Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thanks to our Veterans on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who died in military service for their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it expanded to include those who died in any war or military action.

Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A National Moment of Remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. Another tradition is to fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. In addition to remembrance, Memorial Day is also a time for picnics, family gatherings, and sporting events. Some Americans view Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer and Labor Day as the unofficial end of the season. Some Americans use Memorial Day weekend to also honor family members who have passed away.

So, this Memorial Day weekend eat a hot dog at the game, spend some quality time with your friends and family and thank a veteran for the freedom to do so!

References: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia - Memorial Day

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ode to the Onset of Summer

Ask Mr. Long Island

Remember the scene in one of the “Charlie Brown” television specials, where he’s all pumped to score the winning run and he goes into his slide, only to come up short of home plate by about 15 feet?

That’s how I feel heading into this Memorial Day Weekend. (Does the use of the words “day” and “weekend” in the same phrase constitute some kind of oxymoron?) This week has been one thing after the other and I think I ran out of gas sometime late Thursday afternoon. I don’t know when I’ve needed a break more than I need one now. Of course with both my sons’ baseball-related activities in high gear that “break” should happen somewhere between 1 p.m and 4 p.m. on Sunday, but it’s all good. The way I look at it, there are hundreds of parents spending their weekends in the hospitals visiting their sick kids who would gladly switch situations with me.

Besides, I have come to the conclusion that the Memorial Day Weekend is so great it should be a national holiday. Oh wait, it already is. No surprise there. I used to think Thanksgiving was the greatest holiday because it involved all the good things (i.e. great eating and drinking with plenty of football on TV) and none of the bad things (i.e. shopping for gifts and dealing with the heathen masses who only go to Church once or twice a year). Now I believe the best is Memorial Day. Here’s why:

It’s the kick-off to summer and the best weather Long Island has to offer.

The stretch from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July usually features great weather. Not too hot. Daylight as late as nine o’clock. After the Fourth of July the weather starts getting sticky and by August you have the windows shut and the AC going so much you might as well be living in Florida.

Going to the Beach becomes an option

Once Memorial Day goes by then going to the beach becomes an option on the weekend. Of course going to the beach is always an option when you live on Long Island but going without having to wear an overcoat or jacket is light years more enjoyable. Last year my summer was such that it was Labor Day before I realized I had gone the whole season without hitting the beach once, so my family and I went that Friday afternoon after work. What’s the point of living here and paying all those taxes if you don’t hit the beach at least once during the course of the season?


After Memorial Day there is a greater proliferation of the wearing of sundresses. ‘Nuff said.

The Memorial Day Parade

Each year the village I live in (Babylon) hosts a parade and is kind enough to direct that parade right past my house on Deer Park Avenue. So my wife, Sharon, and I invite who we can to watch the parade from our front lawn. Inevitably an impromptu game of running bases breaks out amongst the testosterone-carriers living in the neighborhood, and there are few greater joys for a parent than to watch a child participate in a recreational activity that does not involve an electronic gadget or, even better, reaching into one’s pocket to part with some hard-earned money. The smaller kids park themselves on the curb and wave those little flags that somehow materialize on mornings such as these.

Then the marchers come by, either carrying banners and flags or playing music that just lifts your soul and makes you proud to be an American. Okay, so maybe the songs themselves won’t show up on your i-Pod anytime soon, but there is something to be said for the tingle you feel when you hear the trumpets, drums, xylophones and such. Also included in the mix of marchers are Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, old cars, new cars, Veterans and elected officials all too happy to wave to the crowds, knowing they won’t have to listen to any complaints. At least the parade is over.

One year Bret Saberhagen – who lived in the Village while he played for the Mets – rode in a convertible during the Parade. I actually got excited realizing a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL player went by my house. I quickly got over it, of course, especially since he was a Met and not a very popular one at that. But still.

Then the fire trucks rumble by and the parade is over. Just like that the crowds dissipate and its time for some serious downtime, relaxing on the deck in the back and ignoring the plank in the deck that needs to be replaced. A whole summer in front of us. A whole summer to look forward to. Listening to Yankee games on the radio. Concerts at the Jones Beach Theater. Hot dogs (not too many, now. Cholesterol, you know). Italian Ices after dinner. The consumption of copious amounts of watermelon immediately followed by the projectile rejection of watermelon seeds and the requisite contest to see who can spit the seeds the furthest.

Like I said earlier: it’s all good. Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend, oxymoron and all.

Thank you for reading this column.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Long Island Homeowners Insurance - Political Football?

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Yesterday we had our regular monthly meeting of the Suffolk County Independent Insurance Agents Association. It's a great group of men and women with an extraordinary amount of knowledge and desire to do the best for their clients. The Suffolk board is known throughout the State for being one of the most proactive and thoughtful. You can see more about our activities at, including our bi-monthly newsletter, which I publish. The articles are written by various members on a rotating basis and cover a wide range of topics.

