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Oct 17, 2012 6:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Fleming, LaValle Face-Off In First Debate

Oct 17, 2012 9:40 AM

Republican State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and his Democratic challenger, Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, met for their first debate in Hampton Bays on Monday night, with the discussion largely focusing on how each candidate would reduce costs to East End residents and work to address the “crisis” situation in local waterways.

While Sen. LaValle said there was a need to install waste water treatment facilities and sewage systems to curb harmful nitrogen runoff in local waters, he said the process should be approached carefully and with the input of local officials and residents.

“This is not something that you rush into, because there have been, in our county, scandals over sewage,” he said, adding that the costs need to be determined, especially at a time when people are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Ms. Fleming said she would like to see Governor Andrew Cuomo’s regional economic councils more aggressively pursue such a big infrastructure improvement project.

“I agree that we don’t want to rush into big expenses,” she said. “I also think that it’s not going to be rushing into anything to start taking this as an emergency situation.”

The debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons and the Hampton Bays Civic Association. Susan Wilson of the League served as moderator.

Ms. Fleming touted the fact that Suffolk County has never seen a female senator, and told community members in attendance that she would fight for women in Albany to make sure that they are no longer an “afterthought,” focusing on such matters as women’s reproductive health and equal pay.

She criticized the incumbent for spending more than a half million dollars on office expenses and mailers in a recent six-month period, and accused him of voting to increase his own salary.

“Bridget, you can’t distort the truth,” the senator responded, saying he has not received a salary increase in 13 years, and that he moved offices, accounting for the expense. “You can’t lie. You just can’t.”

Kate Watt, campaign manager for Ms. Fleming, said in an email on Tuesday that the senator had voted for his salary to increase by 38 percent over the 36 years that he has been in office, but acknowledging that the last increase was in 1999—13 years ago.

Ms. Fleming also criticized Sen. LaValle for voting to raise taxes more than 400 times in his 36 years in office, though he responded by saying he has asked her to produce evidence of those taxes he has purportedly voted for. He pointed to his support and help in crafting the New York State School Tax Relief Program, also called the STAR program, as evidence of his commitment to reducing taxes. “There is not an individual who is more anti-tax,” he said.

The two candidates expressed differing views on the New York State 2-percent tax levy cap enacted last year by Gov. Cuomo. Sen. LaValle, who voted in favor of the cap, explained that the measure was approved after a number of different approaches, such as reducing the number of times taxpayers vote on school budgets, failed to curb taxes. He added that the Senate passed numerous bills granting mandate relief to Suffolk County.

Ms. Fleming said that while the cap forced “fiscal discipline,” she said there was not enough mandate relief to balance the drop in revenue. “I think that if the tax cap continues, we have to take a realistic look about what the tax cap is, with regard to the real hits that happen on services,” she said.

The candidates did agree on the need for more disclosure in campaign financing and on the need for tort reform, although they debated the recent decision by the Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees to approve a renewed 15-year agreement with National Grid.

“I am very proud of my service in government, the legislation that has been forged with the people I represent, and I think we have a good record,” Sen. LaValle said in his closing statement, adding that the last two sessions of the legislature have been “historically” productive. He said he is most proud of creating more jobs and improving health care by establishing a closer relationship between Stony Brook University Medical Center and Southampton Hospital, which announced last week that it would construct a new facility on the Stony Brook Southampton college campus.

Ms. Fleming, who frequently noted her experience as an assistant district attorney and criminal prosecutor, said she would serve everyone in the community if elected senator.

“I think that I have proven as the only Democrat on the Southampton Town Board that I can work effectively and independently, and it’s time to put the political partisanship aside,” she said. “I’m not here to say that Senator LaValle has not done good things for our community. But after 36 years in Albany, I think we know that Senator LaValle has been a leader in a broken system and has come out of step with the majority in this district.”

