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The 6th Annual Power List

The 50 Most Influential Long Islanders of 2008

v06i12We always argue about what power is.

Each year, the Press Power List committee rolls up its sleeves and begins to debate the merits of what power means. E-mails flood our in-boxes, the phones ring off the hook and the pitches begin. In truth, most of the people who are pitched to the committee by a third party are not chosen for the list. And here’s why.

Most power players need no introduction. Their actions usually leave an indelible mark, good or bad, that can affect thousands—even millions. And though there are some very obvious members on the list, the fun part is naming those who did not consider themselves powerful. Instead, he or she is just doing their job, or fulfilling a mission. During that process, a life can be changed.


That is power.

In the past our list has been criticized for its lack of diversity. Too many white males for some. This year is no exception. In fact, 38 of the Power Listers this year are indeed white men. While the process is somewhat subjective, the end result is meant to be a mirror, not a wish list. So even though we too have visions of a leadership on LI that reflects the diversity of the population that it serves, we have not yet arrived at that moment in our history. We’re more like a high school lunch room—our population is diverse, but we are still segregated by territory, position and wealth. But all of a sudden there is a black man presiding over the state of New York. The Democratic nominee for president will either be a woman or a black man. This shift in momentum is a long time coming and must still travel some distance to resonate on our island.

There needs to be more emphasis on finding these leaders and bringing them to the forefront. True power can be derived from connecting alienated worlds. In other words, the committee is happy with the Power List. Yet we know there are more players out there. People you have not heard of who can take on some of the biggest names on this list.

Then we will see how power can change the world.

*Asterisk indicates honoree was
nominated by Hall of Fame member.
See Page 26

1. Steve Levy
Suffolk County Executive

levy_steveLevy has helped Suffolk County clean up its act, both fiscally and environmentally, conserving energy consumption, cutting taxes, preserving land and reducing the enormous county deficit. Perhaps even more impressive: Levy has managed to win endorsements from both major parties without ever changing his stance on controversial issues such as immigration. After winning re-election with a record-setting majority, this unwavering Democrat announced a new set of battles for 2008. The county exec is pushing to turn brownfields into solar fields as well as introducing an e-waste recycling program and Credits for Caring, which would provide a semester’s worth of free tuition to Suffolk Community College students who do volunteer work and help out local humanitarian causes. Another new program is his 10-year plan to end homelessness. Ambitious? Of course, but this guy has a habit of getting things done, and that’s something both Democrats and Republicans can agree on.

2. James Simons, Ph.D.

Renaissance Technologies corporation

simonsjamesThey say money is power, and Simons has plenty of it. The former U.S. National Security Agency code cracker and chairman of Stony Brook University’s renowned math department founded and heads the private East Setauket investment firm Renaissance Technologies Corporation, one of the world’s most successful hedge funds. Forbes magazine ranked him No. 57 on their list of the 400 richest Americans last year. He beat out Cablevision mogul Charles Dolan to become the richest Long Islander on Forbes’ list, with a net worth of $5.5 billion. But what really earns this self-made billionaire a spot here is what he does outside the office. Simons, the father of a child with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, has given almost $100 million to Stony Brook University, to fund studies into the cause of the disorder, and to his former math department. The $60 million gift last month is the largest given to any public institution in the SUNY system.

3. Scott Rechler
RexCorp Realty, LLC CEO/Chairman

rechler_scottScott Rechler is proof positive of the old adage, “No risk, no reward.” After leaving the family business, Rechler formed RexCorp in 2007, moved away from high-end office space real estate, and began building entertainment complexes and upscale housing developments. The result has been a lucrative career marked with high-profile deals. His latest? Teaming up with fellow LI mogul and owner of the New York Islanders, Charles Wang, to develop the sprawling acreage surrounding Nassau Coliseum known as The Lighthouse, a project now being reviewed by the Town of Hempstead. He’s also on the boards of the Association for a Better Long Island and Association for a Better New York, and is a member of the Hofstra Honors College Advisory Committee.

4. James Dolan
Cablevision Systems Corporation CEO/President/Director

dolanjamesHmmm. Kind of depends whether you’re a stockholder or a season ticket holder when handicapping Charles’ baby boy. Cablevision reported net revenue of $6.5 billion for 2007 after taking a bath in ’06, but this company can’t be defined by the bottom line.  Dolan’s misguidance has tarnished the reputation of Madison Square Garden, and its executive structure became a national laughingstock after the Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment debacle. Eddy Curry and Nate Robinson’s recent water/towel spat during a Knicks timeout chronicled in microcosm the worst-run team in professional sports. Only a surge by the Rangers has provided Dolan and the Knicks’ head coach and general manager, Isiah Thomas, any deflection. So, while JD has the power to line your pockets with a stellar performance in the core business, he also has the power to reduce you to tears watching the Knicks blow it week after week.

