Suffolk County Executive Levy Pushes for 2% State Cap on Mandatory Arbitration.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy

The office of Steve Levy issued this release today:

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy today is calling on members of the New York State Legislature to impose a 2% cap on increases in union contracts achieved through mandatory arbitration awards. If such a cap were instituted statewide, the savings to Suffolk taxpayers could be in the range of $7-$10 million per year for police alone, considering recent 3.5% increases achieved by police unions through mandatory arbitration.

Levy cited a January 30 Newsday story noting that nearly half of Nassau County’s 2,400-member police force collected more than $150,000 last year largely due to high overtime costs and retirement packages. In Suffolk last year, 1,356 officers on a force of 2,576 collected more than $150,000, including a two-year retroactive contract payment and severance pay for officers who retired.

Mandatory arbitration is a process by which some law enforcement unions obtain an independent arbitrator to give a final and binding decision where an impasse on negotiation exists. The county executive has long pushed for an end to mandatory arbitration, saying that doing so would create incentive for serious negotiation and potential givebacks to the management side that would benefit taxpayers.

“The problem with mandatory arbitration is that the arbitrators have tended to side largely with the unions,” said Levy. “Usually, arbitrators look to our neighboring county as a barometer for the award they give rather than the impact such an award would have on taxpayers. For example, an arbitrator will see a neighboring municipality’s increase and thereafter one-up it. This leapfrog approach cycles back and forth, leading to salaries and benefits that are mind boggling to an average, private worker.”

Levy’s plan is based on a program that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie implemented as a toolkit to balance out that state’s 2 percent property tax cap. The New York State senate will vote this week on a property tax cap, and Levy is pushing for a similar toolkit to be installed for New York.

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Legislator D’Amaro Honors Half Hollow Hills Business Leadership Award Winners

Legislator Lou D’Amaro (D-Huntington Station), right, joins Half Hollow East Business Teacher Jeff Finch to congratulate district students Aneesh Shah, Eric Gesuale, Jeff Cherkin and Cody Miecnikowski on their accomplishments in the Eighth Annual Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals’ Business Leadership Competition.

The office of Legislator D’aamaro issued this release today:

Suffolk County Legislator Lou D’Amaro (D-Huntington Station) recently attended the Half Hollow Hills School District Board of Trustees Meeting to recognize several students from Half Hollow Hills East (HSE) and Half Hollow Hills West (HSW) who won awards at the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Eighth Annual Business Leadership Competition this past December.

The following students were honored at the meeting: Cody Miecnikowsi and Aneesh Shah (HSE) for 1st Place in Hospitality Services, Jeff Cherkin (HSE) for 2nd Place in Sports Marketing, John Guido and Ryan Persaud (HSW) for 2nd Place in Sales Demonstration, Brandon Ehrlich (HSE) for 3rd Place in Fashion Marketing and Eric Gesuale (HSE) for 3rd Place in Job Interview.

“These budding entrepreneurs demonstrated that they have the knowledge, enthusiasm and creativity necessary to drive the local, national and global economy for years to come,” said Legislator D’Amaro.  “I applaud these young professionals for their noteworthy accomplishments in this competition and wish them much continued success.”

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Owner of HHA Vendor Is Also Donor to HHA’s Chairman Spencer

Huntington Station news cycle ( click to enlarge)

The Huntington Housing Authority generated headlines when it first hired PR firm New York Strategies, which is owned by Michael Schenkler, publisher of the Long-Islander.  A story in the Long Island Business News questioned whether the public could expect fair coverage from the Long-Islander if one of its principals was paid by the HHA to represent its development agenda to the residents of Huntington.   Schenkler replied, “It’s a ridiculous concept that money buys control of a newspaper”, and went on to point out how the Long-Islander covered the HHA’s decision to bring Guardian Angels to Huntington Station independently of the press releases and photos his PR firm was issuing showing HHA Chairman Spencer and others walking the mean streets outside Jack Abrams Administrative Center with Curtis Sliwa.  What if the HHA didn’t buy the Long-Islander’s coverage?  What if it’s the other way around and Schenkler bought the HHA?

Ridiculous you say?  What evidence exists for such a preposterous claim?  Maybe it’s only circumstantial, but Tribco, an LLC controlled by Schenkler, is a donor to HHA Chairman William Spencer’s campaign for the seat that Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper will vacate at the end of the year when he runs up against his term limit.  Adding an additional whiff of intrigue to the situation, Tribco was initially listed as a $5,000 donor to the Spencer campaign.  Since they were initially filed, the filings with the state have been changed and the Tribco donation revised down to $500.

The donation to Spencer may be nothing more than a goodwill gesture from a supporter, but why risk even the perception of a conflict?  What would Long-Islander founder Walt Whitman say?

An excerpt from the town ethics code:
It is the purpose of the Town Board of the Town of Huntington in enacting this article to codify the policy of requiring the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct by all those who choose to engage in public service to the populace of the Town of Huntington, in order for the town to meet all of its responsibilities to its residents and taxpayers, at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and propriety…    …All government officials of the town or any subdivision thereof shall endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that they are likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of their trust.

