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.

Manorville Man Gets 50 Years for Killing 2 Women

John Bittrolff
Clockwise from left: John Bittrolff, Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee.

A Manorville man was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years to life in prison for killing two women who were sex workers more than two decades ago on eastern Long Island.

John Bittrolff, 51, had been convicted at Suffolk County court in July of two counts of second-degree murder following a two-month-long trial and seven days of jury deliberations. The two consecutive 25 years-to-life sentences were handed down by Judge Richard Ambro.

After the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla told reporters outside the courtroom that some of the 10 unsolved murder victims found along Ocean Parkway over six years ago “may be attributed to the handiwork of Mr. Bittrolff,” The Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors have said Bittrolff killed 31-year-old Rita Tangredi-Beinlich, whose body was found in a wooded area off of Esplanada Drive in her hometown of East Patchogue on Nov. 3, 1993. Authorities have said he also killed 20-year-old Colleen McNamee of Holbrook, who was found in a wooded area south of the Long Island Expressway in North Shirley on Jan. 30, 1994.

Both women frequented the areas and had prior arrests for prostitution, police had said at the time. They were strangled to death, were found nude and their bodies were similarly posed, authorities have said.

The cases went cold for 20 years until Suffolk County police got an unexpected break in September 2013, when Bittrolff’s brother, Timothy, was convicted of violating an order of protection, according to investigators. A DNA sample submitted to the state databank upon Timothy’s conviction matched samples collected in the murders, but the DNA was not his, prosecutors have said. The sample indicated that the killer was a relative of Timothy’s.

That’s when investigators focused their attention on John. Prosecutors said they for a direct DNA match from a glass of water Bittrolff drank while in police custody and samples preserved from the crime scenes. He was 27 and lived in the Mastic-Shirley area at the time of the crimes.

Bittrolff has been held without bail since his arrest in 2014. His attorney reportedly plans to appeal the conviction.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler Tames The West

Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Jericho native Jamie-Lynn Sigler stars in Justice, her first Western that hits theaters Sept. 15.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the actress from Jericho best known for her role as Meadow in the hit HBO series The Sopranos, has been busy of late juggling film roles and starting her family. The doe-eyed, 36-year-old brunette beauty spoke with the Press about how she prepared for her first Western, her pregnancy and her favorite local pizzeria.

Long Island Press: Have you decided on a name yet for your second boy on the way?

Jamie-Lynn Sigler: We’re toying with one, like we did with our son Beau. We chose, obviously, Beau, but we had a couple of others. We feel like we need to meet him and then figure it out. We’ve got some ideas, but it’s a D-Day decision.

LIP: What are some of your favorite memories growing up on Long Island?

JLS: Growing up on Long Island makes me think of riding my bike around West Birchwood with my friends every day after school. And there was so much to offer for me as a performer on Long Island. So many community theaters, dance schools, acting schools, voice teachers. I never had to go into the city to feel like I would be getting any more professional guidance than I already was finding on Long Island. It really had everything I ever needed or wanted.

LIP: Your husband, Cutter Dykstra, was born in Manhasset, giving you both local ties. Are there places that you must go when you visit?

JLS: My husband equates visiting my parents with bagels and pizza. My parents live in Plainview now, so we’re always getting bagels from Town Bagel and pizza from La Piazza. They’re my two things that I look forward to most food-wise when I get home. A lot of my friends from high school live on Long Island, have their kids there. It’s all about reconnecting.

LIP: You’ve dabbled in genres from comedies to thrillers, but Justice is your first Western. How was that different?

JLS: I didn’t think I’d ever be considered for a Western. People associate me with being Italian, which I’m not, and being New York-y. To play this Midwestern ranchers daughter from the 1800s was a dream because, as an actress, you always want to play something completely opposite what you are. And getting the opportunity to be part of Justice, to work with the people I got to work with on the Bonanza Ranch in New Mexico, was just magical.

LIP: In Justice, you play Melissa, a teacher who tells a U.S. Marshal that his brother was murdered. How did you prepare?