Yesterday we heard about efforts in the State Legislature to make the New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association (NYPIUA) permanent. NYPIUA is basically a state-owned and operated insurance company that is the carrier of last resort for fire and wind insurance. Most of the homes on Fire Island have come to be insured there, though there has been much movement away from them because coverage is limited, and folks have been building those huge houses over there. Properties in blighted city areas have also made use of NYPIUA.

The problem is that the whole operation is treated as a political football by the legislature. They renew it year by year, or for two years, even though most of them know absolutely that they can't let it run out. Usually it does actually expire at each renewal, as the State Senators horse-trade for votes on other issues. The problem is that NYPIUA is mostly used downstate in city and coastal areas, so the upstate legislators hold their votes hostage to things that they want their downstate counterparts to vote for. It is a bad situation, and it is being made much worse by the current insurance problems.

We also heard about another insurance carrier, a small one this time, who is taking action to cancel all their homeowners policies south of Sunrise Highway, and closing up for new business. As has been said here before, this whole thing is going to get worse before it gets better, unfortunately.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Re II: Has Long Island lost it’s Charm?

Wow! No apologies necessary, Mia. The answer to this question is a resounding “YES.”

Pick up a piece of garbage twelve houses down from your own house and throw it out? Yeah Right. We would each need to lug around 30 gallon garbage bags now.

Houses so close together you can shake hands with your neighbor through the Kitchen window? Commonplace.

Bumper to bumper traffic from the Queens border to Riverhead? Gee, didn’t use to have that did we?

Stop signs at every other corner? We may not quit until there are Stop signs in front of every other driveway!

Condo’s where green pasture used to be? Strip malls where deer used to roam? Don’t think we’re going to see that again.

Years ago it used to be disrespectful to your neighbors, to park your car overnight on a residential street – much less across from a neighbor’s driveway. In some communities it used to be illegal. (Is it still?) Today we’re two steps away from “alternate side of the street” parking regulations in many areas.

The attitudes and concepts that used to provide Long Island with so much of its former “charm” are gone. They are not victims of uncaring residents, but rather the rapid overpopulation and density that was inevitable given our close proximity to the city. Such rapid population growth came with precious little planning, ill-conceived short term solutions and not just a little greed. In its path, many of the values that we once held as a community fell by the wayside.

Can we now change our heavy suburban – urban environment back to the light suburban – rural one that we once knew? I think not. Can we however, strive to revive some of our former quality of life? Perhaps – if we’re willing and if we really care.

We need to focus on the issues that are important to us. Not the state. Not the Federal Government, but us, here on Long Island, if we wish to revive some of our former quality of life. Our politicians need to focus on these issues. We need to support those that do, and oust those who don’t, whether through our actions or our votes.

As an example, I sit in miles of traffic on the LIE. I’m forced to wonder who invented the HOV. A fortunate few who’s schedules allow them to car pool, zip by while the rest of us together with the commercial traffic so important to our economy, burn countless gallons of fuel as we sit waiting in the miles of backups caused by the HOV merging back into our lanes. An early morning rush hour cruise on Sunrise Highway in Suffolk will quickly suggest how silly the HOV concept is. Does anybody care? The HOV is not a concept that works on Long Island. It was forced on us. Put it to a Long Island vote and see how quickly it disappears.

We and our political leadership are going to have to think outside of the box if we are going to save ourselves from a completely Urban fate.

Perhaps we really need to revisit the concept of a “State of Long Island”. Our two counties could merge into a new state government, leaving our towns as counties. We would then eliminate our expensive three-tier system of government and the excessive waste that comes with it. We could also retain the tax revenues that currently fall into the greedy hands of Albany. Do we really need Albany to manage our money anymore? Doesn’t seem like they do a really great job of it, no matter which party in favor. Our political leadership would be more focused on, and more accountable to - our needs.

The money saved could well be spent improving our transportation and our infrastructure. Perhaps we could then even start reducing our land taxes. This might improve the chances for our younger people to own, and our retired residents to retain, their own homes.

I’ve been a resident of Long Island for almost sixty years and probably will be until I die. I understand that we can never go back to the “rustic charm” of our earlier years, but I sure haven’t given up on the idea that we can still make Long Island a very charming place to live. We just all have to work together to make it happen. And we have to care again!

Reverse Mortgages & Home Equity Lines of Credit

This month we would like to compare the traditional Home Equity Line of Credit (the HELOC) to the Line of Credit option provided within the Reverse Mortgage program which has been designed specifically for homeowners over the age of 62. There are major differences that seniors should be aware of. Yes, both of these loans are variable rate loans, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The traditional Home Equity Line of Credit, or HELOC, is usually structured as a second lien against your home, subordinate to a first mortgage, although this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. HHHELOC’s are usually obtained free of closing costs although in most cases, all or part of the closing costs will be assessed if the loan is closed out within 3 years. Homeowners who are looking for a very short term loan (less than 3 years) should make sure that they know what these close out costs will be.

