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Inside the third track dealings
It’s another sticky summer Friday afternoon and that means Sen. Majority Leader John Flanagan and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo are once again at loggerheads over the Long Island Rail Road third-track project.
Flanagan, who came within a hair of killing the project last Friday, is telling people he is optimistic the $2 billion project will move forward. Team Cuomo, however, is more pessimistic because Flanagan has put new demands on the table.
GOP Sens. Elaine Phillips and Kemp Hannon already got generous deals to satisfy village mayors and other interest groups with legitimate concerns about the disruption and inconvenience. The bulging goody bag includes millions of dollars for parking garages, elimination of dangerous grade crossings, and even the right to choose the locations where construction workers will park and the color of new sound barriers.
Now Hannon and Phillips are moving the finish line again, pressuring Flanagan to make new demands of the governor. Their latest Santa list includes items that have nothing to do with the LIRR or transportation in general. Instead, it includes increased hospital funding and getting involved in the Nassau County-New York City dispute over the possible use of closed water wells in Queens.
Flanagan won’t say no to his two holdout senators, and Cuomo won’t say yes to Flanagan’s latest demands. It’s not just the humidity that’s making Long Islanders sweat.
De Blasio abroad
It was strange: Mayor Bill de Blasio answering questions about Park Slope panhandling while in Hamburg, Germany.
That was the situation Friday after de Blasio made a surprise trip to Europe on Thursday night to take part in a protest at the G-20 collection of world leaders, including President Donald Trump.
The mayor’s departure drew gleeful criticism from his front- running Republican opponent, Staten Island Assemb. Nicole Malliotakis, who has been developing a quality-of-life-centric campaign. She slammed de Blasio on garbage collection before being handed the political hay of his progressive jaunt, which she characterized as an escape from pressing city issues.
Quality-of-life issues can be treacherous for de Blasio, who is looking to satisfy progressives along with moderate New Yorkers who don’t want NYC to return to the proverbial bad old days. A bit of that balancing act could be seen during the mayor’s weekly Friday call-in show on WNYC radio.
When asked by a caller about a homeless “encampment” in Park Slope, de Blasio, speaking from Germany, pivoted to the problem of panhandling, which he said he wished were illegal. Then he switched to the more liberal themes of outreach and government aid to homeless people. When asked about panhandling again, he added that the practice was “frustrating.”
Then he signed off from such messy complications for the smooth sailing of international anti-Trumping.
LI’s protest-counter-protest drama
The Long Island Progressive Coalition will hold another training session Saturday for political newbies, who have come out in force since the November election. Subjects include how to run for office, door-to-door voter communication and messaging — all the ABCs of organizing the Trump resistance.
Coalition director Lisa Tyson told The Point that she expects about 100 people in Hauppauge — but she didn’t want to give the exact time or location. The progressives continue to attract supporters of President Donald Trump, who show up to launch counter-demonstrations.
Tyson said she hasn’t seen anything like it in her 22 years in the field. “It’s a different day and age,” she said.
The protest-counter-protest dramas play out in the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts, where Reps. Lee Zeldin and Peter King, as Republicans, serve as stand-ins for Trump as far as angry progressives are concerned.
Yet, the counter-protests differ in the two districts. At progressive rallies at King’s district office in Massapequa, Tyson says, people exit the bar across the street to shout down her people.
Zeldin’s fans, by contrast, appear to have infiltrated the Progressive Coalition’s communications list, Tyson said, and often know exactly where and when to confront their progressive opponents.
“Zeldin’s people are hard core,” she said.