Jul 28, 2014
Partly Cloudy

The Top 5 LI Newsmakers Of 2013

A retrospective of people who made big headlines and big impact on Long Island this year.

The Top 5 LI Newsmakers Of 2013

Every year a handful of Long Islanders seem to be repeatedly in the news. Whether spearheading legislation, lending a hand to improve their community or leading the charge in our education system, these individuals made their presence felt in the year 2013. Now, as we head into the final days of this year, we look back on the five people who were top of mind in 2013.

Dr. Joseph Rella, Comsewogue School District Superintendent

In the world of education, and more specifically, the controversy surrounding the Common Core Curriculum standards now imposed across New York State, few names are as recognizable as Dr. Joseph Rella, the  superintendent of the Comsewogue School District in Port Jefferson. Rella is one of the few top administrators to publicly speak out against the Common Core, and he has turned into somewhat of an educational folk hero. His 2013 comes replete with a challenge to state officials to remove him from his post. Here’s a look at some of the headlines.

His open letter to state officials caught a lot of attention.

Help Us Or Remove Me

The letter went viral across social media and more traditional platforms.

Sups Letter On State Testing Goes Viral, Rallies Support

He has become a conduit for other critics of the new teacher evaluation process (APPR) to share their displeasure.

Super Joe Rella Promotes Satirical APPR YouTube Video

He has led anti-Common Core rallies on the grounds of Comsewogue Schools.

Watch: Comsewogue School District Rallies Against Common Core, State Testing

New York State Assemblyman Al Graf (R) Holbrook

At the state level, no elected official has been more vocal in 2013 about Common Core, standardized tests, and the educational system than Assemb. Al Graf of Holbrook, who actually introduced a bill that would withdraw the state from participation in the national Common Core standards.

He made headlines when he reacted to standardized test scores that proved troubling for the Sachem School District, which is in his district.

Local Leaders React To Test Scores

In the midsts of his campaign to “Fix NY Schools,” Graf moved his headquarters to Main Street in Holbrook.

Assemblyman Graf Boasts New Digs

He also attended rallies criticizing state education initiatives and to push for more state aid.

Graf, Nolan, To Attend Rally Challenging Cuomo

But the biggest news out of his camp was his decision to draft a bill that calls for New York’s withdrawal from Common Core.

Assemblyman Poised To Introduce Common Core Repeal Bill

Billy Crystal

The native Long Beach actor/comedian, Mr. Saturday Night himself, was around Long Beach a lot in 2013, mostly centering on the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Sandy. It was a busy year for Crystal, who also launched a new book and a play based on his Long Beach days.

Crystal made regular visits to the community this past year.

Billy Crystal In Long Beach This Weekend

He also took time to procure new books for a school library in Long Beach.

Billy Crystal Secures New Books For School Library

His new book draws from his days living on Long Island.

Billy Crystal recalls living in Long Beach In New Book

HBO picked up his play “700 Sundays.”

HBO To Air Billy Crystal’s Long Beach-Themed Play

Despite a busy year in entertainment, he popped into Long Beach to help dedicate a new basketball court in the city.

Crystal, Lieberman To Snip Ribbon At LB Basketball Court

Alec Baldwin

A somewhat enigmatic and polarizing figure, East Hampton resident Alec Baldwin made a lot of headlines this year. From donating to the East Hampton Library to his frightening ordeal with a convicted stalker, Baldwin stayed busy throughout 2013 and Patch covered many of the highlights. The comments section in some of these Baldwin stories alone could qualify for another list category, proving just how hot and cold people’s opinions of him run.

His stalker won’t see pavement for a little while.

Alec Baldwin’s Stalker Gets 7 Months In Jail

The blogs even weighed in on the public’s reaction to Baldwin.

Alec Baldwin, Anger Management, and The Hamptons

In 2013 he was appointed to president of the board of trustees for Guild Hall in East Hampton.

Guild Hall Board Names Alec Baldwin President, Marty Straus Chair

Baldwin’s generous donations to the East Hampton Library is making it possible for the public institution to complete its renovation project without raising local taxes.

Alec Baldwin Donates 1 Million To East Hampton Library

A well-established fact is Baldwin’s political affiliation as a liberal supporter of the Democratic Party. This year, his political action committee faced accusations from the East Hampton Republican Party that it broke the rules governing campaign finances.

East Hampton GOP: Alec Baldwin’s Committee Violates Campaign Finance Regs

Carole Hankin, Syosset School District Superintendent

To paraphrase Richard Nixon, you won’t have Carole Hankin to kick around anymore. This year the Syosset School District Superintendent of 23 years decided to hang it up, leaving a post that has drawn the attention (and sometimes ire) of many folks not living in Syosset. Namely, Hankin’s reported salary of more than $500,000, a number that made her one of the highest paid superintendents in the country. Her retirement and her final budget year made headlines in 2013.

Hankin oversaw a 2013-14 budget that stayed under the tax cap this year.

BOE Approves 13-14 Budget

News of her retirement came as a shock to many, including the Board of Education

Breaking: Hankin To Retire

With Hankin on the way out, Rockville Centre’s Superintendent William Johnson took over as the highest paid super in the US, with a 2011-12 salary of $567,000.

Report Names RVC Superintendent As Highest Paid In US

As Hankin waved goodbye, the Syosset School District installed her temporary replacement, Dr. Ronald Friedman.

Interim School Superintendent Named

Now, whose name will splash the headlines in 2014? Time will have to tell. Did we miss anyone? Let us know of a newsmaker you think should have made the list. 

Don’t miss updates from Patch!