Welcome to Suffolk County, circa 2010, home to the ritz and glitz of the Hamptons but also a possible serial killer.
Few places offered the political intrigue of this past election cycle or the courtroom drama of hate-crime murderers. It was a year that saw diverse groups–from NIMBY to Shinnecocks and Patchogue Hispanics–rise up, take a stand and declare victory.
A soft housing market, weak economy and rising school taxes left residents shaking their fists. Wrong-way crashes caused alarm and red-light cameras made us think twice about trying to beat that yellow.
Through it all we persevered. Suffolk, in all its complexity, is our home. Here is a look back at the most unforgettable stories of 2010:
10. Extreme Weather: Long Island got blasted by not one but two blizzards in 2010. And in between folks simmered in a that saw temperatures touch 100 degrees. It was a year of extreme weather. Remember ? It's easy to forget while we're all still digging out from the . About the only reprieve came when blew by to the east in September, leaving us all wet but none the worse for wear.
9. Housing Crunched: proved to be a defining issue for Huntington residents in 2010. And if you were one of the souls packed into the Town Hall boardroom when the vote was handed down on Sept. 21, the electricity and emotions were palpable. The residential housing project in Huntington Station– billed as a 490-unit mix of affordable housing and rentals–was voted down 3-2. Opponents of the project cited several issues, everything from increased traffic congestion to overcrowded schools and giving transient families a foothold.
8. Upset: It was Long Island's seismic shockwave of the November midterm elections. , turned support of the MTA Tax against incumbent state Sen. Brian Foley, D-Blue Point, to . In 2008, Foley became the first Democrat from Suffolk to serve in the state Senate since 1902. Now he's out. Zeldin, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, helped tip the balance of power toward Republicans in Albany.
7. Race: A case which brought race to the forefront on Long Island in 2006 returned with a vengeance on Dec. 23 when Gov. David Paterson commuted the sentence of John White. The Miller Place father, who is black, shot and killed Daniel Cicciaro Jr., 17, of Selden when a group of teenagers showed up at White's house looking to confront his son. In an emotional trial, White was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to up to four years in prison.
6. Power Play: A mad scramble to earn the Republican nomination for governor saw two Suffolk politicians duke it out. In March, Suffolk County executive shed his Democratic affiliation--in bold, a power play. But former Congressman , a Wall Street lobbyist with West Islip roots, returned to prominence when Levy failed to garner enough support at the New York State Republican Convention. Lazio's resurgence was short lived. Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino upset Lazio in a September primary before by Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo in the November general election. Levy, still popular in Suffolk, could face a challenge from a well-liked Democrat in 2011. Babylon Supervisor and champion of the green cause, Steve Bellone, is said to be weighing a challenge for Suffolk County Executive.
5. Bishop Survives: He . He . He . So it went for U.S. Rep. , D-Southampton, who heads back to Washington for a fifth term, after defeating Republican Randy Altschuler by 263 votes. Altschuler, who made a trip to Washington after believing he had won, until Dec. 8, making it the country's last undecided Congressional race. Bishop may want to make Gloria Gaynor's hit "I Will Survive" his anthem for all future campaigns.
4. Jackpot: It's been a whirlwind year for the . The Southampton-based tribe won a in June and then promptly announced plans to build a casino on Long Island. In becoming the 565th federally recognized tribe, the Shinnecocks can tap into a wealth of subsidies. Now for a casino: One of the leading locales is a of land between Old Country and Round Swamp roads in Plainview. The tribe , a symbolic gesture of its new status, to the Suffolk County Legislature in December.
3. Budget Busting: It was a year of budget wrangling for Suffolk County. You want to see the 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust version of politics? Look no further than the battles erupting in the . Between the attempted sale of the , feuding over and trying to strip executive Steve Levy of some , this session has devolved into a physical endurance match.
2. Justice: When was stabbed to death on a Patchogue street by a pack of teenagers in November 2008, it brought the issue of undocumented workers and anti-Hispanic sentiment to a boiling point on Long Island. Lucero's attackers–seven teens–faced justice in 2010. for hate crimes while , 19, received 25 years for manslaughter.
1. Serial Killer: When the first of four decomposing bodies–all women–was found Dec. 11 in the picturesque dunes at Giglo Beach in the Town of Babylon, it touched off Island-wide fears of a serial killer. Memories of Joel Rifkin abounded. Nearly three weeks later, Suffolk County police have , and have asked for the help of an . The case remains more mysterious than ever. This may well develop into the top story of 2011.