It’s not your imagination. Car insurance premiums have never been higher.According to TheZebra.com annual State of Auto Insurance Report, car insurance premiums are at an all-time high, with a national average annual premium of $1,427.Your rate depends mostly on where you live. Some U.S. cities have average annual premiums of more than $6,000.Insurance companies are also cracking down on distracted drivers. If you got a ticket for texting while driving, you can expect a 16% jump in premium. Run a red light? That will be a 22% premium hike.Don’t let the stats get you down.There are plenty of ways to shave anywhere from 8% to 17% off your premium without sacrificing your coverage.Here are three.Shop around: Loyalty may not always translate into greater savings. It’s worth looking into, especially if you haven’t compared offers in a few years. Just make sure the insurer you select is highly rated, so that great deal doesn’t end up costing you time and money after an accident.Ask about discounts: This is the time to pick up the phone and have a conversation about what discounts are available to you. Never filed a claim? Your teen have good grades or taken a drivers’ education course? Is there a discount if you recently raised your credit score? You may be surprised by what qualifies for discounts. Even membership in certain groups or clubs can drive down your premium. Also be sure to explore whether there are discounts for bundling other types of insurance like renters, homeowners or life together. It all adds up, so take the time to ask.Consider restructuring: Review your payments and deductible. TheZebra.com report found drivers can save up 10% when paying in full (either annually or every 6 months) and online. Raising your deductible to $1,000 can lead to savings of 11%. Just make sure you keep $1,000 in savings so you’re not stuck without a ride in the event of an accident. 43SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Myriam DiGiovanni After writing for Credit Union Times and The Financial Brand, Myriam DiGiovanni covers financial literacy for FinancialFeed. She is also a storytelling expert and works with credit unions to help … Web: www.financialfeed.com Details
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 33-point lead may not be insurmountable on a football field—unless it’s late in the fourth quarter—but it’s a very tough hurdle in a political campaign with time running out before the general election. It happens to be the gap in the Suffolk County executive race, according to a recent poll.The candidate on top is the incumbent, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, and the underdog is his little-known Republican challenger James O’Connor, a former North Hempstead Town board member who moved from Nassau to Suffolk about a decade ago.An Oct. 6 Siena College/Newsday/News 12 survey had Bellone enjoying a 61-28 percent advantage after 400 registered and likely voters weighed in. What’s also telling is that a majority told the same pollsters they thought that the county was on the right track.Granted, the survey was conducted before Standard & Poor’s released its latest bond-rating that dropped Suffolk down another notch, from A+ to A, and also said the county’s long-term rating outlook was “negative.”“This is a fiscal crisis beyond any that we’ve ever seen,” exclaimed Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle, adding that “we have a county executive that can’t stop spending money.”He noted that Bellone claims he hasn’t raised the general fund property tax increase for the fourth year in a row but won’t mention that police district taxes, which are slated to rise 3 percent in the county’s 2016 budget, have gone up in each of the last three years.“He’s raising taxes and the bond rating’s diving,” LaValle told the Press. “We’re a mess and it’s getting worse.”As for the prospects of O’Connor, LaValle’s pick to replace Bellone, the Republican chairman insisted that the “Sienna poll is flawed because it’s based on a balanced turnout [of voters on Election Day]…but Republicans vote in off-year elections and Democrats stay home.”LaValle pointed out that the Sienna polls made the same mistake predicting that Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) would keep his Congressional seat instead of losing to state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) last fall.The Suffolk Republican party leader conceded that O’Connor “has a lot less money and got a later start” in the race than they would have liked “but the reality is that his message is strong and people are paying attention now.”Getting enough Suffolk Democrats to re-elect Bellone as county executive race is definitely a worry for Suffolk Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer, who’s also Babylon Town supervisor.