We're officially in a new decade.
While there's much we can't predict about the future, we're not heading into 2020 totally in the dark.
We dug through our past coverage, our calendars and our beat notes to find some clues about what we can expect in the new year on Long Island — from local politics, business and crime to entertainment, restaurants and more.
January New laws, trial in Evelyn Rodriguez death
No more cash bail, more criminal justice reforms. Sweeping statewide changes to the criminal justice system will be rolled out beginning Jan. 1. The new laws, approved in April, eliminate cash bail for defendants facing misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges — the bulk of all criminal defendants — so that their ability to pay no longer will determine whether they have to remain in jail while awaiting a court date. Police will also be required to issue court appearance tickets to most suspects charged with misdemeanors and Class E felonies, the lowest-level felony, rather than taking the suspects into custody. Advocates say the law will mean 90 percent of those charged will be freed without bail, rather than languishing for weeks and sometimes months awaiting a court appearance without being convicted of a crime.
Judges will have some discretion in evaluating whether a suspect is a risk for fleeing. The bail law is expected to release hundreds of inmates now in county jails that haven’t been convicted of a crime.
The new laws also require prosecutors meet a tightened 15-day deadline to turn over evidence such as police reports, photos, electronic recordings and witness information to the defense, and share information with defendants to review when they're deciding whether to enter into guilty pleas.
Coverage for IVF, contraception. Beginning Jan. 1, the state will require many New York companies with at least 100 employees to offer health insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization, as well as certain other fertility treatments. In addition, many companies, regardless of size, must cover egg retrieval and freezing, or sperm freezing when it’s medically necessary to preserve fertility for patients facing chemotherapy or other treatments that affect fertility. Patients still will have to meet their customary deductibles and copays for medical treatments, but then insurance coverage will take over.
The state will also require health insurance providers to cover all contraceptive drugs, devices, sterilizations, emergency contraception and products approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Healthcare providers will also have to cover follow-up services and counseling, all without requiring copays. A religious employer could request an insurance policy without coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives if they conflict with the employer’s religious beliefs.
College aid for undocumented immigrants. Another new law comes after years of contentious debate in Albany. The Sen. Jose Peralta New York State Dream Act is a $27 million program to provide college financial aid to undocumented immigrants, who often were brought to the United States as children.
New leadership in LI towns. The Town of Hempstead will be getting a new supervisor as Donald X. Clavin Jr. is sworn into office. He replaces Democrat Laura Gillen and returns the town’s highest elected office to Republican control following a contentious two-year term. Republican Kate Murray, who served as town supervisor from 2003 to 2015, will also be sworn in to the town clerk position after defeating incumbent Sylvia Cabana. Fellow Republican Jeanine Driscoll will replace Clavin as the town's receiver of taxes.
Riverhead will also swear in its new supervisor, Yvette Aguiar, a Republican who is a retired NYPD counterterrorism sergeant. Aguiar ousted Democrat Laura Jens-Smith, who was the town's first female supervisor, but she will also make history as the town’s first Latina supervisor.
In Shelter Island Town, a familiar face returns to the supervisor position, as former town supervisor and Democrat Gerard F. Siller takes over. He defeated incumbent Gary J. Gerth, a Republican who had been serving his first term.
In Long Beach, Michael Delury joins the city council. He's the first Republican elected to the council in a decade. Democrats Karen McInnis and Elizabeth Treston also join the city council after incumbents Anissa Moore, who had served as city council president, Anthony Eramo and Chumi Diamond were ousted.
Oyster Bay is also getting a new town clerk, Republican Richard LaMarca, and receiver of taxes, Republican Jeffrey Pravato. Republican Andrew Raia is the new Huntington town clerk, Democrat Jennifer Montiglio is Babylon's new receiver of taxes and Meredith Lipinsky is Riverhead's newest town assessor. There's also a handful of changes on town councils and boards based on the results of the November election.
Trial in Evelyn Rodriguez death. Ann Marie Drago was charged with running over and killing anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez in September 2018 while the two were arguing on a Brentwood cul-de-sac about a memorial to Rodriguez's daughter, Kayla Cuevas. Cuevas, 16, and her friend Nisa Mickens, 15, were found dead at that spot two years before. The girls are believed to have been killed by MS-13 gang members, and Rodriguez gained national prominence in speaking out about the gang's violence. Drago's trial is expected to begin this month.