With the Reverse Mortgage, a Line of Credit is only one of the options available within the overall program. A Reverse Mortgage must be the first lien against the home so any existing mortgages must be paid off – either directly, or from proceeds of the mortgage. The closing costs with the Reverse Mortgage need to be considered. They are paid from proceeds at time of closing, so the program is really designed to be more attractive over the longer term. If you are looking to move from your home in a short period of time, the HELOC or other options may be more attractive.

Most commonly, with the HELOC you are required to pay interest only for the first 10 years of the loan. During this 10 year “draw down” period, you can also access (borrow against) your line of credit at any time. At the end of the 10 year draw down period however, two things happen. First, you can no longer borrow from the loan and more importantly, your payment structure will change. You will now have to pay not only the interest but also a portion of the principal, thereby significantly increasing the monthly payment required.

This HELOC feature can create a real hardship. When younger and still working, the solution is simply to “re-finance” the loan into a new one, thereby initiating a new draw down period. For seniors though, a reduced retirement income may prohibit them from financially qualifying for a refinance. They are then stuck with not only those higher payments – but also with the inability to further access the loan.

Unlike the HELOC, the Reverse Mortgage Line of Credit does not have the “draw-down” period. It is good for as long as the senior lives in the home and maintains it as primary residence.

No payments (monthly or otherwise) are ever required with the Reverse Mortgage. Instead, the balance of the mortgage increases based on the amounts drawn against the loan together with the interest and fees assessed. While payments may be made by choice, this mortgage never has to be re-paid until the home is vacated or is no longer used as a primary residence – regardless of how much time has passed. The Reverse Mortgage is an insured program. As a result, even though the mortgage balance increases, it can never be greater than the value of the home, nor can the senior ever be forced out of the home for lack of ability to pay.

With a traditional HELOC, the line of credit available to the homeowner does not change. Should the homeowner wish to increase their line of credit, they must refinance the loan.

With the Reverse Mortgage the unused portion of the line of credit actually increases from year to year, providing a greater access to the home’s equity over time – automatically, with no refinancing necessary.

Finally, there are no income or credit qualification requirements for the Reverse Mortgage. This can be an attractive feature for retired senior homeowners with reduced income or less than sterling credit.

For seniors who can qualify for it, can comfortably make the variable monthly payments and are only seeking a relatively short term financing solution, the HELOC can be a viable, lower cost option.

For seniors with a longer-term horizon, the additional benefits and security of a Federally Insured and Government sponsored program designed specifically to protect them and provide for their needs - could very well be the more attractive option.

Francis Miller is a Reverse Mortgage Consultant with
the Senior Funding Group, Hicksville, New York.
He can be contacted directly at 1-631-312-3569

What is a Datsun?


Competition is the cornerstone of the American way of life. Driving the price of goods down and leveling out the playing field of the supply and demand that drives our ecomomy.

Japanese car manufacturers gained a huge competitive foothold in the American car market. How did they put such a big dent in the Detroit car industry? They did not replicate a Ford, stick their logo on it and call it a Datsun. They analyzed the American car market, picked it apart finding the strengths and weaknesses then they reinvented it.

In the height of the gas crisis circa 1975, American car makers were producing beautiful super-sized gas guzzlers. Japan was producing small compact cars, cheap and good on gas. This capitalized on the need for efficency and fuel ecomony, a weakness of the American auto industry. While the American car makers were laughing at these ugly little inventions, the Japanese improved upon their product, steamlined them and made them more reliable than American cars. Within a few years the number of imports on the road surpassed the domestic car market. The big wigs in Detroit started looking at the facts and the figures and realized that if they did not make changes quickly they would lose the entire marketshare to their Asian competitors.

So, back they went to the drawing boards and came up with a line of compact cars to compete with their Japanese counterparts. It took another couple of years and several Toyota dissections later to figure out how to make American cars more reliable. By that time Japan, had figured out that an attractive car is just as attractive as price to American buyers.

The market has leveled itself out with domestic car sales just about on par with imports. There are other imports seeping into the marketplace with new fangled looks, features and options. The Japanese car manufacturers manage to retain a slight advantage in the market with resale value slightly higher than American cars, I believe based solely on reputation of reliability.

A Datsun is the former brand name of Nissan Motors Corporation. I owned a very used Datsun many years back. The car was a rust bucket, but it was still running as it fell apart from the pot holes on the Belt Parkway. I managed to make it home and the muffler fell off as I shut off the car. I called the junk yard and actually got a few bucks for the engine which had well over 100K miles on it.

These days I am quite content with my American minivan.
Thank you for reading my rantings.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Kayaks on the Connetquot River

Kayaks on the Connetquot River
It's going to be a beautiful weekend. Why not do some kayaking, boating, or fishing?
There are many places where you can rent a canoe or kayak.
You can also charter a fishing boat.
It's time for the outdoor activities you love!
Check out the boating and fishing information for Long Island....
You can click on all photos to enlarge.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Re: Has Long Island New York Lost It's Charm?