“I think Steve’s got a very good chance based on his record of accomplishment,” Schaffer told the Press, but “the one thing that concerns me is turnout, because this guy O’Connor has literally done nothing in this campaign.”Schaffer said that usually in an off-year election like this one, about 23 percent to 27 percent of the registered voters come to the polls, and “that’s what we’ve focused our efforts on: educating the voters and putting a lot into our turnout operation.”Regarding Suffolk’s declining bond rating, Schaffer said that under Bellone’s leadership the county has “made some great strides” in dealing with the structural imbalance in Suffolk’s fiscal condition, and Standard & Poor’s had taken that into consideration.“It didn’t take one day to get into this situation,” Schaffer said, “and the financial rating agencies understand that it will take a lot of effort and time to get out of this situation.”This year, despite having a Democratic incumbent as Suffolk County executive and a 10-to-6 majority of the Suffolk Legislature’s 18 seats (the Working Families Party and Independence Party also each have one), Schaffer’s party organization has had to overcome its own fiscal imbalance. In September Schaffer called a special meeting of the Democratic executive committee and reportedly got authorization to borrow up to $500,000. Schaffer, an attorney, had already given the party an $80,000 “no interest loan” to get through Election Day, he told the Press, explaining that they’d started door-to-door paid canvassing early this year and planned to launch TV ads in the next two weeks for a couple of legislative districts which he declined to name.As for his own political forecast, Schaffer exclaimed, “I don’t think the town races are competitive as in years past.” Suffolk’s 10 townships are evenly split between the two parties, and that status quo will most likely remain unchanged after the Nov. 3 general election.But Schaffer did predict that the race for the 14th Legislative District, currently held by Kevin J. McCaffrey, the legislature’s minority leader, “is going to be a very close race, and I think it could surprise the Republicans there.” The Democratic challenger is Tim Sini, Bellone’s deputy for public safety.“We expect that we are going to have more Republican legislators after Election Day,” countered LaValle, the Suffolk GOP chairman. He put the number at “five, possibly six” seats.No matter how he does the math, LaValle can’t count on the Republicans electing a candidate from the 9th Legislative District in Islip because they aren’t running one. But judging from the Islip Town Democratic Committee’s website, they aren’t running one, either. And that’s why the race for this seat is probably the bitterest political contest in Suffolk this fall because it’s split the local Democratic Party and could be a harbinger of a future upset to come.It pits Legis. Monica Martinez, a Democrat now running on the Working Families Party and Independence Party lines, against Giovanni Mata, an Islip Democrat who won the primary because she dropped out of the race after her campaign was accused of filing fraudulent petitions to get her on the ballot. She declined to have her day in court, and Judge Joseph Santorelli directed the Suffolk Board of Elections not to put her name on the Democratic ballot in the September primary. Mata was the de facto winner.Republican Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, left, is running against Democratic challenger Tom Licari, right.At the head of Citizens United to Reform Islip, the Democratic slate of candidates that included Mata, was former Legis. Rick Montano, who was challenging the Islip Town Democratic Committee’s candidate Tom Licari for Islip supervisor in the primary. Licari wound up beating him by only 87 votes—1,000 to 913. Montano claims his campaign spent $13,000 compared to the $53,000 spent by the town committee with another $28,000 chipped in by Schaffer’s county committee. Schaffer did not dispute those figures but they may not include all the campaign expenditures depending on further review.The turnout represented barely 2.9 percent of Islip’s 65,726 registered voters, and tellingly for the general election, Bellone had prominently supported Licari. Primaries rarely draw a high proportion of voters no matter who’s on the ballot in an off-year election, but the weather was also a factor in keeping people away from the polls since 2.3 inches of rain fell that day on Islip, more than 60 percent of the monthly average, according to the National Weather Service’s Upton facility.Montano, who seemed surprisingly upbeat despite his defeat, said, “We did great, considering the forces against us.” His animosity toward his own party’s chairman is not a secret and the feeling is mutual.Montano declined to endorse the triumphant Licari against the incumbent Republican Angie Carpenter, and Schaffer refused to back Mata in his legislative race. At the Sept. 24 meeting of the Suffolk County Democratic Executive Committee, held at the Melville Hilton, Schaffer not only urged members of his party to support Martinez for re-election, he went even further, infuriating Mata’s supporters who were there.