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Power plays for LIPA, Jackie Gordon

Aerial views of the Northport Power plant

Aerial views of the Northport Power plant

Daily Point

The power of two

The tentative deal between the Long Island Power Authority and Nassau County to reduce the property taxes on the E.F. Barrett plant in Island Park (now $42 million a year) and the Glenwood Landing property (now $23 million a year) by 50 percent over seven years is certain to increase the pressure on the Town of Huntington in its negotiations with LIPA.

Under the deal, LIPA would get the seven-year reduction, and Nassau would get relief from a potential $250 million liability in back taxes if LIPA won its tax-appeal case against the county, scheduled to go to court on Dec. 10. And Nassau also gets the caveat that if LIPA extends its power agreement for those plants, owned by National Grid, that is set to end at the end of the seven years, LIPA wouldn’t sue for another tax reduction for four additional years.

That’s important because LIPA contends the taxes should actually come down by about 95 percent, and owners of power plants tend to seek repeated reductions as facilities age if there is no deal in place to stop such appeals and lawsuits.

In Huntington, the Northport plant pays $84 million a year in property taxes, largely to the Northport-East Northport school district, and the town faces a potential liability of as much as $800 million if LIPA prevails in a decision a judge could hand down any day now. Such a ruling also could immediately reduce the $84 million by as much as $75 million. The effect on local town and school taxes could be apocalyptic.

Supporters of Huntington taking a deal similar to the one Nassau (and the Town of Brookhaven before it) has accepted are going to cast this new twist as obvious evidence the town needs to deal, too. LIPA chief executive Tom Falcone’s assurance that reducing the taxes increases the chances the authority will find uses of the properties and invest in them could add credence to that argument.

But many Huntington hardliners who’ve argued that the plant is not overvalued and the deal LIPA is offering is too punitive and must be rejected are likely to double down. Leaders of Concerned Taxpayers Against LIPA, which is both a Facebook group and a grass-roots movement, are convinced they can prevail in court or that politicos, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, cannot afford to let the town and the school district be savaged by either the deal LIPA is offering or a devastating court settlement, and will demand Falcone make a better offer.

Falcone told The Point Friday that he thinks the most likely outcome for the Northport plant is a judge’s ruling, not a court settlement, although mediation is still active.

For every community involved, settlement or not, the day looms when these plants are not a big part of the power supply and the taxes they pay could drop dramatically. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran touted as another big plus in the deal the creation of community advocacy groups to discuss the sites’ futures.

Whether those groups support the kinds of high-intensity future uses of the sites that would generate mountains of property-tax revenue is a Long Island-flavored conversation all its own.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Open congressional seat: Day 12

The rank-closing continued on the Democratic side in New York’s 2nd Congressional District on Friday, with Jackie Gordon landing endorsements from Reps. Tom Suozzi, Kathleen Rice and Gregory Meeks. 

Various elements of the Democratic establishment are behind Gordon, a Babylon Town board member and Army Reserve veteran, including some that have come on board since Rep. Pete King announced his looming retirement last week. 

That could have set off a full Democratic feeding frenzy for the chance at an open seat but so far it hasn’t. A Democratic congressional staffer tells The Point there have been discussions among the New York congressional delegation about rallying behind one person to flip the seat blue. Gordon also has landed support from veterans such as California Rep. Ted Lieu and Staten Island Rep. Max Rose, who has sent out a fundraising appeal. 

While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hasn’t endorsed, Gordon appears to be closely aligned with the group’s strategy. The DCCC blasted out a come-and-get-us statement after the release of a poll showing support for Lara Trump in the district, and Gordon was up quickly with Facebook ads featuring pictures of Lara and family. “We don’t want a Trump dynasty,” reads a slogan.

Gordon’s ads and social media output are often focused on boosting her fundraising, which may be an important marker if she’s going to ward off opponents. 

Meanwhile, about that Lara Trump poll from the Club for Growth PAC … a source tells The Point that the president’s daughter-in-law did not know about it or ask to be included. Joe Kildea, a spokesman for the PAC, said there had been no conversations with her but the group wanted to test how she’d perform. 

“We think she’d be a good candidate,” he said.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Lessons from the past

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Final Point

Campaign swag

In the wake of this week’s Democratic presidential debate and heading into the beginning of the holiday season, 2020 White House hopefuls are taking different routes to stay relevant in the digital sphere. 

For some, it’s offering some unusual stuff for sale. Facebook ads are alerting America to the sweatshirts labeled “underdog” being sold by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign: “Being an underdog doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make big change,” the ads say. 

Then there are the mugs with “BILLIONAIRE TEARS” written on them. The ads from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren explain how hedge-funder Leon Cooperman recently teared up on TV while talking about politics and Warren’s economic stances. 

“Our response? We’ve got a mug for that,” the ad says. “Savor a warm, slightly salty beverage of your choice in this union-made mug as you contemplate all the good a wealth tax could do.”

(Cups o’ Joe are also on sale from guess who.)

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is pushing a new sticker with multicolored inspirational words on it, via ads that suggest the sticker might go on a laptop or even a water bottle. 

Some candidates are capitalizing off their appearances in the last debate. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is reminding people of her eyebrow-raising claim that when she first ran for Senate she raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends: “Tonight, let's see if we can outraise them.”

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is promoting multiple attack lines from her opponents — that she’s not loyal to Democrats, that she met with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad — and trying to turn them into positives, including long debate clips that show both the criticism and her response. 

Then there are the old-faithful ads, like the ones from former Vice President Joe Biden talking about how he’s best suited to beat Trump, or picturing him with his arm around a certain former president. 

Or ads that feature this in big letters from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Tax the rich.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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