Dear fellow Long Islanders and friends,

Please accept my sincere apologies for any misinterpretation about our beautiful “paradise” not being a choice place to live. In fact, I moved back after being away (once for work, and once after marriage)

In my humble opinion, it IS among one of the BEST places to live and raise a family. Being a short distance from “The City” and from both boroughs, replete with a fascinating multitude of culture, heritage and history, we are the scenic and serene suburban relative just a short distance to the east.

What I “fear” is that while that we are slowly but surely losing our “favored” reputation. With “unjustified” outrageous home rates and the boroughs creeping into what used to be a suburban solitude replete with a culture and history of its own, what I see is a gradual loss or should I say relinquishment of our uniqueness and autonomy.

Nassau county has become ever more popular (to the masses) and cluttered with homes virtually on top of one another, many of which (due to time) are seriously suffering in their aesthetic appearance and appeal. Yet their value (at least monetarily) continues to increase, as do the taxes. And, while Suffolk can boast about slightly better rates, the difference is often “negligible” and new homes are barely affordable, especially by newlyweds and/or “young” couples and families.

My biggest point of contention however, which may have (also) been misunderstood or overlooked, deals with the increasing congestion and lack of maintenance. With multiple mega shopping centers, malls, etc, we are losing our suburban appeal. And, many of our more “historic” (and/or nostalgic” sites and building are falling apart and in dire need of refurbishment. Furthermore our streets, highways, roadways and parking lots are inundated with trash and lots of it. Garbage is everywhere and is polluting our scenery as well as our environment and our noted appeal.

Perhaps our neighbors to the north “do” face some monetary challenges, but the dollar is slowly, but surely catching up (as far as I know) and most of the folks I know made comparable salaries and “blue collar” or trade workers warranted a salary of $20-something to $30 something dollars an hour.

Homes, including new ones (while sorely lacking in property) were constructed of ALL stucco or brick exteriors and interiors featured top-of-the-line amenities mostly for under $800,000 and certainly under $1 million, which is becoming the norm for a “starter” home in need of some TLC here on Long Island. And, though that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it’s not by much.

Besides, as I mentioned, my greatest concern is the deterioration of our communities, and the inundation with graffiti and garbage and with the seemingly overwhelming “disrespect” for this (once) “elite” community.

I am one of Long Island’s biggest fans and would LOVE to see it prosper and grow and remain a main attraction for many (tourists, couples, and families alike). My plea is to come together to ensure that we do what we must to help preserve and improve it (including the quality and affordability of life).

A Concern Resident and Long Island Native Mia Bolaris-Forget

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy
Take a good look. Do you work in the garden?
Do you pull out the weeds and vines that grow on your property?
Well, poison ivy grows just about everywhere on Long Island. Contact with this plant can cause an itchy rash and for some people a few weeks of misery.
It can look different in different seasons and in different locations, so be alert to the changes.
Its appearance all depends on the age of the plant and the season.
The above photo is poison ivy in the spring with newly sprouted leaves.
It is always three leaves on one stem as you can see above.
Enjoy your gardening and watch for poison ivy!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Homeowners Insurance Action in Florida - Things to Come?

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Today State Farm Insurance Company announced rate increase requests averaging over 70% in the state of Florida, with requests of over 200% in some areas! The bulk of this increase is likely to be approved according to National Underwriter, an industry magazine. Allstate has taken a different approach, arranging with several smaller insurance companies to take 200,000 of their customers off their hands for homeowners insurance.

As I have indicated in previous columns, there is no one solution to this issue and so creativity and innovation is called for.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Who Really Needs Flood Insurance on Long Island?

Aaron Stein, Long Island InsuranceBY AARON STEIN

There is a lot of concern today because of all the rain that is expected in the New England area, according to this morning’s NY Times ( The market for Long Island homeowners insurance was already in panic mode because of the storms that are being predicted. Last fall we had all those rains which caused hydrostatic pressure to build up and filled thousands of Long Island basements with water, and much of that was not covered by EITHER flood insurance or homeowners insurance.

The question most folks have is ‘why?’ Why was that sort of water damage not covered? Isn’t that a flood, when your basement has 24 inches of water in it? The answer, at least for the purposes of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is that it’s not. For one thing, most of that water was ground water that seeped in through the foundation. For another, a lot of it happened a good distance from ‘the water’ as most people think of it, and so even in cases where it might have been covered, they were not carrying flood insurance. That may change soon as FEMA examines ways to increase participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

So what IS a flood? Here is a basic definition from FEMA via their official flood insurance info site,
"A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder's property) from:

• Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or

• Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or Mudflow; or

• Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above."

So, in plain English, a flood is an excess of water (or mud) on land that's normally dry.
Floods often happen when bodies of water overflow or tides rise due to heavy rainfall or thawing snow.