5. Kathleen Rice
Nassau County District Attorney

ricekathleen1Since toppling former District Attorney Denis Dillon three years ago, Rice has won her share of praise—and criticism. Her office got tough on DWI, drawing national attention by setting up a special division with aggressive policies to prosecute cases. Under her watch, the office has prosecuted the largest bust-up of corrupt employees in a town building department in county history and won a murder conviction for a fatal DWI accident. She has also reduced the number of plea bargains so that more cases have gone to trial than under her predecessor. Criminal defense attorneys have attacked Rice for many of her policies, but that has not deterred the tough-talking crime fighter who promised to protect the citizens when she took office. So far, she has made good on that promise.

6. Saul Katz
Sterling Equities Co-Founder/President

katzsaul2Presiding over real estate and retail holdings as the co-founder of Great Neck-based Sterling Equities is not enough for this CEO/CPA: The Glen Cove guy’s got a throwing arm in baseball as president of both the New York Mets and Brooklyn Cyclones. The financier headed Dem Tom Suozzi’s transition team after Suozzi became county exec, and was tapped by Suozzi to consolidate Nassau’s real estate holdings and ailing county buildings. A donor to ERASE Racism and other regional organizations, Katz was the first chairman of North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, helped form the healthcare giant and has returned as its chair. And with the Mets’ recent signing of two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana through 2013, the largest contract for a pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball, it’s looking like 2008 has already proven to be a good year for Katz.

7. Bruce Stillman, Ph.D.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory President

stillmanbruceThe work that the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory president and director of its Cancer Center has done on cell division has formed the building blocks for understanding diseases, particularly cancer, and earned him the title of “DNA Sleuth.” Succeeding Nobel laureate and DNA pioneer James Watson, Ph.D., who stepped down last October after making headlines with his suggestion that black people were genetically less intelligent than whites, Stillman has been on the receiving end of some of the highest honors that can be given to a scientist, his most recent being the Curtin Medal, an internationally recognized honor awarded by his native Australia for excellence in medical research. Stillman continues to do award-winning research on DNA replication, while overseeing more than 1,000 employees of the lab and keeping Long Island on the forefront of cutting-edge DNA research.

8. Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, Ph.D.
SUNY At Old Westbury President

buttscalvinWhen Rev. Calvin O. Butts III takes the pulpit, people listen. Dubbed “the anti-Sharpton” by New York magazine, he is one of Long Island’s most outspoken leaders, and is also the pastor at Harlem’s famous Abyssinian Baptist Church. The president of one of the most culturally diverse student populations in the Northeast recently made headlines, after evicting 87 residential students with poor grades from the school’s dormitories. Butts has used his position to address important issues in the black community, and with his large following has become one of the most important figures on the Island and in the nation. Butts broke ranks with most black leaders by endorsing Hillary Clinton for president in January. It shows Butts is not afraid to follow his heart.

9. Bill O’Reilly
The O’Reilly Factor Host

oreillybillThe voice of this brash Westbury native reaches not only across Long Island, but deep into the ears of right-wing America. In a surprise twist, he recently teamed up with U.S. Sen. John Kerry and LI’s own U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), to work toward expansion of GI Bill legislation to give vets better health, education and housing benefits. The Fox News Channel political talk show host has been a vocal proponent of Jessica’s Law in New York State, named in memory of Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old who was abducted and sexually assaulted before being brutally murdered. The law mandates a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison for first-time child sex offenders. Despite his media fame and love of controversy, he has stayed close to home, and even still pals around with his buddies from grade school.

10. Jay Jacobs
Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman

jacobsjay-01-jshea1Jay Jacobs is a student of history; as such, he has learned from the political mistakes of others and masterminded a local political machine that continues to confound the Nassau Republicans. Early critics of Jacobs viewed him as a one-candidate leader with all his eggs in Tom Suozzi’s basket. But after quelling a coup attempt in the Legislature to retain a Democratic majority, backing Craig Johnson’s (D-Port Washington) successful bid for the Senate seat vacated by Michael Balboni, raising millions of dollars for Sen. Hillary Clinton and mending the fence between County Executive Suozzi and former Gov. Spitzer, Jacobs has emerged as a force to be reckoned with both locally and nationally.

11. Michael Dowling
North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System President

dowlingmichaelThe onetime chief adviser to former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo joined North Shore LIJ in 1995. He’s the president and CEO of a $4 billion network that provides healthcare through 15 hospitals, a medical research institute, four long-term care facilities, three trauma centers, six home health agencies and many outpatient centers, throughout Long Island, Queens and Staten Island. Simply put: The number of lives in Dowling’s hands are innumerable. The system is the third largest nonprofit secular healthcare system in the country, and with 8,600 beds, 8,000 doctors and 10,500 nurses—and a hospital that just delivered JLo’s twins—his hands are quite full.

