 511 or visit www.511NY.org, New York State’s official traffic and travel information source.

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) appreciates the patience and cooperation of motorists and the local community while these bridge safety inspections are undertaken to help assure the continued protection of all motorists.

 

Thursday
Sep142017

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - "Listen To The Cry Of The Earth"

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP

By Karl Grossman

As the second monster hurricane—Irma—was getting set to hit, we were out sailing with a friend, a long-time resident of Miami Beach who last year sold her home on that built-up barrier island to move to higher ground in Florida. Looking from the boat at the passing coast and its structures, many all but on the shore, she commented about Long Island, like Miami Beach, becoming a victim of climate change and the rising sea level and extreme weather it causes.

What’s being done here about this here? 

There are efforts on Long Island to do more than its part to discourage the use of fossil fuels. 

Smithtown was designated a “Clean Energy Community” by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in December. The authority said Smithtown was “the first community on Long Island” to receive the designation “recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use…and driving clean energy in its communities.”  In March, Southold Town also was designated a “Clean Energy Community.” 

The Towns of East Hampton and Southampton have both committed to renewable energy sources providing 100 percent of the electricity used in both towns, by 2020 in East Hampton and 2025 in Southampton. Solar and offshore wind are to be the main sources.

Solar panels turning sunlight into electricity and wind power are now cheaper, according to a variety of reports issued this year, than generating electricity with fossil fuels. These plants, mainly coal-fired plants, generate worldwide many billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere yearly. They trap heat and are the main cause of global warming and thus climate change. 

“If we continue business as usual, we would get into catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change,” said Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, at a 100% Renewable Energy Forum in May. 

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine has been in the forefront here on climate change. As he emphasized in a “State of the Town Address” in March, “We live on an island and have already begun to see some of the effects of our rising seas.” He spoke of all new home construction in Brookhaven now required to be “solar-ready” and the town replacing its street lights with energy-efficient LED lights. As for vehicles, after fossil fueled power plants the second main reason for climate change, he said the town is going to hybrid and electric vehicles. And when President Trump in June pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, Mr. Romaine, a Republican, issued a very strong statement criticizing the decision.

The denial that climate change is happening comes despite 2016 being the hottest year on record in 137 years of record-keeping—with the previous record-holders 2015 and 2014, according to a 298-page report of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and American Meteorological Society. As an article last month in National Geographic noted, the report also found global averages for sea surface temperature—key in feeding hurricanes—and sea level also “reached record highs” while the “extent of Antarctic sea-ice hit record lows.”

“Harvey Didn’t Come Out of the Blue. Now is the Time to Talk About Climate Change,” was the title of an article last week by writer Naomi Klein on Intercept. “Turn on the coverage of the Hurricane Harvey and the Houston flooding and you’ll hear lots of talk about how unprecedented this kind of rainfall is….What you will hear very little about is why these kinds of unprecedented, record-breaking weather events are happening with such regularity that ‘record-breaking’ has become a meteorological cliché.” We must focus on climate change “fueling this era of serial disasters….our last hope for preventing a future littered with countless more victims.”

Or as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff wrote early last week, Harvey has been “viewed…as a gripping human drama but without adequate discussion of how climate change increases risks of such cataclysms. We can’t have an intelligent conversation about Harvey without also discussing climate change.” 

And then came Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded.

It’s critical for the world to work together to try to stop what is happening. As Pope Francis, deeply concerned about climate change, says, we must “listen to the cry of the Earth.”

And also, as Dr. Robert Young, coastal geologist and co-author of the The Rising Sea, said in a presentation in Suffolk, people need to “relocate” from vulnerable areas and there should be “incentives” encouraging this. “I don’t say ‘retreat’ anymore.” That’s because Americans don’t like the sound of that word, he said, “No, we say relocate.”