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A new agenda

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Daily Point

About to drop

The New York Civil Liberties Union will release on Tuesday an official agenda for the first 100 days of the state legislative session.

Executive Director Donna Lieberman says the report is bigger than any such list of the organization’s state legislative priorities in years.

Much of the agenda covers familiar ground for the NYCLU: early voting, no-excuse absentee balloting, reproductive rights and criminal justice reforms to bail and discovery, for example.

But there are also some newer or less high-profile items. The report calls for New York to ban the use of facial recognition technology in public schools, citing a Western New York school district’s use of the technology.

The agenda also supports the Medical Aid in Dying Act, which would allow certain terminally ill adults to pursue a “peaceful death.”

It’s a mix of newly hot-button issues that have made civil liberties lawyers superstars in the Donald Trump era, plus typical defenses about surveillance and privacy.

An NYCLU spokeswoman says the organization plans to do some kind of evaluation of what happens and what doesn’t during the session. The organization hasn’t firmed up exactly what form that might take (other lobbying groups do report cards, for example).

The NYCLU has had successes in the past. A brief NYC-focused agenda when Bill de Blasio became mayor mentioned municipal ID cards, which came to pass. (It had less luck with a paean to public records, which haven’t exactly been forthcoming in NYC.)

In Albany this year, the NYCLU is counting on the new makeup of the State Senate to create change.

“We’ve been telling our supporters for months now that it’s a new era in Albany,” says Lieberman.

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

Building a better Hub

A week before the Nassau County Legislature takes its first vote on the latest plan to develop the Nassau Hub, developers Scott Rechler and Brett Yormark sat for a wide-ranging interview with the Newsday editorial board to discuss their proposals, the hurdles they might face, and what makes this effort different than all of those that failed in the past.

The meeting with the board came as Rechler and Yormark continue to have conversations with lawmakers and key stakeholders. They’re hoping to get approval from the county legislature next week to move forward with developing their site plan. If all goes right, they’re hoping to start construction in a year-and-a-half, and if all goes smoothly have the first phase completed three years from now.

That first phase includes at least some of the 600,000 square feet of life sciences, research and development and office space - with Northwell Health acting as the anchor tenant. The project ultimately will also include two hotels, plenty of retail and entertainment options, and 500 units of housing.

But that, of course, depends on what your definition of the word “unit” is. Half of the housing will be made up of “units” that each include four separate bedrooms, each with their own lock, surrounding a common space and kitchen. Each of those units, Rechler said, could be priced at roughly 30 percent lower than a market-rate studio apartment. The other half of the housing would be next-generation housing, which Rechler described as including a studio apartment attached to a one-bedroom unit, that could to allow adult children and their parents to live side by side in a single “unit.”

In response to a Point reader hoping to know about how affordable the units might be, Rechler said that rental prices haven’t been set yet, but 30 percent below a market-rate studio could come out to about $1,750 a month - and that would likely be around the “affordable” level of the next-generation housing, too.

Point readers also asked about transit options and parking. Rechler said the developers are focused on bus rapid transit and other options to connect the project to nearby Long Island Rail Road stations. They’re hoping the money for those options will come from the state, but haven’t ruled out looking for federal funds, although Rechler noted that wasn’t likely at the moment. Some of the money could also come out of what the developers themselves will put into infrastructure improvements. They aren’t contemplating alternatives like light rail.

Rechler noted that the parking will be a mix of above-ground parking and below-ground parking, with the latter primarily located underneath the residential portion of the project. In response to a reader hoping that all of the parking would be underground to avoid “those ugly multi-level parking garages we see all over Long Island,” Rechler noted that underground parking costs double what an above -ground garage costs, and added that there’s more flexibility for a future of autonomous cars with above-ground lots that could be converted to something else.

But Rechler also had an assurance for our readers.

“These are clearly not going to be ugly,” he said. “They’re going to be beautiful… You can do it right and that’s what we are going to do.”

Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

Flip a coin

Quick Points

Discussing climate

  • At the UN climate change conference in Poland, the United States created controversy by arguing that the international body should merely “note” a landmark report saying the world had about 10 years to reduce carbon emissions by half instead of “welcoming” the study. Which is appropriate since the rest of the world notes but doesn’t welcome the U.S. stance on climate change.
  • City officials in Cadiz, Spain, are planning to relocate 5,000 pigeons plaguing its popular tourist area to a more remote part of Spain nearly 500 miles away. No, they have extracted no promises from the pigeons not to fly back.
  • President Donald Trump said Saturday that White House chief of staff John Kelly is a “great guy.” In fact, he likes Kelly so much that he said that same day that Kelly is leaving his position, two days before Kelly himself was planning to announce his departure.
  • The Democratic National Committee is making plans for presidential debates that will feature 15 to 20 candidates on the same stage. They’ll each get about as much time as Robert Ripp at an Oyster Bay Town board meeting.
  • So it turns out black public school students on Long Island are five times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts. If you find that racial disparity surprising, you haven’t paid attention to … well … anything.
  • Remember when we all wondered whether former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley had enough foreign policy experience to succeed as UN ambassador? Seems so quaint now, doesn’t it?
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says campaign finance is “over-criminalized,” complaining that there are “thousands and thousands” of rules. And so Paul’s point was: If there were fewer rules, it’d be harder to break them.
  • Students at Ohio State University are going hog wild over a new campus vending machine that dispenses, yes, bacon. And colleges around the country are realizing that OSU has discovered the ultimate student recruiting tool.

Michael Dobie