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Ken LaValle got caught in a Romney-Libya moment when he wrongly accused Bridget Fleming of lying about whether or not he voted to increase his own salary. Turns out that over his 36(!) years in office, he's voted raises for himself amounting to 38%, and spent over half a million dollars in only six months on his office expenses.

Much of these "office expenses" has been for campaign-style mailers masquerading as legislative updates at taxpayer expense. Instead of being plain newsletters, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 17, 12 12:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Not a sinlge word you wrote is true. Oh wait you got spelled everyone 's name right.

George, your fabrications and flat out lies are quite amusing.

As a Democratic officer, you should know better. But wait, when you can't run on facts you have to make it up -- keep dreaming.

Good day.
By FredShart (19), Suffolk on Oct 17, 12 12:17 PM
Democrats when they were in the majority eliminated the STAR rebate checks.
By FredShart (19), Suffolk on Oct 17, 12 12:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
I think people saw very clearly whom to believe under the 1010/12 27east piece, "Fleming and LaValle at Odds . . . " I documented my stuff and you just made empty claims, which you're still doing.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 17, 12 12:38 PM
You didn't "document" a damn thing.
36% over 38 years? thats 1.000001$ a year, oretty frugalif you ask me.
Will Ms. Fleming sign a pledge to assure us she will NEVER send a goverment sponsored mailing that even LOOKS to be political in nature?
That 40 year old scandal? Worth making sure we dont repeat the sins of the past. Don't you think?
Your comments on the STAR rebate are complete lies. It was the Dems that screwed us. Their base of NYC residents are not going to benefit from ...more
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Oct 17, 12 12:57 PM
These are the facts:

Ken LaValle has compiled a blameless record during his long tenure. One may disagree with his positions but they were all principled.

Bridge Fleming's nomination, on the other hand, is an attempt to use the "beauty contest" stratagem of counterpoising a big, blonde, (more) youthful candidate to the old incumbent since there are no substantive issues on which to attack him.

The Almighty Himself would have a hard time against LaValle but the Democrats ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 17, 12 5:58 PM
2 members liked this comment
So oh omnipotent one... 38 years of being part of a systemically corrupt system of government is good enough for you? 38 years of being ripped off: LILCO / LIPA and countless other Suffolk County boondoggles is good enough for ya. You know you opened yourself up to severe criticism regarding your defaming Ms. Fleming and woman in general for that matter with your Democratic beauty contest statement, Anyone other than Lavalle! My dog instead of Lavalle. Without Ms. Fleming running for the office ...more
By rrc1049 (63), Bridgehampton on Oct 19, 12 5:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Phadreus 1340: Try to follow the bouncing ball, bro. The documentation I referred to was under the 10/10/12 piece on 27east, "Fleming and LaValle at Odds . . ." as clearly stated above. Sure, we don't want the old sewer scandal back, but that's no reason to hold up the desperately needed remediation of our waters. I stand by my STAR comments 100%. Notice you don't have anything to say about National Grid, which is the big issue.

Highhatsize: You and I normally see eye to eye, but ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 18, 12 11:34 AM
to Turkey Bridge:

To be honest, if the Democratic candidate had more than the chance of a snowball in hell of winning this contest, I would have refrained from commenting on the basis of political ideology. However, that is not the case.

Rather than dwelling on Ms. Fleming's shortcomings, let me simply say that I see her as a photogenic candidate imposed from above without reference to ability or record. I do not share your estimation of her resume.

Physical attractiveness ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 18, 12 1:50 PM
Appreciate the reasoned and temperate response, though I wholly disagree with the premises.

If most comments on this site even remotely approached the intelligence level of yours or say, Frank Wheeler's, I'd say they'd be worth checking out, but you and I know that's far from the case. I name no names, but we know the many folks to whom I refer. Time better spent reading supermarket ads.

BTW, I see Nellie liked your original post. Must make you feel good.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 18, 12 3:48 PM
And I notice you said nothing of my remarks on balance at the state level. If she breaks 35%, it will be a shocker.