Stuart Rabinowitz
Hofstra University President

rabinowitz_stuPrior to being appointed president of the Hempstead-based university in December 2000, Rabinowitz served as dean of its law school for more than a decade. Rabinowitz, a distinguished professor of law, holds positions with a number of important government and community organizations on LI, including the Nassau County Health and Welfare Council and Long Island Technology Network, and is the former chair of the Nassau County Local Advisory Board and a former member of the Long Island Association board of directors. As a member of the Nassau County Commission on Government Revision, he helped draft a new charter and form of county government. Rabinowitz is also the recipient of the Martin Luther King Living the Dream Award and the Bar Association of Nassau County Proclamation for Outstanding Service to the legal profession and the community. And doing his homework paid off: Hofstra’s application proved to be the winning one, with the school beating out 19 other facilities that vied to host the third Presidential Debate this October.

Kevin Law*
Long Island Power Authority President/CEO

lawkevinIt is a rarity in the world of public service today. It’s not every day that the managing partner of one of the most highly regarded law firms on Long Island, with high-powered connections throughout the state, chooses to take a steep pay cut to serve the public good. That’s exactly what happened when Kevin Law resigned as the head of Nixon Peabody to serve under the then-newly elected County Executive Steve Levy. When friend and political ally Eliot Spitzer ascended to the governor’s mansion, many thought Law was sure to follow upstate. Instead, Long Islanders were fortunate enough to retain the multi-faceted Law as the chairman of the Long Island Power Authority to manage the nonprofit entity’s $3.7 billion budget, more than half of which pays for fuel and purchased power in a market where oil prices break records daily. Replacing the larger-than-life Richard Kessel is a challenge unto itself, but Law has approached the job with a businesslike diligence and a determination to eliminate superfluous spending that may otherwise cost LI ratepayers unnecessary dollars. Long Islanders pay the third highest energy rates in the nation; needless to say, we’re rooting for him.

14. Kirk Kordeleski

Bethpage Federal Credit Union President/CEO

kordaleskikirk2007 was no picnic for the banking industry. Poor investments, maxed-out consumer loans and consolidation have changed the face of banking as we knew it. The stodgy business banker of yesterday has been replaced by a new, sleeker model. This new model has emerged from the ashes of a beaten industry and his name is Kirk Kordeleski. Presiding over unprecedented growth at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, he has built a better mousetrap from the ground up by focusing on—get this—consumers and community. While other banks spent the past decade getting gussied up and hoping to be acquired, Kordeleski quietly built BFCU into the largest credit union on Long Island, with $3 billion in assets.

15. Robert Zimmerman
Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. Co-Founder

zimmermanrobertThe perennial Democratic heavyweight and political strategist continues to score nationally with a party that has captured the headlines in the 2008 presidential race. You can be sure Zimmerman is somewhere, lurking behind the curtains and pulling the strings. His straightforward approach and cool demeanor make him a natural television pundit and go-to-guy for political booking agents nationally. No doubt he is enjoying the power that comes with the Democrats having the House under control. And, although we don’t like to repeat ourselves, forgive us if we invoke words from Zimmerman’s 2007 Power List write-up: “Don’t say we didn’t call it when he is standing about three feet away from the next president.”

16. Kate Murray
Town Of Hempstead Supervisor

murraykateAs the first woman supervisor in Hempstead Township’s long history, Murray was elected as leader of what some describe as the last Republican stronghold in Nassau County. With the town reportedly in sound economic health, this former assemblywoman has worked toward making sure the parks system is also in good shape and has undertaken numerous green initiatives, from acquiring a fleet of electric cars and hybrid-powered garbage trucks to opening a new nature preserve in Lido Beach in 2005. But aside from the rumors that she is being groomed for an eventual run for the county executive’s seat, the single issue that may make her particularly powerful this year is the fact that the zoning board is currently debating approval of construction for The Lighthouse, the $2 billion mixed-use plan that would redevelop 150 acres surrounding the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale.

17. Steve Israel

U.S. Rep. (D-Huntington)

steveisrealThis four-term Democratic representative has several distinctions that make him stand out from the Long Island delegation. He is the Assistant Democratic Whip, serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, chairs the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Defense and Military, and co-chairs both the House Cancer Caucus and the Long Island Sound Task Force. Committee membership aside, he also earned the distinction of passing the most legislation as a first-term congressman after first being elected in 2000. Politically, he’s aligned himself as a Blue Dog Democrat, emphasizing fiscal conservancy and accountability, and is a part of the New Democrat Coalition, whose members consider themselves moderate and pro-business. And he is considered a legislative leader on the issues of energy security, professional military education and global nuclear challenges. He’s no empty suit. In 2005, Israel formed the House Center Aisle Caucus, a group of nearly 50 House Democrats and Republicans working to establish a respectful dialogue—instead of partisan attacks and insults—on contentious issues.

