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What Flanagan hears
In his visit with Newsday’s editorial board members Thursday afternoon, State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was relaxed as he talked about the remainder of a legislative session that may also be fairly low-key. With the state budget just finished, Flanagan doesn’t see big arguments or big accomplishments coming before lawmakers go home for the year in June.
What he does see is a growing divide between what gets other politicos and the news media wound up and what the voters he hears from care about. In a district that includes Smithtown, Stony Brook, East Northport and Selden, Flanagan says voters mostly talk about property taxes and state school aid. He feels he’s delivered on school funding, and while he’s not sure Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s push to further consolidate services among municipalities will help significantly, he says he supports the goals.
But Flanagan said the issues that got big headlines this year — “raise the age,” charter schools and free tuition to public universities for families earning less than $125,000 a year — have not led voters to light up his office phones. And he said the same holds for ethics reform, election and voting access improvements, and business regulations like the “scaffolding law,” which get tremendous pressure from advocates but elicit no ire from many state voters.
It looks like policy wonks and good-government advocates, like many baseball fans each season, will again be saying, “Wait till next year,” by midsummer.
Shovels in the ground are also for solar’s grave
The first shovel went into the ground Friday morning at the site of the former Tallgrass golf course in Shoreham for what may be the last solar energy plant on Long Island.
Craig Gordon, a vice president of Invenergy, told the editorial board Thursday that land costs and headaches here are just too great to produce renewable energy at a competitive rate. Invenergy first proposed the 24.9-megawatt array, which would power 3,500 homes, to the Long Island Power Authority in 2014.
Invenergy executives came to Newsday to discuss a pending bid to produce 700 megawatts of green energy for Long Island from wind and solar farms in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The combination is huge — 58,000 acres of wind and solar arrays that would cover the entire North Fork, for example.
The firm would send the power along existing grids and lay an underwater transmission line from New Jersey to Long Island. All of that would still be 25 percent cheaper than what Long Islanders will pay for the power soon to come from Shoreham Solar Commons. Not to mention how much less they will spend on Tylenol.
Calling it quits
Hired in January to run Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos’ bid for county executive, Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf says he quit the campaign Thursday. Maragos claims the departure was a mutual decision, but Sheinkopf dismisses the characterization, although he told The Point Friday he would not criticize Maragos.
People with knowledge of both Maragos’ campaign and the operations of his county office said Sheinkopf had become disillusioned with an election campaign he felt lacked staff, a plan to win and a real headquarters. Maragos, a Republican until October, is seeking the Democratic Party nomination against the wishes of party leaders and county chairman Jay Jacobs, with whom Maragos is engaged in a war of words.
Maragos is calling himself and like-minded candidates seeking other offices an “independent Democratic” line. And on Thursday, he introduced Carl DeHaney Jr. of Roosevelt — an employee in the county’s Department of Human Services and a board member of the Town of Hempstead’s Sanitary District 2 — as the slate’s candidate for county clerk. Maragos says he also will recruit a primary candidate for county comptroller, and potentially legislative contenders.
That’s going to be a very difficult challenge, likely an even more difficult one without Sheinkopf, whose history as a bare-knuckled political brawler may have garnered Maragos’ campaign a certain amount of respect.