Progress for Matinecock
Surrounded by housing advocates, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Wednesday celebrated the final step toward building Matinecock Court, a 146-unit housing development in East Northport.
The event at Long Island Builders Institute in Islandia looked like any other news conference. But this one was different. First, many of those advocates had talked about — and fought for development on — the 15 acres in East Northport for decades. As Bellone pointed out, the project was first proposed in 1978, when he was in the fourth grade.
But unlike many celebrations of a housing development that’s come to fruition, there were no representatives from the town involved there. That might be because the event specifically commemorated a bill that provided county funding for the project, and county officials said the Town of Huntington will be involved when a groundbreaking occurs – as soon as early next year. But it’s also worth noting that for much of the time those advocates had fought for Matinecock Court, the town fought against it.
When Huntington rejected the original proposal of affordable rental units, Housing Help Inc., the nonprofit at the heart of the development, and the NAACP filed a lawsuit. The town fought the project all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in 1988, upheld previous decisions saying the town had violated the Fair Housing Act. That decision led to the town’s eventual rezoning that paved the way for the project’s approval.
Over time, the plans for Matinecock Court changed — it’ll now be half-affordable rentals, half-homeownership. But the town still isn’t expressing much support. Republican town council members wrote county lawmakers last week, urging them to reject the funding request for $2.5 million toward infrastructure improvements. A spokeswoman for Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci referred only to a statement he issued last week.
That statement reiterated the project’s history, noted that the “cost of living on Long Island is too high,” and focused on Lupinacci’s support for allowing accessory apartments to “provide lower-priced rentals without new development adding to the existing burden on our infrastructure.”
Specifically on Matinecock Court, Lupinacci’s statement said:
“At this point, the fate of the project is out of the Town’s hands.”
A sign that even as Matinecock Court was celebrated as a symbol that times have changed, some things haven’t changed at all.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Anti-vax protests arise again
The legislature isn’t in session, but local state lawmakers are preparing for a busy Thursday at their district offices.
That’s because anti-vaccination groups plan a set of protests across the state in what they’re calling a “black out day.” Parents plan to pull their children out of school and head to the lawmakers’ local offices.
With the religious exemption lifted despite emotional scenes at the state capitol last session, the new protests target the effort to mandate a vaccine that protects against human papillomavirus, or HPV, in order to attend school. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to a variety of cancers, especially cervical cancer. The bill has been proposed before, but it’s garnering more attention this year from those who oppose state-required vaccination.
Parents also will rally against a bill that would mandate the flu vaccine for younger children for whom the flu is considered more dangerous, and one that would allow for teens to receive vaccinations without parental consent.
All of those bills have generated an enormous reaction on social media and elsewhere among some of the same parents and groups who protested the ban on religious exemptions earlier this year. Representatives for local lawmakers said their offices have been inundated with calls and emails about the bills, with most of the attention on the legislation mandating the HPV vaccine.
But State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who expects demonstrators at his office Thursday, told The Point he didn’t see the bills as a priority for the coming session.
“While every parent has the right to be concerned, I do not think there is any real chance of them advancing this year,” Kaminsky said.
Another State Senate source agreed, telling The Point Wednesday that the bills were not “top of the list,” and likely wouldn’t move forward in the session that starts in January.
Kaminsky noted that the bills don’t carry the same urgency as the religious exemption ban. The contentious fight over the religious exemption came during an ongoing measles outbreak across the state, in which more than 1,000 people contracted the disease.
“We made a decision in the context of an outbreak and we did it after talking to medical professionals, to protect the public health,” he said. “Those same exigencies don’t exist here.”
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
State of chaos
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Playing the odds
As the Democratic field for 2020 continues to winnow with Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Sestak and Gov. Steve Bullock dropping out, everyone’s favorite presidential primary parlor game — who’s next — heats up.
How about Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet?
He’s the choice of Las Vegas prognosticator SportsBetting.ag, which is offering 5/2 odds on Bennet being next to bow. And the most likely to follow him to the exit, according to the site, are Marianne Williamson and John Delaney, both at 5/1, followed by former HUD secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at 7/1.
At the other end of the spectrum, SportsBetting.ag has two candidates tied as least likely to drop out — Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at 33/1. The duo is considered more likely to go the distance than the trio getting 16/1 odds — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Which underscores what might be the most remarkable aspect of these odds — that the mayor of a small Midwestern town (South Bend, Indiana) would be considered more likely to go the distance in a presidential primary than two senators and the former vice president.
—Michael Dobie @mwdobie