But you don't have to live near water to be at risk of flooding. A flash flood, which can strike anywhere without warning, occurs when a large volume of rain falls within a short time.
More and more buildings, roads and parking lots are being built where forests and meadows used to be, which decreases the land's natural ability to absorb water. Coupled with changing weather patterns, this construction has made recent floods more severe and increased everyone's chance of being flooded.
For more info on flood insurance in New York visit the FEMA sight above or our site at

Beautiful Long Island

Beautiful Long Island
I hope that when you think of Long Island, you think of the beautiful parks, beaches, and wildlife.
Yes, we have shopping malls and traffic, but Long Island is so much more.
You owe it to yourself to investigate the possiblities.
Look at the sidebar on this website for links to the parks and recreational activities.
There is so much to do here on Long Island.
Take advantage of those opportunities!

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Simple Thank You


I recently reached a milestone that made me a bit reflective and thankful to one of the people responsible for helping me get there.

Thank You...

  1. For growing up with me
  2. For being my friend
  3. For being there when I needed your help
  4. For being there when I needed your words of advice
  5. For being there when I needed you to listen
  6. For being there when I needed you to break my fall
  7. For being there when I needed you for nothing at all
  8. For making me laugh
  9. For making me cry
  10. For putting up with my attitudes, moods and my faults
  11. For accepting my decisions, opinions and choice
  12. For disagreeing but not raising your voice
  13. For giving me courage, wisdom and grace
  14. For remembering me in your hearts and your prayers
  15. For being so thoughtful over all these years
  16. For accepting my criticism, so harsh and unkind
  17. For accepting my apologizes, not often on time
  18. For sharing my joy
  19. For sharing my pain
  20. For offering your shoulder in my times of sorrow
  21. For all the things you give me
  22. For all the things I borrow
  23. For correcting me when I am wrong
  24. For accepting when I am right
  25. For listening to me
  26. For not listening to me
  27. For inspiring me
  28. For guiding me
  29. For opening my eyes
  30. For closing your own
  31. For keeping me company
  32. For leaving me in peace
  33. For letting me grow
  34. For letting me grow, at my own pace
  35. For being kind and unselfish
  36. For letting me shine
  37. For taking the time
  38. For sharing my life
  39. For loving me without question
  40. For making me a part of your life

Most of all thank you for being my mom!

Feel free to add a few of your own and send this to your Mom in honor of Mother's Day.

A voice from a Long Island Soldier in Iraq


I am a Long Island soldier about to be stationed in Iraq. I wish not to be part of any peace protest if anything should happen to me. Do not represent me as an empty coffin or pair of boots. Do not use my photo or any thing related to me for any peace purposes.

My thinking is that of the horrible history of the American peace movement. After the civil war it was bring the troops out of the south. We had around 80 years of racist jim crow laws and violence. Vietnam and Korea were two of the three major engagements against communism. The first was in 1919 and 1920 when American troops were fighting against the Bolsheviks in Russia. Thanks to the peace movement American troops were brought home, communism flourished and around 100, 000 American were casualties in Korea and Vietnam that would not have happened if we had stayed in Russia.

During WWII the peace movement was against our involvement. Jews to the camps were a European problem. and bayoneted Chinese were an Asian problem.

The US military saves lives and frees countries, peace movement keeps dictators and hate groups in power by not doing anything. When was the last protest against North Korea tyrany ever held by the peace movement.

My home address:

Larry Klass
254 Locust Ave
Freeport NY 11520

Address in Iraq:

Larry Klass
773rd Transportation Company
APO AE 09334

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Long Island Homeowners Insurance, the Saga Continues

Aaron Stein, Long Island InsuranceBY AARON STEIN

Having trouble finding New York or Long Island homeowners insurance these days? You're not alone. One of the insurance agents associations says they are aware of another major insurance company making plans to take some drastic actions on Long Island. On the other hand, efforts are being made to bring more companies into the area to help people get their cancelled insurance policies replaced. It almost has to be new companies who have not been here before in any major way, because that’s the only way to spread it out more.

Taking an active role in that effort and more has been New York State Insurance Commissioner Howard Mills. I’m not into politics, but this guy really seems to have a great depth of knowledge about what has to happen, and is working very hard on it. There is action in the State Legislature to address the problem of too many homeowners insurance policies being cancelled in one area. Meanwhile he is reaching out to other states to see if some carriers not currently writing New York homeowners insurance can be persuaded to join the fray.

I heard yesterday that he is planning some news conferences to encourage people, among other things, to buy flood insurance for their homes. Federal Flood Insurance covers different damage from homeowners insurance, but still is important to stabilizing the overall situation.

One of the problems happening in Mississippi and Louisiana right now is that people are suing the major homeowners insurance carriers to try to make them cover flood damage. Homeowners insurance clearly excludes flooding as defined by the standard flood insurance policy, specifically to make it clear that the two policies cover different things. But you can’t necessarily rely on a reasonable court finding when they perceive that the insurance companies have plenty of money and the poor people don’t have homes.

