Timothy Bolger

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.

NY Pols Pass Brianna’s Law Requiring Boater Safety Courses

New York State lawmakers have passed a bill dubbed Brianna’s Law — named for a Long Island girl killed in a boating crash — that requires boaters to take boater safety classes.

The measure passed the New York State Senate last month and the state Assembly this week. The bill now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law.

“Accidents happen whether on land or on water, but having knowledge of boating safety and navigation laws will help keep those from turning deadly,” said Assemb. Kim Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights), a lead sponsor of the bill.

Current law only requires boating classes to be taken by boaters younger than 22 years old. The majority of boat owners are middle-aged adults who are not required to take any classes relating to boating. This legislation will require all individuals propelled vessels to take a state-approved boating safety course.

There are approximately 450,000 registered powerboats statewide. Under current law, new boat owners are exempt from the requirement to complete a safety course for up to 120 days after the purchase of a vessel, and the requirement only applies for operators born after May 1, 1996. 

The course provides training on boat handling, use of navigation instruments and floatation devices, as well as relevant state laws concerning boating operation and safety. There is a five-year phase-in to allow boat operators adequate time to comply with this new requirement.

The bill is named for Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old girl who was killed when a boat crashed into the family craft on the Great South Bay in 2005. The crash also cause serious injuries to her entire family. Since then, Brianna’s mother, Gina Lieneck, of Deer Park, has lobbied state lawmakers to pass the boater safety course bill.

“Gina Lieneck has made it her mission to turn tragedy into triumph so that other families can be spared the heartbreak that her family has endured,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), who sponsored the bill in the senate, said the bill is a lifesaver.

“The safety of our waterways in New York is every bit as important as the safety of our roadways,” he said. “Brianna Lieneck and her family paid the ultimate price from inadequate regulation. Knowing the laws of the waterways is crucial and it is simply a matter of common sense that informed vessel-operators will result in safer waters. I am confident that it will save lives.”

When Love Hurts: How Parents Can Teach Kids To Avoid Teen Dating Violence

Google “parenting advice” and the results will likely include a million websites offering tips on managing the terrible twos, modeling good behavior, and how to get kids to eat their vegetables.

Harder to find is guidance on what parents can do to teach their children how to cultivate healthy friendships so kids are prepared to recognize and avoid controlling, manipulative, and abusive behavior in romantic relationships when they start dating and grow up.

“I bet he likes you,” adults often tell girls when a boy has been mean to them, not realizing that this trope is victim blaming and equates flirting with hurting in a child’s mind.

Such parental cues have consequences. Nearly one in 11 female and approximately one in 15 male high school students reported experiencing dating violence in the last year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The agency found that 26% of women and 15% of men who survived sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner were first victimized before age 18.

“Parents have so much to worry about, I understand why the topic of healthy relationships is overlooked,” writes Colleen Merlo, executive director of L.I. Against Domestic Violence. “If we don’t provide guidance about healthy relationships, we risk setting them up for lifelong trauma.”

Merlo, who says one in three adolescents experience abuse in a relationship, suggests that parents start by reinforcing that children should not be afraid to talk about issues without judgment.

“Let your child know that you care about their health and safety, and that they should stand up for themselves in situations that seem controlling, abusive, unsafe, or against their values,” she writes. “Let them know that if they can’t come to you, they should reach out another trusted – adult. Learn the warning signs, give your teen examples of healthy and unhealthy behaviors in a dating relationship and assure your teen that you are there for them, no matter what.”

To learn the warning signs or if you suspect that your teen is involved in an abusive relationship, call L.I. Against Domestic Violence’s 24-hour hotline at 631-666-8833 or visit liadv.org

In The Cockpit With David Windmiller, Hometown Hero of The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach

Stunt pilot David Windmiller and Long Island Press Editor Timothy Bolger fly over Robert Moses State Park on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

 

David Windmiller grabbed the control wheel of his single-engine airplane as the horizon spun over the Atlantic Ocean this week — but for this daredevil pilot, it’s all just fun and games.

The Melville resident is one of the few local aerobatic experts — the other being the Geico Skytypers — performing in the 16th annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach this weekend. For him, the wild ride featuring flips and loops was just a practice one — and a mild one at that, since he had this reporter in the cockpit.

His signature move? Call it The Windmiller.

“I’m going to open with a tumble I’ve been working on for eight years that really no one else can do,” he said while flying his high-performance Zivko Edge 540 about 2,500 feet over Robert Moses State Park on Fire Island, the practice area for the air show. “It’s basically a forward somersault and the airplane continuously tumbles. I can get it to go as many as seven times rotating at a very high rate.”