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Meetings This Week January 30th-February 5th

Daniel Karpen will be walking softly in big wooden clogs AND brandishing a stick or other props Tuesday

Tuesday February 1st:

Huntington’s Town Board Meeting will take place at Town Hall, 100 Main Street,Huntington, New York 11743 at 7:00 PM
Click here for an agenda. In addition to what’s on the agenda, many residents are asking for those who are upset with the possibility of tearing down the Old Hotel Huntington at 410 New York Avenue and replacing it with a drive-thru TD Banknorth to go down and voice their concerns to the Town Board. A few things that caught our eye on the agenda are:

“ENACTMENT: ADOPT Local Law Introductory Number 31-2010, amending the Code of the Town of Huntington, declaring a ninety (90) day moratorium on public hearings, approvals, grants, and conditional use permits by the Zoning Board of Appeals for wireless transmission facilities.” In theory this sounds like a good idea. However, residents have voiced their concerns that Councilman Cuthbertson has proposed that the numerous municipal properties around town will be exempted. If the town code were written this way then telecom companies would be free from the town planning review on these properties.
Municipal properties are everywhere in the township and there are many municipal properties in residential neighborhoods

“AUTHORIZE the Chairman of the Huntington Community Development Agency to prepare and submit all required applications and permits to the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County and all other agencies having jurisdiction to develop eight (8) sites with eight (8) single family dwelling units each with an accessory apartment as affordable housing units in Huntington Station known as the Columbia Street Project.” This is another project that has gotten many residents ire up. Especially those who feel that adding more affordable housing and children to an already strapped school district and crowded neighborhood is about as smart as feeding prunes and chili to your mastiff.

From 6pm – 8pm The Northport Board of Trustees will hold their meeting at Northport Village Hall, 224 Main Street, Northport, NY 11768

Thursday  February 3rd:

Huntington’s Zoning Bard of Appeals will hold their meeting at Huntington Town Hall, 100 Main Street Room 302, Huntington, New York 11743 at 6:00 PM. At this meeting the ZBA will make a decision regarding the Huntington Housing Authority’s plans to sell the property to a developer to increase density and add more affordable senior housing to Huntington Station.

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Huntington POV: Hotel Huntington Needs Your Help This week

Dear Friends, Associates and Huntingtonians,

TD Bank has an application before the Town Board to build a branch at 410 New York Avenue. Please urge the Town Board to DENY TD’s application in its present form. A recent google search of banks in Huntington Village yielded 14 banks within a 1/2 square mile, all within walking distance. There are some spots within 200 feet of each other. At Woodbury Road and Main Street there are 3 banks on 4 corners. There are 2 Chase Banks within 1/4 mile. Do we really need another bank in this Historic Town?

Hotel Huntington was one of the first projects of the newly formed Huntington Chamber of Commerce in 1926 to firmly establish Huntington’s place as a sophisticated town. They took great pride in relying on local talent, which is why Galow was chosen. The Hotel directors read like a history lesson of Huntington: Sammis, Conklin, Baylis, Toaz and even Daniel Gale himself. The Long Islander said at the time: “Here men of varying viewpoints and opinions have been able to sink their personal ambitions and desires in the one great object of obtaining what the community as a whole has needed.” The opening of the hotel in 1929 was hailed as “one of the greatest progressive steps in the history of Huntington” and was recognized as one of the finest Hotels on Long Island east of Brooklyn. It was also the first fireproof Hotel in Suffolk.

This jewel is the southernmost gateway into historic downtown Huntington. The Hotel’s architect was a son of Huntington, August H. Galow. He designed the Henry Perkins Hotel in Riverhead, the home to the Suffolk County Historical Society, on the Nat’l Register and numerous other residential and commercial buildings in Suffolk, Nassau and Manhattan. Galow was a graduate of Huntington High School in 1912. He attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and continued his studies at Columbia’s School of Architecture. He was also good friends with Leroy Grumman who graduated the year before him in 1911. They both played together on Huntington High School’s Baseball and Basketball teams. Together they ran the HHS Life magazine where Roy Grumman was the Editor and Galow was the Art Editor. He not only was a Mason like his father who was a Grand Master before him, but also served his country in WWI. The American Legion used a song he wrote and composed, Alexander Plays Ragtime in Dixieland, as their theme song.

Tearing down the Hotel Huntington to put up a TD bank with a 3 lane DRIVE-THRU at the entrance to OUR historic Town of Huntington is myopic. Anyone who has gone through this area realizes the traffic there from lunchtime through school closing and evening rush hour during weekdays backs up in ALL directions. An entrance on Fairview, a residential street is a terrible idea which must be rethought. This downtown should be made more walkable, not more convenient for traffic, idling cars and pollution. This poses a great hazard to the residents of Fairview along with the pedestrians who come to spend money in OUR Historic Village. This will further destroy the character of downtown Huntington. There are other places in Huntington and Huntington Station where this project would be better served, while helping revitalize vacant properties.

As community leaders and residents, we need you to voice your opinion. Please send emails to OPPOSE this application to your local politicians and attend the Town Board’s February 1st meeting at 7:00 p.m. at Huntington Town Hall. If you plan on addressing the Board, your speech is limited to 2-3 minutes and you need to get there earlier to sign up to do so.

Please pass this email along to your friends in Huntington and its surrounding areas. Tearing down the very fabric which makes this village UNIQUE, CHARMING and VIBRANT is unacceptable. Thank you for helping to preserve our historic village.

Gerard Seitz is a contributor to the Village Tattler’s Huntington POV. The VT welcomes perspectives from all area residents. Huntington POV does not reflect the views of the Village Tattler, rather the individuals who submitted them. Click here for more about the rules and process for submitting an article or other media for publication.

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