JLS: I watched a lot of films that were similar in tone. Studying a lot about the times. What was the temperature with society at the time, the corruptness of government, the ideas of slavery, of religion. Just doing my homework.

LIP: Before The Sopranos, one of your first films was the mob-themed A Brooklyn State of Mind, and now you’re back in the genre with In The Absence of Good Men, due out next year. Can you talk about what draws you to mafia roles?

JLS: They just find me. I look Italian, so I fit the part well. Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite filmmakers and one of my favorite movies ever is Goodfellas. Maybe the universe is getting me and understanding the vibe of things that I like.

LIP: Instead of modern-day New York and New Jersey, your next mob role is as flapper Lulu Rolfe in Prohibition-era Chicago. Was that challenging?

JLS: No, it was so much fun. Learning about Jack [McGurn] and Lulu and his history and how he fell into the mob and her history and how she was this hellcat that fell in love. And they desperately wanted to get away from that life that they had found themselves in and be normal people and start a family.

LIP: You went public last year about being diagnosed with MS 15 years ago. Was the reaction as positive as you’d hoped?

JLS: I didn’t have any expectations about what any type of reaction would be. It was just an opportunity to free myself up from this secret prison that I had set myself in. Ever since, it’s given me this new-found purpose, things to do with my life other than acting. Trying to be an advocate for those that suffer in silence. It does feel better to know that other people are understanding of what you’re dealing with.

LIP: You’ve referred to the much-talked-about series finale of The Sopranos as brilliant. Where do you think Meadow, AJ, Tony and Carmella are today?

JLS: I think it all ended right there. I wouldn’t say for all of them, but for Tony. And I think it was inevitable. If it didn’t end then, it was going to happen. In many ways that’s what the finale was showing us. The family’s only choice was to live in denial. It was no secret that at some point it was going to catch up to him.

Scandal-plagued Election Cycle Brings Historic Turnover on Long Island

From left: Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, ex-New York State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin).

For signs of how the ongoing federal corruption dragnet has affected Long Island politics, look no further than the four executive-level county positions with no incumbents running for re-election this fall.

It’s the first time in recent memory – possibly ever – there will be turnover in so many top jobs in Nassau and Suffolk counties during the same election. While three of the four open county-wide posts – Nassau County executive, Suffolk district attorney and Suffolk Sheriff – were directly touched by investigations, many local legislative races have also seen ethics reform become a campaign issue as a result. Voters will narrow their field of aspiring replacements in many of these and other races during the Sept. 12 primaries.

“It’s a historical anomaly, perhaps,” said Peter Cohalan, the former Suffolk executive and current county historian. “I don’t think that it’s happened before.”

Arguably, the most-watched primary pits Nassau Comptroller George Maragos against the Democratic nominee in the Nassau executive’s race, Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin). Their general election opponents are former-New York State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) and Green Party candidate Cassandra Lems. The GOP nominated Martins over incumbent Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who pleaded not guilty to an alleged kickback scheme last year.

Authorities allege he awarded contracts to a friend, who in turn gave a no-show job to Mangano’s wife. The couple deny any wrongdoing. Even though he hasn’t publicly stated that he’s not seeking a third term, Ed won’t “keep it going,” to quote his 2013 re-election campaign motto, past Dec. 31. This will be the first time since ‘01, when Republican Tom Gulotta nearly bankrupt the county and his deputy was arrested for taking bribes, that a sitting Nassau exec hasn’t run for re-election.

“We have a lot of … people who are really hustling, working hard and there’s a sense that the government doesn’t live up to them,” said Curran, a two-term lawmaker, ex-journalist and former school board member who would be the first female Nassau exec if she wins in November. “I believe that we deserve a government that lives up to us. That we hire people not for purely political reasons but because they have the merit, because they have the credentials to do the job.”

Maragos, a Greek immigrant who switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat last year, said he’s confident that he can pull off a surprise win as the self-funded underdog because he already has one upset under his belt – unseating his Democratic predecessor eight years ago. (He wasn’t as lucky when he unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) less than a year after becoming comptroller.)

