Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Penn Station déjà vu?
Last week, a new concourse for the Long Island Rail Road opened, giving commuters the opportunity to bypass Penn Station. Its debut marked the first phase of the Moynihan train hall project in the old Farley Post Office building on Eighth Avenue.
But Monday, the west concourse “opened” again. This time, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Sen. Chuck Schumer were front and center, holding a media event to highlight the improved entry and exit for LIRR commuters and the $270 million in federal funds that went into it — much of which Schumer and before him, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, pushed for.
A matter of scheduling led to Monday’s gathering coming days after the concourse actually opened, The Point was told. “We wouldn’t hold up the opening of something that would benefit people just to hold an event,” one source said.
Schumer and Cuomo used the event to push for federal funds for the much-needed Gateway Tunnel between New York and New Jersey. But while Gateway is one of the region’s most important infrastructure projects, the bigger headline came when Cuomo suggested that the LIRR reduce fares for commuters who take trains that don’t end up at Penn Station this summer.
And unsurprisingly, Veronique Hakim, the MTA’s interim executive director, backed the idea shortly afterward. The MTA should “make sure our riders are fairly compensated,” she said.
No word yet on how that would work, how diverted commuters would be identified, or who would get the reduction and who wouldn’t.
Randi F. Marshall
Pot for PTSD heats up in Albany
State Sen. Tom Croci is holding up a vote on allowing medical marijuana to be used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. At first glance, it’s an odd position for a veteran and a champion of veterans, since many New York veterans groups support adding PTSD to the covered ailments.
However, Croci, chair of the Senate’s veterans committee, is citing concerns of the New York State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America. The council president, Thomas J. Berger, says that he’s worried about two things: that medical marijuana could contain THC (the chemical compound that creates a high), and a lack of evidence that PTSD responds to cannabidiol (CBD), another substance in marijuana.
According to a Croci aide, many Vietnam veterans believe that after such a long fight to get PTSD recognized as a legitimate diagnosis, they do not want to see their efforts take a step backward by embracing a treatment that is controversial and not necessarily effective.
By contrast, the State Council of Veterans Organizations reports anecdotal evidence that CBD helps relieve the pain of PTSD. Of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs, 26 include PTSD as a qualifying condition.
Carnival of Democracy
Word of the year
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) criticized the secrecy surrounding her party’s attempt to rewrite the repeal-and-replace Obamacare bill, saying, “I think we do better as a body when we respect the process.” With that, she became the sanest person in Washington.
- Oxford University Press has declared “Trump” its Children’s Word of the Year, based on its use and variety of contexts in 132,000 short stories written by children for this year’s annual BBC Radio competition. Oxford also named “Gothic horror” as its Children’s Literature Genre of the Year.
- Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) says President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be interested in Russian election meddling. His tweets say he’s more interested in FBI meddling and Senate meddling.
- Iran has banned Zumba, saying the “performance of rhythmic movements” is illegal. Tooth-brushing is still OK.
- Jay Sekulow, one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers in the Russian probe, said he doesn’t know for sure whether Trump is being investigated for obstruction because he can’t read the mind of special counsel Robert Mueller. That makes Sekulow a less-accomplished man than his client.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan said at his annual Team Ryan summer outing that the GOP agenda is on track. So is his fantasy fiction novel.
- In response to reports that many Republicans are afraid they will ruin their reputations by working in the White House, press secretary Sean Spicer says people are knocking down his door to work in the Trump administration. Actually, it was one guy looking for the White House kitchen and a piece of that awesome chocolate cake.
- A German scientist is in Italy tagging farm animals to track their behavior as a way to test the theory that animals can predict earthquakes. Wish we had some sheep and cows in Washington.