6 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • APRIL 2020
IN THE NEWS
WEB BRIEFS LI AT A GLANCE
FI TO PART TIMERS: STAY HOME
Officials on Fire Island are urging seasonal homeowners
not to come to their beach homes to get away from
more densely populated areas amid widespread calls
for the public to practice social distancing.
The mayors of the villages of Ocean Beach and Saltaire,
two of the most populous areas among the 17
summer resort communities on the 32-mile-long
barrier island, have issued warnings that there aren’t
enough first responders or medics available in the
off-season to handle an influx of COVID-19 refugees.
“We are in winter mode and emergency service is
very, very, limited,” said Jim Mallott, mayor of the
Village of Ocean Beach, the unofficial capital of the
island. “So please think long and hard about your
decision to come here to Fire Island.”
The impact of New York City residents
similarly fleeing to their second
homes in the Hamptons has
the coronavirus crisis
on the South Fork.
On FI, there are
more than 4,000
beach homes largely
accessible only by
ferry, but the population
fluctuates from about 300 year-round residents in the
winter to more than 20,000 in the peak months.
The fear is that the seasonal residents trying to take
advantage of the isolation on the island this time of
year will put themselves and others at risk during a
time when resources are scarce.
BUSINESS IMPACT EYED
Political, business, and academic leaders are joining
forces to track the economic impact that the coronavirus
pandemic is having on Long Island.
Nassau County officials are forming an economic
council that will track, calculate, and try to recoup
losses incurred by local businesses big and small.
Suffolk County announced similar plans.
Hofstra University is taking the lead in Nassau on
crunching the numbers for the economic forecast
and evaluating the multiplier effect, the phenomenon
whereby change ripples across the economy.
For example, Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO of
Discover Long Island, the local tourism board, said
that Long Island’s $6.1 billion industry, which generated
$741 million in local and state tax revenue last
year, is “suffering greatly.”
Government leaders will have to figure out how to fill
budget gaps caused by the drop in tax revenue.
SUFFOLK CPS REFORMS PROPOSED
Suffolk County lawmakers have proposed reforms
designed to correct systemic flaws uncovered when
8-year-old Thomas Valva’s father allegedly caused the
boy to freeze to death after prior signs of abuse were
County legislators pitched the CPS Transformation
Act, a legislative package of a half-dozen bills
intended to overhaul the county’s Child
Protective Services (CPS) agency. But some say the
proposals don’t go far enough.
The legislation would create a new specialized unit in
the agency, the CPS Special Needs Unit, to handle cases
involving children with developmental disabilities
such as autism spectrum disorder, which Valva had. It
would also adopt new CPS caseload standards, develop
new training requirements for CPS caseworkers, and
create reporting standards.
LI WOMAN WHO TESTIFIED AGAINST
WEINSTEIN SPEAKS OUT
An aspiring actress from Long Island spoke out
after she was among the half-dozen women who
testified against Harvey Weinstein at the movie
producer’s recent rape trial in Manhattan court.
Taralê Wulff, who testified against Weinstein
in before he was sentenced to 23 years in prison,
published an open letter in which she reflects on
her expereince. She was one of four women who
testified to show a pattern of behavior, but since
charges in the case stemmed from two other
women’s ordeals and not hers, she is barred from
giving a victim impact statement in court. Wulff
said she published an essay because she believes
it is important that her voice be heard.
“Harvey Weinstein stole a part of my self-worth,
treating me like I was nothing and I became fearful
and mistrustful, not only of others but of myself,”
Wulff wrote in an essay published on March 10.
“These feelings were unbearable to live with and I
pushed back the fear, shame and guilt to move on
with my life. That is how I survive.”
Wulff met Weinstein in 2005 when Wulff was a
waitress at Cipriani Upstairs in Manhattan,
where he allegedly masturbated
in front of her after pulling
her onto a rooftop
terrace. She testified
that Weinstein raped
her at the disgraced
movie mogul’s apartment,
where she went hoping to get
FREEPORT MAN’S DEATH RECLASSIFIED
The Nassau County Medical Examiner’s office is
changing the cause of death of a Freeport man from
suicide to “undetermined” to settle a lawsuit from the
victim’s family who maintains he was murdered.
The family of 20-year-old Johmeik Simmons, who died
of a single gunshot wound to the head while two other
men were present in 2016, remains unconvinced that
the college-bound former high school football star
would take his own life and believes that Nassau
police and medical examiners erred in concluding
he took his own life. The settlement stopped short of
the family’s goal of having authorities reclassify his
death as a homicide. Authorities appear reluctant to
reopen the investigation despite compelling findings
of an independent probe suggesting Simmons was
“This matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of
both parties,” said Christine Geed, a spokeswoman
for the county.
As the Press reported, Simmons was shot in the head
Nov. 15, 2016, inside a house in Freeport. The two other
males present told police that he pulled out a gun and
shot himself, according to the lawsuit filed in Nassau
court by Manhattan-based attorney Abe George.
Simmons was comatose for five days and died Nov. 20.
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