Ban on vaping products. Beginning Jan. 1, flavored vaping products will be banned for sale in Nassau County. The proposal passed the Nassau County legislature in November by a vote of 18-0 and was signed into law by County Executive Laura Curran. “Nassau County is one of the first municipalities, one of the first counties in New York, to pass this ban,” said Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview), a sponsor of the bill. The bill has a few exceptions and allows flavorless and tobacco, mint or menthol flavored e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine products to be sold. Fines would range from $500 to $1,000 for first offenses, and $1,000 to $2,000 for subsequent offenses.
New York State’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes never went into effect because, after a vape industry group filed a lawsuit, a state appeals court in October blocked it from being enforced. The matter is still in the courts. The state health panel that instituted the ban recently extended it and is considering a permanent ban – to be enforced when the courts allow it – that would include menthol. Meanwhile, a flavor-ban bill introduced by Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) in 2019 will be considered in January by an Assembly committee.
A new restaurant from the Scotto brothers. Until last month, Anthony Scotto had not opened an Italian restaurant on Long Island for more than 50 years. A herd of steakhouses, catering halls to seat thousands, yes. But One10 in Melville, was the first Italian concept he’s launched since Scotto’s Pizzeria and Restaurant debuted in Port Washington in 1967. One10 opened its doors in December for special events only, but this month, it's expected to be serving lunch and dinner as well.
See ya, Styrofoam. A ban on the use of products made of polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, in Nassau County goes into effect on Jan. 1. These products are not recycled and are known to pollute air and waterways. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed the ban into law in June — while holding a mock funeral with an open coffin for "Mr. Styrofoam," a figurine built from the products — but gave businesses the rest of the year to use up their supplies and find alternatives before it takes effect. Those not complying with the ban can be fined, with penalties ranging from $500 to $2,500.
Record LIRR ridership: In January, the LIRR is expected to announce a new modern ridership record for 2019. Through October, the railroad had already carried about 1.5 million more riders than during the same period in 2018--a year in which the railroad went on to carry about 89.8 million passengers, the most in about 70 years.
Early 2020 HPV vaccine requirement may be considered
HPV vaccine requirement. State lawmakers may vote sometime before the summer on a measure that would require elementary school children to be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. Supporters of the measure say it’s needed because the virus is highly contagious and can lead to cancer. Opponents say it would violate parents’ rights and encourage young people to have sex.
February MS-13 gang prosecutions, Kmart's last stand
MS-13 gang prosecutions. The coming year may see some Long Island members of MS-13 face the death penalty if they are tried and convicted of murders at trial in federal court. The federal government has ended a moratorium on federal executions for the first time in sixteen years; however, the Supreme Court at the beginning of December temporarily blocked the immediate implementation of the death penalty because of a challenge to the method used in federal execution.
As part of an ongoing process, though, an Eastern District federal prosecutor said in November that his office is planning to send in February to the Justice Department in Washington recommendations as to whether several members of MS-13 should face the death penalty if convicted at trial, along with defense attorneys arguments against seeking the death penalty. Among the MS-13 members whose cases will be forwarded, the prosecutor said, is that of two brothers, Alexi Saenz and Jairo Saenz, the leaders of the Brentwood clique of the street gang, who are accused of seven murders, including the 2016 ones of Brentwood High School teens, Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens.
The forwarding is just part of a complicated process in which several layers of committees in main Justice review the cases and make their recommendations, with further input from local prosecutors and defense attorneys. But the ultimate decision on whether to seek the death penalty is up to the attorney general. And Barr would have to make a decision before any trial could be scheduled.
Kmart last's stand on LI. And then there was one. Long Island’s second to last Kmart, the store located in Sayville, is scheduled to close on Feb. 16, leaving only the one in Bridgehampton. The local store's closing will eliminate 78 jobs, and is among 96 Kmart and Sears stores across the country that are being shuttered, according to state filings.
