Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Waiting for Pidot no more
- David Koch spends water like money
- Looking down on pay raises
A race for the ages
A new poll just released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows that in the 3rd CD Democrat Tom Suozzi is holding a 16-point lead over Republican Jack Martins, which is why the DCCC is touting the numbers.
The methodology of a party’s poll must always be taken with a grain of salt, but Martins is having a bit of a rough stretch. A ruling by a federal judge on Thursday means Martins is not yet the official GOP nominee in this jumbled jalopy of a race for the seat being vacated by Steve Israel. As of now, there is an Oct. 6 GOP primary between Martins and businessman Philip “Flip” Pidot, a conservative Republican Martins has fought for months. Martins managed to avoid a June 28 primary against Pidot, a contest he most likely would have won.
So is the ballot issue in the wild and woolly 3rd CD settled? Martins could still appeal. And even if he doesn’t re-engage in court battles with Pidot, his people are still busily challenging Suozzi’s petitions for the “Fix Washington” nomination, a ballot line Suozzi invented in the hopes of scaring up a few more votes in November. Unfortunately for Suozzi, Martins’ team found a few dead people among the 5,718 signatures Suozzi filed. But Suozzi only needs 3,500 names of people with pulses to create the line.
But wait, there’s more. Safely through the gauntlet and on the ballot is Michael McDermott for the Libertarian Party, so at least one ballot line and one candidate is settled.
The most quenched lawn of them all
David Koch’s Southampton estate consumed 22,572,022 gallons of water in the year ending June 30. For perspective: The billionaire industrialist, Suffolk County’s top water hog for five years running, used as much as 141 average homes.
A Koch spokeswoman told Newsday that’s because Koch uses the home year-round and because he has an energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling system that uses lots of water. She said the system is “environmentally friendly.”
That’s ironic, given that Koch’s family fortune lies largely in oil refining and coal production and that Koch Industries is the 14th worst air polluter in the U.S., ahead of such big oil companies as BP, Shell and Chevron, according to the Political Economy Research Institute. But if the explanation is accurate — a county water audit could determine that by calculating all uses, such as irrigating lawns and ornamentals on the 4-acre estate — it calls into question the environmental friendliness of systems that would severely reduce water from our sole source aquifer supplies if these systems become widespread.
Meanwhile, the Suffolk County Water Authority is considering a move that would hand Koch a higher bill for his heavy usage, as Koch makes the perfect case for adopting a tiered rate structure in which heavy users pay proportionally more for their water.
Paychecks in court
The commission studying pay raises for state legislators, judges and certain other state officials is unconstitutional, says a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Mineola by an NYPD detective and adjunct history professor.
James Coll argues that the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have handed over their law-making powers to an unelected body. That violates the NYS Constitution, which dictates who has the power to pass laws and disburse public money. Coll says it also violates the spirit of the state constitution because it lets lawmakers off the hook for voting themselves pay raises.
“My beef isn’t necessarily the politics of it, it’s the process,” says Coll, who teaches at Hofstra University and Nassau Community College.
The pay recommendations of the Commission on Legislative, Judicial & Executive Compensation are due on Nov. 15 and will become effective Jan. 1 unless the legislature modifies or rejects them.
The state Attorney General’s office has moved to dismiss Coll’s lawsuit, saying that this power to modify or reject is a “fail-safe mechanism” that satisfies the constitutional requirement.
But as Coll points out, the legislature isn’t usually in session between Nov. 15 and Jan. 1.