Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Dodge ball in Nassau
Nassau County executive candidates Laura Curran and Jack Martins came together for a debate in the Société Ballroom of the Garden City Hotel on Wednesday, and, oh, how they danced . . . around how to address immediate budget concerns in a county where revenues consistently fall short of expenses.
Both were asked a direct question about budget cuts they would make and how much it would save. Neither was willing to identify a single specific cut he or she would support.
Martins, the former Republican state senator from Mineola, said, “We need to restructure county government,” and argued that it should be possible to cut 2 percent from a $3 billion budget.
Curran, a Democratic county legislator from Baldwin, said the county must “stop sweetheart deals” that reward politically connected vendors.
It didn’t get any better on the revenue question. Do they support the $60 million in fee increases that outgoing County Executive Edward Mangano has proposed in his 2018 budget, or property tax increases instead?
Both candidates were firm in opposing both unpopular options. Each pointed to ephemeral increases in growth of the tax base as the answer.
It’s a valid answer. Just not to the questions they were actually asked.
Yankees vs. Mets at Belmont
Get ready for the Subway Series.
No, not that one.
Off the field, a battle between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees is just getting underway, one that’ll involve hockey sticks and soccer balls, not bats and baseballs.
Thursday at 2 p.m. is the deadline for submissions in response to the state’s request for proposals to develop 36 acres at Belmont Park. And both baseball teams are vying for a new kind of pennant: the right to develop that very valuable land.
The Mets’ majority owner, Sterling Project Development, is teaming up with the New York Islanders and Oak View Group, an arena-development firm supported by Madison Square Garden, to propose an arena for the Islanders, along with other development.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are part-owners of New York City FC, a professional soccer team that is working with developer Related Co. to develop an outdoor soccer stadium at Belmont.
There could, of course, be other bidders in the mix — perhaps a wild card waiting to snatch away the championship ring. But if Belmont’s biggest race comes down to a battle between New York’s baseball clubs, which home team will Albany root for?
Randi F. Marshall
Tweet command center
As conservative firebrand Steve Bannon revs up his assault on establishment Senate Republicans, you can count on Long Island being in the middle of the war.
That’s because a major source of funding for the effort figures to be East Setauket hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a GOP mega-donor who funded Bannon’s Breitbart News and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
Bannon was in Alabama with all guns blazing in support of GOP Senate primary winner Roy Moore, who ran as an iconoclastic outsider against incumbent Luther Strange. Strange was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.
Now in Bannon’s 2018 sights are incumbent Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dean Heller of Nevada and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, as well as the seat belonging to Tennessee’s Bob Corker, who on Tuesday announced he will not seek re-election.
After Bannon left the White House last month, he spent five days talking with Mercer at his Owl’s Nest enclave in Head of the Harbor. Mercer appears to be ready to spend big on taking out GOP “establishment” incumbents.
Mercer has donated $300,000 to a super PAC backing Flake’s challenger, Kelli Ward. The Washington Post reported that the Mercers — daughter Rebekah is another big donor and Trump supporter — have spoken with several Bannon-backed contenders, including Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is mulling a run at Wicker.
When the Post asked McDaniel about rumors that the Mercers and other donors have pledged more than $1 million to him, he responded, “It may be more.”
Mercer might be reclusive to his fellow Long Islanders, but his money is going to keep talking loudly.