18. Helena E. Williams
MTA Long Island RailRoad President

williamshelenaAs the president of the MTA LIRR, Williams has her work cut out for her. However, she is well qualified for the position, having run the Long Island Bus division of the MTA and held positions in New York City and Nassau County governments. Williams, the first female president of the LIRR, is dedicated to providing a safer and happier ride on the nation’s busiest commuter rail system. During her five-year tenure as president of Long Island Bus, Williams took an eco-friendly approach, converting the diesel-motorized fleet to natural gas.  Williams’ innovation did not stop there: She implemented the MetroCard, initiated new paratransit service and developed an employee availability program that dramatically cut costs. As deputy county executive under Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, she helped in the turnaround of the county’s finances.

19. Peter King
U.S. Rep (R-seaford)

kingpeterIt has probably been a strange year for Peter King: Before the 2007 elections, King was riding a massive wave of power through Washington. But once the Dems took the House of Representatives, it became a little unclear as to who had the real muscle down in D.C. King, though, continues to be a talk show mainstay, and has remained true to his issues. This year, he announced he would join with Sen. John Kerry and political talk show host Bill O’Reilly to ensure better care for returning Middle East veterans. Last week, King scored big points when he was one of the first to publicly call for former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign after the sex scandal that destroyed Spitzer’s career got out. With Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton killing each other and Sen. John McCain the clear front-runner for the GOP, maybe King will have his day at the top again soon. Either way, at least King continues to use his position wisely.

20. Resi Cooper
Government/Labor Relations Consultant

cooperresi2For years, Resi Cooper was U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s front woman on LI. Then Cooper opened up her own consulting business, her first client being none other than Democratic presidential hopeful Clinton herself. Coupled with her contacts and undeniable personality, Cooper gets things done. She has also been the magic bullet for Broadwater in the company’s fight to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound. Although this consultant has remained under the radar for the past year—on the campaign trail—we have a feeling that it won’t be long until she’s back, especially if her biggest client ends up in the White House.

21. Frank Castagna
Castagna Realty Company, Inc.

frank_castagnaFrank Castagna has been a driving force in the real estate development and management business for more than 50 years with Castagna Realty. He’s been associated with Long Island Universtiy for decades, serving for nine years as chairman of the Council of Overseers for the Rose and Gilbert Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, collaborating with the Tilles family to fulfill the vision of a great cultural arts center on Long Island. The philanthropist also serves as president of the board of trustees of the Nassau County Museum of Art and is on the board of directors of both Old Westbury Gardens and the Anti-Defamation League. Castagna has also given us the Americana Mall—L.I.’s own Rodeo Drive. It is the place to shop and to be seen. And if you are shopping in the stores at the Americana, well, you might be a Power Lister yourself one day.

22. Boomer Esiason
WFAN-AM Radio Host/Boomer Esiason Foundation Founder

esiasonboomer_cSince hanging up the cleats in 1997, the West Islip native has remained a football fixture, thanks to an NFL Today studio gig at CBS, a talk show on MSG and analyst duty with Westwood One radio. He even scored a movie role alongside The Rock in The Game Plan in 2007. But when he teamed with Craig Carton to rescue the FAN from the Don Imus mess, a new Esiason emerged. The Xs and Os of the gridiron largely disappeared and he became your best fishing buddy, often regaling listeners with Long Island tales that we can all relate to. Unlike so many other Long Island celebrities, Boomer didn’t leave the Island behind. His newfound fame on WFAN has provided even more of a platform for the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which he started 15 years ago after his son Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

23. David Mejias
Nassau County Legislator (D-North Massapequa)

mejiasdaveA year has passed since Mejias made a run for   U.S. Congress and took on fellow Power Lister U.S. Rep. Peter King. While the race went the way of the popular incumbent, Mejias did boost his national profile as a rising star in the party, proving himself as a successful fund-raiser and relentless campaigner. Last fall, Mejias once again stared down the GOP when he won reelection in his district by just a little more than 200 votes. The GOP threw everything but the kitchen sink at him along the way, spending more than $1 million to take him out. Now, rumors are swirling that Mejias could make a real run at the New York State Senate seat of Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), which puts him in a double power position this year. If he wins the state senate seat, he could swing the majority to the Democrats. But his legislative seat is fragile and losing it would give the GOP a local majority. Nothing is official, but if Mejias goes for it, you can bet the state party will back him in the most crucial state race in decades.