So homeowners insurance carriers on Long Island will feel more comfortable if more folks have flood insurance, even if they are not right on the water. The weather and disaster experts have said that if Katrina hit Long Island, water would reach Sunrise Highway. That covers an awful lot of homes that are not ‘on the water’.

More to come. In the meantime if you want more info on Long Island flood insurance you can visit the FEMA site for the National Flood Insurance Program at or our site at

I Love Long Island and Mommy

I Love Long Island, New York I Love Long Island and Mommy

The Official "I Love Long Island" online store features a full line of merchandise including t-shirts, sweats, hats, golf shirts, mugs, mousepads, magnets, bumper stickers and more.

The Long Island Kids' line is a modified version of our popular logo with a special message for Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa. Kid's clothing includes bibs, onesies, toddler tees and children's sizes. Items make great gifts for Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa and Moms-to-be.

While you are shopping, check out the 'That's too funny' section with items like "I live on Long Island and all I can afford is this t-shirt." A humourous spin life on LI for those of us who know what it is like to live here

Custom and bulk pricing is available. Items can be co-branded for corporate gifts, trade show promotions and employee incentive programs. Call 631-543-1000 x2 for more information.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Boating Season Is Here!

Long Island Photos by Alida
Heading out to the Great South Bay
The sky is clear and the bay is calm. This boat is heading out for a day of fishing or a trip to Fire Island. Boating season is just beginning and the bay and weather are ready.
After the long cold winter, the captain and crew are ready too!
Click on the photo to enlarge

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Long Island Flood Insurance Facts and Myths

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance

This week we will take a little break from our discussion of the Long Island homeowners insurance crisis, and talk a bit about the other type of coverage that is very important if a hurricane hits Long Island, flood insurance. Standard insurance companies long ago decided that they could not provide coverage for flood because it is catastrophic in nature, in other words, it can cause large amounts of damage to large numbers of property all at once.

The big insurance carriers are not afraid of a fire, which might affect two or three homes, or a large building. But a flood that wipes out the entire South Shore of Long Island could put all the insurance companies out of business, as losses could easily reach hundreds of billions of dollars.

So about 40 years ago the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was charged with designing a program for flood insurance. That was the beginning of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The idea was that loss payments would be guaranteed by the Federal flood insurance program but would be sold and serviced by both the NFIP itself and other insurance carriers who would be paid a fee for each policy they administer. Coverage is sold through local agents who choose to participate.

Communities were invited to join the NFIP flood insurance program in the late 1960's/early 1970's. As part of the requirements for joining, they had to agree to various changes in their building codes so that homes built after the date they came in to the program would be elevated beyond the 100 year flood plain level, meaning they would be much less likely to be damaged in a flood unless it was a really bad one. In return, those homes in flood hazard areas which are properly elevated get a much lower rate for their flood insurance.

All land areas are divided into flood insurance zones based on the ground elevation where they are. Naturally, the general tendency is that as you move away from the water, the hazard drops. However, it has been estimated by a number of experts that if a category 3 or better hurricane, such as Katrina, were to make a direct hit on Long Island, the water would reach Sunrise Highway in most areas, because the ground doesn't really start to rise until a few miles in.

The good news is that most homes more than a few blocks from the water are in what's called non-flood hazard areas, and flood insurance is pretty cheap for them. But near the water, and even moreso over on the barrier islands (where houses are not really damaged by floods as much as they are completely swept away) flood coverage can be fairly expensive. Our office writes a fair number of flood insurance policies for people on Gilgo Beach, Oak Beach, and Fire Island, and each one is individually rated by the flood insurance carriers based on location, elevation, and more.

Many people were required to buy flood insurance for the first time only in the past few years. As the mortgage refinancing and home equity loan boom happened over the past 5-7 years, with many homes being sold and many more seeing their equity taken out in the form of home equity loans and lines of credit, people learned something interesting about flood insurance. Since it's a federal government program, and the federal government also guarantees mortgages through the Federal National Mortgage Agency (FNMA or Fannie Mae) and GNMA (Ginny Mae), they also REQUIRE the purchase of federal flood insurance for homes in flood hazard areas. This puts more money into the National Flood Insurance Program through increased participation.

More to come in our next post.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Jimmy Buffet Concert at Nikon Jones Beach Theater

Linda writes, "You listed the Jimmy Buffet performance on July 1st as already SOLD OUT and your e-mail states “Tickets go on sale Saturday, May 6th” how could the show already be SOLD OUT????? Please let me know how we get a chance to buy tickets????"

Answer: Ahhhh, ancient chinese secret. Sign up for their Free newsletter at
and you will get pre-sale alerts.

Long Island Parks and Recreation - Town Information

Michael writes, "I wanted to find out if there are any public pools in our area, and when they would be open. I have heard of one at Holtzville ecology site. I was unable to find this info. on your web page."

