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Cuomo phones it in

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen in Manhattan in

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen in Manhattan in September. Credit: Charles Eckert

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Daily Point

Cuomo makes time for a debate

For a moment Friday morning, it seemed a debate — or at least a moderated discussion — between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Republican candidate Marc Molinaro would be a reality.

Cuomo called in to WCBS/880 Friday, mostly to talk about a video he made to implore President Donald Trump to fund the Gateway tunnel project.

But the conversation quickly turned to politics as anchors Paul Murnane and Wayne Cabot tried to push Cuomo on whether he’d debate Molinaro. Finally, the anchors proposed having Cuomo sit down and talk about issues in their studio.

“I am here. You want to call me tomorrow, I will be here,” Cuomo said, noting that he’d work around his daughter’s college parents weekend to make it happen. “If you want to do it with Mr. Molinaro, I will be here. If you want to moderate a discussion, I will be here.”

By the end of the discussion, it seemed Cuomo had just agreed to a Saturday morning one-on-one with Molinaro.

But a short time later, Molinaro made a phone appearance with the anchors. And he wasn’t quick to agree to Cuomo’s plans. He said he wanted the discussion televised, and thought Saturday provided too little notice for the state’s voters.

“On what planet does the incumbent governor get to dictate that voters come crawling to him at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning with no notice? ” Molinaro asked, calling Cuomo’s proposal a “fraud.”

Afterward, Molinaro tweeted on the debate issue, calling Cuomo’s move a “cheap stunt” and particularly highlighting that voters who observe the Jewish Sabbath wouldn’t be able to listen to a Saturday morning debate.

Pretty quickly, an older tweet from Molinaro was being retweeted by Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Dani Lever.

“But we will debate him standing up, sitting down, in a chair, at the fair — with a fox, in a box, in a plane, on a train (not that he’d ride one),” Molinaro wrote in August.

Friday, he was more specific.

“Hey, Andrew: You and me. Debate. WCBS Radio and WCBS TV. Weekday. One hour. Be there,” Molinaro tweeted. As of Friday afternoon, the two candidates hadn't moved any closer to an actual scheduled debate.

If the two ever do end up in a room together, will they have any issues to debate besides, well, whether and when to debate?

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

NIFA pulls over police academy plan

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority slowed down the county’s plan to build a police academy at NIFA’s board meeting Tuesday night, voting 6-0 to table the issue until the county provides more detailed financial information.

The county has floated plans to build an academy for 10 years. The Nassau County Police Department leases classroom space for its academy at the former Hawthorne Elementary School in Massapequa Park, with the county paying more than $700,000 a year in rent. County Executive Laura Curran wants to replace it with a $54 million, 90,000-square-foot police academy at Nassau Community College in Garden City, and she has bipartisan support on the county legislature to get it done.

But some NIFA members have asked whether there is a way to do what is needed less expensively, potentially by partnering with Suffolk County, which opened a police academy in 2000.

NIFA board member Chris Wright and others are asking for far more detail than what the county has offered on the finances, which so far is a spreadsheet listing $545,000 a year in maintenance costs, broken down into about 10 line items, and a debt-repayment sheet showing a cost of about $3 million a year until 2050.

The county is expected to provide the details, and if they are in order, the state oversight authority will then have no choice but to approve the plan, whether or not members think it’s wise.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

Missing

Final Point

The Bellwether

Tune in to Episode 3 of “The Bellwether,” our podcast about the races for New York’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts. This week’s episode focuses on Rep. Peter King.

Listen in as the Seaford Republican works with neighboring Democratic Rep. Thomas Suozzi on the Bethpage plume. The two Long Islanders worked the House floor to get cleanup funding in 2017.

King’s daughter, Erin King Sweeney, a Hempstead Town councilwoman, has a cameo and talks about her father’s work on the Northern Ireland peace process, some of which took place at a bipartisan table at The Dubliner bar in D.C.

And there’s an interview with Faroque Khan, an immigrant to Nassau County from India who was once a donor and friend to King. Khan says King never spoke to him after 9/11 because of what King said was his lack of vocal anti-extremism during that period. Khan has a different interpretation. King’s often fraught relationship with the Muslim community continued with 2011 congressional hearings on Muslim radicalization and the 13-term incumbent’s support for President Donald Trump’s travel ban. That was one of the issues that led Democratic challenger Liuba Grechen Shirley to run.

Listen online or subscribe on iTunes.

Mark Chiusano

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