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State of play on pay

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, seen here on May

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, seen here on May 9, 2017. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Daily Point

Pushing forward

The state pay commission had until Monday to submit its final report but it planned to do so early at the behest of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who flies out to Poland Thursday night for the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice.

DiNapoli said he was invited to be on a panel for the organization’s 24th annual meeting.

DiNapoli, who just won a landslide victory in his re-election bid, has been quite involved with climate change issues because of his role as sole investor for the giant NYS pension fund. DiNapoli has been criticized for not divesting from fossil-fuel companies, but he says he exerts more power by exercising shareholder control over these multinational companies to force them to transition to renewable initiatives.

On the pay raise front, the big news is soon-to-be State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins finally weighing in with a semi-pledge to limit outside pay for legislators if a raise is approved. The newly powerful Democrat had been publicly silent thus far on linking outside income and ethics reform to pay hikes, and the silence hasn’t played well with good-government groups. Around 10 a.m. Thursday, she released a statement saying she supports the first legislative pay hike in 20 years and expects to secure passage in next year’s session of the “gold standard outside income bill modeled after Congress” that she pushed for unsuccessfully as minority leader.

The fear now, with Stewart-Cousins’ statement coming after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie refused to link the pay raises both leaders say are long overdue to an outside income ban, is that it’s actually Heastie’s stand that gives Senate Democrats the cover to promise action.

The “gold standard” of deal-making, to borrow her term, would be a joint statement from Stewart-Cousins and Heastie that spells out one set of changes to be passed in both chambers. Anything else leaves the door open to a one-house bill (or a series of them) that somehow never quite becomes a law capping outside income.

Rita Ciolli and Lane Filler

Talking Point

Belmont takes a (small) step forward

The effort to redevelop the area around Belmont Park took another step Thursday with the release of a draft environmental impact statement. But it quickly became clear that key issues remain, including whether there’ll be a full-time Long Island Rail Road station at the site.

Ultimately getting a new arena for the New York Islanders built — plus retail, a hotel and more — may involve some political moves that might look awfully similar to those used before the ultimate approval of the LIRR’s third track.

This time, however, it’s State Senate Democrats who will hold the power. And three of them — Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan and Leroy Comrie — will represent the area surrounding Belmont.

Kaminsky has emphasized the need for train service coming from the east into Belmont, which is served by a spur off the Main Line that only connects to Jamaica. While officials with Empire State Development have promised to work on that issue, the only specific transit improvement they pledged Thursday is adding two trains before games and two trains afterward.

While the State Legislature has no role in approving Belmont’s development, there are two boards that the three local senators could use as leverage to make sure their concerns are addressed. First, there’s the five-person Franchise Oversight Board, which oversees racing and land controlled by the state racing association. The board includes a representative from the Senate majority, who will have a say in the final plan.

Then there’s the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Capital Program Review Board. Could that board’s State Senate representative hold up other key MTA projects to make sure Belmont’s public transit piece is more robust?

That might sound familiar. After all, it was the MTA review board’s State Senate representative — Brooklyn’s Martin Golden at the time — who held up the approval of the third-track project until State Sen. Elaine Phillips got everything she and her local villages wanted.

In the coming weeks, we’ll learn who the Democrats’ board appointees will be.

But we’ll have to wait longer to see how the political race to the finish will play out at Belmont.

Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

Kindler and gentler

Reference Point

Pan Am’s own trade war

A trip into this week’s archives of Newsday’s editorial board provides grist for a conclusion:

There are all sorts of trade wars.

Most of us know of the current hostilities between the United States and China. Back in 1945, the board wrote about an aviation dispute developing after World War II.

British officials refused to allow Pan American Airways to land more than two flights a week at English airports. The reason apparently was that Pan Am was charging $275 for a one-way ticket, while Britain’s state-owned British Overseas Airways Corporation was asking for $572 (in today’s dollars, that’s about $3,808 and $7,922, respectively) and the Brits were determined to protect their business.

Pan Am’s response was to raise its fare to $375. So the pressure partly worked.

The main problem was technology. Pan Am was switching from using flying boats — massive Boeing 314 Clippers, a kind of seaplane used for luxurious but slow trans-ocean crossings; one flew a route between Southampton, England and Port Washington — to faster and cheaper planes that took off and landed on dry ground. BOAC was still using the Boeing 314s.

“Could it be,” the editorial board mused on Dec. 4, 1945, “that if the English would stop their frantic efforts to produce 10,000 military planes and concentrate on passenger models, they might give Pan Am a fair fight instead of transforming civilian aviation into a cartel!”

In the end, technology won, as it almost always does. Two years after Pan Am retired its last Boeing 314 in 1946, BOAC followed suit. And the landing fields, so to speak, were again level.

Michael Dobie

Columns