Happy Friday! Welcome to The Point.
How many New Yorkers are on the ‘no-purchase’ list for guns?
In early June, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushed to pass what he called a Red Flag Gun Protection Bill that would make New York the first state to allow teachers and school administrators to directly petition judges to take away guns from students and others whom they perceive as potential threats.
Cuomo’s Red Flag campaign in June led The Point to request data under the Freedom of Information Law to understand who in New York is already firearm-ineligible. The numbers are fascinating.
The data come from New York’s SAFE Act, the gun-regulation law written in 2013 in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Among the act’s provisions: developing a database of the people in the state who are on a “no-purchase” list because a mental health professional or physician recommended to the state that each person not be permitted to purchase or own a firearm. This information is retained for only five years.
Across the state, there are 113,070 people unable to purchase or carry a gun. Of them, 73,116 are men.
Suffolk County has about 6,700 residents on the list — the most by any county outside of New York City, and about 6 percent of the total. Nassau ranks 10th, with about 2,100 people, or 2 percent of the total.
Unsurprisingly, at the top is Manhattan, where 23,931 people are on the ineligible list. Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn all rank higher than Nassau and Suffolk as well.
In almost every county, including Nassau and Suffolk, there are more men on the list than women. The age range with the highest number of “no-purchase” designees is between 20 and 29.
Why this age group? Is it that they’re more likely to see a mental health professional or physician who might send up one of those red flags? Or is something else going on within the younger generation that makes some members unsuitable to own a firearm?
We will continue to crunch the numbers and see what else this data can reveal about gun laws, mental health and gun ownership in New York. Meanwhile, Cuomo’s legislation is still pending.
Isobel van Hagen and Randi F. Marshall
Can minor party ballot lines swing a tossup district?
State Sen. Elaine Phillips sent out word Friday that she has turned in petitions to appear on the Republican line for her first re-election bid in the 7th District — and on three other ballot lines as well. Phillips, a Republican, also would be on the Conservative, Independence and Reform party lines, as she was two years ago.
Her opponent, North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, will have the Democratic, Women’s Equality and Working Families party nominations.
So just how much do these extra lines matter in this race?
Phillips won her first term two years ago with a total of 69,881 votes to Adam Haber’s 66,604. But on their major party lines, Haber beat Phillips, 64,037 to 62,030.
Phillips received 5,961 votes on the Conservative line, 1,497 on the Independence line and 393 on the Reform Party line.
Haber got 1,769 on the WFP line and 798 on the WEP one.
And just what will this mean in 2018?
This is a true tossup that might hinge on the broad mood of the electorate, and on who turns out in November. But if the 7th District tally is close, it could come down to the feelings some voters have about minor parties, or even the confusion sown by the names of the minor parties.
Bull in a china shop
Solving the wonkiest problem you’ve ever heard
It’s hard to make dorky-sounding details of government sound interesting, and Nassau County’s “DAF tweak,” which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed into law, is as dorky as governance gets.
But the slight changes to how the Disputed Assessment Fund can be disbursed to commercial property owners in Nassau County for property tax refunds is supposed to solve one of the county’s biggest problems. And if that turns out to be the case, former County Executive Edward Mangano will deserve some of the credit.
Commercial property tax refunds have traditionally cost the county about $80 million a year, and that money was generally borrowed because of the county guarantee that forces Nassau to refund even overpayments disbursed to school districts and other municipalities for which it collects taxes. The problem is a primary cause of Nassau’s always out-of-balance books and its growing debt.
The Disputed Assessment Fund system essentially makes commercial property owners overpay their taxes into escrow, creating a fund to pay refunds to owners who win assessment appeals.
The DAF was approved by the Nassau and State legislatures in 2014, while Mangano was county executive, and went into effect for the 2016/2017 tax roll. But the wording of the law made it very difficult to disburse the funds to the winners of assessment appeals until the “DAF tweak” put forward by County Executive Laura Curran and approved by Cuomo.
If everything goes as planned, two problems will be solved. Commercial refunds will be paid only by commercial property owners, not all residents, as was the case when the funds came out of the general fund. The money sent to escrow will be used to stop future borrowing for refunds. And the kudos will be divided among both parties, two county executives, the State Legislature and Cuomo.