A message on this July Fourth

The Journey to a More Perfect Union

A few years ago, my wife and I were hosting a dinner party at our home in Centerport. We were talking about the Fourth of July holiday. There were ten people around the table of various backgrounds. Two of the guests were black men of considerable accomplishments, Waldo and Steve.

I posed this question to the group. In the year 1776 not all of the colonists were for revolution. Some of us would probably be loyalists, so who among us think they would be revolutionaries, and who among us think that they would be loyalists? With no hesitation Waldo shot back, “Steve and I would be serving tea.”

While that quick witted remark got a big laugh, it reminded me of where we were and what we have become. It also reminded me of how far we must still travel. The road to making “a more perfect union” is a long and winding one. We are still on that magnificent journey, and as we have made progress, at no time should we waste any energy on patting ourselves on the back.

As I contemplate the meaning of our nation and view the flag on the fourth of July, or any day for that matter, I realize that beautiful symbol of freedom and democracy has flown over this country when women could not vote, when our black brothers and sisters were enslaved, and when we deprived the native peoples of this continent of their land. We can look back at our history and be sorry for the wrongs, but at the same time be proud of our forward march. A forward march to a more just society made possible by the written documents that support the principles we fight for every day.

Our founding fathers had an intellect that was superior to the norms of their times. I believe they were under no illusions that they had delivered a true democracy, but what they gave us was a roadmap that works toward that goal. We’re not perfect. We still have work to do. I invite all my fellow Americans to put their shoulders to the wheel that moves us forward.

Many years ago Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America” In that song was the phrase “stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above……..” Asking for blessings now is appropriate. I say Amen!

At the same time, let’s enjoy the celebration. Happy Fourth!

Ernie Fazio

Christmas message 2021

Just when we were beginning to believe that the worst was over we hear that a new strain of Covid is marching on. I feel like a soldier in a bunker who has dared to surface only to find the enemy is nearby and ready to resume battle. That image brought me to thoughts of the reality of a war.
It is a war and we celebrate those who have fought in battle, not because of the nobility of war, I’m not sold on that concept, but because the courage of the combatants is worth praising.
But who are the combatants? Well, it is all of us in a sense, but there are those who have battled relentlessly in the hospitals all over the country and indeed the world. They are the heroes of this battle. If you are not one of those people and you feel worn out, just imagine how doctors, nurses and the rest of the hospital personnel feel.
Christmas is a time of hope and renewal. Let’s lift ourselves and each other knowing that the progress made with vaccines and treatments has saved us from the even greater consequences that would have manifested itself beyond the 800,000 already lost.

May we all have the best possible Christmas.

LIMBA staff and Board of Directors

Thanksgiving Day message 2021

Let’s be thankful for is the ability to forgive and forget the misgivings we have with others. We worry too much about the conversations at Thanksgiving dinners that may go off the rails. Forget all that. Your brother-in-law’s opinion is as ridiculous to you as his is to yours. What ever is going on in the world is not going to be resolved at your dinner table. More than that. It is not enjoyable conversation.

The subject of dinners at my house never solved a problem and never will. They have, however made people laugh at themselves or at stories told or impromptu songs that were sung. In other words, we came into the room to enjoy each other’s company. No one at the table is influential enough to change the world.

We are, on the other hand capable of changing ourselves and we do it all the time. As we mature, we often transition from self interest to family interest or community interest. But none of that is done at a family gathering. It is done in the solitude of a walk in the woods or while fishing by a stream when we are all alone. If you say you need a project to work on, I get it. The project is us. It is always us, the individual.

At dinner this holiday I hope we all can laugh. Laugh at ourselves and each other. A few years ago, I had a dinner party where we all were telling stories and jokes. One of my guests was a college president and he took his turn at telling a joke. He screwed it up so bad that his mis telling of the joke was funnier than the joke could ever have been.
This Thanksgiving let’s make the goal be, having a good time with each other.

