Jed Morey’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Glen Cove

The Soul of Glen Cove

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I live in Glen Cove, one of Long Island’s two cities. Our mayor has a familiar last name but is still a relative unknown outside the city. His name is Ralph Suozzi.

Being in the public eye is part of the job of any elected official, but the vast majority of responsibilities heaped upon local politicians are for the most part mundane and thankless. Like every great local politician Ralph knows the names of all the cops and firemen, every teacher in the district and the local restaurant owners. The tools of his trade are like so many other mayors across the nation—helmets and shovels to break ground, oversized scissors to cut ribbons, and proclamations to reward citizens for outstanding service to the community. Behind it all, though, politics can be an ugly business; one in which many politicians eventually crack and lose their sense of self, or worse yet, their humanity.

This is not one of those stories.

During the snowstorm that besieged the Island last week, the mayor’s wife, Jane Beckhard-Suozzi, was home when she heard a familiar voice on the answering machine in the background. It was Reb Irwin Huberman from Congregation Tifereth Israel, the conservative temple in town. He was calling to let them know that a local woman and member of the congregation, Patricia Workman, had passed away in her apartment the night before.

In a city of more than 30,000 people, death is no stranger. What made this call different was the fact that Pat, as most people in town knew her, had no family. She was a child of Glen Cove. “The city adopted her,” said Ralph. “She had her own challenges in life and needed help from assorted people in the community and people rose to that.”

Pat led a troubled life. Her piercing blue eyes and ever-present smile belied a lifetime of hardship many of us cannot even dream of. The pressures of her past and a diseased mind plagued her existence. And yet, through it all, she had a smile for everyone she saw.

Jane described the flurry of phone calls and e-mails between Reb Huberman, his congregation and community leaders. “Help was sort of a central theme of her life,” says Jane. “She needed help and she gave help.” Word of Pat’s passing spread quickly through the city, as did the realization that her next of kin was not a person, but an entire city. As Reb Huberman reached out to community members to raise funds for a dignified service, Mayor Suozzi cleared hurdles to ensure that the process wouldn’t be delayed unnecessarily.

By 1 p.m. the following day, more than 100 people had gathered at Dodge Thomas Funeral Home in Glen Cove to honor the life of Patricia Workman. Of all the duties expected of a local public servant, attending funerals is a must. As her husband rose to address Pat’s adopted family members, Jane said it suddenly struck him that this was the “first time they had been to a funeral when there wasn’t someone there saying, ‘Thank you for coming.’ So Ralph had everyone turn to the person next to them and say, ‘Thank you for coming.’”

 Pat deserved a better life on this earth. In the end, the community she adopted gave her the peaceful and loving conclusion that her smile and spirit warranted. “The community we know as Glen Cove is the people,” reflected Ralph. “Their personalities, their hearts, the history they all bring. It just has a soul of its own that we’re all a part of. It’s a generational soul. We collectively watch out for each other.”

Written by jmorey

February 25, 2010 at 12:49 am

Suiting Up For A Run

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runningmansuitI know it’s all part of the political process, but there’s something so amusing to me when politicians have to don costumes to profess an interest in community happenings. Nothing makes me giggle more than the likes of Tom Suozzi wearing hip waders in a sea of garbage, or Steve Levy touching the top of a solar array as if being able to feel the energy emanating from it. My all-time favorite is seeing any of our public servants in a hard hat, as if their union card is at the ready and they are prepared to singlehandedly hoist a steel beam several stories into the air. I think when you’re elected you actually get a pair of giant scissors in the event a ribbon-cutting ceremony breaks out. 

Several years ago I ran an ill-fated campaign for mayor of Glen Cove. Truthfully, it was a blast and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Just meeting everyone in the city and learning how roads are paved, where garbage goes and who answers the call when the alarms go off at the firehouse is enough to light my candle. Putting my family through the misery of a campaign, on the other hand, was an unfortunate way to gain the education. What got me thinking about the shenanigans of the campaign trail and the silly things politicians have to do to stay elected was a piece of campaign literature from my mayoral run that I came across recently when cleaning out my garage. There I was, standing on the beach at sunset wearing a suit. Why not? What else would any self-respecting office-seeking candidate wear on a warm summer day at the beach?

Yet beyond the hard hats, giant scissors, Michael Dukakis helmets and Cub Scout photo ops is the timeless Tip O’Neill saying that “all politics is local.” It’s shoe leather that wins the day in a campaign. Proof positive of this is yet another colossal upset in Suffolk County under the stewardship of Democratic Party boss Richie Schaffer. Schaffer once again upended the expectations in Brookhaven and got an unknown candidate elected to Brookhaven Town Supervisor. They did it the old-fashioned way: by knocking on doors and connecting with people. Having my own brush with the process I can honestly say there is no greater truth in politics. In fact, it may be the only truth in politics. 