“I said he [Mata] should go look for support from his Republican friends that he has supported,” Schaffer told the Press. “I don’t think he has any intention of working with us.”“Giovanni Mata is the designated candidate of the Democratic Party whether Schaffer likes it or not,” Montano said to the Press. “Once Giovanni gets elected, he’s a Democrat. He’s going to caucus [in the legislature] as a Democrat. If Schaffer tries to exclude him from the caucus, we will have the biggest fight, legally and otherwise, because that’s just not going to happen. Giovanni’s going to take his place as a Democratic legislator from this district.”The 9th Suffolk County Legislative District, which includes Brentwood, Central Islip and North Bay Shore, predominantly represents African-American and Latino residents. As such, it’s also got a strong contingent of immigrants, particularly from El Salvador, which is still recovering from a bitter civil war. Mata, a native Salvadoran, moved to the U.S. when he was 13. Martinez emigrated from El Salvador when she was 3.What happens in Islip this November may have a impact far beyond its borders. Compared to other Long Island towns, Islip’s political lineage is significant since it connects to the New York State Senate as well as Congress.With Montano out of the race and plotting his next move, the competition for Islip Town supervisor features two candidates from Fire Island: Carpenter has a place in Ocean Beach and Licari has a home in Kismet. Licari’s campaign manager, Matt Tighe, explained that “his family has lived there for over 80 years,” but insisted that Licari has “strong roots all over town.” Carpenter ran her first race for county legislature in 1992 from West Islip and served in the legislature until 2005 when she was elected Suffolk County treasurer.Earlier this year, Carpenter was appointed Islip supervisor by Islip Republican leaders to replace Tom Croci, who’d left town hall to run for the state senate. He defeated Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Esposito, a Democrat, had begun her campaign thinking she was going to oppose Islip Town board member Anthony Senft, who was implicated, fairly or not, by the dumping scandal involving tons of toxic waste found at Roberto Clemente Park and other sites. Since Senft, a Conservative, was the town board’s liaison to the parks department, the issue was too hot for him to handle. He withdrew from the race, and Croci entered it.The state Senate seat was vacant because Sen. Lee Zeldin, the Republican then representing Shirley, had beaten his long-time Democratic rival, Rep. Tim Bishop, who’d creamed him the first time they faced each other. Nationally, Democrats were counting on Bishop to keep the House Republicans from gaining strength in Washington, D.C. In New York, Democrats were hoping to replace Zeldin and weaken the Republicans’ hold in Albany. It would have been like winning the trifecta since the Democrats already have the Assembly through gerrymandering and the governorship thanks to Andrew Cuomo.But as the countdown to Nov. 3 gets closer, the state Senate remains in Republican hands, even though by party regulation it’s a tie, with 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats, and one seat vacant. In practice, the GOP wields control because five members of the Independent Democratic Caucus and a conservative Democrat from Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, conference with them, thereby making Sen. John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) the majority leader. Flanagan took over the top post last year after Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) had to step down because he was indicted on federal corruption charges. Skelos, who pleaded not guilty, is still serving in the senate from his Nassau district pending the outcome of the case. Tellingly, Skelos’s indictment reportedly came about by a federal investigation into former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who remains in office but yielded his powerful position to Assemb. Carl Hastie (D-Bronx), who graduated from Stony Brook University.And for now, those powerful connections are about as good as it gets for Suffolk County. Until next year’s presidential election, when all bets are off and it’s a brand new game.