24. Evelyn Ain
Autism United President/Spectrum Magazine Publisher

ainevelyn2One in 150. That’s the low-end official estimate of how many American children are on the autism spectrum. And Ain, a mother of one of those children, represents the interests of all those kids and their families through her ongoing work as an autism and developmental disabilities advocate. After her son Matthew was diagnosed, she launched Spectrum magazine, a bimonthly national magazine for families with autistic and developmentally disabled children. Last April, she co-founded the national advocacy group Autism United, helped establish two local resource centers with programs for disabled individuals, and is currently fighting for schools to provide necessary therapies and services to autistic students. Often found lobbying in Albany, another of her causes is protecting children who age out of their programs. There’s still a long way to go, but with people like Ain clearing the way, the future is definitely looking more promising. For this group of children who often cannot speak for themselves, Ain is the most important voice on our list.

25. William Savino

Rivkin Radler LLP Managing Partner

savinobillYou know that image of a stodgy old lawyer, sitting at a huge conference table and boring people to tears with rhetoric and legalese? Well, that is not Bill Savino. Since taking over the reins at Rivkin Radler, Long Island’s largest law firm, Savino has infected anyone he meets with his boundless energy and incredible zest for life. His accomplishments as an attorney are known throughout the legal world. Outside the office, Savino serves as a member of the board of directors of Fireman’s Fund Indemnity Corporation, chairs the board of directors of Long Island’s United Way and serves as a member of the board of directors of the Long Island Association and Fair Media Council, where he serves as general counsel. He is past president of the Nassau County Bar Association and Villanova University Alumni Association, and still sits on the boards of both organizations. You have to drink lots of coffee to keep up with him. And don’t get in his way, either.

26. Laura Ahearn

Parents for Megan’s Law (PFML) and Crime Victims Center (CVC) Executive Director

ahearnlaura_cAhearn founded the Stony Brook-based grassroots victims and community advocacy organization that through a decade of her focused efforts has grown to national prominence. This social worker is a recognized expert in child sexual assault prevention, victims’ services and Megan’s Law, a leader that the powerless and powerful turn to when they need facts and a fearless advocate to speak out. Under her stewardship, PFML launched a Crime Victims Center, also in Stony Brook, to secure benefits and services for victims of violent crimes. Ahearn’s efforts were recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the New York State Crime Victims Board, who presented her with the Outstanding Victim Advocate Award in 2007.  She recently secured major funding for the agency from Congress to initiate a nationwide cutting-edge sex offender e-mail alert/mapping and community support program that will debut on LI. Work with her, stand behind her or get out of the way—she remains an unstoppable voice for victims and the community.

27. Patti Wood
Grassroots Environmental Education Executive Director

woodpattiIn an attempt to educate the public about the dangers of exposure to toxins common to our environment, Patti Wood and her husband Doug Wood founded Grassroots Environmental Education in 2000 in Port Washington. The organization has identified the causes of 90 percent of the harmful toxins children are exposed to at school, and Wood has been advocating for safer cleaning products, the elimination of pesticides and the adoption of a “no-idling” policy for school buses. Port Washington became the first school district in New York State to adopt the policy, one that has since gone national. Wood, a visiting scholar at Adelphi University, preached “green” long before it became trendy, and the organization continues to provide invaluable information on toxins.

28. Howard Fensterman
Managing Partner at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger, LLP

fenstermanhoward3rightFensterman’s ties to power are undeniable. His firm has steadily grown over the past several years and has not only attracted powerful clients but powerful attorneys as well. Fensterman was able to woo power broker Bruce Blakeman to become a partner in the firm, which is one of the largest healthcare law firms in New York. With an aging population increasingly reliant on healthcare, this specialty would appear to be a coveted niche. Outside of law, Fensterman is also the chairman of the Nassau County IDA, serves as the vice chairman of the Democratic Party Judicial Screening Committee of Nassau and is the LI finance chair for both Andrew Cuomo and Charles Schumer. Told you he was tied in.

29. Jerry Laricchiuta
Nassau County Civil Service Employees Association Local 830 President

laricchuitajerry2It’s not hard to get people to listen when you’re the president of the largest labor union on LI. Laricchiuta made history three years ago, when he beat an incumbent for the seat by a two-to-one margin. Since then, he has had an entire union behind him when he needs to get things done. He’s been a very visible and vocal defender of his members, testifying before the Legislature to ensure new hires and proper procedure at Nassau County’s troubled Cedar Creek sewage treatment plant in Wantagh. Consequently, he’s also become a bit of a thorn in the side of county management—an indication that he’s doing exactly what people voted him in to do.

30. Jon Cooper
Suffolk County Legislator (D-Lloyd Harbor)

cooperjon3Cooper has been a strong advocate for gay rights and animal protection, and for the use of surveillance cameras in high-crime areas. He scored both a professional and personal victory with the creation of a domestic partner registry in the county, granting such privileges as hospital visitation rights to couples. It was Cooper who authored the first countywide law in the country banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving, and he has introduced a historic environmental protection initiative to preserve open space and farmland and protect wildlife, ecosystems and other environmental elements. The Legislature’s majority leader has also been chosen as LI campaign chairman by presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama.

