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279 Comments by North of Highway

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Questions of respect for region's best

Similar story - many years ago one October my sister and I were driving the Costa Del Sol in Spain when we stopped by a roadside restaurant in a small village for a late lunch. There were carafes of red wine on the table - no beer here, the beer cooler had failed - so we opted for the wine. It was amazing! The freshness was incredible. When I asked our waiter where it came from he pointed out the window to a small vineyard and said in halting English - "I make" - hows that for fressness!!!" Mar 12, 10 10:13 AM

Questions still remain over police officer suspensions, reinstatements in Westhampton Beach

Mr. Bee is a long time attorney involved in labor law as well as municipal affairs. He has represented many Long Island governments in police union arbitrations. I have to believe he knows what he is talking about." Mar 31, 10 2:02 PM

Southampton Town looks to confer authority of peace officers on code officers

PBR raises a good point. New York City Probabtion Officers, who have peace officer status, for years have claimed because of this they should be considered on a par with police officers(higher pay, bigger pension). Same for detective investigators attached to the DA offices(although many of these are retired police officers).. There are even guards in the Cities watershed system who have this same status and make similar claims.
Its a thin line here - NYC probation officers do not carry guns (for the most part) but can arrest people, issue summonses, etc. Tricky issue - " Mar 31, 10 2:14 PM

In Pinot Noir, a Puzzle of Challenges and Rewards

I recall drinking in 1978 ( I think, maybe '79) a pinot noir Hargraves made called "Year of Belle" - for hurricane Bell which I think was in 1976. The wine was made in a nouveau carbonic maceration style - as I recall it was quite good, young and pleasant.
About 5 years ago I given a bottle of Hargraves 1980 pinot noir as a gift - a friend had found it somewhere. We opened it up and it was still intact for something so old." Apr 1, 10 3:16 PM

Forgot to mention - Dyson has made some pretty good Pinot Noir over the years- didn't know some of his grapes were coming from Long Island!!!!" Apr 1, 10 3:19 PM

Southampton Town restructures, considers staffing needs

Laudable but really not enough. Big money is in the police department, and with an arbitration looming anything you save here will be shifted to higher police salaries.
Depending on attrition and early retirement sounds great but in hard financial times these avenues for savings slow down. Can't the unions make some relatively painless concessions like deferring wage increases and agreeing to a payroll lag? These are softies and I re-call the Linda Kabot tried these and got nowhere with them." Apr 7, 10 12:31 PM

Tucker says he will challenge Teller in Westhampton Beach mayoral election

looks like a real donnybrook in the Village! Let the games begin!!!!" Apr 7, 10 12:37 PM

looks like the "submit " key got stuck

sorry folks" Apr 7, 10 12:39 PM

Southampton Town negotiations with PBA advance

12 hour tours is a bad idea and its good to see the Town move off that concept. They will not save any significant money, in fact, overtime costs may indeed increase dispite of the union's claims. There are big time safety issues in 12 hour tours, not only for the public but for the police officers themselves.
Steady tours is a much better concept as long as enough officers sign up for the overnights - there is night shift differential as an incentice." Apr 7, 10 12:51 PM

Currently the STPD make work something like 234 tours a year (Not sure of the exact number but this is close to it); by going to 12 hour tours the STPD would make 156 appearances a year, or 78 less work days -( the total annual hours remain at 1,872 hours regardless of the length of the tour).
How does this save money? Its possible that by having more police at certain hours of the day, mainly the rush hours when there are a lot of calls due to auto accidents and so forth, you might save some overtime. But crime in general occurs around the clock regardless of police tours. Also when police are called in on their days off they recieve OT, and with 78 more days off its more likely that an officer will be called in on a day off either to work or to appear at a court proceeding. Where's the savings?
To me the big issue is the safety of the public, and the safety of the individual police officer. Do you really want officers performing duties after 11 hours on the job where one mistake in that last hour of the tour can have serious consequences.
Doing steady tours is a much better idea if the scheduling allows it.