“As comptroller, I’ve seen a lot of issues that the county has that are not being addressed,” said Maragos. “The people that can least afford to pay the high property taxes are subsidizing the rich, in effect. And the two parties seem content with that.”

MONEY TALKS

In forgoing re-election to run for county exec, Maragos makes the Nassau Comptroller’s seat the only one of the four incumbent-free, non-judicial countywide contests on LI to not have a cloud of a federal investigation hanging over it.

The outgoing comptroller is running on a ticket with the small business owner he hopes will replace him: Ama Yawson, who is challenging the Democratic nominee, Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman. General election opponents Steven Labriola, the Republican nominee, and Laurence Hirsch, the Green Party candidate, await on Election Day in that race.

“There’s no magical solution for turning it around quickly,” Schnirman said of the cash-strapped county’s fiscal woes that have kept it under watch of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority for 16 years. “There’s not a huge chorus out there calling for draconian cuts in services, or calling for dramatic tax hikes. It took many years to cause these problems, and those problems are not going to be solved overnight.”

Yawson said her priorities include ensuring small businesses are afforded equal access to winning government contracts. If elected, she would be the first woman and first African American to be Nassau comptroller.

“I understand the burden our community is living with as we try to afford these homes, which are … more expensive than 70 percent of the homes in the nation,” she said. “As we try to afford these taxes, which are four times the national average.”

Regardless of whether Yawson wins, Schnirman will be on general election ballots on the Working Families and Women’s Equality party lines.

The last time a county comptroller didn’t seek re-election in Nassau was in 1993, after U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) resigned the post upon his election to Congress. His interim replacement didn’t run to keep the job.

99 PROBLEMS

On the opposite side of the county line, the other pair of top-level seats are being vacated after two more unrelated FBI probes. Although the outgoing incumbents haven’t said the cases had anything to do with their decisions, the timing speaks for itself.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, a Democrat who had been repeatedly cross-endorsed, opted against seeking a fifth term after reports that his public corruption bureau chief, Christopher McPartland, is under federal investigation. Additionally, Spota’s former protigé, disgraced Suffolk Police Chief James Burke, was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to beating a suspect. That led to calls from lawmakers for Spota’s resignation.

Neither Spota nor McPartland have been charged with wrongdoing.

It’s been 26 years since an incumbent Suffolk DA hasn’t run to keep their job. The last time it happened, in ‘89, Republican Patrick Henry bowed out after a special investigative report was issued on corruption in Suffolk law enforcement.

Democrats backing Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini, the Democratic nominee to replace Spota, successfully petitioned for what’s known as an Opportunity to Ballot – an invitation for write-in primary candidates – to challenge the Reform Party line of his Republican rival, Ray Perini, who ran an unsuccessful GOP primary against Spota four years ago.

“It’s clear that Democratic Party Leader [Richard] Schaffer is attempting to take the vote away from the voters and get Sini every line that he can get,” said Perini, noting that Sini is also running on the Working Families, Conservative and Independence party lines.

“We haven’t had a chance to vote for a DA for so long,” he added, referring to Spota’s cross endorsements. “I think the voters … are ready for a change.”

The Sini campaign referred a request for comment to the Suffolk Democratic committee, which did not return requests for comment.

IN THE JAILHOUSE NOW

As for Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, the lone Conservative to hold a countywide seat, he declined to seek a fourth term after he tipped authorities off to political corruption in his ranks.

The Suffolk Conservative Party indicated that it would not back DeMarco after he helped get its ex-chairman, Ed Walsh, convicted of fraud for $200,000 in wage theft. Based in part on information DeMarco provided to the FBI, Walsh was found guilty of golfing, gambling and politicking while on the clock as a corrections lieutenant at the county jail. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison, but his attorneys are asking a judge to consider granting a new trial.

