Timothy Bolger

3430 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
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.

Early Voting Debuts Saturday on Long Island

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran demonstrates how to vote on an iPad, like those that will be used at early voting sites in the county.

Election Day may not be until Nov. 5, but voters can start casting their ballots Saturday at 25 different polling places on Long Island when New York State’s new early voting law kicks in.

For the first time, LI’s registered voters will be able to hit the polls for nine days — including weekends — ahead of Election Day at one of 15 polling sites in Nassau County and 10 in Suffolk. Voters may cast their ballots at any one of the polls in their home county during the early-voting period — a rule designed to make participating in elections as easy as possible. 

“The point of this is to make sure that everybody exercises their right to vote,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Thursday during a news conference outside her Mineola office. “We’re not here to tell you who to vote for or how to vote, but we do want to encourage everyone to vote so we keep this precious democracy of ours strong and vibrant.”

The Empire State became one of 39 nationwide, plus the District of Columbia, that allow voters to cast ballots before Election Day, when state lawmakers in Albany enacted the measure as a part of an election reform package in January. Security measures are in place to ensure voters don’t try to vote more than once, officials said.

“Early voting is just one of the many steps we’ve taken to break down barriers to democracy, and I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of this opportunity to skip the lines on Election Day and ensure their voices are heard at the ballot box,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. 

The goal is to increase voter turnout. Historically, only 49 percent of New Yorkers who are registered to vote do so. The state ranks 41 out of 50 nationwide for voter participation. Studies have shown that early voting increases turnout between two and four percent.

“This will enable us to ensure the hardworking residents … have more than one day to exercise that right and hopefully increase those statistics,” said state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck).

The times and locations of Nassau’s early voting sites can be found here. Suffolk’s can be found here. Voting is allowed Oct. 26-Nov. 3 and on Election Day, but not on Nov. 4.

Northport Village Judge Should Be Removed For Using Sexist Profanity, NY Judicial Watchdog Says

vinas

Northport Village Justice Paul Senzer should be removed from the bench after sending profanity-laced, sexist emails with clients of his private law practice, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct said.

While representing clients in a Family Court matter between 2014 and 2015, Senzer sent nine emails referring to his clients’ daughter as a “bitch,” their daughter’s attorney as a “c*** on wheels,” their grandson’s school as “assholes,” and other foul language, according to the state judicial watchdog agency.

“It is simply unacceptable for a judge to demean women with vile and otherwise abhorrent language,” Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in a statement Thursday. “Doing so reveals prejudice and undermines public confidence in the administration of justice. It should be clear that a person who cavalierly uses gender-biased slurs does not belong on the bench.”

The panel rejected Senzer’s defense that he should not be sanctioned because the comments were made to clients of his private practice and not in his role as a village justice. But the agency maintained that his conduct as an officer of the court “reflect[s] adversely on the judiciary as a whole.”

Senzer has been a part time Northport village justice since 1994, earning $10,000 annually for the post. His current term expires in two years. The panel previously issued him a warning for making sarcastic comments to a the mother of a defendant facing a marijuana charge in his courtroom.

His attorney, David Besso, said the judge intends to appeal the finding, which he called unprecedented. 

“The decision by the commission is a complete miscarriage of justice,” he told The New York Post, which first reported the story. “This is the first time in the history of the commission that a judge has been removed from the bench for private conversations with his client.”

Village of Northport officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

NY, Hempstead School Officials Meet To Plot Next Steps For Beleaguered District

Hempstead School District Interim Superintendent Regina Armstrong speaks at a news conference on Oct. 17, 2019. (Long Island Press photo)

New York State lawmakers and education policymakers met Thursday with Hempstead School District officials to discuss how they can work together to solve the many problems facing the troubled district, participants said.

State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, who called the meeting, described it as the first of many. Among the topics discussed was settling differences between state legislators who passed a bill that would enact a fiscal oversight panel and district administrators who oppose the move.

“I think there is an openness about taking the bill, looking at the language, and perhaps looking at strengthening that language so that we can all collectively get to a better place,” Rosa told reporters during a news briefing after the meeting.

The bill, which passed in June, currently awaits a decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has declined to say whether he will veto it or sign it into law.

