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A hubbub about that other Hub

An architect's rendering of the Ronkonkoma Hub project.

An architect's rendering of the Ronkonkoma Hub project. Photo Credit: Tritec Development Group

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Daily Point

Kennedy weighs in on Ronko Hub

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy is going to audit the county’s agreement with Jones Lang LaSalle and Ronkonkoma Vision Project to build a $1.1 billion development, including a 17,500 seat arena, a hotel, and research, retail and restaurant space at the Ronkonkoma Hub, he told the Newsday editorial board during an endorsement interview Thursday.

“The selection process that went on there in my opinion is problematic,” Kennedy said during the interview, which included his opponent, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “That’s my role. My role is to go ahead and to investigate and do oversight where there’s concerns.”

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward Romaine and Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter had requested the audit, questioning both the process of choosing the development team, and the team’s credentials, after a Newsday story raised questions about Ronkonkoma Vision Project officials’ assertions regarding their current and previous work on other projects.

“All elements associated with what went on there will be reviewed and vetted,” Kennedy said, adding that both county and state law gave him the authority to conduct an audit like this.

But Jason Elan, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, told The Point it’s not that simple.

“Once again, the Comptroller is attempting to exceed his legal authority for political purposes,” Elan said in a statement to The Point. And when questioned by the editorial board, Kennedy refused to rule out a run against Bellone in 2019.

Even before learning of Kennedy’s auditing plans, Elan didn’t hide his disdain for the comptroller. Right after Newsday Opinion tweeted Wednesday about the endorsement meeting, Elan followed up with two tweets criticizing Kennedy, calling his record “abysmal” and accusing him of trying “to shut down county government.”

It might not come as a surprise to anyone that Bellone is supporting Schneiderman in the county comptroller contest. Indeed, the county executive is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Schneiderman Friday night at Gurney’s Montauk Resort.

Randi F. Marshall

Daily Point

Perry lags in polls

Democrat Perry Gershon is down 3.3 percent against GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York’s 2nd Congressional District, according to internal Gershon polling data shared with The Point.

Zeldin is at 49.5 percent and Gershon at 46.2 percent, with a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. GBA Strategies conducted the poll of 500 likely voters from October 8-10.

The poll results are similar to earlier data from Gershon’s campaign and a Democratic-supporting SuperPAC, and the Gershon campaign notes that GBA polled for Democrat Anna Throne-Holst in her losing contest with Zeldin in 2016 — GBA found Zeldin up by 18 points in that race, close to his big actual margin of victory.

Public polling finished earlier this week by The New York Times/Siena College found Gershon a bit farther behind, down 8 points with a 4.6 percent margin of error.

Other numbers from the GBA internals show some of the trends to watch in this race’s final weeks: the poll found 46 percent favorability for President Donald Trump, with 49 percent unfavorable. That’s a bit worse than Trump was performing in internal polls in September. Zeldin has often allied himself closely with Trump, a danger if Trump dips much more even in a district that Trump (and Zeldin) won handily in 2016.

And post-confirmation for Brett Kavanaugh, the poll found a gender gap between the candidates, with women at 50.1 for Gershon, 44.9 for Zeldin. The poll found 41.9 of men for Gershon, with 54.5 for Zeldin. That gap has grown since internal polling over the summer, said GBA partner Michael Bocian.

The poll did not include Kate Browning, who lost to Gershon in the Democratic primary but remains on the Women’s Equality Party line. Gershon’s campaign said they didn’t include her because she is campaigning for Gershon. However, some political analysts think the popular former Suffolk County legislator could possibly siphon off a few percentage points from the Democrat.

Zeldin spokesman Chris Boyle thought the tight poll was off.

“Obviously this is a desperate attempt by a floundering campaign to manufacture energy after the New York Times poll conducted by Siena College this week showed him much further behind,” Boyle emailed in a statement to The Point.

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Riding the storm out

Final Point

Newsday’s new podcast

Episode two of “The Bellwether” is here, following Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley on the campaign trail as she talks to voters about Brett Kavanaugh and her opponent Rep. Peter King’s lack of support for Planned Parenthood and abortion rights.

With record numbers of women winning Congressional primaries nationwide, will it be another Year of the Woman on Long Island?

“The Bellwether” is Newsday Opinion’s new podcast series on the races for office in New York’s 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts — contests which may be indicators for the national mood this midterm season. Our next episode is on King, coming next week.

In this episode, listen in to Grechen Shirley revving up a crowd in Bay Shore, and also attending a post-primary victory rally for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Manhattan, where she showed up with her 2-year-old Nicky, who slept through speeches by assorted dignitaries.

Download the episode on iTunes or listen on your computer.

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