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Town’s alternative reality
As the Long Island Power Authority nears settlements with Nassau County and the Town of Brookhaven in the high-stakes litigation over taxation of generating plants, the Town of Huntington on Tuesday will enter an alternate reality regarding the huge Northport plant.
The town board will consider a local law proposed by maverick Councilman Eugene Cook, who seeks to use the town’s police powers to protect residents from the fossil fuel emissions. If approved, the law would mean collecting money -- a half penny per BTU produced over 50,000 -- from operators of “industrial boilers.” The only such boiler in the town is at the legacy power plant in Northport, owned by National Grid, and which supplies electricity to LIPA customers. It is the very same one that LIPA contends is overassessed. LIPA’s case goes to trial in June. Long Island ratepayers already pay $81 million in property taxes on the plant.
Cook wants the money, which LIPA said could be as much as $73 million, placed in a “progressive impact fund.” In a letter to the town board, Joseph Wiener, assistant general counsel to LIPA, calls the proposed law “an illegal tax” that is “disguised as an environmental regulation.” He said the plant operates only about 18 percent of the time, but this law would require payment as if it runs constantly. LIPA’s counsel also cites state case law that is likely to doom this detour, and he wonders whether the town really wants to pay more money on litigation.
The LIPA case also will be the hot topic at a community meeting Tuesday night when officials of the Northport-East Northport School District will explain why they adamantly oppose a LIPA settlement. In a letter inviting residents to the meeting, Superintendent Robert Banzer says, “a 90% reduction to the Power Plant’s assessment would be devastating to the School District, its residents and most importantly, our students.”
Cook’s proposal would be one way for the town to refund the overassessment should it and the school district lose the court case. It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of “carbon tax.”
Mayday for May Day?
May Day, that boisterous international socialistic celebration of the worker, is in the modern era not so big in the United States. Politicians and other officials tend to do their worker obeisance in September on Labor Day.
But attitudes among some young people toward socialism vs. the status quo appear to be shifting. A 2016 survey by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that a majority did not support capitalism. After the Occupy Wall Street movement and the 2016 election, some socialist groups are growing and some candidates are seeking office.
That might be the energy gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon is tapping into this week. On Monday, she walked a picket line with Columbia University graduate students. And on May Day proper, she joined community group Make the Road New York’s May Day march on Wall Street to oppose the actions of some financial institutions. A spokesman for the group says Nixon reached out about participating after the event was publicly advertised.
Nixon’s march with Make the Road is a local dig at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who reportedly threatened unions and others who fund the group over its support for his opponent. But her deliberate May Day actions seem to be another attempt to draw a distinction between Nixon and Cuomo, who has the endorsements of major labor unions, but like other Democrats, is staying clear of big May Day events.
Such a political calculation naturally has upsides and downsides. Some more traditional Democrats might be turned off by a more radical campaign tilt. Others will see Nixon, a longtime union member as an actress, standing up forcefully for worker rights. Either way, she’ll have grabbed some attention for the day.
What a prize
Rolling around legalization
Newsday’s Sunday editorial talked about how support for decriminalizing marijuana and making it available for sale in New York is gaining political momentum. We asked readers for their views on legalizing pot, and the results support the trend — only a fifth of respondents oppose legalization, while the rest of our commentators supported it because of health benefits, tax revenue or just because the time has come.
What do you think? Tell us here and see what others have said.
Liberals really do have more fun . . .
The ranking of most fun states in America is out and New York can boast: We’re No. 2!
The personal-finance website WalletHub used 26 metrics in ranking California first, although New York was tops, per capita, in restaurants, movie theaters, performing-arts theaters and fitness centers.
The top 11, in fact, were dominated by blue and purple states — reliably Democratic California, New York, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota and Oregon, and swing states Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Pennsylvania. The only deep red state in the top was No. 7 Texas, which most observers say is becoming more Democratic year by year.
So is it true — liberals really do have more fun?