By Jay Cook |TRENTON – A longtime environmentalist who worked to improve the health of local waterways is leaving the Two River area for Trenton.Debbie Mans, the former executive director of the Keyport-based NY/NJ Baykeeper, was appointed last week to serve as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) deputy commissioner, the agency announced. Mans was handpicked by the acting-DEP commissioner, Catherine R. McCabe.The hire has also served as a rallying cry for local environmentalists who say New Jersey will benefit from Mans’ years of expertise and ability to negotiate.“We had to play a lot of defense for the last eight years trying to stop bad things from happening,” said Greg Remaud, the acting executive director of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “We believe now that’s going to reverse.”Mans had been the face of NY/NJ Baykeeper since 2008, a self-proclaimed “citizen guardian” for the Hudson-Raritan Estuary that encompasses waters in New York and New Jersey. Mans and NY/NJ Baykeeper have been busy on the homefront in recent years, pushing for new programs and more pro-environmental legislation on the state level.More recently, Mans has been sternly opposed to the 23-mile-long Williams Transco Pipeline project planned to be built through Raritan Bay. She also testified before Congress last month in support of the $1.3-billion Passaic River Superfund cleanup site program destined for North Jersey.“I am excited to join the Department of Environmental Protection and get to work on a number of key environmental issues facing our state,” said Mans, in a statement. “We need to ensure that New Jersey is on a path to clean energy and sustainability, while also protecting public health, cleaning up polluted sites, and conserving our natural resources.”Mans’ path back to Trenton has been a busy one. From 2006 to 2008, she was the environmental and energy policy advisor to then-Gov. Jon Corzine, helping craft clean energy plans through 2020. Before that, from 2002 through 2006, she served as NY/NJ Baykeeper’s policy director.“Debbie Mans’ commitment to clean energy and conservation makes her an excellent choice to help the DEP lead the nation in developing solutions to such critical issues as climate change and renewable energy,” McCabe said in a statement. “Debbie has spent her entire career devoted to improving the environment for all, and I look forward to her expertise helping shape our mission.”Throughout that tenure of protecting water quality, organizing open space and fighting battles with large energy companies, Mans has collaborated with many of the local environmentalist groups who call the Two River area home.“It’s extremely important and of great value to have someone at that level who not only understands the issues of consequence that affect our quality of life, but also someone that knows the value of grassroots and citizen involvement,” said Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action’s executive director.Zipf said COA has worked with Baykeeper on environmental law enforcement issues, as well as how to tackle green energy on a statewide platform in their time.Yet more than anything, Mans’ hire signals a stark change from Gov. Chris Christie’s DEP, Zipf said.“Time will tell, but it’s certainly a 180 in terms of the interest in broad environmental issues facing our state,” she said.Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, said state policy is in more-than-capable hands.“She is smart and principled, an unfailing advocate for the environment with a lot of experience in both government and the advocacy sides,” Dillingham said. “I have nothing but high regard for her.”Dillingham and Mans go back to some of their first environmental policy positions. From 2000 to 2002, Mans was a policy and outreach specialist for the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association in Pennington. At the same time, Dillingham was on the board of directors there.Their partnership flourished when they both ended up leading environmental groups headquartered along the same body of water along the Jersey Shore.NY/NJ Baykeeper has been one of the state’s leaders in reintroducing oyster reefs to rivers and bays. Oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day and many believe they could be the answer to helping remove pollutants in the water.After installing manmade oyster castles off of the 2.9-mile-long Naval Weapons Station Earle Pier in Leonardo in 2016, NY/NJ Baykeeper announced in December oyster spat, or baby oysters were found growing on the structures.The American Littoral Society has been trying to implement a similar program in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, beginning this past summer. Dillingham said his organization is following similar steps to see his program flourish in the two rivers.And Dillingham had a message for the private and public sectors who soon will interact with Mans.“She’s a great negotiator and she’s going to find a way to push the public’s agenda and still engage all the stakeholders that the state government has to please,” he said.Remaud Named Acting Executive DirectorNY/NJ Baykeeper announced on Tuesday evening that Greg Remaud would be named the organization’s acting executive director for the time being. Official changes and possible restructuring will happen in March when its board of directors convenes.It’s an honor for Remaud, who has been with NY/NJ Baykeeper now for two decades.“From Dery (Bennett), to Andy (Willner), to Debbie (Mans), those are three extraordinary environmentalists and human beings,” he said. “It means a lot to have that opportunity and follow in those footsteps.”Remaud’s time has been spent as NY/NJ Baykeeper’s conservation director, where he spent years “trying to preserve natural land and open space in areas that are densely developed where (residents) don’t have a lot.”Since the organization began in 1989, it has preserved over 3,500 acres of land ranging from the North Jersey Meadowlands to the Raritan Bayshore. Most recently, NY/NJ Baykeeper helped preserve 250 acres for the newly formulated Freneau Woods, an addition to the Monmouth County Park System.This article was first published in the Feb. 15-22, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