Answer: Holtsville is governed under the Town of Brookhaven. Check out their Web site or contact the department of Parks and recreation for more info at

For information about specific towns on Long Island, New York you can view a complete list of towns, villages, hamlets, cities etc. at

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater 2006 Concerts & Entertainment

Jones Beach Theater has a new name and a series of exciting live music and entertainment for 2006!

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

Announces Summer 2006 Season Line Up

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater announces its summer 2006 music line up. One of the top ranked amphitheaters in the country, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater will play host this summer to such acts as Depeche Mode, Kelly Clarkson, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Steely Dan, Rob Thomas and Jewel, and Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band.

Tickets for all shows go on sale Saturday, May 6th at 9am. Tickets will be available at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater Box Office, select Ticketmaster locations, charge-by phone at: 631-888-9000 or on the internet at

There is a 6-ticket limit, 6-show limit per person on the first day of sale only. All tickets subject to applicable service charges.

The Current 2006 Concert Schedule is as follows:

Saturday, May 13 at 8PM
$85.00, $35.00
On Sale Now

Friday, May 26 at 7:30PM
$42.50, $20.00
On Sale Now!

Friday, June 9 at 7PM
$65.00, $45.00, $20.00
On Sale Now!

Toby Lightman
Saturday, June 10 at 7PM
$65.00, $45.00, $20.00
On Sale Now!

Friday, June 17 at 7PM
$49.50, $29.50
On Sale Now!

Saturday, June 24 at 8PM
$95.00, $65.00, $35.00

The Derek Trucks Band
Tuesday, June 27 at 6:30PM
$65.00, $45.00, $20.00
**$5.00 off Mezz Tix Day of On Sale**

Saturday, July 1 at 8PM

Wednesday, July 12 at 7:30PM
$75.00, $49.50, $29.50

Tuesday, July 18 at 8PM
$65.00, $40.00 & $20.00
**$5.00 off Mezz Tix Day of On Sale**

Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Drive-By Truckers
Wednesday, July 19 at 6:30PM
$42.50, $22.50

KC’s Boogie Blast
The Ultimate Dance Party
Gloria Gaynor
Sister Sledge
Friday, July 21 at 8PM
$42.50, $32.50, $20.00
**$5.00 off PL3 Tix Day of On Sale**

David Garza
Saturday, July 22 at 7:30PM
$49.50, $39.50, $20.00
**$5.00 off PL3 Tix Day of On Sale**

Sunday, July 23 at 8PM
$39.50, $29.50, $20.00
**$5.00 off Mezz Tix Day of On Sale**

WALK FM Summer Concert
Friday, July 28 at 7:30PM
$86.00, $66.00, $36.00
**$5.00 off Mezz Tix Day of On Sale**

Thursday, August 3 at 7PM
$49.50, $29.50

Marco Antonio Solis
Laura Pausini
Saturday, August 5
On Sale Soon!

Tuesday, August 8 at 7PM
$39.50, $20.00
**$5.00 off PL2 Tix Day of On Sale**

Friday, August 11 at 7:30PM
$59.50, $35.00, $20.00
**$5.00 off Mezz Tix Day of On Sale**

O.A.R. (…of a revolution)
Jack’s Mannequin
Saturday, August 12 at 7PM
$35.00, $25.00
**$5.00 off Mezz Tix Day of On Sale**

Michael McDonald
Thursday, August 17 at 8PM
$95.00, $65.00, $35.00

The Wailers
Saturday, August 19 at 7PM
$35.00, $20.00
**$5.00 off PL2 Tix Day of On Sale**

Sunday, August 20 at 6PM
$75.00, $52.50, $42.50, $20.00
**$5.00 off PL4 Tix Day of On Sale**

An Evening With
Tuesday, August 22 at 7:30PM
$251.00, $126.00, $86.00, $46.00
On Sale Now!

By Overwhelming Demand, 2nd Show Added!
An Evening With
Wednesday, August 23 at 7:30PM
$251.00, $126.00, $86.00, $46.00

The Family Values Tour Feat:
Stone Sour
Dir en grey
Saturday, September 2 at 3PM
$49.50, $9.99
On Sale Soon!

Friday, September 15 at 8PM
On Sale Friday, May 19th at 10AM!

For more information about the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater’s 2006 schedule, check out the website at or, call the concert hotline at 516-221-1000.

Doors open 90 minutes before show time for each concert, unless otherwise noted. All dates, acts, show times and ticket prices are subject to change without notice. All events are rain or shine.

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater is located within Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, NY and is operated and produced by Live Nation.

For more information, please contact: ">Jaime Roberts - Live Nation
Phone Number : 917-421-5130


This news breaking release was brought to you by
Long Island FREE Press at

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Lilacs in Bloom

Lilacs at the
William Bayard Cuttings Arboretum, Oakdale.
The flowering trees are in bloom and the lilacs scent the air with a wonderful fragrance.
It's time to make a visit. Parking is $6.00 or free with the Empire State Parks Pass.
For more information about the arboretum......
..........Click here.
Long Island Photos by Alida

Has Long Island New York Lost It's Charm?

