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Next stop on the Cuomo tour
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is coming to Bethpage State Park in Nassau County for an “announcement” Wednesday afternoon. No, it’s not for another photo op with Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, a former member of the Assembly whom Cuomo praised during a snowstorm briefing a few months ago.
This visit is the latest stop in Cuomo’s post-budget victory tour, and the topic, we’re told, will be clean water.
Specifically, Cuomo will talk about the $2.5 billion he and the State Legislature put in the 2017-18 spending plan for clean water infrastructure and what kinds of projects that could fund on Long Island.
So why do that in Nassau, when Suffolk seems very likely to receive much more of that money? ? Especially after Cuomo added a last-minute swing by Brentwood to get to the epicenter of gang violence before Attorney General Jeff Sessions does on Friday?
Sources say the second floor couldn’t find a venue in Suffolk that was available and could seat 400 people.
That’s why the event will be at Carlyle on the Green, the restaurant in the park.
Divorcing the Port Authority
Developer Scott Rechler wants to dismantle the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the two-headed monster for which he recently was vice chairman, an appointee of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Now the chair of the Regional Plan Association, Rechler said it was time to remove pieces of the Port Authority’s portfolio and transfer each to the control of the state where it operates. And he suggested making the World Trade Center complex a publicly traded entity. Many of Rechler’s ideas aren’t entirely new; some have been trumpeted in past reform proposals. And none of it is as simple or straightforward as it sounds, but it has to make New Jersey a bit nervous.
The authority’s control of airports, bridges and other infrastructure that connect the states makes it tricky to change. And its overall finances depend on its mix of assets, as some, like PATH, lose money, while others, like the George Washington Bridge, bring in significant toll revenue.
And then there’s the politics. The authority is overseen by a board appointed by the governors of New York and New Jersey. The chairman’s position goes to New Jersey while New York appoints the vice chair and the executive director, who operates it on a daily basis. There’s a constant power struggle on the board that Bridgegate exposed. The scandal led to the conviction of former Chairman David Samson, a close ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Now there’s an ongoing battle between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his allies, and Samson’s replacement, John Degnan. Christie, meanwhile, has been accused of using the authority to give jobs and contracts to friends.
In the recently approved New York State budget, Cuomo added a wrinkle by creating a New York inspector general to oversee the Port Authority’s New York initiatives. Meanwhile, Cuomo is poised to remake his side of the authority board. As of this year, he may have the opportunity to appoint as many as five of the six spots he controls. It’s unclear, however, whether that would lead to big changes like those Rechler suggests or would be just a muscle flex that keeps the Jersey boys in line.
Randi F. Marshall
De Blasio’s GOP opponents line up
One of the last pieces of the puzzle in the GOP’s final lineup for the NYC mayor’s race is grocery magnate and radio show host John A. Catsimatidis. He has run before and is flirting with a run now, but hasn’t made a declaration.
Clarity may come Wednesday night, when the Manhattan GOP screens candidates in search of an endorsement. The Rev. Michel J. Faulkner, former NYPD Det. Bo Dietl and businessman Paul Massey Jr. will be joined by late entry Assemb. Nicole Malliotakis, who has said she intended to mount a bid to unseat Mayor Bill de Blasio unless Catsimatidis did.
Adele Malpass, Manhattan GOP chairwoman, says the committee hopes to endorse before the process for candidates getting on the ballot starts in June. She says Catsimatidis is scheduled to be at the meeting Wednesday, though not speaking, and she plans to “give him a shout-out” and ask what his plan is concerning a mayoral candidacy.
“He is still in that gray zone,” Malpass said. And as de Blasio sails on without an obvious strong challenger, time is ticking to get out of it.