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Suozzi Takes Lead Over Santos Amid Absentee Ballot Count

Tom Suozzi

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who faced an Election Day vote deficit against a Republican challenger, has taken the lead in his race after absentee ballots began to be tallied.

Suozzi received the vast majority of absentee votes in his district as of Monday. In Suozzi’s race against Republican George Santos, the incumbent has taken an approximately 13,000-vote lead in the count, after trailing by 4,171 votes after Election Day. While the race has not been formally certified by the boards of elections in New York City, Nassau County, or Suffolk County — the Third Congressional District stretches from western Suffolk to eastern Queens — the lawmaker appears to be headed back to his post come January. 

“I’m very happy that I’m going to be returning to my position,” Suozzi said on Monday. “I’m even more confident now then I was then.”

While only around 30 percent of the absentee ballots cast in Suozzi’s district have been counted, he’s so far won about 79 percent of the absentee votes counted. With about 60,000 absentee ballots left to count in Queens, Suffolk, and Nassau, Suozzi predicts he’ll win the race by 20,000 votes.

“I’m not declaring victory just yet,” Suozzi said. ” I just think that I will win once all the votes are counted.”

The absentee ballots cast in the congressional race will likely be fully counted by the end of the week. While Queens and Nassau began counting the ballots in the race on Wednesday, elections workers in Suffolk began counting the ballots on Monday.

Santos did not respond to requests for comment.

In two other closely watched congressional races on Long Island, New York State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) declared himself the winner over Democrat Jackie Gordon on election night in his bid to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). And U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) declared victory in his bid for a fourth term representing the East End of Long Island against Democratic challenger and Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff.

Neither Goroff nor Gordon have conceded their races.

-With Timothy Bolger

This story first appeared on QNS.com

Related Story: Garbarino Declares Win Over Gordon

Related Story: Zeldin Declares Victory Over Goroff

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NY Bill Would Crack Down on Utilities

PSEG-LI workers restore power after Isaias

Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened on Wednesday to pull the plug on utility providers throughout the state following a series of storms this summer that left New Yorkers without power for an extended period of time.

Through soon-to-be-introduced legislation in the State Senate and Assembly, the state would make a slew of reforms to the way utility companies are penalized after failing to provide service to consumers.

“The abuse of the utilities has to end,” Cuomo said. “They are not too big to fail. They’re not going to bully consumers. It’s over.”

The legislation, which has the support of a handful of legislators from Long Island, would increase the financial penalties the state can impose on utility companies. Additionally, it would make it easier for the state to revoke a utility company’s right to operate in New York, according to the governor.

The bill, which falls one step short of activists’ call to make utilities public throughout the state, is backed by a large portion of the Long Island legislative delegation, including state Senators Kevin Thomas and Jim Gaughran, and state Assemblymembers Taylor Darling and Charles Lavine.

“Utilities do not have a mandate. They are legally required to provide adequate and reliable service that’s in the public interest,” Gaughran said. “They’ve dropped the ball for far too long.”

Currently, the state has the ability to impose financial penalties up to $100,000 to utility companies who violate their terms of service, a sum of money, Cuomo said, companies have just factored into the cost of doing business.

“The penalty should be commensurate with the damage done by the utility companies,” Cuomo said.

Should power companies continue to provide inadequate service to paying consumers, the legislation would make it so that the state could revoke the companies’ franchise.

“God did not give the utility company the franchise,” Cuomo said. “The consumers did.”

Lastly, the legislation would impose a salary cap on high level executives at power companies operating in New York. Should an executive want a salary beyond the cap, shareholders of the company would pay the difference, taking the financial burden off of the backs of the consumers according to Cuomo.

While Cuomo only called out one utility provider by name – American Water, which operates in Long Island – the governor warned power providers throughout the state that action would be taken after what he viewed as a failed response to Tropical Storm Isaias over the summer.

The storm, which ripped through New York in August, caused the second-most power outages in Con Edison’s history. The company took weeks to restore power to all of its customers.

“New Yorkers will not be bullied and the utility companies have been bullying the people of New York,” Cuomo said. “The consumer has a right to expect service for their payment, that’s how life works.”

This story first appeared on amny.com

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Uniondale Man Charged With Killing Pregnant Girlfriend, Dumping Body in NYC

Photo by Nick Allen

A 29-year-old Uniondale man was arrested for allegedly killing his pregnant girlfriend from Hempstead and dumping her body on the side of a road in Queens last week.

