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.
U.S. Marshalls helped Nassau County police apprehend a an accused drug dealer wanted for shooting another to death last month.
Diquan McClough was arrested Thursday in Georgia and charged with second-degree murder. He had been free on bail while facing charges of criminal sale of controlled substance stemming from a March 2012 arrest.
Police said he gunned down Quavis Ford on Dec. 8 near the corner of Terrace Avenue and Bedell Street, a notorious open-air drug market in Hempstead.
Ford was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Both the suspect and the victim are 20 years old and from Hempstead.
McClough was ordered held without bail Saturday during his initial court appearance at First District Court in Hempstead. He is due back in court Tuesday.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Long Island’s congressional delegation are hopeful that the remaining $50 billion in the Sandy relief aid package will pass next week, although doubts linger after the initial snub.
Reps. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Peter King (R-Seaford) have said the legislation is expected to come up again after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week refused to schedule a vote for the full $60 billion bill. Both LI congressmen expressed cautious optimism.
“I am reasonably confident that we will get enough votes to pass it,” said Bishop. “We’re hopeful that [our] colleagues will recognize that it’s now the time for New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to receive the assistance that we have provided to other states.”
King said on his Facebook page Thursday, “I don’t want to be overconfident, but I think we’re going to have the votes to pass $50B Hurricane Sandy aid package next week.”
The House, which approved more than $9 billion for the national flood insurance program last week after sparking outrage by not passing the full $60 billion bill, is expected to vote on the rest of the aid in two parts.
Bishop said the $18 billion bill to address emergency needs should first pass relatively easily. But a $33-bill appropriation for longer-term projects to prepare against future storms is more controversial.
Some members of the House GOP majority argue that the aid should be offset by spending cuts. The original proposal easily passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.
The two bills will fund key federal agencies involved in the recovery efforts, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others.
The deadline is Jan. 28 for residents to apply for the FEMA Individual Assistance program and for businesses to request low-interest Small Business Administration loans.
King made national headlines when he blasted his own party last week for leaving Sandy survivors out in the cold by not passing the aid bill two months after the Oct. 29 superstorm.
“Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” he was widely quoted as saying. “Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”
The Nassau Hurricane Recovery Fund is inviting county residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy to apply for aid if they lack insurance and government assistance.
The fund created in November is also designed to assist those whose losses exceed reimbursements from their insurance carrier and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“With the storm devastating the lives of thousands of our residents, it is incumbent upon our community to do all we can to aid residents in their recovery and rebuilding efforts,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said.
More than 35,725 Nassau residents were displaced and more than 34,602 vehicles were damaged or destroyed in the storm, according to Mangano.
Application forms can be found on the fund’s website.
Donations can be made to The Nassau Hurricane Recovery Fund, care of the Nassau County Police Department, Room 216, 1490 Franklin Ave., Mineola, NY 11501.
The gun control debate got a shot in the arm this week when a school shooting broke out during a White House task force meeting on the issue the day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New York to pass the nation’s toughest firearms regulations.
Proposed re-enactment of the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that expired in 2004 is at the forefront of the current debate. But pro-gun lobbyists shot down such regulations as an infringement of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Emotions continue to run high on both sides.
“There has got to be some common ground, to not solve every problem but diminish the probability” of future mass shootings, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday. “That’s what this is all about.”
Biden was meeting with a group of hunting organizations when a 16-year-old armed with a shotgun critically wounded a fellow student in a California high school. The task force was formed after a gunman massacred 20 school children and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last month.
The National Rifle Association, whose leader has proposed armed guards in every school—although in the latest case, the school’s armed guard was snowed in at home—characterized the meeting as “disappointing” and said it will work with Congress instead.
“No one hunts with an assault rifle,” Cuomo said Wednesday while unveiling his gun-control package. “No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer. And too many innocent people have died already. End the madness now!”
He proposed banning gun clips manufactured before 1994 that hold more than 10 bullets—hardware used by the Newtown gunman and other mass murderers—modernizing the pistol permitting process to ensure felons and others barred from owning handguns don’t fall through the cracks.
Cuomo also gave a nod to the NRA and conservatives such as state Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who have suggested the gun control conversation falls short without addressing mental health and stricter punishments.
“There is no doubt that illegal guns are a major threat to public safety—but it is not the only one,” Skelos said after Cuomo laid out his plans in his State of the State address. “More frequently we are reading about crimes committed by people with a history of mental illness who may not be getting the treatment they need.”