On behalf of myself, our staff and our Board of Directors we wish you a
Happy Thanksgiving

Ernie Fazio

Dr. John Nader, President, Farmingdale State College

This meeting was co-hosted by Dr. Julie Lutz, COO of Eastern Suffolk Boces.

Since his tenure began in July 2018, Dr. Nader has promoted his Powered by Optimism message across the campus and in meetings with civic, business and institutional leaders to enhance the profile of Farmingdale State College as a vibrant campus vital to the future of Long Island. Dr. Nader has also focused on the development of new programs, building partnerships with private industries and community colleges, advancing applied learning opportunities, and expanding student scholarships.

Dr. Lutz has been a leader at Eastern Suffolk BOCES since 1990, and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2014.

Tim Sini – Suffolk County District Attorney

Timothy D. Sini was elected as the Suffolk County District Attorney on November 7, 2017 and assumed office on January 1, 2018. District Attorney Sini immediately began a comprehensive review of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office with the objectives of creating a culture of excellence, professionalism and ethical conduct, while launching cutting edge, 21st Century strategies to address the public safety issues of our time. District Attorney Sini is committed to creating a culture of compliance with the highest ethical standards, including creating the first ever Conviction Integrity Bureau in Suffolk County, investing in new training programs for prosecutors and instituting smart prosecutions through the robust collection and analysis of data. The overall mission is to make the Office the best it can be, seek justice in each and every case, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the great residents of Suffolk County.

To this end, thus far, District Attorney Sini has made over 250 personnel decisions, recruited top talent at all levels to the Office, overhauled the Office’s training program, implemented smart criminal justice policies, created new Bureaus to address the public safety issues of our time, and dramatically increased the Office’s productivity. District Attorney Sini, as promised during this campaign, has focused the Office on aggressively addressing the drug epidemic, eradicating violent street gangs such as MS-13, combating the scourge of illegal dumping and other environmental crimes that threaten our environment and public health, effectively confronting human trafficking, and holding public officials accountable for their misdeeds. The results speak for themselves:

  • the Office has launched a record number of large-scale investigations and prosecutions of high-level drug traffickers and violent gang members, with a focus on utilizing advanced technology to initiate and enhance strategic prosecutions, all with the objective of reducing crime in Suffolk County and the region; crime levels in Suffolk County have been reduced to record lows;
  • the Office has created new diversion programs to encourage and facilitate defendants to accept treatment for their substance use disorder, including the C.A.R.E. program and DOORS program;
  • the Office created a Gang Unit designed to exclusively investigate and prosecute gang members, such as MS-13, which is staffed with specially trained prosecutors and investigators;
  • the Office has formed new partnerships with federal law enforcement to effectively target drug dealers and gang members operating in Suffolk County and beyond;
  • the Office brought the largest ever illegal dumping case in New York State’s history and convened a Special Grand Jury, which issued a report regarding how to more effectively prevent and prosecute environmental crime in Suffolk County. Several of the recommendations were adopted by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2020;
  • the Office created a dedicated team of professionals consisting of prosecutors, law enforcement, social workers, healthcare professionals, and not-for-profits to protect girls and women from human trafficking and bring justice to their perpetrators, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in human trafficking prosecutions;
  • In collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, indicted 11 union officials on racketeering, fraud, and bribery offenses for allegedly accepting bribes to corruptly influence the construction industry in New York;
  • the Office created a cutting-edge Conviction Integrity Bureau to ensure that no defendant is or has been wrongfully convicted. In 2019, the Bureau launched an investigation resulting in the exoneration of an individual who spent 33 years in prison for a murder he did not commit;
  • the Office has implemented a vertical prosecution model to create a better work product for the community, victims and defendants;
  • the Office is taking steps to become entirely paperless, including the implementation of digital case management and evidence management systems;
  • the Office has implemented a new Voluntary Disclosure Policy designed to ensure compliance with all of our legal and ethical obligations, remove gamesmanship from the criminal justice system, and further our mission of seeking the truth through a fair and just process; and
  • the Office has partnered with the National Guard to create a Crime Strategies Unit to collect, analyze and disseminate criminal intelligence to strategically target individuals who are driving crime, with the objective of enhancing public safety in Suffolk County.