David Gates, president of the school district’s board of education, which opposes the bill, indicated that he’d like to see more specific language clarifying the proposed oversight panel’s veto power over the board’s financial decisions. 

Related Story: Hempstead School Crisis Persists While Garden City Flourishes

“The school bill, it does not take out the school board, as a lot of people feared,” said State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), who co-sponsored the bill. “This is there to help them. My only intention is to put students first.”

Assemblywoman Taylor Darling (D-Hempstead), who also co-sponsored the bill, said that she is “very confident” that the bill will help right the ship in Hempstead schools.

“We are seeing a lot of missed opportunities for people, not because they’re not capable, but because we have not yet provided a consistent structure for education,” Darling said. “That is our primary goal: To make sure that our administrators are supported, our teachers are supported, our students are supported, and our parents are supported.”

Regardless of what happens with the bill, participants say they hope the lines of communication remain open so they can advance academics — such as recently improving the graduation rate from 37 percent to more than 60 percent — and squash administrative infighting that has historically stymied reforms.

“We talked about all of us working together, not against each other, to ensure that that work continues,” said Hempstead School District Interim Superintendent Regina Armstrong.

Second Nor’Easter In A Week Sparks Power Outages, Wind Damage

A week after a nor’easter caused widespread flooding on Long Island, a second powerful storm brought strong winds that sparked thousands of power outages across the region, officials said.

PSEG Long Island said crews restored power to most of the more than 57,000 customers who lost power since the storm arrived Wednesday. The National Weather Service (NWS), issued a high wind warning through 6 p.m. Thursday for Nassau and Suffolk counties, where wind gusts up to 60 mph may continue to down trees, causing more power outages. The strongest gust so far was a 83 mph gust in Stony Brook at 1 a.m. Thursday, the agency reported.

“Due to wet soil and most trees with leaves still on them, strong winds may blow down large limbs and/or trees in addition to power lines,” Upton-based NWS meteorologists said in its wind warning. “Scattered power outages are expected.”

As the system pulls away Thursday and moves toward New England, breezy conditions will continue into Friday
before winds diminish Friday night, NWS said.

The storm comes after a powerful nor’easter sparked a state of emergency in Southampton due to intense flooding on Dune Road and crews had to rescue 50 patrons from a Bay Shore restaurant and 150 wedding guests from a Sayville venue amid rising waters.

In the latest storm, a fire destroyed three homes and damaged 12 more in Ocean Bay Park on Fire Island. Firefighters from a dozen fire departments worked overnight amid storm conditions to extinguish the flames.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged drivers to travel with extreme caution and prepare for the possibility of difficult road conditions.

“I urge all New Yorkers in the affected regions to use extra caution in the coming days,” the governor said. “We have state personnel and resources on standby and are prepared to help communities handle whatever Mother Nature throws our way.”

Once the storm clears the area, the weekend is forecast as sunny with temps in the low 60s Saturday and Sunday.

Seniors Urged To Check Medicare Plan During Open Enrollment Period

(Shutterstock)

Seniors should check to make sure they’re not spending more money than necessary on their Medicare plan before the current open enrollment period ends, Long Island-based experts say.

Medicare open enrollment runs Oct. 15 through Dec 7, but because the issue of so complicated and there are many new changes, seniors would be wise to review their plans before the window closes.

“I hope they at least check their plan and see if they have the right options,” said Gracemarie Horan-Luce, CEO of Port Jefferson-based Senior Health Plan Specialists, a company that guides seniors in New York, New Jersey, and Florida through the process. “My tag line is, ‘Are you Medicareless?’ Some people go in once and they don’t check. Some people spend a lot of money that they don’t have to.”

Trained counselors are also offered for free by local government officials this time of year to assist Medicare enrollees in reviewing their coverage to make informed decisions.

“People don’t realize how much they need us,” Horan-Luce said. “Whether you’re a kid or your a recipient — a person 65 and older — it’s very confusing and complex. It is a process that you have to plan for.

“Your whole life, everyone’s chosen your insurance and now that your a senior … there’s 30 options — 10 supplements, 29 drug plans, and 30 managed cares,” she continued. “And a husband and wife are on separate plans, because you’re an individual now. … I know where to put you and guide you, but for someone it’s overwhelming not to be with your spouse that you’ve been married to for 50 years. But it goes by your health, so … if someone’s sick, the other doesn’t have to pay extra.”