Windmiller’s flown in all but one of the Jones Beach air shows, which features a cast of nationally touring flight groups. This year’s headliners are the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Related Story: Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach Takes Flight Memorial Day Weekend

He’s also performed in other air shows in the Northeast and competed professionally. He was selected as a “Top 5 in the USA for the Unlimited Team” when Windmiller represented the U.S. in the World Aerobatic Championship in France in 1999.

Having started flying at age 14, his need for speed blossomed early on. At one point he also raced speedboats.

When he’s not flipping, looping, and tumbling planes with enough G-forces to kill someone whose body is unaccustomed to the phenomenon, the married father of five is a realtor, flight school teacher, and helicopter pilot for TV and movie productions.

While most days he’s flying the friendly skies without issue, he once made local headlines when the plane he was piloting had engine failure and he had to make an emergency landing on Route 231 in Babylon.

Of course, this weekend, all the dramatic maneuvers are part of the show. 

David Windmiller with his plane at Republic Airport (Long Island Press photo)

Hamptons Beach Ranked Among Nation’s Top 10

Cooper's Beach in Southampton. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Beach)

The coming Memorial Day weekend not only brings with it the return of beach season on Long Island, but also the results of Dr. Beach’s annual list ranking the nation’s top 10 beaches — with one Long Island oceanfront park again making the cut.

Cooper’s Beach in Southampton came in No. 4 for the second year in a row thanks to its pristine white sand, easy access, and beautiful vistas. The beach, which came in No. 1 in 2010, has slowly been inching back toward the top spot on the list, ranking No. 8 in 2016 and No. 5 in 2017.

“New York has world-class beaches, but I don’t think a lot of people in the United States know about them,” Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a coastal expert and professor at Florida International University who has produced the list for the past 29 years, told The Associated Press in 2010. “When most people think of a beach vacation destination, they go south. I kind of think the East End of Long Island is a well-kept secret for most Americans.”

Earning the title of America’s Best Beach for 2019 is Kailua Beach Park in Hawaii. Placing second was Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and third place went to Grayton Beach State Park in the Florida panhandle.

Related Story: The South Fork: Not Just A Playground For The Rich

Among the criteria used to evaluate beaches are water and sand quality as well
as safety and management. 

Rounding out the 2019 list was Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Oahu, Hawaii at No. 5,  Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts at No. 6, Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida at No. 7, Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii at No. 8, Coronado Beach in San Diego, California at No. 9, and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island in South Carolina at No. 10.

Main Beach in East Hampton has also placed in Dr. Beach’s Top 10. That beach ranked No. 1 in 2013, No. 3 in 2012, No. 4 in 2011, No. 5 in 2010, and No. 6 in 2009.

Residents of the Village of Southampton can access Cooper’s Beach via a beach parking permit, but those without permits face a $250 fine. Non-residents can also visit by paying a $50 fee, but alcohol is banned, as are tents, bonfires, and overnight camping.

Peter King Launches New Facebook Page After Lawsuit Threat

Rep. Peter King. (Christopher Twarowski/Long Island Press)

A month after the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) threatened to sue U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) if he didn’t unblock at least 70 people on his Facebook page, the congressman launched a new page.

Long Island’s most tenured congressman argued that since his Facebook page was his campaign account and not his official government account, he was allowed to block critics. But the NYCLU countered that since he used that account to make announcements, weigh in on issues, and interact with constituents, it should be considered a public forum. On April 24, the group sent King a letter warning that if he doesn’t unblock users on that account, they’d take him to court — but on Tuesday, King launched a new government account instead.

“I am pleased to announce the launch of my government Facebook page – Congressman Pete King,” he posted on his original page while linking to the new one. “There, you can stay informed of my government activities and let me know your views on the important issues that face our nation and our community.”

The NYCLU declared victory and said King’s new official Facebook page will not block users based on their opinions and will use his original page only for campaign purposes.

“While we are pleased with Rep. King’s decision to create an official Facebook page that does not block anyone, we know that this is not an issue specific to the Congressman,” Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Many elected officials have followed in the footsteps of President Trump in blocking dissenting views expressed on Twitter and other social media platforms.”

Fellow Republican President Donald Trump has also been sued for his practice of blocking Twitter users that are critical of him. A federal judge ruled that Trump cannot block Twitter critics since the president’s account is used in an official government capacity. An appeals court is expected to rule on that issue soon.

“The Supreme Court recognizes that social media platforms are perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to private citizens in making their voice heard,” Lieberman added. “Regardless of their views, constituents have a right to engage in public discourse, and all official government social media pages serve as public forums.”