Much has been accomplished already, but it is only the beginning.

Prior to District Attorney Sini’s election, he served as the 13th Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department, which is the 11th largest police department in the nation. As Police Commissioner, District Attorney Sini restored integrity to the leadership of the Police Department, reduced crime to the lowest level in recorded history, improved community relations, and enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department through improving processes and investing in technology.

As Police Commissioner, District Attorney Sini enhanced the Department’s intelligence-led policing model and made collaborating with the Department’s law enforcement and community partners a cornerstone of his administration. During Sini’s tenure as Police Commissioner, crime was reduced to historic levels, with violent crime decreasing more than 15% and overall crime decreasing over 12%. District Attorney Sini brought the fight against the violent street gang MS-13 to the national stage by making it a top priority of the Department. Through a multi-pronged strategy, the Suffolk County Police Department made well over 300 arrests of MS-13 gang members in just over one year and launched innovative community intervention strategies to prevent vulnerable children from becoming involved with gangs. District Attorney Sini testified before the United States Senate and House of Representatives regarding MS-13 and successfully lobbied the Department of Justice for additional resources to combat MS-13 in Suffolk County, including a $500,000 grant, which was awarded after President Donald J. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Suffolk County on two separate occasions. District Attorney Sini also launched several new community intervention programs, including the innovative Preventing Incarceration Via Opportunities for Treatment (PIVOT) Program, an alternative to arrest program whereby the Suffolk County Police Department connects those suffering from drug addiction to treatment.

District Attorney Sini also made homeland security a top priority, launching a number of initiatives including the SCPD Shield Program, a private public partnership to decrease Suffolk County’s vulnerability to terrorism, active shooter scenarios and street crime. District Attorney Sini also rolled out new technology to enhance the Department’s capabilities in fighting crime, including a new, award-winning intelligence-led policing platform. In addition, District Attorney Sini launched a number of initiatives to increase the efficiency of the patrol division, allowing officers to spend more time engaged in proactive police work and community policing, and significantly reformed the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, making it more accountable and responsive to community concerns.

District Attorney Sini serves as a representative on the White House’s Office of Drug Control Policy New York/New Jersey Regional HIDTA Team, where he assists in creating strategies between public health and public safety agencies to reduce opioid overdoses in the region. District Attorney Sini is also the Chairman of the Suffolk County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which consists of all the stakeholders in Suffolk County’s criminal justice system.

District Attorney Sini is a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute, an elite training program for law enforcement’s national leaders, and a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Education program. He is also an adjunct professor at Touro Law Center where he teaches a course on contemporary issues in policing and prosecution and a course on criminal law.

Prior to his appointment as Police Commissioner, District Attorney Sini served as the Assistant Deputy County Executive for Public Safety in the administration of Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone. In this role, he spearheaded numerous public safety initiatives, including an innovative drug treatment program targeting Suffolk County inmates and releasees, as well as an evidence-based gang prevention program targeting children as early as the third grade. Both programs received National Association of Counties (NACo) awards. He also led the effort, in collaboration with the Suffolk County Sheriff, to lift the unfunded state mandate to build a third jail in Suffolk County by developing a plan to further invest in alternative to arrest programs.

District Attorney Sini started his career in law enforcement as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York where he served under U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. District Attorney Sini specialized in investigating and prosecuting violent crimes, including homicides, gang related activity and large scale narcotics cases. As a federal prosecutor, he prosecuted hundreds of violent gang members, hitmen, drug traffickers, corrupt doctors and pharmacists, and much more. Prior to serving as an Assistant United States Attorney, District Attorney Sini practiced law in the private sector and served as a law clerk for the Honorable William C. Conner, a federal district court judge in the Southern District of New York, and the Honorable Chester J. Straub, a federal appeals court judge in the Second Circuit.

Sini is a magna cum laude graduate of both Brooklyn Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor and American University in Washington, D.C. where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Justice. He resides in Babylon Village with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

Ray Tierney – Candidate for Suffolk District Attorney

Ray Tierney is a Republican Conservative Candidate for Suffolk County District Attorney.