" Apr 8, 10 12:10 PM

Southampton Town restructures, considers staffing needs

Nature is correct. I've got 25 years working in the public sector as I felt I could contribute something meaningful, and I think I have; the pay has always been modest and its been the good health insurance plan and the idea of a defined benefit pension that kept me on the job. You can make all the arguments you want about the need for government and so forth but in the end it comes down the fact that its a job, here's the functions of that job, and here's the compensation.
Police do well (as I think everyone agrees they should); teachers do well and there's a lot of controvery there, but the regular civilian government employee makes a modest salary at best, its the benefits that are the attraction.
There certainly is some merit in going to 401K type retirement plans rather than the standard pension but I'd like to point put to all that when the 401K plan was put forth and approved by IRS in the early 1980's the intent was that it would supplement standard pension plans, not replace them. Perhaps a hybrid plan can be developed." Apr 8, 10 12:21 PM

Southampton Town negotiations with PBA advance

Do you want an officer involved in a high speed chase or simply rushing to the scene of an accident in the 12th hour of a tour? There are limitations on truck drivers, bus operators, pilots, and virtually every transportation occupation.
Studies of residents and interns who work long shifts in hospitals have concurred they have more auto accidents on their way home after these shifts. You don't want tired people behind the wheel of a vehicle.
" Apr 8, 10 3:13 PM

Mr. Aube could never sell a package to his members where there annual hours increase unless there was a proportionate pay raise. The annual hours will remain the same dispite what the Press may have reported.
Your calculation has the work year increasing 17% - unless their wages went up at the same rate I doubt any officer would vote for ratification." Apr 9, 10 10:37 AM

the three year average rule was a change done by the legislature years ago (it used to be five years at one time) and not locally and is pretty much out the Board's control. But of course there are other issues that the Board does control. The eventual outcome should be interesting as I recall seeing a life like size cut out figure of ATH at the PBA's headquarters in Speonk during the election and their endorsement of Ms. Fleming. If they go to arbitration the wage increase may be relatively modest given the Easthampton Town police settlement, but arbitration is always a crapshoot." Apr 9, 10 11:33 AM

Wine selections sprouted from idea for potting party

Saget does make good wine - consistently. I'll to look around the shops since Diageo dumped them - there might be some bargains out there.
In the meantime Saget has the huge advantage of buying Loire Valley grapes and keeping their costs down - the East End does not have this to its pricing disadvantage. So it has to make it up in quality - which it has been doing of late. The overall quality improvement of East End wines in the last five years have justified their cost. Keep it up and I hope to do some pot (that is plant potting) this weekend - enjoyed the column" Apr 9, 10 3:54 PM

Southampton Town negotiations with PBA advance

There also have been jurisdictions that have gone back to 10 hr and 8 hr shifts - as for hospital work hours the trend has been to reduce hours, not increase them. The argument is often made that nurses routinely work 12 hour shifts - and this is true. Why do they work 12 shifts? Because there is a nursing shortage nationally and many hospital systems, like the one I work for, offer the 12 hour shift as a way to attract nurses to our facilities so they have time to work other jobs and we can compete salary wise. There is no police shortage and its obvious that police pay is more than substantial to attract new hires. The 12 hour police shift serves one purpose - to allow officers to work second jobs. I also contend the longer tours is a safety issue; study after study shows that in the hospitals medical errors increase with the length of a tour - do you really want cops making critical decisions on the 11 hour of a tour?" Apr 13, 10 10:22 AM

IRS says Southampton Town comptroller owes $650,000 in back taxes

I had similar problems with IRS when I sold stock for a loss a couple of years ago. They kept claiming I made a profit! They're not as keen as most people think. It took a lot time to rectify the situation." Apr 15, 10 11:24 AM

Local Tea Party movement holds two rallies on Tax Day

I went to a Tea Party rally in Florida with my cousin who lives near Cape Canaveral - I am in that 5% or so highest earners who are getting heavily taxed thru the AMT stealth tax - I'm sympathic to the tax cause, I pay a lot of taxes and I'm not happy - but what did I see at this Titusville "Tea Party" rally? Gun nuts carrying side arms, Confederate flag wavers, a neo-Nazi (only one but scarry to see) - and a bunch of older people, one of who I know who gets a New York City pension and retiree health, a Veteran's pension and health insurance as he was in the army for a few years, and Social Security - his health insurance costs are probably zero - but he was protesting to his right to refuse to pay for medical insurance while enjoying every benefit - come on, you want the system to take care of yourself and let the others suffer on their own - shameful" Apr 21, 10 8:12 PM

