Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Take the booth
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone continues to use local eateries for his off-site management of the county. He made the rounds at the Premier Diner in Commack on Tuesday morning.
He joined a large group in the back and sat for a while next to Jim Coughlan, principal of Tritec Real Estate Co. The company is developing the Ronkonkoma Hub project and proposing 260 rental units by the train station in Lindenhurst.
Later, Bellone walked out of the diner with Laura Ahearn, the longtime crime victims advocate who is talking about running for district attorney. Ahearn is seeking the support of the Democratic Party.
Early on in his administration, insiders criticized him for spending too little time at the county offices in Hauppauge, preferring instead to meet people at a Panera Bread restaurant. At the time, Bellone defended his peripatetics by saying his county office was too isolated, and “the public doesn’t come in.”
Asked Tuesday whether he was socializing for the purpose of seeking higher office, Bellone said no, adding, “This is governing.”
Something to read on the plane
Former state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s official report on how and why Rikers Island should be closed was officially released on Sunday. By then, the report’s conclusions were embraced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who at a hastily arranged news conference Friday committed to closing the notorious jail in 10 years.
However, de Blasio, who is up for re-election in November, has shied away from offering specific plans for how to get there, such as not incarcerating those charged with prostitution. And he refuses to embrace key findings of the report, such as the need for smaller jails in each borough.
And though he met with Lippman Thursday night, he has been careful in his public appearances since then to avoid saying whether he’s read the document. It is a strategy that allows him to deflect when asked about the politically unpopular specifics.
Spokesman Eric Phillips wrote in an email on Tuesday, “The Mayor’s been briefed on the report and expects to read passages of it as needed.”
De Blasio has just embarked on a West Coast road trip to raise funds and organize against President Donald Trump. Perhaps he might have time on his cross-county flights to take more than a peek. The report’s 146 pages are filled with clear arguments, lots of graphs, charts and maps. It’s an easy read.
MacArthur in the money
The state budget extender includes $20 million to connect Long Island MacArthur Airport to the train station in Ronkonkoma. That was the easy part. Solving the riddle of what comes next will be difficult: Move the air terminal to the north side of the airport just across from Long Island Rail Road station, or run some kind of express bus or other people mover directly onto the airport grounds?
A north-side terminal is the dream held by many players in this drama and has the potential to transform the airport by exploiting its top selling point, convenience, but would be harder to pull off and more expensive. A direct bus to the existing terminal could be done more quickly but is not likely to seduce many new passengers — take the train to the bus to the plane?
There are many players in this chess game — Islip Town, which owns the airport, the state, Suffolk County, the LIRR and principal airport tenant Southwest Airlines — and many questions that must be answered. But one thing is certain: That $20 million is going to force the conversation.
All news is local
Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Newsday city editor Paul Moses has penned two insightful stories surveying the decline of local news coverage in New York City.
One piece laments the locked door of the Queens courthouse’s press room, an old Jimmy Breslin haunt; the other takes a look at The New York Times’ shift of resources away from detailed reporting in the five boroughs.
We thought it would be a good opportunity to plug the Opinion Department’s other newsletter, a 21st century effort to cover New York City. It’s called amExpress, a daily reported column about politics and culture in Gotham. Sign up here.