Ray’s Plan to Bring Integrity and Combat Rising Violent Crimes

Having prosecuted thousands of cases in his 26-year career, Ray will bring integrity and experience to the DA’s Office to stem the rise in violent crimes to keep our residents and streets safe from violent gang members, drug dealers and sex traffickers.

  • Have zero tolerance for bail and parole violators. He will work to repeal New York’s failed bail reform.
  • Re-establish the DA’s Gang Unit and Suffolk’s Gang Task Force.
  • Expand the DA’s White Collar Crime Bureau to combat identity theft and cybercrimes.
  • With a reputation for non-partisanship, Ray will bring integrity to the DA’s Office that has been plagued for decades by politically motivated prosecutions.

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney

Raymond A. Tierney graduated from Brown University in 1988, and St. John’s University Law School in 1992. He worked for 14 years as an Assistant District Attorney in Suffolk County. During his career in Suffolk, he investigated and prosecuted cases involving organized crime, street gangs, murders, and other violent street crimes. He also investigated political corruption, domestic violence, child abuse, and child pornography. These prosecutions included long-term investigations in which he supervised the efforts of designated teams of detectives utilizing wiretaps, search warrants, and grand jury investigations in order to uncover criminal activity and bring those responsible to justice.

While at the D.A.’s office he prosecuted Austen Offen and Constantine Chronis for the beating of Shane Daniels outside a Hamptons nightclub in 1996. Offen beat the victim into a coma with the car security device known as the “Club” while Chronis, an active NYPD officer, held the crowd back with his service revolver.

Assistant United States Attorney

In 2008, he joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. While there, he oversaw complex criminal investigations and prosecuted violations of federal criminal law, including cases involving the Colombian Norte del Valle cartel responsible for importing over 50 tons of cocaine into the United States.

He also was responsible for prosecuting international white-collar cases such as a case against a call center in India utilized to contact and swindle millions of dollars from U.S. citizens in so-called “IRS Payment” scams.

Much of his time in the U.S. Attorney’s Office was devoted to the trial and conviction of numerous members of the MS-13 street gang for the commission of murders and other violent crimes on Long Island. He drafted and applied for search and arrest warrants, presented evidence to federal grand juries, prepared and filed indictments, engaged in pretrial discovery, litigated pretrial matters by motion and pretrial hearings, and conducted jury trials and sentencing hearings putting hundreds of dangerous MS-13 members behind bars.

Among the cases Ray participated in were the trials of Brentwood MS-13 leader Heriberto Martinez and Carlos Ortega, who together were responsible for the commission of five murders over a five-week period in 2010. This included the murders of 19-year-old Vanessa Argueta and her two-year-old son Diego Torres in Central Islip.

Both defendants were convicted of all counts in the indictment and are currently serving life sentences. Ray later tried MS-13 member Adalberto Guzman for shooting two-year-old Diego. Thanks to Ray and his team, Guzman is serving a life sentence. These five murders, in three separate counties, remained unsolved until federal authorities assumed prosecution of the cases.
Ray also met and coordinated with Department of Justice officials regarding long-term international criminal prosecutions, and advised the United States Attorney General and President on the status of MS-13 prosecutions nationwide. His work was recognized by the president during the State of the Union address in 2018.

After the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he went to the Kings County District Attorney’s Office to run its Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, Crime Strategies Unit and Body-Worn Camera Unit.

Brooklyn Executive Assistant District Attorney

While in Brooklyn, he oversaw all aspects of long-term violent street gang investigations and prosecutions in the office and worked with the NYPD and federal partners on developing investigations to seize guns, prosecute gang murders, and allocate resources to dismantle the many criminal street gangs causing most of the violence in Brooklyn.

