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Wake Up!

The announcement last week by Northrop Grumman Corp. (Grumman to those of us who have been on this Island awhile) that it will transfer 850 jobs from its Bethpage facility to Florida and California should come as no shock.

The company, once Long Island’s largest and best-known employer, has been sending jobs South for more than two decades. At one point, in the 1980s, the company employed 25,000 people on the Island, built the Navy’ premier fighter, the F-14 Tomcat, and, in the 1960s, built the Lunar Lander that took Apollo astronauts to the moon.

What is surprising, and disheartening, is the reaction of most Long Island officials, in both the public and private sector. And that reaction is, let’s not stir the pot. No questions asked as to why Long Island continues to lose high-tech, high-paying jobs. No questions about why it is so difficult to grow businesses here. No questions about why, even with high costs, California is able to grow and maintain a Silicon Valley and the Boston area is able to grow and maintain a high-tech corridor.

Instead, there is mumbling here, as there always is when good jobs leave, about the strides we are making to replace those jobs. So far, those strides, after 20 years and more of trying, have not made an awful lot of progress.

The Long Island Association, the region’s largest business and civic lobbying group, seems to be saying the loss of the 850 jobs is really no big deal. After all, the LIA says, the defense industry is now only a small part of the Island’s economy. True, but jobs in the industry tend to be among the highest-paying on the Island. And isn’t the LIA economist Pearl Kamer always saying that for each job lost at Northrop Grumman, two to three others are lost outside the company, which will now need fewer vendors. So that 850 could be a loss of as many as 3,000 jobs.

And what will the LIA say when some 800 homes on the Island go on the market as those who have lost their jobs leave the area? And what will the LIA say when this “small sector” disappears entirely, leaving the Island with fewer high-tech, high-paying jobs. What will the LIA say? In all probability, they will say, ‘It’s no big deal!’

So what has happened to this Island of ours? At one time, we had a booming defense industry. When it all began to disappear at the end of the Cold War in 1991, there was much yammering about software, medical and bio-technology and healthcare jobs cropping up. But all that seems to have cropped up are more places to shop in both Nassau and Suffolk and more plans to build shopping malls. Of course, there are   efforts to make things work. But the only image they conjure up for me is Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill, only to have it roll back to the bottom again.

One of the problems is that we on Long Island have developed a bad rep across the country. We are perceived, as people who do nothing but complain, are unable to make any decisions about our future, and are unwilling to take chances. Most of our politicians have been of little use in the economic battles that take place between the states. We keep losing. The South and the West keep winning. We are known as the place JWoww calls home. And she doesn’t spend much time here. While there is no easy solution, there is a way to make a good start: our politicians and business leaders need to admit that the loss of these jobs is indeed a “big deal” and to stop trying to paper over our losses with bland reassurances that, somehow, the best is yet to come.

Doing so is a sure recipe for a scenario where we keep losing jobs, and adding more shopping malls.

News

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Last week was one of Oyster Bay’s biggest, most anticipated summer events, the Italian American Society’s St. Rocco’s Festival. Returning to its usually spot in Fireman’s Field on Shore Avenue, the festival was filled with amusement rides, live music, and great food and company.

“We come every year to St. Rocco’s with friends,” said Laura Regan of East Norwich. “The rides and awesome food make it a lot of fun.”


Sports

Oakcliff’s intensive training program provided a high level of competition last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in Oyster Bay.

This year, the teams selected for the event were highly ranked through the United States, and several of the competitors are past and current Oakcliff trainees, including Elizabeth Shaw, Kathryn Shiber, Madeline Gill, and Danielle Gallo.

A total of 11 members of St. Dominic Track Team (grades 1-8) recently medaled at the Nassau-Suffolk CYO Championship Finals at Mitchel Field. In the finals, the athletes competed against the finalists from all three regions, representing more than 2,500 athletes from 23 other parishes.

In addition to the student athletes’ success, the track coaches were honored as well. St. Dominic CYO Track coaches Phil Schade (grades 1-3), Julie and Mike Keffer (grades 4-6) and Rich Cameron (grades 7-8) were selected by peer coaches in their region for the NSCYO Team Sportsmanship Award. The Saint Dominic CYO track program, in its second year, has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the young runners are among the best on Long Island.


Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com