For more information, visit seniorhealthplanspecialists.com or contact the Nassau or Suffolk Office of the Aging to find out when a seminar is happening near you.

Second Long Island Native Tied to Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein in his 2006 Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department mug shot.

A high-profile chef who grew up on Long Island reportedly was a former private chef for convicted pedophile and accused sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein, but the chef denies knowledge of Epstein’s crimes.

Adam Perry Lang, who was raised in Roslyn and runs the celebrity hot spot APL in Los Angeles, issued a statement revealing his ties to Epstein after a pilot claimed in court documents that the chef flew with the late financier on Epstein’s private jet to Florida, New Mexico, and the Virgin Islands, according to Eater, which noted that Lang wasn’t accused of any criminality involving Epstein. 

“Almost 20 years ago, as a young chef I was hired to work for Jeffrey Epstein,” the chef said in the statement, Eater reported. “My role was limited to meal preparation. I was unaware of the depraved behavior and have great sympathy and admiration for the brave women who have come forward.” 

Authorities have said the 66-year-old registered sex offender who allegedly sex trafficked and abused dozens of girls who were minors over the years, died by apparent suicide Aug. 10. in his Manhattan federal jail cell following an earlier attempted suicide. The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general are investigating the wealthy financier’s death. Epstein’s many high-powered friends over the years have included President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew.

Lang’s ties to Epstein aren’t the first time the case linked back to LI. Darren Indyke, who graduated from Glen Cove High School in 1982, is one of the two lawyers that Epstein named to be executor of his nearly $600 million estate before Epstein died. Indyke worked for Epstein for more than 20 years and was intimately involved in his business dealings before being tasked with handling the estate. 

With Epstein’s victims suing his estate for restitution, additional names of those tied to him are expected to come out as the cases progress.

Pure Mammography: Breast Cancer Screenings Made Easy

A doctor assists a woman undergoing a mammogram x-ray test. (Photo by Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)

Pure Mammography, a healthcare provider that offers mammograms to women at Smith Haven Mall to help reach reluctant patients, is planning a second location at a mall in Nassau County, the company said.

The goal of the store-front clinic is to get tested the one-third of women who do not get their annual mammogram — even though the test is the best way to detect breast cancer early, thereby significantly increasing a patient’s survival rate.

“Being in the mall is great because it has public transportation, weekend hours, extended hours, and it’s open seven days a week,” said Pure Mammography CEO Steven Tuzinkiewicz. “We have a lot of availability to get women in to get their mammogram done.”

The two-year-old startup’s center is designed by the same company that builds spas. Using a spa-like design makes women feel more relaxed than getting a mammogram in a sterile clinical setting where such screenings are typically performed. And it’s convenient location makes it as simple as going to an urgent care center, since no appointment is needed.

“The whole idea is making getting a mammogram as easy as getting a Starbucks,” Tuzinkiewicz said.

The company has not yet announced where the new location will be, but stay tuned for details.

Pure Mammography is located at 570 Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove. It can be reached at 631-652-3424 or puremammo.com

Mission United Helps Veterans Reacclimate To Civilian Life

Romann won won the 2019 John Kominicki Memorial Rising Star Scholarship.

Like many military veterans, Romann, who traveled the world while serving in the U.S. Navy, found transitioning to civilian life to be easier said than done after doing three tours over a decade.

Helping him reacclimate to life as a married father of two young daughters was United Way of Long Island’s VetsBuild, a program that provides career training for veterans in the green construction industry. After graduating, he’s now flourishing as a program analyst with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs overseeing contracts and budgeting for the Long Island National Cemetery.

“Because of this incredible training program, I gained the necessary technical and leadership skills needed to advance my career,” said Romann, who did not want his last name used. He added that it “helped change my life for the better.” 

VetsBuild is one of a suite of initiatives within Mission United, a signature program of the nonprofit United Way of Long Island, part of the worldwide network of the 132-year-old global nonprofit. And with more than 101,000 veterans on LI — home to the nation’s second largest veteran population — there is no shortage of need.

Besides job training under VetsBuild, Mission United, through its partner agencies, provides key referrals to secure careers, vital case management services, and emergency military family assistance. Veterans also have access to resources 24/7 by calling 211.

