Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Did someone forward you this newsletter? Click here to subscribe.
Years in the making
The formal announcement Wednesday that the New York Islanders will be heading to Belmont Park is the culmination of two years of work that started with a conversation between developer Michael Dubb and then-Islanders owner Charles Wang.
Dubb, a member of the New York Racing Association board, broached the idea of Belmont as a home for the Islanders just as Wang was selling the team.
In December 2015, Dubb persuaded Wang, who was working with Dubb on a development in Plainview, to come to Belmont and look around.
Some months later, Dubb set up a meeting with Wang and Chris Kay, NYRA’s president and chief executive. Then, it was a matter of getting new Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin on board.
Ledecky remembered it the same way, telling The Point Wednesday that it was Wang who put the pieces together and made it happen. “It was his vision,” Ledecky said. “He said, ‘Take a look at Belmont Park.’ ”
In 2016, the state canceled its request for development proposals for Belmont. This year, the state issued a new request — opening the door for a bid by the Islanders.
On Wednesday, after more than a decade of trying to build the Islanders a new home, Wang wasn’t at the celebration when they finally announced plans for one. But Ledecky noted that even as so many others were cheered, Wang should “take a bow,” too.
Randi F. Marshall
NY GOP in 2018
As they look to the 2018 midterm elections, five Republican members of the House of Representatives from New York have to wonder how voters in their fickle districts — reminiscing about the massive tax cut the GOP just passed — will view the nay votes their representatives cast Wednesday.
The new tax rules are hard on the middle-class in high-income, Democrat-dominated states like New York because the regulations impose harsh limits on deductions for state and local property taxes and cut the interest deduction limit on new mortgages. It’s projected those effects will be felt quite strongly even in the redder pockets of these blue states.
The five New Yorkers who broke ranks with their party and president are: Dan Donovan, John Faso, Peter King, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin. All represent districts that Trump won in 2016, each of them by more than 7 percentage points. But all five districts actually swung to Trump in 2016, having been won by President Barack Obama four years earlier.
Upstate Rep. John Katko, the only New York GOPer in the House in a district won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, voted for the tax cuts. Clinton carried Katko’s district by 4 points in 2016. Obama won it by 16 in 2012.
So by November of next year, five months before 2018 tax returns are due and the new rules are driven home, will voters in those five districts side with the president whose tax plan went against them, or with the representatives who defied that president?
A list of the races targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for serious 2018 takeover efforts suggests that’s the multimillion-dollar question. The list includes six New York representatives: the five who voted against the bill, and Katko.
When swapping makes sense
Legislation passed by Suffolk lawmakers to mandate that anyone replacing a cesspool must install a septic tank, rather than the previously allowed cesspool-for-cesspool swap, was a step forward for water quality.
But the vote and its preceding discussion foreshadowed a difficult road ahead for county officials and environmentalists trying to attack Suffolk’s serious nitrogen problem.
Septic tanks are slightly better than cesspools at removing nitrogen, but real improvements will come with conversions to high-tech septic systems. The county program to provide grants and low-cost loans for homeowners making the conversions has been popular since it began in July, with 833 registrations, 221 completed applications and 153 grants given.
But the program is voluntary, and Suffolk has 360,000 homes not connected to sewers. County officials and environmentalists say real improvement to water quality requires mandating high-tech conversions. They want to change Suffolk’s health code to require high-tech septic systems for new construction, major reconstruction and when septics or cesspools fail.
With five of the six Republicans in the legislature voting against the cesspool ban, and some Democratic lawmakers, including Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, expressing concerns about a mandate and the costs of conversion, cleaning Suffolk’s water might not be smooth sailing.