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Oct 24, 2014 11:29 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bishop And Zeldin Face Off About Local and Federal Issues In East Hampton Debate

Oct 24, 2014 3:13 PM

The Congressional candidates running to represent the 1st Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton, and State Senator Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Shirley, have different takes on what should be done to shore up Downtown Montauk.

At Thursday night's Press News Group debate at LTV Studios in Wainscott, both candidates voiced their opinion on the proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project—Mr. Bishop saying the project is as good as it's going to be, a temporary fix, while Mr. Zeldin said the Army Corps must go back to the drawing board for a bigger solution with more sand.

"The scope of the project is greatly in need of the Army Corps going back to original efforts to have substantially more sand than what we're seeing right now. There was a heightened expectation to see exponentially more sand brought to Montauk," Mr. Zeldin said. "For whatever reason … we're sitting here hearing about calendar year 2016, but by the first Memorial Day after Hurricane Sandy hit, New Jersey was given new roads and new dunes … residents here were expecting a much larger-scope project to protect the shoreline."

Mr. Bishop rebutted Mr. Zeldin's arguments, saying, "My opponent never let the truth get in the way of a good attack."

He said his efforts, and those of his colleagues, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, and Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, have produced a decent project that will get the job done until the larger Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study is completed in 2017.

"We reached what we thought was reasonable and we compromised," Mr. Bishop said. "Montauk is a severely imperiled area. This is a good project; a project that is necessary to protect the infrastructure and economy of Downtown Montauk. It's not perfect but it is a project that the Corps is willing to fund at 100 percent cost share and something the East Hampton Town Board, the environmental community and Fred Thiele, Jay Schneiderman and I have gotten behind. I'm questioning your command of the facts and your understanding," he told Mr. Zeldin.

Mr. Zeldin said he agreed to disagree on the timing and scope of the project.

The State Senator was also unconvinced that federal officials have done everything in their power to reduce the noise problem stemming from East Hampton Airport.

Mr. Bishop and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer were successful in getting the Federal Aviation Administration to renew the North Shore Route, which takes planes and helicopters mostly over the Long Island Sound instead of across a longer stretch of land. Both politicians have been working on changing that route to require pilots to fly around Orient Point instead of up and across Noyac, Shelter Island and the North Fork, where many aircraft cut across to land at East Hampton Airport.

Mr. Bishop said they have not yet had luck getting the FAA to adopt the proposed alternative route because the FAA wants to study the efficacy "or lack there of" of the North Shore Route prior to making a decision.

"I don't understand—the effort has been going on for such a long time without results that the people of this district want," Mr. Zeldin said. "I believe it requires much more effective representation. We should be seeing results at this point because this has been going on for years."

Mr. Bishop fired back saying that his opponent "doesn't know how the federal government works."

Ultimately, Mr. Bishop said, it is the East Hampton Town Board’s decision whether to continue to accept FAA funding and whether to allow grant assurances to expire in order to have the ability to alleviate the noise problem of excessive traffic coming in and out of the airport. He also said the North Shore Route is the first and only prescribed helicopter route that exists in the country.

The candidates did not see eye to eye on a number of issues, namely how to ensure private sector growth and bolster the economy.

Mr. Bishop said that he supports investing in infrastructure, like roads, bridges, sidewalks and transportation, to make it easier to access businesses. He said he is convinced that it is a federal responsibility to support education and job training to build a stronger workforce.

Mr. Zeldin, however, said that he supports reducing the cost of operation, including taxes and energy costs, for business owners.

"There are ideas that come out of Washington that make sense when you hear them," he said. "In 2012, President Obama was saying he wants to invest in infrastructure for bridges and roads. Everything sounded good, but we're just asking—how are we going to pay for it, not because we don't want to, we just need to figure out how to pay for it."

Mr. Zeldin wasn't clear on whether he would support increasing the minimum wage, but said that there are several aspects that need closer examination. Consider the small business owner, he suggested, because sometimes they don't pay themselves, so they can pay their employees. Raising the minimum wage could put some businesses out, he said.

Mr. Bishop, however, said that there are more benefits to raising the minimum wage, like productivity and possibly reducing the amount of people relying on welfare.

Both men said they support equal pay for equal work.

They also agreed that the U.S. should ban travel from countries effected by Ebola, but Mr. Zeldin questioned President Obama's decision to appoint Ron Klain as his Ebola czar.

"The White House has made the decision to appoint someone who was a good manager, but I'm concerned because the person has no heath care experience," Mr. Zeldin said.

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Tim is right: Zeldin "doesn't understand" how the federal government works --how you can be elected to Congress for six terms without authoring a single bill that was passed into law! Must be some kind of record, no?
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on Oct 24, 14 4:07 PM
3 members liked this comment
It's time for Bishop to be gracious about it and step down. He hasn't had an original thought in his head since he came up with the pay to play fireworks scheme. Social responsibility would be for Bishop to actually pay for his own kids' college tuitions and stop sucking the taxpayers dry.
By DrFinch (4), Southampton on Oct 25, 14 8:28 AM
Bishop hasn't passed anything into law because he waits for his marching orders from Pelosi. We don't need another clueless cheerleader in Washington reading Al Sharpton's talking points. It's time to give someone else a chance and vote for the other guy.
By DrFinch (4), Southampton on Oct 25, 14 8:33 AM
Lee would definitely have his work cut out for him:

7 Facts That Show the American Dream Is Dead
By Richard Eskow

A recent poll showed that more than half of all people in this country don’t believe that the American dream is real. Fifty-nine percent of those polled in June agreed that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve." More and more Americans believe there is “not much opportunity” to get ahead.

The ...more
Oct 25, 14 8:56 AM appended by Mr. Z
If you'd like a better understanding of "how government works", pick up a copy of "Bailout", by Neil Barofsky.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 25, 14 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Its very hard to vote this year and in the past since we don't know what liar to believe to vote for, their for themselves once they get elected.
By MACDADDY (49), SOUTHAMPTON on Oct 25, 14 9:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
OK, looks like the usual Bishop-bashers are out there, so here's the other side:

Tim Bishop is a dedicated and conscientious public servant, running, among other things, one of the most efficient constituent service operations anywhere. Translation: Call Tim, and he' ll help you.

Tim Bishop, if you noticed at the debates, knows his stuff. He's always prepared with hard facts that relate directly to the question asked. That's what I want in a Congressman.

Lee Zeldin, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 27, 14 10:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
Really he would gut social security? There isnt a penny in SS right now and SS is a ponzi scheme which is under funded in the tens of trillions. Tim Bishop pays his daughter 300k a year to raise money for his campaign. This is disgusting, and outrageous, and should be what we are trying to avoid in open govt. Turkey you are totally out of line when you say Zeldin shames the uniform, because he doesn't agree, with you.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 27, 14 6:43 PM
Yes, Lee Zeldin really would gut Social Security. How? Because he wants to give people under 40 the option of investing part of their Social Security payments privately. The problem is that current SS payments to seniors are funded by the generation now working, so every dollar that the under-40s would invest privately would be a dollar taken away from today's seniors.

That's why the system would collapse under Zeldin's scheme. I don't know which is worse,that he understands this and ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 28, 14 11:49 AM
1 member liked this comment