31. Rev. Allan Ramirez

Pastor/Immigration Advocate

ramirezrevallan2He’s the pastor at Brookville Reformed Church and chairman of the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights, but readers are more likely to know him as the man who comes to the defense of day laborers, undocumented immigrants and the otherwise disenfranchised Hispanics on LI. The Ecuadorian immigrant has become so outspoken on the issue that he’s been featured as a talking head on CNN and other national TV news programs. But most of the time, he is butting heads with local politicians who oppose legislation that would help—or propose legislation that makes life harder for—the people he advocates for. Ramirez is a polarizing figure by nature, given the sharp immigration debate divide on the Island. He was recently profiled in a Smithsonian Institute documentary about Latino success stories in America. Love him or hate him, he’s a high-profile man of the cloth and one of the few unelected public figures who has a constituency that relies on him as the face of their cause.

32. Frank MacKay
Independence Party of America/New York State Chairman

mackayfrankc2Maybe America really is tired of the two-party system. And in an increasingly confusing field of political opponents, third-party candidates may have a chance to make their bones. MacKay has become a serious power in political circles. Not long ago, Independence Party fund-raisers had a radical, hometown feel. Under MacKay, the party has blossomed into a must-visit, must-court entity, with candidates at every level. If he keeps his course, MacKay could become a real kingmaker in the very near future.

33. Karen Joy Miller
Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition Founder/President

millerkarenAfter being diagnosed with breast cancer at 42, Miller wanted to know how and why she got cancer and how she could have prevented getting the disease. Since then, she has become an expert on the subject, helping to inform others on how to prevent breast cancer and other environmental diseases. In 1992, she founded the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, a not-for-profit grassroots organization designed to educate people on awareness and prevention, and help those coping with the disease. She also founded Prevention is the Cure, which believes that disease is not caused by genes alone but by the interaction of environment triggers and genetics.

34. Sal Ferro
Alure Home Improvements, inc. President

ferrosal2If you’ve ever watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on TV, chances are you already know that Ferro doesn’t just design homes, he makes dreams come true. His company, Alure Home Improvements, can build homes in less than a week, and was among a group of builders selected from across the country to lead the construction of a home in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans for the show’s season finale. Alure, honored in 2007 with a Forbes Enterprise Award for visionary practices and achievements, is focused on specialization, employing experts in every area of home design. And the company’s also gone green, offering a new line of eco-friendly products, services, and professional advice to help you make your home a healthier one.

35. James Morgo*

Chief Deputy County Executive Suffolk County and Department Of Economic Development And Workforce Housing Commissioner

morgojames03esto2After sitting as the president and CEO of the Long Island Housing Partnership for 16 ½ years, Morgo was handpicked by County Exec Steve Levy to spearhead the development of workforce housing in Suffolk, making the commissioner a hero to some, and the opposite to antidevelopment activists. He’s seen and heard it all when it comes to living on LI, and he’s the gatekeeper for thousands of acres of Suffolk land. Now, as Steve Levy’s No. 2 guy, Morgo has an undeniable ability to get things done. Coupled with a strong rep as a straight shooter, Suffolk residents have a real gem watching their backs.

36. W. Hubert Keen, Ph.D.
SUNY Farmingdale President

keenwhubertEarly in his career, before becoming the eighth president of the SUNY College at Farmingdale, Keen spent 18 years rising through the ranks, from coordinator of environmental science programs to dean of Arts and Sciences at SUNY College at Cortland. After earning his doctorate in ecology from Kent State, he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at City University of New York’s York College from 1994-98, and until 1999 was interim president at SUNY Old Westbury. Keen was also special assistant to the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at SUNY System Administration in Albany, from 1999 to 2005, before serving as Farmingdale’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Above all, Keen brings a powerful fundraising background to Farmingdale, which could help transform the school. You can bet this will not be the last time Keen is on the Power List.

37. Anthony Curto, Esq.*
Forchelli, Curto, Schwartz, Mineo, Carlino & Cohn, LLP Partner

curtoanthonyCurto first came to LI to practice law in 1981 and by 1991, had founded Curtin, Barton & Alesi, P.C., which merged with this firm in 1999. The prominent Mineola-based attorney has an extensive background in commercial law and has practiced law for nearly half a century, representing such celebrities as Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the late Harry Chapin, and Liza Minnelli. He is also dedicated to LI’s community-based and not-for-profit organizations and is the recipient of both a Congressional Achievement Award and Martin Luther King Living the Dream Service Award.