The governor’s package includes enhanced sentencing guidelines for those convicted of using illegal guns, which mirrors a series of proposals Skelos unveiled last week. Cuomo also plans to propose measures to ensure mental health professionals alert authorities when they become aware a gun owner is likely to cause harm.
In addition, he also wants to close a loophole that allows private gun owners to sell guns to others without the buyer being subject to the background checks they would face when making a purchase from a licensed gun dealer.
On the federal level, New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are calling on Biden to include measures to crackdown on illegal guns and strengthen background checks into his final recommendations.
The senators are pushing bills mandating that states share records on felons, drug abusers and those seriously mentally ill to be used in background checks for gun buyers. They also are pushing a bill cracking down on trafficking firearms into New York.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) is also reintroducing her legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines for guns—a bill that is likely to be part of the Newtown task force’s recommendations Tuesday to President Obama.
McCarthy has devoted her political career to combating gun violence after her husband was murdered and son critically injured during the 1993 Long Island Railroad massacre. Rep. Diana Degette (D-Colo), whose district includes the infamous Columbine High School and is adjacent to Aurora—where a gunman murdered 12 people and wounded nearly 60 others at a movie theater last summer—is cosponsoring the legislation.
“These devices are used to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time possible and we owe it to innocent Americans everywhere to keep them out of the hands of dangerous people,” said McCarthy. “We don’t even allow hunters to use them—something’s deeply wrong if we’re protecting game more than we’re protecting innocent human beings.”
An elderly man and woman married 20 years were both found dead Thursday morning inside their Lynbrook home, Nassau County police said.
“At this time it appears to be a natural cause death and a suicide,” Nassau County police spokesman Det. Vincent Garcia told reporters at the scene.
Police did not immediately release their names.
The 73-year-old woman is believed to have died of natural causes, pending autopsy results, police said. It appears that her 70-year-old husband died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a shotgun.
The couple was discovered after a home health care aid arrived at the house but was unable to get inside the locked door, Garcia said. The health care aid called the family and someone came by with a key to open the door when the discovery was made and a witness called 911 shortly before 10 a.m., police said.
The woman was found on a bed, police said, and her husband’s body was discovered nearby.
Officials said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and an employee were at the scene. A spokesman for Rice’s office said the incident involved a relative of an employee of the district attorney’s office.
Scholars’ Academy in Rockaway Park, the last New York City school still closed 10 weeks after Sandy, is getting a few finishing touches from teachers eager to resume classes Friday—including some Long Island-based staffers still making storm repairs at home.
The ground floor of the highly ranked middle and high school for gifted students had to be gutted after flood waters rushed in from Jamaica Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the neighboring sewage treatment plant. Thousands of dollars in school supplies were lost in the floods and some electronics that weren’t destroyed were stolen by looters.
The school is halfway between Breezy Point—the community on the western tip of the Rockaway peninsula that lost 126 homes in a mid-superstorm blaze—and Long Beach to the east, among the hardest-hit LI towns.
But now, Scholars is back.
“It was really hard for me to be away during this,” said Blythe Worster, a Scholars’ art teacher from Bellmore who was on maternity leave until Jan. 2 after giving birth to her first child two days before Sandy. “I was just so helpless.”
After she and her family cleaned up from 5-foot flood waters that rushed into the basement of her new house, Worster returned to the Rockaways to put her classroom back together. She and colleagues got help via Donors Choose, an education-focused fundraising website.
“Sandy came in and did a number on us,” Brian O’Connell, the school’s principal, told CNN. “It really adds up because some of these items are quite expensive.”
About half of Scholars’ students and around a third of the staffers—O’Connell and Worster included—were temporarily displaced from their homes by the storm. The school’s 642 students met for class in East New York during the cleanup.
But they’re not complaining. The recovery time for the battered school and continuing efforts in the devastated surrounding community ultimately proved a lesson in resilience for students and teachers alike.
Athena Mcdonaldsmith, a Scholars’ student who lives near the school and endured serious flooding at home, told The Wave, the Rockaway’s local newspaper, she joined in the volunteer effort despite also being in need of assistance.
She was quoted as saying, “Sandy really hit Rockaway hard, but the pride and strength that has come from this disaster is truly a force to be reckoned with, one that no storm could destroy.”