The New York Open. For the third consecutive year, NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale will be home to the New York Open, an ATP 250 men’s singles and doubles tournament. (The 2018 event marked the return of professional tennis to Long Island after 10 years.) The program, which runs from Feb. 9 to Feb 15, will kick off with a free fan expo, followed by exhibition matches and a main tournament.
Deadline for voters. The window to change your political party affiliation in New York before the April and June primaries is about to close on Feb. 14. A measure signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in September had extended the deadline from Oct. 11, 2019 to give voters an extra four months — and a chance to take in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries — before making a decision.
Post Malone's first LI concert. Grammy Award-nominated rap star Post Malone makes his Long Island debut this month. He will headline a concert at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 19 as part of his Runaway Tour with guests Swae Lee and Tyla Yaweh.
March Manganos' sentencing
Manganos to be sentenced. The sentencings for former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda — who were convicted of federal corruption charges earlier this year — had been scheduled for December 2019, but a judge rescheduled both to March 19 at the request of their defense attorneys. Both potentially face up to 20 years in prison.
Plastic bag ban. A statewide ban on the ubiquitous free thin plastic bags at store checkouts goes into effect March 1. The state is still fiddling with rules on how it will be implemented and whether some thicker bags would be exempt. Passed by the Legislature in 2019 and signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the ban is intended to cut down on litter and plastic usage, and encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags. It leaves it up to local governments whether to implement a five-cent fee on paper bags – which studies have found contribute more greenhouse gas emissions to the environment than plastic bags. Nassau County has no fee on paper, while Suffolk has a five cent fee that’s kept by the stores.
Celine Dion and Michael Bublé. The Grammy-award-winning singers will both be on Long Island this month, making separate stops at the Coliseum in Uniondale. Dion takes the stage March 3 for her Courage World Tour, and Bublé will be performing March 24.
Village elections. Polls will be open in several villages throughout Long Island on March 18 but it's too soon to say what positions will be on the ballots. The deadline for candidates to file has not been set yet.
Jurassic World comes to LI. Dinosaurs will be roaming the Earth, Nassau County specifically, on March 12 to 22 — well, a herd of life-size animatronic ones extending up to 40 feet long — when “Jurassic World Live” comes to NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. The arena show is inspired by the “Jurassic World” movie and is billed as “a mix between a stunt show and a 3D thrill attraction.”
Spring Farewell to Penn Station shops, yes, even Rosa's Pizza
Penn Station businesses closing. All the businesses along the Long Island Rail Road’s Penn Station concourse, including popular eateries like Shake Shack and Rose’s Pizza, will have to close this spring as part of an MTA plan to expand the pedestrian corridor in the station. It could be two years before retail properties return to the concourse.
April Presidential primary, Elton's final LI shows
A day that counts. Census Day is April 1, 2020, the once a decade count of the American population.
A long goodbye. Due to popular demand, Elton John has extended his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour that kicked off in 2018 a few times, but his concerts on the 17th and 18th of this month at the Coliseum might truly be his final shows on Long Island.
Picking presidential nominees. New York's presidential primary election will take place on April 28. Registered voters may vote in the election for the party with which they are affiliated.
Apollo 13 turns 50. Long Island's Cradle of Aviation Museum will be marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon, which was rocked by an onboard explosion, on April 23. The event will highlight the "drama and heroism" of the mission as attendees will hear first hand from those who lived through it: Apollo 13 Astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, and Mission Control Flight Directors Milt Windler, Gerry Griffin, and Gene Kranz, and NASA Engineer John Aaron are scheduled to be there. (Astronaut Jack Swigert, the command module pilot aboard Apollo 13, died in 1982.)
May The Blue Angels, new drinking water regulations
Bethpage Air Show. It's a Long Island tradition. Hundreds of thousands of people turn out to Jones Beach on Memorial Day Weekend to take in the high-flying stunts of the Bethpage Air Show. In 2020, the shows -- which will take place May 23 and May 24 -- will feature the return of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the headline attraction, along with U.S. Army Golden Knights, acrobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker and Team Oracle, the "Screamin Sasquatch, and other performers. Another popular attraction, the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II, an aircraft dubbed the “Warthog” that excels at supporting troops with low-altitude attacks, will also take to the skies this year.