The GOP nominated state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) to replace DeMarco, but Boyle’s Republican nomination is being challenged by two candidates: Peter Krauss, a former New York City police sergeant, and Lawrence Zacarese, the Stony Brook University police deputy chief. Former Huntington Town Councilman Stuart Besen is the Democratic candidate in the general election in that race.

GOP attorneys had a court throw out enough signatures on Krauss’ petitions to have him bumped off the Republican primary ballot. Krauss said he plans to appeal, but the resolution of that case was yet to be determined as we went to press. Zacarese and Boyle remain locked in a GOP primary.

Regardless of whether Krauss makes it a three-way primary, Krauss and Zacarese are expected be on the ballot in the general election. That’s because Krauss is running as a Libertarian and Zacarese also has the Reform Party line.

The Sheriff’s seat hadn’t been voluntarily vacated since ’02, when then-Suffolk Sheriff Patrick Mahoney, a Republican-turned-Democrat, pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

The four high-level elected office vacancies aren’t the only seats on LI that will be on September primary ballots. There are dozens of other local primaries for voters to decide, too.

In other primaries, Maragos ally Carl DeHaney is challenging Democratic nominee Dean Bennett in the race to face three-term Republican Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell on Election Day. The rest of the primaries on ballots are scattered across various county legislative races, Glen Cove and Long Beach city council contests and judgeships. Many of the primaries are on minor party lines, such as the Reform and Green parties.

“As Nassau County Clerk, I will cultivate a record of transparency, accountability, and accessibility, promote superior service delivery, introduce 21st century technology to record-keeping and advocate for lower fees,” Bennett said, citing a recent Press report card that gave the clerk’s office a D+ for its responsiveness to public records requests.

Regardless of whether he fends off DeHaney’s challenge in the Democratic primary, Bennett will be on the general election ballot on the Working Families and Women’s Equality party lines.

“One of the biggest reasons that I decided to run, particularly for this office, because if you ask the average Nassau County resident, ‘what does the clerk’s office do?’ No one really knows,” DeHaney said, noting that he also would lobby the county legislature to lower fees for filing paperwork with the office.

If either Bennett or DeHaney unseat O’Connell, they would be the first African American to be elected Nassau clerk.

The race to replace outgoing Nassau Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown), who left his seat representing the 15th legislative district after being appointed to fill a vacancy on the Hempstead town board, features a Reform Party primary between Democratic candidate Michael Sheridan and Republican candidate John Ferretti. NYPD Det. James Coll is appealing a court ruling nixing his planned GOP primary against Ferretti.

And in the 16th district, freshman Nassau Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) is facing a Democratic primary from Lewis Yevoli of Old Bethpage, the former Oyster Bay town supervisor. The Republican in that race is Angel Cepeda.

On the other side of the county line, there are also a handful of legislative primaries. Stephen Ruth, the Libertarian candidate and self-described “Red Light Robinhood,” is appealing a court ruling bumping him out of a GOP primary challenging Suffolk Legis. Thomas Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), who also has the Conservative and Independence party lines in the 4th legislative district. The Democratic challenger in that race is Dominador Pascual.

Lining up to challenge Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) in the 6th district are Frank Vetro, a school principal and Republican challenger to GOP nominee Gary Pollakusky, a marketing consultant also running on the Conservative and Reform party lines.

Challenging Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), who also has the Independence and Women’s Equality party lines, is Angela Ramos, wife of Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood). The Republican general election opponent in that race is Douglas King.

Michael McElwee, a restaurateur, is challenging Republican nominee Steven Flotteron, the Islip town councilman vying to replace term-limited Legis. Tom Barraga (R-West Islip), who’s McElwee’s father-in-law. The Democrat in that contest is Joseph McDermott.

The primaries are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12. Polls are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. To find your local polling place, contact the Nassau or Suffolk board of elections.

The Blacklist Films Scene in Brookville

Creators of The Blacklist, the popular NBC crime thriller series set to return for its fifth season on Sept. 27, shot a scene Friday at the LIU Post Equestrian Center in Brookville.