To Whom It May Concern,

I just returned from a trip up North and across the border where I use to live for a short while and upon returning, was almost sorry to return to my beloved home. In fact, the area I once boasted about and with so much history, character, charisma, and scenery has, and continues to become a place I am ambivalent, and somewhat “ashamed” to call my home.

Besides the ridiculously escalating and often unaffordable real estate rates and taxes, which may have been in the past justifiable, by the “elite” uniqueness our neighborhoods and communities had to offer, Long Island is growing less and less desirable to live on.

We are NOTHING more than an extension of the boroughs that define our “borders” and are quickly and surely becoming an urban, cluttered, and congested metropolis and an eyesore.

In as much as life up North was less convenient, with stores closing much sooner than our own, and retail prices significantly higher, overall, our northern neighbor has far surpassed us in creating communities that are conducive to “convenience” and family life.

Surely, they are lacking in the “small town” appeal, (such as full serve gas stations, hometown convenience stores, small town Main streets, and the ambiance of trees and nature that continue to endure along our highways and in our back yards) which indeed makes Long Island so unique, special and appealing.

What they “DO” have to offer however is a much more avant-garde Euro-centric style that resonates of class and elegance.

Most of their shopping arenas, mimic airport plaza in Farmingdale, but with a greater and more diverse host of stores allowing for “one-stop-shopping” in one immediate location. And, what is especially commendable is that not only does the architecture offer design and convenience, but that it is continually well maintained, with a minimum of garbage gracing the curbs and parking lot and with hired help to make sure it is properly conserved and up-kept.

Furthermore, ALL (or at least MOST) of their malls offer a regal atmosphere replete with marble columns, vespa-like courtyard eateries and cafes and even lush lounge areas for those wishing to take a rest.

Highways and parkways are NOT strewn with garbage nor deteriorating walls and partitions. And, most companies and corporate buildings offer a modern, up-to-date appeal (and lavish landscaping) that make them a pleasure to look at and perceptively organizations you’d want to work for.

Trash receptacles are current and contemporary and available on most street corners and along roadways and in each area/town, AND, are not overflowing with garbage. Also, each downtown area is amply decorated with delightful streetlamps, plants and hanging flowers, not to mention cobblestone paved sidewalks and walkways as well as manicured lawns and parks for local residents and their families. And, there’s a minimum, of vandalism and graffiti.

Homes, while definitely more city-like in structure and appeal, offer mush more contemporary construction, style and architecture.

Most homes are made of brick (especially newer ones) and are interiorly superior to many of those available here (for the same cost). In general, most feature spiral staircases, a galley kitchen, a sitting room, dining room area, granite or marble countertops, top-of-the-line appliances (stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators, etc.). Additionally, most consist of a half bath on the main floor and at least two others throughout the house. Plus, it’s quite common for homes to have a wine cellar in the basement, a separate laundry area, a master bath with a full ensuite, a guest room with a bathroom and two children’s rooms with a Jack and Jill washroom facility all for under $800,000. And, this is in some of the newly developed areas. Not to mention that communities are much more well maintained especially in as far as home and neighborhood aesthetics (ie: no garbage on sidewalks or streets) are concerned.

Convenience stores, such as 7-Elevens are PRISTINELY clean and ultramodern as are grocery stores, supermarkets, and even beverage and alcohol markets and stores.

Yet, they have very few neighborhoods with a multitude of trees, very few beaches (at least around the GTA, and a lot fewer scenic areas such as Long Beach, The Hamptons, etc.) While no doubt WE have more overall amenities and luxuries, what we have is not very well maintained, inviting or affordable, and is more of a distraction than an attraction.

In my opinion, the only (slight) progress that is (if you’re lucky enough to stumble across it) is the few senior/assisted living communities cropping up across The Island, as well as the foliage recently planted along the service road of the Long Island Expressway between exits 33 and 39 or 40.

Otherwise, our streets, highways, parkways, and shopping centers are progressively riffled with litter and deteriorating walls and foliage. Not to mention that there is NOTHING aesthetically appealing denoting and signifying the entrance onto Long Island from Brooklyn or Queens. In fact, we have become and extension these bordering boroughs, if not an extension of The Bronx just off the Major Deegan, Clearview and Cross Bronx. And, some areas are even putting our suburban communities to shame.

I can’t help but wonder where all our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent, if not to preserve what our parents, grandparents, and ancestors worked so hard to build and ensure, we, (along with our families), could benefit from and enjoy.

I staunchly believe that we need to bring back the “nostalgia” that Long Island is renowned for and take immediate initiative in improving upon it and making an affordable and desirable place to live…the way it once use to be. With that said, we ALL need to do our part, but we need to start with our local leaders, especially since they are in a position to demand and implement these necessary improvements and changes.

A Concerned Resident And Long Island Native Mia Bolaris-Forget