Romann’s success story is emblematic of what Mission United aims to achieve with its assistance. In recognition of his integrity, perseverance, and commitment to advancing his education and leadership skills, Romann won the 2019 John Kominicki Memorial Rising Star Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes an individual who, like Kominicki — a veteran and the Press’ late publisher emeritus — displays excellence in leadership and a zest for learning. 

To help support the cause, United Way of Long Island invites the public to participate in its 2019 Mission United Veterans Day T-Shirt campaign. Those who make a small contribution will receive a Mission United T-Shirt to wear on Veterans Day this Nov. 11.

United Way of Long Island President and CEO Theresa A. Regnante said, “Together we can help more military families transitioning to civilian life.”

For more information, visit unitedwayli.org/missionunited

Long Island LGBT Discrimination Case Goes Before U.S. Supreme Court

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

The case of a man who claimed Long Island Skydive fired him for being gay has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments Tuesday on the accusations. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan had overturned a lower court’s ruling against Donald Zarda, who sued the former owners of the Calverton-based skydiving company arguing that his firing violated discrimination laws. The company’s former owners, who counter that Zarda was fired for making a customer feel uncomfortable, appealed to the highest court in the land, which agreed to hear the case that is expected to result in a landmark ruling. 

“There’s a lot at stake,” David Kilmnick, president and CEO of the Long Island LGBT Network, told reporters during a news conference Tuesday at his Hauppauge office.

The Zarda case is one of three LGBT discrimination cases that the Supreme Court heard Tuesday and its first on the issue since conservative-leaning Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced retired swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, bringing the court to the right. The ruling may decide federal anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — protections that some argue should be passed by Congress instead of decided by the courts. New York State has laws barring such discrimination, but more than half the other states in the nation do not.

The Supreme Court is also hearing the case of a transgender woman who claims that she was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home after telling her boss that she was transitioning — a case that she won and a Cincinnati federal appeals court affirmed. The third case involves a Georgia man who argues that he was fired from his Clayton County job for being gay, although in his case, he lost his lawsuit and a federal appeals court in Atlanta also ruled against him. 

Zarda died in a skydiving accident five years ago, but his sister and former partner are continuing the case on behalf of his estate. Kilmnick was flanked by local lawmakers rallying in support of Zarda’s case. Among them was New York State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown).

“This is an absolute travesty that such a case has to come before the Supreme Court,” Thomas said. “They’s not looking for any special rights. They’re looking for the same rights that everyone else has in this country.”

Em Moratti, a Long Island woman who said she lost her first teaching internship after parents objected to LGBT-related internet posts of hers that they found, said the ruling in the three cases will affect the lives of those in the community.

“Regardless of which direction, this will have an incredible impact on LGBT people,” she said.

Rachael Ray Dishes Spice of Life Ahead of Long Island Book Tour Stop

Rachael Ray is promoting her new book in Port Washington on Oct. 14, a day before it's released. (Photo by Jeff Lipsky)

Rachael Ray has cooked her way full circle.

Between her TV shows, dog food and furniture lines, nonprofits benefiting animals and kids, and magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray, the TV personality, celebrity chef, and author is now back in the Food Network kitchen that catapulted her career two decades ago with the recently relaunched 30 Minute Meals, aimed at a new generation of parents too busy to cook. And between all that, she also recently released her latest book, Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life a batch of recipes recalling her favorite dishes, after recently celebrating her 50th birthday.

Although she’s proudly an upstate New York native, she also has Long Island ties. The precursor of her other popular shows, $40 A Day, got its start on the East End. She has family here. And she’s got a house in Southampton, although she’s looking to unload it for a mere $4 million. 

But the bubbly TV personality is more famous for reminding viewers that she’s not a trained chef — and that’s the point: Anyone with a fistful of ingredients and willingness to ignore measurements can recreate her recipes.  

The Press recently chatted with Ray about her book, life, food, and more. She comes to LI to promote her new book at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington. Tickets are $40 for the event, hosted by Long Island LitFest. This conversation was edited for length and clarity.