38. John Staluppi
Superstar Auto Group President, Philanthropist

staluppijohn2The largest volume auto group in New York State, with another two dealerships in Las Vegas, achieved that distinction by growing its business one dealership at a time on LI. Staluppi, the seasoned leader of LI’s largest auto sales operation, has seen lots of ups and downs, adapted to changes in the marketplace and still maintains his status, operating some of the most profitable lots. Just mention the name “Atlantic Auto Mall” and the baritone radio announcer’s voice calling out the latest sales comes to mind, a testament to the longevity of this group. Add it all up and that’s a lot of horsepower. Plus, for an Island and a society that loves its cars, it makes sense to have one of the biggest dealers around on this list.

39. Steve Bellone*
Town Of Babylon Supervisor

bellonesteve3Bellone, who was elected Babylon Town Supervisor in 2002, has come to the forefront of the green movement. This lifelong Babylon resident has made the environment his central issue by mandating environmentally responsible construction and encouraging residents to make their homes more energy efficient. But just because this is his core issue doesn’t mean it’s the only one he’s worried about. With Babylon being home to half of the bustling Route 110 corridor, Bellone is also courting biotechnology businesses to the area,  widely referred to as the most promising region, economically speaking. Since becoming supervisor, he has taken on many initiatives to improve life in the Town of Babylon, including the Beautification Program, Millennium Committee and the first made-for-television documentary on the history of the Town of Babylon, which he wrote and produced.

40. Diana Coleman*
Roosevelt Community Activist

colemandianaThis forceful community activist wears many hats in her quest to make life better for the oft-neglected “little guy.” She is vice chair of the Nassau County Board of Health, co-chair of the Long Island Progressive Coalition and on the executive boards of the Nassau chapters of the Working Families Party and the New York Civil Liberties Union. She is known by many in the community as the co-founder of the anti-racism group United People for Social, Economic and Racial Justice (UPSERJ) and as former chair of the board of the Hempstead-based Economic Opportunity Commission, where she still works. Some may also remember her as one of the lead plaintiffs that forced Nassau County to have everyone’s property reassessed. And, aside from being an effective advocate, she is also one of the most humorous and sharp-witted people on this list.

41. John Kominicki
Long Island Business News CEO/Publisher

kominicki-johnFor Kominicki, it is not about being the boss at the Island’s largest business publication. It’s not about being a writer, either, or even a blogger. What makes him tick is what he does for the community. This former New York Times and USA Today writer and editor, who headed publications in Texas and Oklahoma before settling in Stony Brook, still finds time to make his presence felt around town as one of the board of directors for Vision Long Island, supporting economic and developmental growth in the region. Kominicki has been recognized for many of his community efforts on Long Island, including being honored as an SBA small-business advocate and receiving Dowling College’s Distinguished Citizen Award. Kominicki is a perfect marriage of hippie and Republican. A good mix, indeed.

42. Jeff Frayler
Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President

fraylerjeffSuffolk County PBA President Jeff Frayler has a lot of juice. For one thing, the organization’s endorsement can be gold—some pols have sold their souls for its blessing during elections. Of course, citizens want to live in a safe place and the cops are what make it that way. In January, with the unsettled PBA contract still in arbitration, a letter was sent to police headquarters and the county’s seven precincts asking officers to rile up the public and rally support for its side in the negotiation process. All eyes immediately turned to Frayler, although he denies his involvement. Either way, Frayler never lets things get boring.

43. James Kelly
JV Kelly Group, Inc. CEO

kellyjimThis CEO, also the executive director of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, is extremely active in charting the course of major corporations in expense management solutions while still staying rooted in local Long Island life. In other words, Kelly is a high-powered business consultant with a who’s who client roster. Kelly currently serves as a board member of the New York division of the National Association of Purchasing Managers, of which he used to be president. But he really made his mark on the LI business community when he rescued the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce from the brink of financial ruin.

44. Michael Geiger
Republic Airport Director

geigermikeFor almost 25 years, Geiger has been working on LI for the state Department of Transportation. A licensed private pilot and professional engineer, he certainly has the know-how when it comes to aircraft. So, it was not a reach when Geiger replaced former Republic Airport Director Hugh Jones three years ago. Republic, the third busiest airport in New York State—we’re sure you can guess the other two—has about 500  planes on more than 500 acres. Republic also houses an important aircraft museum that celebrates the role LI has had in the aviation industry, while overseeing two flight schools
and two fixed-base operators—all at an airport that handles as many as 170,000 flights every year. Republic is an important stop for corporate jets and private planes. Geiger has them under his wing.