The stables were made to look like a horse ranch in Ireland for the scene, which included actress Poorna Jagannathan and actor Sean Gromley, a source told the Press.

“The equestrian center at LIU Post works perfectly as a replica of the Irish countryside,” said the source with knowledge of the scene who asked not to be named. “The beauty of this campus is unmatched.”

It’s not the first time the drama starring James Spader has used somewhere on Long Island as a set. It used Youngs Farm of Old Brookville for a scene set in Iowa in 2015 and Bayville Bridge the year before that, Newsday reported. The show also used the Long Beach Bridge for a dramatic shootout scene in its pilot, the Press has reported.

Film and TV crews have increasingly used locations on LI as sets for their productions—some of which won Oscars—over the years to the point that some call the region “Hollywood East.”

Spoiler Alert for those who haven’t watched the Season 4 finale:

Now that we know Red is really Liz’s dad, and Mr. Kaplan has pretty much dismantled his empire, how will their relationship (and the FBI’s) be altered? Will Aram and Samar finally be together? And who the hell is the skeleton in Tom’s suitcase?

NY Spends $10M on Shellfish to Improve Long Island Water Quality

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

New York State is investing $10.4 million in an improved shellfish seeding program that aims to expand clam and oyster seeding and improve water quality off the Long Island coast, officials said.

The majority of that money will provide funding to shellfish hatcheries in Nassau and Suffolk counties that will seed clams and oysters in five strategically located new sanctuary sites where they are most likely to thrive and improve water quality, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday. The rest will be used to obtain the initial 28 million adult shellfish from local distributors and harvesters.

“We’re going to be planting mature shellfish at a rate that will allow reproduction and water filtration,” the governor told reporters during a news conference at the Halesite Fire Department. “The investment will support the entire lifecycle of the shellfish.”

Shellfish naturally filter nitrogen in the water to reduce brown tide, which has been a problem across LI since the 1980s. Brown tides are caused by nitrogen pollution that creates an overabundance of algae, making the water appear brown. Though it is not toxic to the environment, it can deplete the ecosystem by blocking the amount of sunlight that penetrates the water and reducing the amount of oxygen in the water.

The long-term goal is to seed hundreds of millions of shellfish to further reduce pollution and assist the Island’s economy, which relies on the health of local fisheries and waterways.

“New York’s investments in restoring shellfish will help clean Long Island’s waters while creating jobs for local baymen and bringing our coastal heritage back to life,” said Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The five sanctuary sites targeted for the seeding will be in Bellport Bay, Shinnecock Bay and Huntington Harbor as well as Hempstead and South Oyster bays. SUNY Stony Brook and Cornell Cooperative Extension will manage the sites in partnership with local municipalities and volunteers. Up to 179 million locally grown and harvested shellfish will be seeded over the next two years, producing enough shellfish to filter the water at these sites every three days. 

“They spend their first few months in the hatcheries,” Cuomo said. “They’re then placed in floating nurseries… to make them more mature. We’ll have 69 floating nurseries around Long Island… They’ll then be placed thereafter in the open water sites.”

The governor warned that the sanctuaries will be marked with special buoys and poaching will be strictly enforced. To guide the efforts, Cuomo established the Shellfish Restoration Council, which will be co-chaired by SUNY Stony Brook, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Billion Oyster Project. And the DEC will establish a one-stop shop to streamline the permitting processes for shellfish cultivation.

“In order for the Long Island economy to thrive, our residents, communities and environment must thrive,” said Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who chairs the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. “With today’s announcement, we can ensure coastal communities will remain sustainable for generations of New Yorkers.”

Ford, NCC Partner in Academic Challenge to Students

Ford and Nassau Community College are forming a public-private partnership that will include an academic challenge for students, scholarship funds and test drives in electric cars on campus this fall.

The Michigan-based auto manufacturer and East Garden City-based college made the joint announcement Tuesday during the first week of classes of the fall semester. 