OCEANPORT — The Oceanport School District is asking voters to weigh in on a $33 million bond referendum Dec. 10 to improve facilities at the Wolf Hill and Maple Place schools. According to business administrator Valery Petrone, the district has spent $1.7 million on required maintenance over the past 10 years. Frank A. Messineo, principal and owner of Solutions Architecture, said the district has a 2 percent cap on the budget that they cannot exceed, which makes it hard to fund large-ticket items like fixing leaking roofs or removing asbestos tiled flooring. “It’s an ongoing fight and we can never really catch up. And the referendum is our one best chance to do something like that,” he said. “And by allowing the district to finance these over many years, the cost is spread out and debt service aid is available.” If the referendum passes, both schools will receive new fire sprinkler systems; fire alarm systems; secure vestibules and lockdown capabilities; safety glazing on lower level windows; camera systems; new windows; new roofing systems; flooring; classroom furnishings; mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades; new lighting fixtures; parking improvements; and gym renovations, among other features. “Our buildings are rather aged and they are in serious need of upgrade and repair,” said Anne R. Facendo, the Oceanport superintendent. “The Wolf Hill Elementary School, which services pre-K through grade four, is 108 years old.” She also said the median age of the two combined facilities is 81.5 years old and the district’s last referendum was in 1996. The vote will be held Dec. 10 from 2 to 8 p.m. in Oceanport and in Sea Bright. The full presentation is available on the school website at oceanport.k12.nj.us. Wolf Hill School will see a new media center, cafeteria and connecting courtyard; six new classrooms will be added; toilet facilities will be renovated in pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, as now required by law; a new bus drop-off loop will be added; ADA-compliant spaces will be renovated; and more. According to the proposal, Wolf Hill School’s estimated 14,800-square-foot expansion will help accommodate the influx of children entering the Oceanport School District from the new housing developments at former Fort Monmouth. Because Sea Bright is a sending district to Oceanport schools, its residents will weigh in on the vote and the costs as well. If approved, the average Sea Bright homeowner can expect an extra $4.93 a month, or $59.19 a year, on their tax bills. He also said that bond rates are at a historic low, making this a good time to have a referendum. “But they’re not going to stay there forever so we want to try to take advantage of this,” he said. School board member Meghan Walker said a demographic study showed enrollment is steadily declining. However, 720 residential units are being built at the former fort. Projections show that once those children enter the school system, the demographics will about mirror the student population today. At a referendum presentation at a recent Sea Bright council meeting, a resident asked about the projections of student populations over the next five to 10 years. At Maple Place School, the science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) wing will be renovated with science labs, computer labs and more. There will also be renovations to the cafetorium, locker rooms with individualized showers, media center and guidance and physical therapist/occupational therapist rooms. According to the district, 81 of the 720 total residential units are “dedicated to Acute Care, which will produce no school age children, leaving 639 units.” Of the 639 units, 116 have already been built and are occupied. As a result, the district gained 20 new students. With this in mind, the district anticipates it will receive 109 students once the rest of the residential units are built. If the referendum is approved, the district anticipates receiving 34 percent of the total 40 percent it will be eligible for in state aid, to off-set costs. In that case, the average homeowner in Oceanport would pay an additional $43.32 a month, or $519.85 per year, on their tax bills.
By The Nelson Daily SportsThe Nelson Peewee Leafs had a difficult time focusing on hockey during a Minor Hockey Tournament this past weekend in Westside near Kelowna.The Reps lost three straight games to finish well down the pack in the annual pre-Christmas event Sunday in the Central Okanagan suburb.Westbank dumped the Reps 6-2 in consolation round action Sunday. Logan Mengler and Aigne McGeady-Bruce scored the only goals for Nelson.Curt Doyle went the distance in goal for the Leafs, playing all four games.“Curt was played solid throughout the weekend,” said Nelson coach Ron Podgorenko. “He had a very good weekend as well as (defencemen) Amit Bhabra and Matthew Jones.”Nelson opened the tournament Saturday morning by doubling Campbell River 6-3. Everett Hicks led the Leafs with a pair of goals. Singles went to Bryce Twible, Jaden Bennett, Justin Podgorenko and Taylor Cooper.However, the momentum quickly went south as Nelson was pounded by a 7-2 score by Kelowna Tier II later in the day. Jaden Maida scored one of the two goals for the Leafs.Sunday Nelson Salmon Arm added to Nelson’s woes with a 3-1 victory. The Reps now head into the Christmas break before returning to the ice in January.firstname.lastname@example.org