For better or for worse, 2009 was a good year for the ros├ęs

Another fine article. I enjoyed Paumanok's 2008 Chenin Blanc - I thought it was really world class. I look forward to the 2009.
I bought a case of a Mendicino dry chenin blanc from Navarro vineyards, dry with 0.2 residual sugar. While nice Charles and Ursula and kids have this wine beat. Keep up the good work - I really feel the North Fork is much like the Loire Valley and those grape types seem to do well here." Apr 29, 10 2:34 PM

Town working to ban gambling at Westhampton property to thwart potential Shinnecock bid

The airport has long been under utilized; as soon as I heard the current plans call for a 145 room hotel/convention center I began to suspect the Tribe might be interested in Gabreski. As someone who has lived in Hampton West Estates across from Gabreski for over 30 years I welcomed the County plan for the Technology Park. As advertised this should produce higher paying year round jobs that would hopefully go to area residents. The casino however, would produce lower paying jobs, let alone a lot of auto congestion and a 24 hour mess. What advantage would Gabreski have for the Tribe?
" May 7, 10 3:53 PM

Southampton Town police contract talks at impasse over salaries and work schedule

I don't know the actual details but I can infer from the article the number of appearances would drop from the current 232 a year to 182 (Aube stating the PBA members would have 50 more days off). So that would put the annual hours from the current 1,856 hours to 2,184 hours, or something like that.
It may seem like on paper you could reduce the workforce as the PBA claims but the reality is that outside of rush calls for police assistance, crime is pretty much a random thing timewise and now you have fewer officers available due to the fewer appearances and concievably in the 11th hour of a tour, meaning fatigue becomes an issue. Also the random nature of calls should not produce any real overtime savings as calls for assistance are just as likely on the 12th hour of a twelve hour tour as it is on the eighth hour of an 8 hour tour.
The 12 hour tour concept is for the benefit of the police, not the public. If the Town wants to accomodate the police than steady tours might make sense.
And should this go to arbitration I'm sure the arbitrator will recall she rejected a similar proposal with the City of New York and their PBA a few years back." May 7, 10 4:15 PM

thats "rush hour" calls - sorry, I omitted the word " hour"." May 7, 10 4:31 PM

Town working to ban gambling at Westhampton property to thwart potential Shinnecock bid

Frank84's comments are well spoken. Whether you support gambling or not the fact is people do gamble and tax revenue is going somewhere else. My point is the that Gabreski is County owned, not owned by the Town. Would the Town see any tax revenue from this or does the County reap the benefits? Also, there are some examples of Indian casinos not succeeding, its not always a tax revenue panecea. Between having the high tech center or a casino at Grabreski I'd take the high tech park. The Shinnecocks seem to be in a good position and I'm sure they will find a good location." May 11, 10 10:57 AM

Bob Stevens Appliance closes

Wow - this closure and Pastor Chevy on the Montauk Highway - how many locals are now out of work? We bought all our appliances from Bob Stevens - the staff was always friendly, well informed and helpful.
Sorry to see them go - couldn't ride out the recession I guess." May 19, 10 3:33 PM

Shinnecocks casino team visits Brookhaven airport at invitation of town and county officials

I live quite near to Gabreski and for the 32 years I have done so there has always been a "plan" for the place - but never a product. Then along comes the Hi-Tech Park - another one of the many plans (anyone remember a group that wanted to fly cattle to Iran - no joke, must have been 1979) but this one actually seems to have some push behind it. Should it happen I would expect it to generate some good paying year round jobswith minimal impact on the area.
Now there is talk of the Shinnecocks putting theire gambling operation there; while I generally oppose gambling the fact remains that many other people do it and that revenue goes somewhere else and not to New York State. So ok, build your casino - but I feel for the greater Westhampton area the Hi Tech Park is the better deal - the casino will generate too much activity, traffic, etc the the infrastructure just isn't there.
And as an aside there are examples of native American gambling houses that have not done well at all, so it isn't a sure bet - but the Shinnecocks seem to have some high rollers fiancing them. Time will tell." May 19, 10 3:45 PM

Gee, guess I can't drive to the 7-11 anymore. Imagine the traffic on the Old Montauk Highway!" May 19, 10 3:48 PM

Two candidates hope for seat on Sag Harbor School Board

Run Rollo Run!!!" May 20, 10 1:28 PM

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