Knocking on doors, however, is its own box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get. For example, my fellow candidates and I were surprised to learn how many men answer the door shirtless. When walking on a Sunday (in the narrow window between church services and baseball), we learned that knocking on the front door in the Italian district was pointless. Now, check the side door entrance to the basement and you’re likely to find dozens of people of all ages streaming out of the house like a clown car. This is how I learned that Italian Americans don’t actually cook in the kitchen; that’s what the basement kitchen is for. Politicians who walk in wealthy districts do so at their own risk. Alternately, the poorer the neighborhood, the more likely you are to be invited in for a meal. This is a perilous tactic that assaults a politician’s time and waistline, necessitating yet more walking. There are hundreds of observations to be made about our culture and our neighborhoods when walking door to door in a political campaign, each one more valuable than the next. 

At the end of the day it’s the only way to learn about the community you strive to represent. It’s also the only way to earn people’s trust first and their votes later. And if you work diligently enough, you too will be awarded with a giant pair a scissors, a hard hat and an undying respect for the people you represent.

Written by jmorey

April 11, 2009 at 2:13 am

Too Cool To Fail

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fonz

Don't Let LI Do This

Too big to fail. Too small to fail. Too important to fail. Apparently there are several parameters in judging who should and shouldn’t fail. Who knew? Therefore, on behalf of Long Island, the Press would like to throw our hat into the bailout ring with the reason that we’re too cool to fail. Whoever is in charge of the bailout money let it be known that our nation’s cool factor is at stake if Long Island is allowed to sink into recessionary turmoil. 

If Congress needs any proof of this we suggest a whistle stop tour through Cleveland, Wisconsin, Sarasota, Flagstaff—wherever. Then we invite anyone involved in doling out bailout funds to come on a guided tour of Strong Island.

(Disclaimer –If it helps we would be more than happy to partner with sister destinations such as Memphis, La Jolla, and Denver.)

Claiming that Long Island is cool may seem odd considering for years our youth has portrayed Long Island as a cultural wasteland, which has contributed to our growing problem of brain drain. But the issue we have in selling ourselves as ‘cool’ is a geographic one. Because we lack a concentrated downtown area in which to gather our killer resources we have a more egalitarian approach to spreading our wealth of coolness. At the Press we have strategically aligned our staff and partners so that we may personally guide members of Congress through the island as seen through our eyes.

I’ll take Glen Cove. We’ll have breakfast at Henry’s, a vintage breakfast and luncheonette joint where Glen Covers gather and talk politics. I’ll even convince Joe to give you a tour of the basement where he makes the most incredible chocolate that brings all of Long Island together for Valentine’s Day and Easter. Hopefully you can make it on a Sunday so I can take you to First Baptist to experience the brilliance and inspiration of Pastor Roger Williams. After that we’ll meander through the city and check out the old mansions from the turn of the last century where billionaires played. Their mansions have been preserved and maintained by businesses like the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, Glen Cove Mansion and Conference Center and Glengariff Nursing Home.  There are several stops to make along the way (including a quick game of bocce in the Orchard) but undoubtedly we’ll finish the night with Gus and Enzo at La Ginestra laughing and drinking their signature drink, the Errol Flynn.

The Press staffers come from all over the island so you’ll be in good hands once you leave Glen Cove. Along the way you’ll hit businesses like All American Burger in Massapequa, Whirling Disk, the Rockabilly Barbershop and Willis Hobbies. You’ll spin around on the carousel in Greenport, take flight with our friend “Fresh” at Sky Dive Long Island, catch some rays at Jones Beach and witness Broadway caliber performances at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. You can watch a horror flick with Dylan at the Cinema Arts Centre, tour Borghese Vineyards with an actual Princess, and our columnist Mike Martino will take you deep sea fishing off Montauk. At some point I’ll talk my fellow publisher Jerry of the East Hampton Independent into treating you to a world class meal at his East Hampton restaurant. 

The bottom line is that we all have these stories. In every village within every town, in either county.  Long Islanders may lament our economic situation and be slightly wary of outsiders but when pressed we’ll reveal the magic that is this island of ours. Long Island is the Fonz of this Happy Days nation. Let’s bang on the jukebox and get this island restarted before we jump the shark.

If you would like to sign up to become a virtual tour guide in our kioli effort “Too Cool To Fail” log onto kioli.org, enter the “Shout Outs” section in the café and post something, someone or somewhere you think is cool about LI.

Written by jmorey

March 27, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Posted in Kioli

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