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There was a surprise addition to the list of speakers at Friday’s Long Island Association breakfast. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she arrived on the Island around midnight for her 97th visit in the first two years of her term.
She praised Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and asked the business group to support his legislative agenda and budget proposals — including funding for the Long Island Rail Road’s third track, and infrastructure improvements at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.
“Put some money on the table,” Hochul told the crowd of 750, although it seemed she was speaking to only one person. That would be State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who sat stone-faced on the dais of an event at which he had been top-billed until Hochul arrived.
The original lineup included Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine and Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino. But Santino asked for a raincheck so he could attend Friday’s funeral of his friend, NYPD Det. Steven McDonald. To fill his spot, the LIA invited Patrick Foye, the head of the Port Authority, to provide an update on Cuomo’s airport initiatives.
So before Flanagan, who is considering a run for governor against Cuomo, got to make his remarks, two Cuomo surrogates staged a bit of a pep rally for their guy. But Flanagan got a nice laugh from the crowd when he recalled attending an event in Huntington early in his career when the program also ran long, and the main speaker got up and said, “Thanks for dinner.”
When the Senate majority leader finally got to lay out his vision for the legislative session, he provided some rebuttal to Hochul, saying she and Cuomo took the GOP’s notebook on a property tax cap and the need for more sewers in Suffolk County.
Flanagan poked at Cuomo when he spoke about senators needing to have more input in regional economic development awards. And he challenged whether meeting the governor’s clean-energy initiative would result in higher electric costs on Long Island.
Then, out of the blue, Flanagan said he wanted to say a word about President-elect Donald Trump. “Please give him a chance,” he said. “I am amazed at the amount of vitriol being said about him.”
In a room that had broken into polite applause dozens of times Friday morning, there was none.
Inside the women’s march
The idea for a women’s protest march in Washington sprung up on Facebook shortly after Donald Trump’s victory. The march’s website says it was originally “founded by white women;” some critics encouraged the event to become more “inclusive.” Honorary co-chairs Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte provided name recognition and prominent women-of-color activists, including Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, took the fore. The march has embraced a mix of different causes, from immigrant advocacy to reproductive rights.
Just under 190,000 people have indicated on Facebook that they will attend, and the District of Columbia has received more than 1,200 bus-permit requests.
Molly Sandley, a lead organizer for the New York City contingent of the march, says that her group has trained “bus captains” for 150 buses with 55 seats each.
The organizers have been notified of “hundreds” of other buses organized by organizations such as Planned Parenthood in New York City and on Long Island (there is no official LI chapter for the march, according to Sandley, 44, though groups such as Pantsuit Nation are also arranging transportation). Demand for seats has surpassed the supply of East Coast buses themselves, she says, and organizers are encouraging ride-sharing.
The attendees might not be driven by single issues that have powered some large Washington marches of the past — which could be a great strength or a source of diffusion.
“It’s hard to generalize” reasons that attendees are going to the march, says Sandley. She says it’s less of an “anti-Trump” march than a “march for human rights and social justice issues,” by people “concerned about the direction in general of the country.”
Be back Tuesday
Have a good MLK Day. The Point will be back in your inboxes Tuesday afternoon.