She noted that blocking constituents on social media infringes upon their First Amendment protections.

“All government officials must allow people to share their views uncensored on government social media platforms without being silenced,” she said.

“The main points of the agreement are entirely satisfactory to me,” King said. “I maintain my Campaign Facebook Page and have started a government Facebook Page to accompany the government Twitter account which I have had for a number of years. This is a win-win.”

Nassau Pols Pass Styrofoam Container Ban

Nassau County lawmakers approved a measure banning businesses from using styrofoam containers that are commonly used to pack food in take-out restaurants.

Legislators unanimously voted Monday in favor of the ban, which gives local businesses until January 2020 to use up their reserve of styrofoam containers and stock up on alternatives. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is expected to sign the bill into law.

“We’ve heard about the dangers of polystyrene foam for years now, and it’s time we take action,” said Legis. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury), who co-sponsored the bill. “These containers pollute our environment and clog our waterways. Enough is enough.”

The bill’s passage comes after Suffolk County and New York City also banned styrofoam and New York State banned plastic bags. Some fast food chains, such as Dunkin’, have voluntarily begun transitioning away from using styrofoam containers.

Polystyrene Foam, better known by the brand name styrofoam, has been classified as a possible carcinogen, and the non-biodegradable containers made from it create tons of hazardous waste and environmental pollutants, lawmakers said. There is no practical method for recycling polystyrene foam, and when it’s incinerated, toxic fumes are released into the environment, officials noted.

“Enough alternative biodegradable food service items are readily available for use, making polystyrene no longer necessary,” said Legis. Denise Ford (D-Long Beach). “This law will reduce the waste stream in Nassau County and provide commensurate reductions in waste disposal costs. Further, it will stop clogging our waterways and better protect our natural environment.”

Businesses that violate the ban will face fines from the Office of Consumer Affairs. The money from those funds will provide for environmental investigation and cleanup of Nassau properties, officials said.

“Like disposable paper and plastic bags, single-use styrofoam products and packing materials pose a grave environmental threat,” said Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport). “Styrofoam does not break down naturally, cannot be recycled effectively and creates toxic fumes when incinerated. Fortunately, there are proven solutions and sensible alternatives.”

Great White Shark Reported in Long Island Sound

Cabot the Great White started tweeting in October 2018 off the coast of Nova Scotia. (Photo courtesy of Ocearch)

A great white shark being tracked by oceanographers was recorded swimming Monday in the Long Island Sound — the first such instance of the apex predator in that body of water.

Ocearch, a nonprofit marine research organization that tags sharks with GPS tracking devices that ping satellites whenever the shark’s fins are above water, reported a shark that the group dubbed Cabot pinged off the coast of Greenwhich, Connecticut.

“I heard sending a ping from the Long Island Sound had never been done before by a white shark … so naturally I had to visit and send one off,” Ocearch tweeted from a Twitter account set up for the shark.

Although it’s a first for the Sound, it isn’t the first time a shark has been recorded off the coast of Long Island.

Another shark named Mary Lee has pinged several times off the Atlantic coast, the group led an expedition that revealed a shark nursery in deeper ocean waters off LI, and last summer a small shark bit a child in the surf on Fire Island — the first recorded shark bite for the area in nearly a century. Dead sharks also occasionally wash up on LI shores.

A dying basking shark washed up in 2009, several harmless basking sharks forced a brief swimming ban in Westhampton Beach in 2011, another shark was spotted off Atlantic Beach in 2013, and two sharks spotted off Tobay sparked a scare in 2015

Ocearch tracks dozens of sharks besides Cabot and Mary Lee in an effort to better understand the protected species, as well as improve public awareness of the predators made infamous by Jaws, in which the character Captain Quint was based on Frank Mundus, the legendary Montauk shark fisherman-turned-conservationist.

Ocearch, which operates a tracker device on its website for the public to see sharks are in real time, said its tracker tool crashed with the increased interest from the unprecedented shark sighting in the Sound.

Related Story: Does Long Island Need a Shark Alert System?

Liz Claiborne: Fashion’s Sea Change Maker

Liz Claiborne

After founding her pioneering, eponymous company that made her a breakout fashion star in 1976, style icon Liz Claiborne, seeking to draw inspiration from the beach, bought a home in Saltaire on Fire Island.

Her need for the ocean’s recharging benefits was apparent, given her meteoric rise. Five years after she founded the company with her textile titan husband, Arthur Ortenberg, it went public. A year after she bought her beach house in 1985, Liz Claiborne became the first Fortune 500 company founded by a woman to have a female CEO make the list. It was also one of the youngest companies to ever make the cut — a testament to her business acumen.

