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Eye of the storm

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), leaves a House Intelligence

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), leaves a House Intelligence meeting room at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., April 4, 2017. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Saul Loeb

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!

Daily Point

Peter, Ted and Harvey

Rep. Peter King threw some punches at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz this weekend: He tweeted that he’d vote for disaster aid for Texas despite Cruz’s vote against similar aid after superstorm Sandy.

He went further in a conversation with The Point on Monday. Addressing the response from Cruz senior communications adviser Catherine Frazier, who tweeted “2/3 of Sandy bill wasn’t emergency spending,” he said, “It’s a lie.” Cruz himself repeated the idea on CNN Monday afternoon, saying the concern over the Sandy relief bill was that it got larded up with pork for politicians’ pet projects.

“That’s why people call him Lyin’ Ted,” King told The Point, using a Donald Trump epithet from the 2016 campaign.

King is still upset about the long road to a Sandy relief bill, which ultimately passed the Senate three months after the storm, with 36 Republicans voting against.

“That was a regional vote; it was against the Northeast,” King said. “There are people in the House I’ve never spoken to since then.”

King vehemently denied that the Sandy bill was “chock-full of pork” — as the Cruz staffer tweeted — noting that one item Republicans complained about was for the Smithsonian Institution to deal with Sandy consequences. That was $2 million out of around $60 billion in aid. King posited that if Sandy hit the Alamo, maybe Cruz “would have been more receptive.”

Still, King says he’s taking the high road. He says he hopes congressional leaders bring up funds for Hurricane Harvey as soon as they can.

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

Huntington candidates asked to take a pledge

The Democratic primary for Huntington Town supervisor, an open seat for the first time in 24 years, is centering on housing development.

A collection of civic groups called Civics United of Huntington has developed a “candidate’s pledge” that includes a temporary moratorium on high-density housing. Democrat Darryl St. George, a Northport High School history teacher, has signed the pledge; his Democratic opponent in the Sept. 12 primary, Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, has not.

Edwards last month spearheaded changes to the town housing code to tighten restrictions on multiunit construction to require developers to make some units affordable. Either that, or they will have to contribute to an affordable housing trust fund for first-time home buyers. Some construction underway in the town is grandfathered out of that rule.

St. George said Edwards’ changes don’t go far enough to make Huntington affordable.

“I want to go on record saying I’m in favor of affordable housing,” he told The Point. However, the moratorium would create “a pause,” he added, “so we can get a better grasp on how the town approves these developments and whether developers are getting the better end of the deal.”

However, the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, which promotes rentals and affordable housing, believes St. George is being naive.

“He could’ve used more seasoning before he ran for this particular job,” said Roger Weaving, president of the group. A moratorium, said Weaving, would depress the creation of affordable housing for years. “Builders see a moratorium,” he said, “and they tend to go elsewhere.”

St. George’s pledge includes a ban on campaign contributions by developers, term limits for town board members and a civic advisory board created by Civics United “to maintain checks and balances.”

Edwards has been on the town board for not quite four years, but this race is clearly setting up some major fault lines.

St. George and Edwards will speak at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at a candidates night at the South Huntington Public Library.

Anne Michaud

Pencil Point

Thoughts in Houston

Quick Points

Not fake news

  • Chechen authorities have followed their brutal repression of gay men with a campaign to force divorced people to reunite, for the sake of their children, with some couples being followed by television cameras. Proving that there are all kinds of torture.
  • After public outcry, the Levittown school district is reprinting its calendar to put back on it the names of school holidays, with the superintendent saying it was never the intention “to upset or offend anyone.” That’s a relief, because we were thinking the district absolutely was trying to upset and offend everyone.
  • Embattled Uber chose the head of Expedia to be its new leader. Which makes sense. Who better than the chief executive of a travel company to lead Uber on its journey to a new land — of cultural respectability.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, responding to a question from Fox News host Chris Wallace about American values and President Donald Trump’s response to the racial violence in Charlottesville, said, “The president speaks for himself.” The answer was stunning, but not as stunning as the fact that Tillerson still has a job.
  • President Donald Trump tweeted that Mexico will pay for the wall on the Southern border, after saying he would shut down the government if Congress doesn’t provide funds for it. So his plan seems to be to go nuclear just to get a loan from lawmakers who don’t want to give it, to be repaid somehow by a country that refuses to do so. Now that that’s clear. . .
  • Politicians from Queens say they are willing to listen to everything when it comes to a congestion pricing plan for New York City, but will not accept tolls on the East River bridges. Which means they are not willing to listen to everything.

Michael Dobie