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10. GARBARINO REPLACES KING

L. t R.: New York State Assmblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) and former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D-Copiague). Photos courtesy of New York State Assembly and Olivia Vecchio

New York State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) won the race against Democrat and former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon for retiring U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford)’s seat in Congressional District 2. The race to replace King, a 14-term congressman, was among the most-watched races in the nation as Democrats sought to flip the seat into their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Garbarino had declared victory on election night, but Gordon waited to concede until elections officials counted the unusually large amount of absentee ballots mailed in this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

9. WEIK UNSEATS MARTINEZ

L. to R.: Monica Martinez and Alexis Weik.

Republican former Islip Town Tax Receiver Alexis Weik ousted freshman New York State Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) a month after Election Day once absentee ballots were counted. Martinez, a former Suffolk County legislator and school administrator, may already be plotting a rematch in the 2022 election. “Monica Martinez will be back, if I have anything to do with it,” Jay Jacobs, who chairs the New York State and Nassau County Democratic committees, told the Press. “Her district has lost a great senator — for now.”

8. LI PLAINTIFF WINS DACA CASE

Demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments in the consolidation of three cases before the court regarding the Trump administration’s bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in Washington, U.S., November 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

June brought good news for an immigration advocate from Patchogue who sued to block the Trump administration’s decision to end a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants — the Supreme Court ruled in her favor. Eliana Fernández, an Ecuadorean immigrant and lead organizer of nonprofit Make The Road New York, was among a half dozen plaintiffs who sued to reverse President Donald Trump’s rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that shields from deportation children, dubbed “Dreamers,” brought to the U.S. by undocumented immigrants. The justice’s 5-4 vote upholds a lower court’s ruling that Trump’s move to end the program was unlawful. 

7. LI CASE DELIVERS SCOTUS WIN FOR LGBTQ+ RIGHTS

David Kilmnick holds up a photo of Donald Zarda at the Hauppauge office of the Long Island LGBT Network on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (Long Island Press photo)

Also in June, the U.S. Supreme Court cited the case of a man who claimed Long Island Skydive fired him for being gay in the top court’s ruling that extended federal anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The U.S. Supreme Court cited the case of a man who claimed Long Island Skydive fired him for being gay in the top court’s ruling that extend federal anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Zarda case is one of three LGBT discrimination cases that the Supreme Court heard on the issue. 

6. THOMAS VALVA DIES

Thomas Valva

Back in January, a New York City police officer from Center Moriches and his fiancée were arrested in connection with the death of the man’s 8-year-old son, Thomas Valva. Michael Valva, 40, and his 42-year-old fiancée, Angela Pollina, were charged with second-degree murder. Suffolk police alleged the boy died after being left in the unheated garage of the house overnight in freezing temperatures. The incident led to Suffolk County legislators proposing systemic changes to the way Child Protective Services operates.

5. GRUMMAN AGREES TO PLUME CLEAN-UP

bethpage toxic plume
Shutterstock photo

Earlier this month, Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy came to a $406 million agreement to conduct a full aquifer protection clean up project to eliminate groundwater pollution at the former Grumman Aerospace site in Bethpage. After a decades-long fight to curb what’s referred to as the toxic “Grumman plume,” the decision marks a significant victory for environmentalists, Long Island water districts, and elected officials. The plan to cure the aquifer contamination will span 30 years.

4. DIOCESE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre’s headquarters on Sunrise Highway.

In October, the Diocese of Rockville Centre filed for bankruptcy after more than 200 lawsuits were filed alleging Catholic priests on Long Island sexually abused victims over the years. Attorneys for the victims blasted church leaders for the move, which the critics characterized as a legal delay tactic, while church leaders maintained that the filing was necessary as litigation costs pile up. Church operations were expected to continue as normal during the proceedings.

3. ISAIAS STRIKES LI

Tropical Storm Isaias blew into Long Island with strong winds on Aug. 4, leaving more than 400,000 homes and businesses without power, blocked roads with downed trees, and prompted the Long Island Rail Road to suspend service. PSEG-LI received the brunt of the blame for ongoing power outages from several local officials. New York State quickly launched an investigation into the electric company’s response following widespread communications issues when customers tried to report power outages to the utility.

2. FLOYD PROTESTERS TAKE TO LI STREETS

Protestors kneel on Merrick Avenue in Merrick. (Photo by Mira Lerner)

After the police killing of George Floyd in late May, Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, including on Long Island. Thousands gathered at marches and demonstrations all over Long Island as activists were energized to call for change, some of which were answered when New York State lawmakers passed police reforms in June. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a 10-bill legislative package that included a ban on police using chokeholds, mandated that New York State Police wear body cameras, and designating as hate crimes false accusations made to 911 based on religion, race, or other identifiers.

1. AND OF COURSE, COVID-19

Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 4, 2020. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo)

The biggest news story, one that will define 2020 for generations to come, is the coronavirus pandemic. Its impacts on public health, the economy, and our society are immeasurable. Long Island’s first Covid-19 case was confirmed in early March. Not long after, schools, businesses, and offices began shutting down. Later on, it was suspected that the first case on Long Island actually emerged in February. The height of the pandemic in April was brutal for hospital workers who cared for Covid-19 patients, many of whom were severely ill and could not see family because of the no-visitor policies. Though New York has improved in Covid-19 cases from the spring, the pandemic continues; it will be surprising if Covid-19 does not make this list in 2021. However, the news may be brighter. On Dec. 14, the light at the end of the tunnel appeared: the first vaccination in New York was administered at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

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