Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
The Islanders-Belmont tango
Could the New York Islanders really come back to Long Island?
The answer seems far closer to their fans’ favorite cheer of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” than it was a week ago. But there’s still a long way to go.
The state’s decision to cancel the request for proposals on land at Belmont Park came four years after that RFP was announced. Ending it might have opened the door to the Islanders, who have been looking for alternatives to their home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Point has learned that even before the state’s decision to cancel the RFP, the talk of building an arena for the Islanders at Belmont Park had become visual as well. Renderings have been drawn depicting a potential arena at some available spots. And there have been discussions about timetables, construction, financing and what else might be built.
Belmont Park and the surrounding land is owned by New York State, and some of it is leased by the New York Racing Authority. No town or village zoning or approval process is required to build on the property. An Empire State Development spokesman said the state is now looking “beyond the scope of the original request.”
The withdrawn RFP had brought in four bidders, including the New York Cosmos soccer team. And while ending the earlier approach removes a huge roadblock to the Islanders returning to Long Island, this is by no means a done deal. The team is still considering a move to an arena that would be built near Citi Field, though the protracted legal wrangling and NYC bureaucratic complications are pretty significant.
And, of course, the Islanders could choose to stay in Brooklyn.
At least one source tells The Point that a decision might not be far away — perhaps as soon as a few months. Complicating that, perhaps, is a clause in the Islanders’ agreement with the Barclays Center that requires “good-faith discussions” with representatives from the Barclays Center before the team can trigger its opt-out clause. It’s unclear, however, what “good faith” discussions would have to include.
Randi F. Marshall
One step forward, two steps back
There is only one certainty Monday afternoon about whether legislators will return to Albany for a special session: Thursday is the drop-dead date for that to happen.
Assembly and Senate leaders say that after Dec. 15, too many members would have their travel and family vacation plans disrupted if they were summoned to the capital — even if it meant voting themselves a pay raise.
Monday’s deal rumor put the salary increase at $99,000, up from base pay of $79,500, if the members would agree to create a human rights commission to investigate bias crimes, and to pass some ethics reforms, such as tightening the procurement process in the executive branch — along with a few other items thrown in the pot.
The low dollar figure and meager reforms on the table Monday afternoon likely mean that the grand bargain of term limits and restrictions on outside income for legislators in exchange for a pay raise to $116,000 is dead.
Putin in Trump’s ear
Take the lead
-- Donald Trump’s transition team has sent a questionnaire to the Department of Energy asking for names of anyone who attended climate change policy conferences or worked on climate science research. Promotions and bonuses coming up? Yeah, that must be it.
-- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo visited the 72nd Street station of the new Second Avenue subway on Friday, then made it to the 86th Street station on Sunday. Two days, 14 blocks. Let’s hope that’s not a metaphor for the line itself.
-- Actor Bryan Cranston appeared on “Saturday Night Live” as his “Breaking Bad” character, meth dealer Walter White, introduced as Donald Trump’s nominee for chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Come on, be honest, there was a part of you that wasn’t laughing, right?
-- Donald Trump says The Wall Street Journal editorial board doesn’t understand business or his proposed 35 percent tax on imports from companies that move factories out of the country. They understand perfectly well. They just disagree with it.
-- Donald Trump says he’s “open minded” on environmental issues. By which he apparently means he’s open on which anti-environmentalist will lead the nation’s environmental agencies.
-- Rudy Giuliani turning down attorney general and then not getting the secretary of state nomination is what happens when you’re too focused on having your own Air Force One-type plane. For the rest of us, it’s a win-win.
-- State Sen. Jeff Klein is complaining that struggles to unite Democrats in the State Senate have become a circus. When he formed the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, he became the ringmaster.
-- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman wants blanket authorization to investigate public corruption, but that’s not one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed ethics reforms — despite the fact that Schneiderman’s predecessor also requested that authorization. Yes, that would be the same Andrew M. Cuomo.
-- Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has reversed course and now says he rejects the results of that country’s recent election, which he lost, and he is demanding a new vote. Hillary Clinton said, wait, you can do that?