Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! We don’t have a copy of the search warrant detailing the need for the FBI to execute a surprise search of the offices of Michael (Stormy Daniels) Cohen, the personal attorney to Donald Trump. However, we can share our beliefs that special counsel Robert Mueller is now in point-of-no-return territory.
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A tale of three arenas
Just call it “Survivor: The Long Island Arenas.”
As political officials across the region react to Suffolk County’s plans to build an arena and other development at the Ronkonkoma Hub, this is what they’re talking about:
In the 76-page document that details the proposal, there’s not a single mention of money.
There’s plenty of talk of medical offices, parking and, yes, a 17,500-seat “regional civic arena.” There are illustrations and renderings and square-footage estimates.
But the document filed by developer Jones Lang LaSalle surprisingly doesn’t discuss how much the project would cost or who would fund it. It doesn’t mention anything about revenue sharing or payments in lieu of taxes.
John Cameron of Woodbury-based Cameron Engineering had told Newsday that the Ronkonkoma Hub project would amount to a $1 billion effort, and that it would be privately financed. However, Cameron’s financial promises aren’t mentioned in the materials provided by Jones Lang LaSalle and its partners.
As Suffolk County moves ahead with its selection of the arena project, there really is only one question on everyone’s lips: How would this effort affect Long Island’s other Hub — the one that already features the Nassau Coliseum? And how would it affect the arena that the New York Islanders plan at Belmont Park?
“It doesn’t affect how we’re moving forward,” a Nassau official told The Point about the county’s latest Hub efforts. “I would think at the end of the day no one builds an arena without a team.”
Nassau Coliseum lost its major league team, the Islanders, to Brooklyn three years ago, and now hosts only the Long Island Nets, a D-League basketball team. But the county’s Hub advisory committee is beginning work this week — with a meeting Wednesday. At that meeting, developer Ed Blumenfeld, who has the right to propose development plans for the Hub, will present his ideas, the Nassau official said.
Meanwhile, the other Long Island arena in the works, the planned future home for the Islanders at Belmont, is in the early stages of state environmental review. The next public presentation is set for April 24.
So, with the Islanders heading to Belmont, and the Long Island Nets settled in Uniondale, is there a pro sports team ready to head to Ronkonkoma that can fill 17,500 seats?
Don’t count on it.
Randi F. Marshall
Campaigning for child care
Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley hit upon a resonant issue over the last week in her guerrilla campaign for Congress to oust Peter King. In a long Elle magazine piece and a much-shared Washington Post op-ed this morning, Shirley outlined her attempt to use campaign funds for child care.
She argues that having to handle child care can be an obstacle to non-wealthy women running for federal office, not to mention any working parents. She says she has struggled to juggle those responsibilities with a busy campaign schedule — her husband works full time and campaign staffers have been pulled in to help out with the kids, ages 1 and 3. “It’s a family experience,” says spokeswoman Monica Klein.
Shirley has filed a request with the Federal Election Commission for a ruling on the expenditure that her campaign believes has been allowed only in a few rare circumstances: travel fare for a congressman’s wife so she could care for children, for example. In the meantime, she’s going ahead with using her campaign donations for child care.
But beyond the money, Shirley has tapped into a national issue that has nothing to do with internecine local concerns about primaries, progressives and power-brokers.
Last week, The Associated Press reported that the number of women running for House seats is at a record high. On Monday, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth grabbed headlines for becoming the first sitting senator to give birth.
The child care issue and the focus on gender obstacles helps Shirley draw a distinction between her and male politicians like primary opponent DuWayne Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature — let alone King, a Republican who has voted against paid family leave.
- The defense attorney for Raymond Hansen, charged with bringing an AR-15 to his room at Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia, described his client as a “responsible” gun owner. When you bring an illegal military-style weapon into a hotel-casino and have other illegal weapons in your home, responsible is not the first word that comes to mind.
- The chief executive of the company whose helicopter crashed into the East River, killing five tourists who couldn’t get out of their safety harnesses, said the company’s inaction on warnings from pilots that the harnesses could make escaping difficult was not a matter of failing to respond to safety concerns. Then what do you call it?
- State English and math exams beginning this week are no longer called Common Core exams. That won’t change the core many Long Island schools will have in common: opt-outs.
- Syria and its ally Russia both deny involvement in the chemical attack on rebel-held Douma that killed dozens of people. So that leaves . . . the rebels?
- Talk of the impeachment of President Donald Trump is being used by Republicans to energize voters in the effort to stem election losses in November. It’s being used by Democrats to keep their sanity.
- White House chief of staff John Kelly recently added “policy time” to President Donald Trump’s schedule to allow advisers to argue their views on issues before the president. The most amazing thing about this is that Kelly found it necessary to add this to Trump’s schedule.
- Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is being prepared by a team of experts for his testimony before Senate and House committees this week. The best advice they could give is to act like he’s going to confession — fess up, show contrition and do penance. Repeatedly.