“Nassau Community College is proud and excited to be the first community college in New York State to partner with Ford Motor Company,” said NCC President W. Hubert Keen. “Public-private corporate partnerships are more important than ever to establish connections for our students as they graduate and pursue careers, and we are pleased that Ford Motor Company has chosen Nassau CC to bridge the gap between industry and academia.”

As a part of the program, an advanced marketing class will compete in an academic challenge to win Ford-sponsored scholarships. There will also be a “campus takeover” in which students can test drive and learn about Ford’s electric cars next month.

The initiative came after Ford’s New York Regional office won the Marketing Innovation Challenge, which was open to all Ford regional sales divisions, from the chief marketing executives at Ford World Headquarters. 

“Alternative fuel solutions is such an important topic for Ford as well as Long Island residents,” said Greg Thompson, New York Regional Manager. “As technology evolves, we often face challenges that require a new approach to the market. This partnership will raise awareness for sustainable vehicles, while allowing Ford to develop insights into an important local market. We saw this as a unique opportunity to work with creative students who know the pressures of commuting and can lend insight to the importance of sustainability in their community.” 

The Dark Files, Exploring The Montauk Project, Premiers on History Channel Friday

The Dark Files, an investigative special exploring the decades-old conspiracy theories of mind control, time travel and extraterrestrial experiments in Montauk, premiers on The History Channel at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.

Filmmaker Chris Garetano, who previously released a documentary on the subject, teams up with former CIA operative Barry Eisler, journalist Steve Volk and others to explore Camp Hero, a decommissioned military base where the experiments were rumored to have been conducted on kidnapped children in what is known as The Montauk Project.

“These are kids that had drug problems, that were runaways, that were prostitutes,” Garetano said in a behind-the-scenes teaser. “At the time, in the ‘70s and the early ‘80s, this group, this black operation that was occurring underneath Camp Hero, saw them as, I suspect, easy prey for human subjects in the experiments.” 

The story, fueled in large part by Preston Nichols, who published a book series on the subject, inspired Stranger Things, the hit Nexflix series returning for season two on Halloween.

The History Channel special will test Nichols’ story and examine similar, confirmed conspiracies of top-secret government experiments elsewhere in the nation.

To that end, Garetano—whose prior documentary on the subject is called The Montauk Chronicles—had a group of geologists use ground-penetrating equipment at Camp Hero to scan underground.

“Something was found that’s not supposed to be there,” Garetano told The Southampton Press.

 

Comptroller Maragos Touts Fiscal Know-how in Nassau Exec Bid

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos at a news conference in 2011. (Jim Mancari/Long Island Press)

Two-term Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos of Locust Valley raised eyebrows last fall when the longtime Republican announced that he was switching party affiliation to run for county executive as a Democrat.

Since being passed over for his new party’s nomination, he challenged the Democratic designee, Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), to a Sept. 12 primary. Should he win, Maragos’ general election rival would be ex-New York State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), who the GOP nominated to replace outgoing Republican Nassau Executive Ed Mangano after Mangano pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges in October. Maragos touts his intimate knowledge of the county budget as giving him the credentials to turn cash-strapped Nassau around.

“As comptroller, I’ve seen a lot of issues that the county has that are not being addressed,” Maragos said of his decision to run. “I’ve seen the inability of the two parties to come to grips with those issues.”

After unseating his Democratic predecessor in 2009, Maragos is hoping for a repeat of that upset. Although he wasn’t as lucky when he ran in a Republican primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) a year after becoming comptroller, or unsuccessfully vying for the GOP nod again in the race to challenge U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) two years later.

Maragos immigrated from Greece in 1958 when he was 8 years old. His family initially settled in Montreal, where he earned his bachelors degree in electrical engineering before moving to New York in 1978. Once here, he started his career at Booz Allen and Hamilton, got his masters in business administration from Pace University, and became vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank, then of Citibank, before founding SDS Financial Technologies two decades ago. His two sons took over the company when he was elected.