Labor Day Observations 2021

The labor movement has been a boon to the craftsmen and craftswomen in the western world. Let’s remind ourselves of the reasons why.
The standing of labor had its fits and starts and multiple setbacks, but the sense of what fairness is has a way of persevering.
The labor practices of the bad old days are quite stark. Child labor, particularly in coal mines were a scandal of epoch proportions. The coal mine companies liked using children in mines because they were small and could crawl into the narrow veins of coal, they were also fearless of the dangers, and they were utterly powerless. We otherwise think of the labor movement as a struggle to get fair wages and benefits and of course it is that. Of equal importance, it is the establishment of deserved respect for the working people of the countr
The only wealth that is ever created is with the brains in our heads and the skill of our hands. Other than that, there is no wealth. Wall street executives, corporate leaders, lawyers, and accountants are all able to demand good compensation and they all may very well be needed in our society, but they create no wealth.
On the other hand, that crew of workers that are finishing the work on your new house created a substantial amount of wealth. Are they fairly compensated? Perhaps, but what they get is what they are able to negotiate from the general contractor or by rules of the local union.
It is interesting that those people who spoke on the behalf of labor have for the most part have been laboring people themselves. But here is an intellectual sense of equitable treatment of our fellow citizens, and that is the motivation of people such as the Roosevelts. TR Roosevelt saw the trend to monopoly as a detriment of the common citizen. His efforts to curtail monopolies created competition which had the effect of making products less expensive and more available.
Franklin Roosevelt was the champion of the working class more directly. Were these men doing these things for their own political gain? Perhaps, but those are examples of political drives that are good for the country. I am more of the mind that personal values were the larger motivating factors for them.
FDR sought dignity for working people by having them create durable infrastructure such as the two draw bridges that were built in my childhood neighborhood on Jamaica Bay. They built very durable post office buildings as well as a number of other federal building projects. That is not all. Writers were employed to write plays and artists were asked to paint pictures depicting moments in American history in federally owned post offices. Young men were sent into the countryside to plant trees.
The point of these efforts was the recognition that there is dignity in work. We sometimes hear people speak about work as something to be avoided, it is not, it is something to be embraced, with the understanding that work should be properly compensated.
The closing point is there is dignity in work-all work. Enjoy your Labor Day.
Ernie Fazio

Affordable Housing, Opportunities & Obstacles – Peter J. Elkowitz, Jr., President & CEO, Long Island Housing Partnership

Mr. Elkowitz has been with the Long Island Housing Partnership since 1989. Mr. Elkowitz is responsible for the overall operation of Long Island Housing Partnership and its Affiliates. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Policy Analysis and Public Management. In June 2002, Mr. Elkowitz completed the Senior Executives Program in State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He also received the Harry Weiner Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995 and the Governor’s award for Excellence in Housing in 1994. He is a member of the 2007 Class of The Energeia Partnership – The Academy for Regional Stewardship at Molloy College. Currently, he serves on the board of New York Housing Conference, Inc. Mr. Elkowitz served as Chair to the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York Affordable Housing Advisory Council and was a former member of the Long Island Regional Planning Council. Mr. Elkowitz now serves on the Board for The National Community Land Trust Network dba Grounded Solutions Network and on the Board of Empire Justice Center. Mr. Elkowitz was honored as top CFO and 2016 was honored as top CEO by the Long Island Business News.

Policy Roundtable (John D. Cameron, Jr. & Dr Martin Cantor)

An open discussion about LIMBA’s key concerns, with some local policy makers available to field questions. Please feel free to join us armed with your questions about Long Island’s future in education, energy, environment, government, housing, infrastructure, and transportation. Our local leaders will include John D. Cameron, Jr., Chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, and Martin Cantor, Economist from the Long Island Center for Socio-Economic Policy.

The Northeast Rail Initiative

Bob Yaro is President of the North Atlantic Rail Alliance, Inc., which is advancing plans for a proposed high-speed and high performance rail network serving the 7-state New England – Downstate New York region, including Long Island.

Bob is Professor of Practice Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 2012 to 2020. Before coming to Penn he taught at Harvard and the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. He is also President Emeritus of Regional Plan Association in New York, which he led for 25 years until 2014. He is also Chairman of the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, RI.