Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers

The Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, Inc. is a ground-up regional business organization comprised of local chambers of commerce and other business alliances.  Their mission is to communicate legislative and business agendas to various levels of government and other business groups via various types of media.

You can view their webpage here for further information.

Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Holds Debate on Constitutional Convention for NYS

Vision Long Island Board members and staff joined over 100 business and local government leaders in support of the Suffolk Alliance of Chambers of Commerce this past week in order to cover local business initiatives and the possibility of a constitutional convention.

David Kennedy from the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, and Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco opened the meeting by welcoming attendees to the Patchogue Theatre.  Tony Tanzi from Kings Park Chamber of Commerce spoke after and explained how their community based plan produced a consensus plan that helped secure $20 million in NYS funding for sewers in their local downtown.  The increased capacity will help to grow existing and new businesses in the area.

The group heard from a couple of local stakeholders who are working to provide incentives and growth for the businesses on Long Island.  Kathy Wisnewski from National Grid spoke first, talking about economic development programs available to small businesses through the utility. Kevin O’Connor, CEO of Bridgehampton National Bank, also talked about their commitment to downtown redevelopment and housing opportunities for young people.

Suffolk County Deputy Executive Jon Kaiman covered the recently approved cost saving NYS Shared Services Initiative.  Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander provided downtown revitalization updates on redevelopment, infrastructure investment, and grant opportunities.  NYS Senator Phil Boyle, NYS Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, and former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy also were in attendance.

Following the updates, a debate on the upcoming NYS Constitutional Convention referendum began. Guardian Angel’s founder, radio talk show host, and Reform Party activist Curtis Sliwa spoke in favor of the “Yes” vote. The “No” vote was represented by Empire Government Strategies Anthony Figlioa.  The debate, moderated by Great River Strategies George Hoffman, covered topics that included cost of the convention, potential impacts to current environmental and labor policies, and ethics and corruption issues.

In spite of their difference, both agreed that the unintended consequence of this once every 20 years opportunity could include the weakening of home rule and the varying powers of local municipalities.

“There is a legitimate possibility that the convention could remove or weaken home rule but the voters would still have to approve those changes,” according to Curtis Sliwa, Guardian Angels, Reform Party.

“The development community will most certainly seek to remove home rule,” said Anthony Figlioa, Empire Government Strategies.

The question of “how we are sure that the delegates of the convention carry out their duty with the public interest in mind” was also covered.

“Today gave a 20 year wake up call to the public to learn about a proposition on the ballot this November. The Constitutional Convention is important for residents and businesses in Suffolk County. They need to know more about it and today the chambers, businesses and unions came to support their initiatives and choices. The SCAC was happy to host this debate with two well versed individuals Curtis Sliwa and Anthony Figliola. They ‘made the case’ for their position. In less than 40 days the residents of Suffolk and New York State will have an opportunity to make the changes they want to see or not which will last for 20 years,” said Suffolk County Alliance co-chair Bob Fonti.

Vision would like to thank Suffolk County Alliance of Chamber’s Co-Chairs Gina Coletti and Bob Fonti for a very substantive and informative session. Also, a special thank you to Patchogue Mayor Pontieri for hosting the event in his downtown, former County Executive Steve Levy for helping to put the event together, and all the sponsor of the event.

You can read more on this event at LIBN. To get more information on the Suffolk Alliance of Chambers or to join, visit their website or download their app.