New water regulations. The state has proposed new drinking water regulations for three toxic chemicals found in Long Island tap water, as water providers rush to install treatment systems that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The regulations could be adopted in April and statewide testing would start as soon as May, though the state has proposed giving water districts up to three years to meet the standard. The chemicals include 1,4-dioxane, used in industrial solvents, and a pair of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances known as “forever chemicals” because their persistence in the environment and humans. These would be the first new chemicals regulated by the state in 20 years.
Summer 2020 More Lidl for LI
More Lidl stores on the way. Discount grocer Lidl opened its first three Long Island stores in December, but plans to add eight more in 2020. Four of those stores are expected to open by summertime as the company takes over the Best Markets in East Meadow, Oakdale, Patchogue and Lake Grove. The U.S. arm of Germany-based Lidl bought 27 stores, including all 24 Best Market locations on Long Island, from the Bethpage-based company for an undisclosed price. Lidl ultimately wants to open more than 50 stores on Long Island over the next 20 years.
Facelift for Uniondale's 'main street.' A roughly $1.5 million project to spruce up Uniondale Avenue, known as the unofficial Main Street of Uniondale, and make it safer for pedestrians shoud be wrapping up around now. Expect to see new sidewalks, streetlights, benches and trees along the half-mile commercial and residential strip, according to Hempstead Town officials who worked with Nassau County on the inititiave.
June Another primary election
Time to vote again. While New Yorkers were able to vote for their picks for presidential nominees back in April, they'll have to make a second trip to the voting booth on June 23 to weigh in on Congressional and legislative candidates when the primary elections for those candidates take place.
Alanis' 25th anniversary tour. It's time to relive 1990 again as Alanis Morissette celebrates the 25th anniversary of her "Jagged Little Pill" album. Morissette will take the stage at Jones Beach on June 26 and be joined by fellow alt-rock stars from the '90s era. Garbage and Liz Phair will open up the show.
More village elections. Polls will be open in several villages throughout Long Island — those that did not hold their elections in Marchv— on June 16. It's too soon to say what positions will be on the ballots. The deadline for candidates to file has not been set yet.
July Black Crowes reunited
Black Crowes reunion. The Black Crowes, the rock band featuring once-estranged brothers Chris and Rich Robinson has officially reunited — and they will be touring in 2020 to mark the 30th anniversary of their debut album, "Shake Your Money Maker." That album will be performed in its entirety, along with other hits, when they stop at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on July 18. The tour will be the band's first since 2013, two years before Black Crowes officially disbanded. At the time, Rich Robinson issued a statement accusing Chris of unfair business practices.
Great South Bay Music Festival. The homegrown Long Island summer music event returns to Shorefront Park in Patchogue with four days of concerts on four stages from July 16 to July 19. The affair typically involves as many as 60 bands in genres ranging from classic rock to folk and funk presented in a pop-up village near the water with plenty of food vendors, crafts and entertainment.
August Sale of college campus
College selling site to developer. The sale of Touro College's School of Health Sciences campus in downtown Bay Shore to developer TRITEC Real Estate was expected to be completed this month, according to a spokeswoman for TRITEC. The developer plans to build hundreds of luxury rental apartments at the 10.3-acre site, a block away from the Long Island Rail Road train station, with the project estimated to cost $195 million. Touro agreed to sell their location to TRITEC for an undisclosed amount as the school moves to consolidate its programs to its Central Islip campus.
September LI in 'Sopranos' prequel, Newsday turns 80
Happy 80th Birthday, Newsday. The first edition of Newsday was published on Sept. 3, 1940.
'Sopranos' movie prequel. "The Many Saints of Newark," the movie prequel to the HBO mob series "The Sopranos," is expected to be released this month and you might spot a familiar location in it. Some of the scenes were filmed in Garden City at the Fairchild Sons Funeral Home.
Fall/Winter 2020 A new way into Penn
A new entrance for Penn Station. As part of the ongoing renovation project, the MTA expects to open by late 2020 a new entrance for Penn Station at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue. The new portal will include an elevator, three escalators and a stairway just in front of the LIRR’s ticket windows.