“I didn’t really know what I was getting into,” he said of his decision to run for comptroller. “Back then in 2009, the Republican Party didn’t have good candidates. They thought that [then-Nassau County Executive Tom] Suozzi and [then-Nassau Comptroller Howard] Weitzman would be shoo-ins to win, but I saw it as an opportunity to give back.”

He lists his priorities as lowering property taxes for the middle class, requiring developers to build more affordable housing, investing in public transportation and enacting ethics reform measures, such as banning local political contributions from companies that are contracted to perform county work and reforming the board of elections. But his switching parties have led some to accuse him of being a political opportunist—an accusation he denies.

“We have a government that’s not about serving the people, it’s about serving the special interests,” he said. “I feel in a way compelled to fight for the residents and give their government back to them. I see a property tax ass system that’s not only unfair, its rigged.

“It has shifted the tax burden from the high-end homes to the middle- and low-income homes,” he continued. “The people that can least afford to pay high property taxes are subsidizing the rich, in effect.”

And since he’s largely self-financing his campaign, he believes that he is the best candidate to make that systemic change.

“I am the only candidate that is not beholden to either party,” he said.

Marguerite Suozzi, Mother of Long Island Congressman, Dies

Marguerite Suozzi
Marguerite Suozzi, right, once appeared in a campaign ad beside her son, U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), left.

Marguerite Suozzi, the matriarch of the political family that produced four Glen Cove city mayors, one of whom became Nassau County executive and is now a congressman, died Saturday. She was 93.

The mother of five and grandmother of 14 was widely known for launching the Morgan Park Summer Festival, a series of outdoor concerts and events that has run for more than half a century.

“This is my first love,” Suozzi, referring to the nine-week concert series, told The New York Times in a profile that likened her family to a local version of the Kennedy dynasty.

Marguerite’s husband, Joseph Suozzi, was mayor of Glen Cove from 1956 to ’60 and a former judge. Her brother-in-law, Vincent “Jimmy” Suozzi, served as mayor of the Gold Coast city from ‘73 to ‘79 and ‘84 to ‘87. Thomas Suozzi, her youngest son, served four terms as Glen Cove mayor beginning in ‘94 before he was twice elected Nassau County executive and last year, to the congressional seat that represents the North Shore of Nassau as well as parts of western Suffolk and eastern Queens. And her nephew, Ralph Suozzi, served as Glen Cove mayor from ‘06 to ‘14.

Marguerite was born on February 19, 1924 in St. Albans, Queens. A nurse and accomplished golfer, she married her husband in 1953. She is predeceased by her husband and son Joseph. Besides Thomas, she is survived by her sons William Suozzi and Christopher Suozzi as well as her daughter, Rev. Rosemary Suozzi Lloyd.

Visitation will be held 7-9 p.m. Monday as well as 3-5 and 7-9 p.m. Tuesday at McLaughlin Kramer Megiel Funeral Home, which is located at 220 Glen St. in Glen Cove. The funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Church of St. Patrick in Glen Cove. Her burial will follow at Locust Valley Cemetery.

Her family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to All Saints Regional Catholic School, 12 Pearsall Ave., Glen Cove, NY 11542.

LIRR Summer of Hell Leaving Penn Station

LIRR
LIRR riders arrive in Long Beach (Photo by Joe Abate)

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for Long Island Rail Road’s so-called Summer of Hell.

Amtrak completed its emergency track repairs in Penn Station that reduced the amount of rush hour trains the LIRR was able to run for the past two months by up to 20 percent.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had deployed busses, ferries, extra train cars, introduced cashless tolling on major crossings and offered reduced fares and free Subway transfers for LIRR riders to mitigate the congestion. The temporary bus and ferry service ends Friday.

“We said this summer had the potential be the ‘summer of hell,'” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “It did. It was prevented by the preparation, communication, and execution of our mitigation plan and the LIRR saw its best on-time performance of the year during these months – standards of service they must uphold year-round.”

The MTA said the LIRR schedule will return to normal with all of if the tracks in the nation’s busiest train hub back up and running on Tuesday, when commuters return to work after the Labor Day weekend.