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As the MTA turns

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The MTA New York City Subway sign photographed

The MTA New York City Subway sign photographed on Dec. 29, 2017. Photo Credit: Rajvi Desai

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! While the New York GOP has upped its serving of Cuomo Briberoni, we’re writing an editorial about Trump’s off-shore drilling proposal and listening to LIRR commuters on Twitter.

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Daily Point

The latest in MTA v. NYC

Talk about two different perspectives.

New York City officials Tuesday blasted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for seeking more funds from City Hall for the agency, and for misdirecting money the city has already paid.

“We’re going to constantly fight for what we think is to the benefit of the city of New York,” First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan said on a conference call with reporters.

The call seemed to be yet another salvo at Cuomo and the MTA, and another attempt to explain why the city shouldn’t have to contribute more to the subways and buses.

But just as Fuleihan, along with city lawyer Zach Carter and city Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, were fighting the MTA by phone, the MTA was telling a very different, far more rosy story.

As the call was still going, MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein tweeted a photo of MTA Chairman Joe Lhota and MTA Executive Director Ronnie Hakim on the subway, apparently following what Weinstein called a “great meeting with City Hall focused on substantive things like subway and bus service.”

As it turns out, the meeting was with new City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Less than two hours later, Lhota and MTA President Pat Foye held their own conference call to respond to the city call, to emphasize that city officials would have approval and input in many of the issues they criticized.

“This is just Chapter 1 of what will be a multi-chapter novel,” Lhota said.

Indeed, no doubt this fight is headed for another round.

Randi F. Marshall

Pointing Out

The fight to take on a King

The two Democrats vying to unseat veteran Rep. Peter King spent the first anniversary of the Women’s March on Saturday quite differently — offering a window into their June 26 primary race.

Liuba Grechen Shirley of Amityville appears to be building on grassroots momentum from founding New York’s 2nd District Democrats to oppose King after President Donald Trump’s election. On Saturday, she rode into Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road. She told The Point she was thrilled to see women at the Women’s March she had never met carrying signs for her, including people from upstate, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“The movement is big,” she said. “Last year, women marched, and now there are women running” for office.

Meanwhile, DuWayne Gregory of Copiague, presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, spent Saturday afternoon responding via Facebook Live to a gaffe by Islip Town Board member Trish Bergin Weichbrodt. On her own Facebook page, the Islip Republican posted what she called a “joke” about vacationing in countries — Haiti, El Salvador and Somalia — that Trump had recently derided with an outhouse slur.

Gregory, who traces most of his heritage to western Africa, was joined in his Facebook response by Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre of Wyandanch, who is of Haitian-American descent. People of color make up 26 percent of the 2nd Congressional District.

Asked whether he is ceding the women’s vote to his primary opponent, Gregory responded that “70 percent” of his staff is female, and he employs the first female chief of staff in the Suffolk County Legislature’s history.

Grechen Shirley, when asked whether her support includes people of color, said she is reaching out to all groups.

Anne Michaud

Pencil Point

Schumer’s cave

More cartoons by Mark Wilson

Bonus Point

Spotlight on ‘Strong Island’

Long Island’s tortured racial history is about to get national exposure now that “Strong Island” garnered an Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature.

The wrenching film tells the story of the 1992 killing of director Yance Ford’s older brother in a Central Islip body shop. During an argument over a repair job, white mechanic Mark Reilly, 19, shot and killed William Ford Jr., 24, who was black. An all-white Suffolk County grand jury refused to indict Reilly. Yance Ford places the killing in another context — his parents moved to Brooklyn to escape 1960s-era racial segregation in Charleston, South Carolina, only to find another insidious version when they eventually landed in the New York City suburbs.

The Oscar nod also means more unwanted publicity for the body shop owner, identified in the film as a dealer in stolen-car parts. Long Islanders now know Thomas Datre Jr. as the man who pleaded guilty in 2016 to charges that he and others dumped contaminated material in Brentwood’s Roberto Clemente Park and three other sites.

To win on March 4, “Strong Island,” which has been racking up awards on the documentary film circuit, would have to beat out four other nominees, including another New York story. “Abacus” is the tale of a small Chinatown bank owned by Chinese immigrants that is the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges stemming from the 2008 financial crisis.

Michael Dobie


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