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Message in a bottle
A few minutes before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo arrived Wednesday afternoon for a meeting with Newsday’s editorial board, a member of his advance team came into the board’s conference room with a six-pack of Coke.
They were 8-ounce bottles, and they were empty. And the advance man placed one of them next to the bottle of water at the governor’s seat.
It clearly was a prop, but for what? One board member proposed that since the board had written on Sunday about the recycling crisis on Long Island and New York, Cuomo was going to use the bottle to make a pitch for building a Long Island factory that turns recycled glass into new bottles and creates jobs.
Shortly into the session, during a conversation about transportation and improvements being made to the Long Island Rail Road, Cuomo picked up the bottle and turned it on its side.
“This is you,” he said, “and you don’t get around that.”
Then he pointed to the mouth of the bottle and added, “Especially with what’s happening here.”
The neck of the bottle represented a bottleneck, Cuomo’s way of illustrating the region’s main transportation problem — the difficulty of getting off Long Island.
“The economy on the Island itself is doing much better,” Cuomo said, “but you still sell proximity to Manhattan and you have to figure this out.”
He came back to the point several times, like when he expressed his commitment to the alternative of a deep water port in Shoreham by saying, “Look at the bottle.”
As part of his re-election campaign, Cuomo has been promoting his big transportation and other infrastructure projects — like the LIRR’s second track and third track projects, East Side Access, the new Tappan Zee bridge, and the renovations of JFK and LaGuardia airports.
“We’re building more than had ever been built since Robert Moses and I’m not even sure Robert Moses did more,” Cuomo said, referring to the master builder of the last century. “We’re adding it up.”
Toward the end of the wide-ranging, 92-minute session, after being peppered with questions about his future plans for the region, Cuomo posed a question: “Name a governor who has done more for Long Island than I have.”
After a few moments of silence, someone noted that his late father, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, supported and signed the legislation that created the protected Pine Barrens area in the 1990s.
“Ohhhhh, my dad did the Pine Barrens,” the current governor said, with a nod and a wistful smile.
Chaotic confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh filtered down to Long Island politics on Wednesday, after Rep. Pete King posted on Facebook about what he called “Nazi Beer Hall tactics” and “disruptive, hysterical outbursts and demonstrations.”
He was referring to the actions of various protesters, many of them female, some of whom got arrested while criticizing the U.S. Senate proceedings on Tuesday.
Soon, his Democratic opponent Liuba Grechen Shirley was out with a statement calling out King’s criticism of the protesters and his use of the term “hysterical,” which she called misogynistic.
The rhetoric was bound to heat up in this slugfest, where Amityville resident Grechen Shirley hopes to be as successful as Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who Tuesday night took down longtime Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano, the latest example of a hardworking Democratic challenger stunning a comfortable opponent in a primary.
Now, Grechen Shirley is up with a $38,000 cable ad buy focusing on her family’s struggles with a health insurance company after her son broke his leg. Her campaign also paid for Facebook and Instagram ads asking people to share their health care stories.
In neighboring CD1, Perry Gershon of East Hampton last week bought $106,000 worth of TV ads on News 12 and other cable channels against Rep. Lee Zeldin, Republican of Shirley.
Gershon, too, focuses on the high cost of health care while featuring his parents, who joke that they wanted him to be a doctor.
“Is it too late for med school?” his mother asks at the end.
Kicking and screaming
The missing ingredient
There’s one key ingredient to making any plan to redevelop the Nassau Hub a reality:
Even with a partnership between developer Scott Rechler’s RXR Realty and BSE Global, which manages Nassau Coliseum, even with the Town of Hempstead’s existing zoning and support from Nassau County officials, it’s unlikely that any development will happen at the Hub without money from the state.
The county has hoped for $85 million for parking garages — money that state officials previously had budgeted but that requires a new commitment since there’s a new plan — along with $20 million toward bringing a life sciences tenant, and another $20 million toward pedestrian bridges and a bus rapid transit system to the area’s Long Island Rail Road stops.
Now, the county is a step closer, since RXR and BSE have proposed a plan for the Hub, complete with housing, retail and the possibility of bringing Mount Sinai Health Network to the site. Long Island Association chief executive Kevin Law told The Point that he is setting up a meeting between county and state officials this month. State officials confirmed that they’d be willing to meet with the county regarding the Hub.
The state funds the county is seeking are mostly from a pot of money meant for “transformational” development projects — so County Executive Laura Curran will have to convince the state that the RXR-BSE plan meets that threshold.
But after decades of an arena surrounded by asphalt, just getting a shovel in the ground would be something transformational at the Hub.
Randi F. Marshall