And you know it.
Oct 18, 12 6:45 PM appended by Phadreus1340
My comments were directed at your comments here, not on another story on another date. And I ain't your "bro" dude.
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Oct 18, 12 6:45 PM
You just don't do precision, do you, Phadreus? My comment, to which you were responding, did refer to "another story on another date," and it was there, not here, that I said I documented my remarks. If you're going to go out of context, admit it, but don't make it sound like I'm jumping the fence, because I'm not.

Re "balance at the state level," I'm talking about this race and this race only, between Bridget Fleming, who's ready to work tirelessly for Long Island families, and Ken LaValle, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 20, 12 10:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Unless something has happened while I snoozed, the Republicans only have a two or three vote majority in the Senate.
And do you really think Ms. Fleming will make a difference, Republican OR Democratic majority? Of course not, and you know that.
I think maybe you want her out of Southampton for some reason. But you do know that Highat is right on this one. She doesnt stand a snowballs chance in hell.
And if you think about it, you want the Senate to have a Republican majority , so that ...more
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Oct 20, 12 12:29 PM
You're right, the margin of the Republican Senate majority isn't as big as I thought it was, but that consideration is secondary to who will do a better job of representing this district in Albany. We have to worry about ourselves first, and Bridget Fleming is definitely the better choice for middle class families on LI. That 2016 stuff is way too far out for a dumb guy like me.

National Grid? LIPA? Still waiting. I think I know why you're not answering -- you know as well as I do that ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 21, 12 12:39 PM
You're no where near as dumb as you look for one. For another, the voters will not choose a State Senator based on what they pay for electirc rates. (happy now?)
Two things happen in this election (in your world anyway) Ms. Fleming wins and the Dems control the Assembly, the Senate and the Governors mansion. This is somehow good for us, right? The same guy that is trying to shove a camp down the throats of locals in North Sea, now runs that entire state, and you think this is a good thing?
Or ...more
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Oct 22, 12 5:04 PM
That bouncing ball keeps getting away from you. The camp guy (Jay Jacobs) is out, he doesn't run the State Dems any more.

Now I'll jump up on the soapbox you just gave me -- thanks very much -- and say that yes, the voters will choose according to what they pay for electricity if, and only if, we can get it across that these rates are higher than anywhere but Hawaii, that they're killing businesses and families, that LI's economy will never recover until it changes, and that it's all Ken ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 23, 12 12:58 PM
Oh you're a big picture guy George. When it suits your arguement anyway.
And I am sure Mr Jacobs has no influence left, cause thats the way it is in party politics, right?
Please show me the poll where it says ANYONE, yes ANYONE decides on a Senate seat beased on their electicity rates. Malarkey!
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Oct 23, 12 1:17 PM
What does it matter what Ms. Flemming brings to the table in terms of her candidacy, change from this political hack is LONG overdue. After 38 years Sen. LaValle has been part of a systemically corrupt, Federal, State and Local system of government that is beyond repair. Senator LaValle you and LILCO / LIPA I wish to thank you for ripping me off for 38 years. And to you Hihatsize, Lavalle a blameless record? Please, at least Ms. Fleming is someone who is good looking. After 38 years I can now ...more
By rrc1049 (63), Bridgehampton on Oct 19, 12 5:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow. THis board really attracts some winners
By FredShart (19), Suffolk on Oct 20, 12 11:58 AM
BF is a wonderful, very smart,strong,caring,able and yes attractive! Great for all of us. go Bridget!!!!!
By maggieb (11), sag harbor on Oct 20, 12 5:31 PM
I just watched the debate on SEA TV and believe me I think it's Ken Lavalles time to go. But Bridget Fleming couldn't answer half the questions, and bs ed her way through the whole debate. She informed everyone she was an assistant district attorney and a trial lawyer thats why she has experience too be a state senator LOL!!It's amazing how little she knows!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 26, 12 9:52 PM
The voters saw through the charade. Buh-BYE..
By FredShart (19), Suffolk on Nov 7, 12 8:40 AM