A congestion pricing plan. The MTA has said it will unveil late in 2020 the details of its “Central District Tolling” plan, which will charge motorists for driving within Manhattan below 60th Street. The MTA said it expects to generate $1 billion in new toll revenue, which it could use to back $15 billion in bonds.
October First impacts of reassessment
First bills under the new reassessment. This month, Nassau County property owners will be receiving their school tax bills, the first to see the impacts of the county’s first reassessment in nearly a decade, which was championed by County Executive Laura Curran.
November Vote in presidential, local elections
Election Day. For about four years, we've been hearing about the 2020 presidential election, but decision day is finally here. On Nov. 3, Long Islanders can vote for their pick for U.S. president along with Congressional, state and more local races. One Congressional seat on Long Island we know will be up for grabs is that of longtime Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) who announced in 2019 that he will be retiring at the end of his 14th term.
Another fare hike proposal. The MTA is expected to release details late in the year of next proposed fare and toll increase, which would likely take effect in early 2021. The plan is expected to raise rates, including on the LIRR, by about 4 percent.
December Enhancements for LIRR commuters
Crash-prevention tech on LIRR. The MTA has to hit a December 2020 federal deadline to have lifesaving crash prevention technology in place. In October, MTA officials, after tentatively agreeing not to cut business ties with the contractor behind the Long Island Rail Road's delay-plagued positive train control project, put the deal on hold following an independent engineer's prediction that there is just a "fair" chance the project will get done on time. A federal law passed in 2008 requires American railroads to install the technology. The LIRR and sister railroad Metro-North twice have missed deadlines, in 2015 and 2018, and been granted extensions.
Penn station's transformation. Long Island Rail Road commuters can look forward to the end of the $600 million renovation of Penn Station, which is expected to be completed this month. Among the improvements, the new and main entrance for the LIRR will have three escalators, a stairway and an elevator. The 33rd Street concourse will be widened from 27 feet to 57 feet, and the ceiling will be lifted to 18 feet — more than double the current height. “The result will be a spacious and less congested station that is safer and easier to navigate, along with better amenities for travelers,” railroad spokesman Aaron Donovan said.
Sometime in 2020 LIRR union negotiations, 'Bad Education'
Grumman pollution. Decades after discovering pollution in Bethpage coming from the former Grumman and Navy operations, the plume in groundwater continues to spread at a foot per day. The state has proposed a $585 million plan to contain and cleanup the plume through a series of wells and treatment systems, but the company now known as Northrop Grumman and the Navy have opposed it. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has promised to move forward with the plan if they resist, setting up a potential legal fight over the future of Nassau’s drinking water supply.
LIRR union contract negotiations. With the MTA recently reaching a contract settlement with its subway and bus workers, it is expected to now shift its attention to negotiating a new contract with the unions representing LIRR workers. The MTA has said it wants changes to overtime policies, while workers want raises of 5%. Unlike bus and subway workers, LIRR unions are legally allowed to strike.
LI in spotlight for 'Bad Education' The Hugh Jackman movie, filmed on Long Island, about the Roslyn School District embezzlement scandal may be released this year. It was acquired by HBO in late 2019 but no air date has been set yet. Jackman stars as disgraced former Roslyn Schools Superintendent Frank Tassone, who was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison in 2006 for his part in an $11 million scheme involving the district. (He was released from prison in 2010.) The film was written by Mike Makowsky, who grew up in Roslyn during the scandal. The film will also feature Oscar winner Allison Janney and Ray Romano.
Record spending on MTA infrastructure. The MTA is awaiting approval from the state’s Capital Program Review Board on its proposed 2020-2024 capital budget, which would fund $51.5 billion in spending on infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, including new trains for the LIRR and the completion of the East Side Access link to Grand Central Terminal.
Struggling schools list. The New York State Education Department is expected to issue an updated list of school districts needing improvement. More than a dozen school districts and several dozen schools on Long Island made the list in 2019.
More Third Track work. The LIRR is expected to reach several more milestones in 2020 in its $2.6 billion effort to construct a 10-mile long Third Track between Floral Park and Hicksville. Those include the elimination of the New Hyde Park Road grade crossing, a new bridge over Glen Cove Road, and a renovated Garden City station.