Theresa Rizzuto
LI Islip MacArthur Airport Aviation and Transportation Commissioner

rizzutoteresa1Rizzuto knows what it takes to keep an airport moving. In 1992, she started her career as a baggage handler at Kennedy Airport. But her abilities helped her leapfrog through several managerial positions there. It all led to her heading to Newark Liberty International, to become the general manager and command a staff of hundreds. Now, not only is she back on LI, but she holds a serious gig. Heading up Islip MacArthur is no joke. Up to 80 flights per day come in and out of the terminals, traveling to and from destinations all over the country. The largest carrier at Islip, Southwest Airlines, is still on the grow. And with the Federal Aviation Administration hoping to divert flights from Metro New York’s already overburdened major airports, Rizutto is poised to become even more powerful in the industry as Islip MacArthur takes flight.

45. Mark Broxmeyer
Fairfield Properties President/Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs Chairman

broxmeyermarkBroxmeyer is a powerhouse fundraiser. So much so, in fact, that he is a vice-chair on the fundraising committee for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. He is a passionate defender of Israel, and has chaired the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) since 2002, making him one of the self-made industrialists at the head of one of the most powerful pro-Israel organization in the United States. He made his fortune as a co-founder and partner of Commack-based Fairfield Properties, a nationwide multiple-housing developer/owner and largest operator of apartment complexes on LI. His experience with JINSA and as a fundraiser also got him named special advisor for homeland security affairs by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. While Hillary and Barack fight it out, Broxmeyer’s camp is sitting pretty. There is no primary in their future, and should McCain win, Broxmeyer will have some serious ties to Washington.

46. Yvonne Grant

Girl Scouts Of Suffolk County Executive Director

grantyvonneWith headquarters in Commack, several satellite locations across the county, two summer camps and dozens of employees, the Girl Scouts is famous for more than just cookies: As the state’s largest council, it serves more than 43,000 Suffolk County girls. Grant, a former troop leader, has been helping to grow the organization for almost 30 years, working her way up the ranks while holding just about every job possible. From teaching environmental conscientiousness to fitness awareness to creating the annual holiday light show, she continues to be a driving force behind the Girl Scouts of Suffolk, while molding the leaders of tomorrow, one cookie box sale at a time.

47. Lawrence C. Levy*
Hofstra University Suburban Studies Center Executive Director

levylarryThis Pulitzer Prize finalist was named the only senior editorial writer for Newsday before becoming the head of the new Hofstra center last year. He joined the LI daily in 1977 as a local reporter and later served as assistant Long Island editor, Nassau County bureau chief and an Albany and Washington correspondent. Levy, who grew up in the suburbs, dedicated his career as a columnist and journalist to informing suburbanites on Long Island and throughout the country about important issues such as politics, taxes, land use, education and healthcare. Few have the sharp experience and insight of this insider, who’s now been busted loose. Heaven help us all.­­­­

48. Joseph Mottola
Long island Board of realtors/MLS CEO

matolajosephJoseph Mottola has spent the past 35 years in the housing industry, both public and private, but there have been few times that the marketplace that is his lifeblood has been so shaky. Still, a buyer’s market is on the horizon, once the subprime lending crisis resolves and interest rates get as low as they’ll go (and they can’t get much lower). As the CEO of the 23,000-member Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR), Motolla leads the largest local realtor association in the country, which is poised to take advantage of the inevitable housing rebound. To keep himself busy when not brokering deals, he is also the CEO of the for-profit LIBOR subsidiary Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, the sixth largest MLS in the country, which encompasses more than 2,650 cooperating real estate offices.

49. Scott Rudolph
NBTY Inc. Chairman/CEO

rudolphscottRudolph has proven that the organic and natural growth at NBTY, Inc. in Bohemia can represent both its products and its business. Under Rudolph, Nature’s Bounty, a major manufacturer of vitamins and nutritional supplements, has seen promising increases within its market within the last few years and continues to dominate its industry. He has been the driving force of the company’s expansion. Rudolph believed in merging with other companies in the industry to appeal to a wider market, in order to deliver the highest quality nutritional supplements with the best value to NBTY Inc.’s customers. He has worked for NBTY Inc. since 1986 and led the company to be chosen as one of Fortune magazine’s 100 fastest-growing companies in America in 2004. He served as chairman of the Dowling College board from 1997 through 2000, and currently serves on its board of trustees.

50. Martin Tankleff
Fought The Law And Won

tankleffmartinJust 17 when he was convicted of murdering his parents, Tankleff fought for his freedom from 1988 until December 2007, when he was released from prison, his conviction overturned by a state appeals court. Suffolk County law enforcement is now under investigation regarding its conduct in the conviction. Thanks to a persistent defense team and private investigator’s belief that his confession had been coerced, a jury has been empaneled for a new trial. The Hofstra University law student, now living under a difficult-to-shake cloud of suspicion, has earned a special place on this list for winning his long-fought battle. Although the New York State attorney general won’t decide until June whether Tankleff will be charged again and retried following a fresh investigation into the Belle Terre killings, this astonishing reversal of fortune leads observers to believe that justice won’t be blind this time around.

More articles filed under Long Island News,News,Power List,Special Series


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