“I wanted to dress busy and active women like myself —  women who dress in a rush and who weren’t perfect,” Claiborne told Women’s Wear Daily. “The concept was to dress the American working woman because I, as a working woman with a child, didn’t want to spend hours shopping. Things should be easy.”

At the time, the approach to “bring good taste to a mass level” was groundbreaking not only because the brand made affordable business attire at a time when women were increasingly entering the workforce. But the company also broke the mold from fashion industry norms, rolling out new designs every two months instead of four times annually with the change of the seasons, as is customary.

As a successful, trailblazing female CEO, Claiborne, known for her short-cropped hair and oversized eyeglasses, personified the working women that she had in mind in her designs. She was known to sometimes travel to three cities in a day to promote a new line and would go undercover as a salesperson to learn firsthand how customers felt about her clothes.

By the time she retired in 1990, she had grown the company into the nation’s largest women’s apparel maker, with $1.4 billion in sales. After spending her retirement dedicated to environmental philanthropy, she died of cancer in 2007.

Longtime Saltaire resident Hugh O’Brien wrote that although she and her husband’s primary residence was in Manhattan, “it was here that they felt most at home, the place where they came to recover their spirits and peace of mind, away from the pressures of the world.”

NYPD Cop From Long Island Charged With Murder-For-Hire Plot

A New York City police officer from Long Island was arrested Friday for allegedly trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband and her boyfriend’s daughter, federal prosecutors said.

Valerie Cincinelli was ordered held without bail following her initial appearance at Central Islip federal court after authorities argued that she is too dangerous to be released on bail.

“Almost the entire plot was hatched inside of the defendant’s own home, employing her cellphone to assist in the planning, including tracking [the child’s] whereabouts through the use of social media,” prosecutors said in court documents.

The officer allegedly asked an informant to hire a hit man for the two murders in February and the informant tipped off the FBI, which then had an agent pose as the hit man, contacting Cincinelli under the guise of having murdered her ex by texting her a photo of what appeared to be the crime scene, according to investigators.

Cincinelli allegedly paid the informant $7,000 for the pair of murders, but the informant later told her that the “hit man” wanted another $3,000 to go through with it, authorities said. The FBI used wiretaps as a part of the investigation, recording the suspect discussing her alibi with the informant as well as her directions for the alleged hit.

She was recorded saying that her ex’s murder wouldn’t look suspicious if he were killed near his job in Holtsville because it’s in “the ghetto,” according to court documents. 

As for the girl, Cincinelli allegedly told the informant: “Run her the f*** over.”

Cincinelli, who has one child with her ex-husband and another child with a different father, had been on modified duty since 2017 for sharing confidential information with the informant, authorities said.

The NYPD reportedly fired her upon her arrest. She faces up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.

Long Island Native And Dad of Parkland Victim Speaks Out

A Long Island native whose daughter was killed in the Parkland high school massacre is taking his mission to fight for stricter gun control to New York.

Fred Guttenberg, who grew up on LI and moved to Florida in 1989, became an advocate for gun control laws after his 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of 17 students killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day 2018. He will share his story in Manhattan this month.

“I was not a politically involved person before February 14th,” Guttenberg said. “Since the day that this happened, I did the only thing that I felt natural or normal doing, and that was to jump into this fight.”

The mass shooting sparked protests and a nationwide high school walkout. Congress did not pass any new gun control measures since Parkland, but a number of states did tighten weapons laws.

In March, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is also an LI native, proposed The Ammunition Background Check Act, dubbed Jaime’s Law in honor of Jaime Guttenberg. The legislation would implement instant universal background checks for the sale of gun ammunition.

Fred also founded the nonprofit foundation Orange Ribbons for Jaime, which supports causes that were important to Jaime such as those that deal with bullying and children with special needs, as well as those dedicated to pursuing common sense gun safety reforms. This year’s charities are Jacob’s Pillow, Paley Institute, and Broward County Humane Society.

Guttenberg will be joined by ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman at the Center for Jewish History on May 23. The event, titled A Dad’s Mission After Parkland, is a part of the Center’s First Person series that features personal stories that illuminate larger themes in history and current events.

Guttenberg, who still lives in Parkland with his wife Jennifer and their son Jesse, credits his Jewish upbringing with his commitment to family, public service, and standing up for others — values he shares with his siblings.

Fred’s brother, Michael was a physician and one of the first responders during the Sept 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. As a result of Ground Zero exposure, Michael was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away in October 2017, four months before the Parkland shooting.

Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St., Manhattan, programs.cjh.org $10-$15. 7 p.m. May 23.