How did your parents influence you? My mom worked in restaurants for 60 years and one or all of us were on her hip or by her side. She was the firstborn of 10 kids and it was her responsibility to be the right hand of my grandpa, and his responsibility to the family was not only the breadwinner, but the cook. My grandmother was a seamstress and a baker. But grandpa was a gardener and the main cook. So my mother was always in the kitchen with him, which I suppose is how she ended up making food for her life’s work. And I guess more than anything in the world I wanted to be my mom. My dad is a good eater.

How did you get the inspiration for your 26th book? I wasn’t going to write another book because I’ve written so many — 30 Minute Meals, and My Year in Meals — I felt like I didn’t really have anything left to do in books, but I do enjoy just writing. I’ve always kept an obsessive amount of notebooks my whole life. My friends were just saying, “You should write down some of your favorite memories and how you got here.” Once I sat down and I just tried to write anything about my life, I actually discovered I enjoyed it. 

How does it feel to be back where it started with the rebooted 30 Minute Meals? I love it so much, because technology has changed so much. There’s a big black and red clock and when we start the roll, they literally start the clock. And we try to keep it completely legit. We just keep going, going, going. Thirty minutes is up? Boom! I can shoot four of them before lunch with the reset and the breakdown and the whole thing. It’s super exciting. It’s wonderful to be working for decades and still feel relatively relevant.

What do you want your fans to know before your Long Island appearance? My sister lives on Long Island. The first 30 Minute Meals sidekick, the forerunner of $40 a Day, was created on Long Island. I did a show for the local news in addition to 30 Minute Meals. The rules for me within 100 miles or less than $100. And I did the wine region of Long Island. And that was the beginning of $40 a Day. It’s part of my life story. As much as I’m an upstate New York girl, I am a New York Stater for sure.

Do you have any fond memories from your time here? The North Fork, of course. The wine country there is incredible. I still think it’s underappreciated, how great the wines are from Long Island. And everybody talks about the Hamptons and the beach and all that. I prefer going out to the vineyards and the farm country. 

Why are you selling your Southampton home? I’ve been trying to sell it for years because it takes too long to get there and land came up for sale across the street from the little cabin I’ve been in for 25 years or so. So I bought it and took some fallen beams from barns and I built a house that looks like it’s been there forever. And I just thought now I have enough room, I can entertain, I have the kitchen of my dreams, my husband built a studio over the garage that’s the studio of his dreams, and I’m like, “We’re never gonna go there.” I love that piece of land, it’s very peaceful because it’s always quiet, there’s no one behind you. I think it’s beautiful, it’s just for the amount of time it takes to get there, I can also get upstate. I won’t be there enough and I feel bad about that. I’d rather it be loved and have people that are going to be there more often.

What do you have coming up for Breast Cancer Awareness Month? I just did a thing for the Pink Lotus Foundation, which is my dear friend Kristi Funk. She’s the most badass breast cancer doctor. She has come up with techniques for women to save their nipples and by doing double biopsies when they get mastectomies, she’s saved lives of many of my friends. Some of my closest friends in their 30s, 40s, and beyond have battled and won against breast cancer. I hate pink, but I force myself to love it in October.

You’ve been credited with coining EVOO, short for extra-virgin olive oil. Do you have any catch phrases that you hope will make the dictionary next? No, I never tried to come up with a catchphrase. I was just cooking alone, talking to myself, and sometimes I abbreviate things. When people are at home and you’re in the kitchen, you don’t realize what you’re saying, you’re just going about life. So it wasn’t that I tried to come up with a catchphrase, it just happened. “Yum-o” was because I used to say, “Yum! Oh my god, that’s good,” and people used to write in that they were offended that I said “Oh my god.” So the network asked me to stop saying God. So I would stop myself and would say, “Yum-o!” And then remember, stop talking here.

What’s something readers would be surprised to learn about you? I love to jump out of airplanes more than anything in the world. It kind of organizes my thoughts. I don’t know that people would be surprised by too much. I try to be as open as possible with our audience and I think that’s what builds trust.

Who’s one chef you would never want to face off against on a cooking competition show? A million of them. Jacques Pépin, because he’s like family to me. And because he’s the greatest, most amazing chef. I have seen him debone a chicken with basically a paring knife, the tiniest little knife. Debone a chicken, stuff it, and tie it in one segment. So, less than seven minutes. I would never ever, ever, ever want to cook against in any way shape or form Jacques Pépin.