Police officers arrived at 216-13 Horace Harding Pkwy. in Oakland Gardens, where they found Vanessa Pierre unconscious and unresponsive, lying on the ground in front of the building at about 6 a.m. Friday, according to the NYPD.

EMS personnel pronounced Pierre, who was pregnant, dead at the scene, cops said. She had no signs of trauma and was fully clothed when she was found, according to the police.

The NYPD later recovered surveillance footage that allegedly showed Goey Charles, 29, dragging Pierre’s unconscious body onto the side of the parkway.

Charles was arrested and charged with murder on Monday.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

This story first appeared on QNS.com

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Northport Direct Support Provider Quarantines With Those He Serves

Direct Support Provider Chris Mitchell, pictured here with the FREE Players Drum and Bugle Corps, quarantined with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to serve them during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo courtesy of Chris Mitchell/FREE

Chris Mitchell was working his second-ever shift as a direct support provider in a house for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Northport when he heard the news — a member of the house tested positive for COVID-19.

Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE), the nonprofit that operates the home, sent out a call for volunteers to quarantine with the individuals they serve. Mitchell stepped up to the plate.

“I felt like it put myself and everybody else in the best position possible if I just stayed at the house,” Mitchell said. “So I was like, ‘Alright, this is a no brainer, I’m going to stay here.”

For seven days, Mitchell and a co-worker lived with four men, all of whom have intellectual or developmental disabilities, caring for them and providing them assistance day and night.

Mitchell has been working as a direct support provider for nearly 20 years and he’s been working for FREE for nearly a decade. As a direct support provider, Mitchell works with individuals who have physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities, aiding and assisting them through the most basic needs to the more specific needs, like assisting with educational opportunities.

As a profession, direct support providers don’t get the attention other medical providers may get, according to Mitchell and FREE CEO Robert Budd.

“If we’re doing our jobs really well, we blend into the community,” said Budd, who’s been with FREE for 35 years. “If we do it well, people aren’t going to realize that we have an equal number of heroes in our field that need to be acknowledged.”

To show their appreciation, FREE, which has over 150 locations throughout Queens and Long Island, doubled the pay for Mitchell and all other direct support providers who quarantined with the individuals they serve.

Prior to the quarantine, Mitchell wasn’t working full time in a residential setting. Instead, he was working as the assistant director of the FREE Players Drum and Bugle Corps, a drum corps made up of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Here’s someone who wasn’t part of our residential services and said, ‘You know, I know the guys, I love the guys and I’m happy to volunteer,’ which is so inspiring,” Budd said. “I was just moved by that.”

When it was announced that Mitchell would be quarantining in the house, he said he was welcomed with open arms. For seven days, Mitchell and his co-worker — with whom he says he developed a deep friendship — cooked meals, cleaned and disinfected the house, helped those he served shower, administered their medication and kept them busy and engaged, among a handful of other tasks.

“I really started developing a bond with the individuals I serve,” Mitchell said. “It turned out to be a better experience than I ever thought it was going to be.”

FREE, which has about 1,000 people living in its residential program, has seen about 100 people contract the novel coronavirus and about 12 have died from the disease, according to Budd. Luckily, he says he sees things taking a turn for the better as more information about COVID-19 becomes available and best practices to prevent the spread become more commonplace.

But as the COVID-19 crisis rages on in New York and across the country, Mitchell and Budd hope that the public and the government don’t forget about them and the people they serve.

“I’ve actually heard people say, ‘Why don’t you go get a real job?’” Mitchell said. “And I’m like, ‘This is a real job. This is the ultimate job, if anything.’”

This story first appeared on QNS.com

Related Story: LI Group Homes For The Disabled Overcome Coronavirus Challenges

Related Story: With Little Help From NY, Group Homes Scramble For Medical Supplies

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Fairway Market Remaining Open, Despite Reports of Bankruptcy

Fairway is slated to open on Wednesday. Photo by Christina Santucci

Fairway Market, and all its locations across the New York metro area, including two on Long Island, will remain open for business, according to the company.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, The New York Post reported that the grocery chain was liquidating all of its stores and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; however, according to Fairway, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Despite reports, Fairway Market has no intention to file for Chapter 7 or liquidate all of its stores,” a spokesperson for the company said. “Such statements are categorically untrue and disappointing.”

For the full version of this story, visit qns.com