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Define ‘independent investigation’
Since accusations surfaced Wednesday that Sen. Jeff Klein, one of the most powerful people in Albany, forcibly kissed a staffer outside a bar two years ago, calls for “an independent investigation” have come fast.
The controversy could influence the balance of power in the Senate because Klein heads the Independent Democratic Conference, the breakaway Democrats who help keep Republicans in power.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Democratic leader Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and even Klein have demanded an “independent investigation,” but what the term means isn’t entirely clear. What is clear is that the Senate won’t conduct a deep dive of its own.
Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said in a statement that because the woman accusing Klein, Erica Vladimer, never filed a complaint, the Senate Ethics Committee cannot investigate.
Senate Ethics Committee chairwoman Elaine Phillips says, though, that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics or the New York State Legislative Ethics Commission could investigate, but it’s unclear how that would work, or whether it will happen.
However, Flanagan told The Point, “These are issues that I and the Senate take at the absolute highest level of priority, and over the past few months have actively been looking for ways to improve our process, including increasing training and awareness.”
Re-renovating the Coliseum
What will it take to get the New York Islanders back at Nassau Coliseum, just in the short term?
Adding TV cameras and cables, renovating more suites, and creating larger locker rooms and dressing areas at the Coliseum are considered musts before the team would play some games in Uniondale while an arena is built at Belmont Park.
Sources told The Point this week that renovations might not include additional seating, other than new suites. The cost of the upgrades, several sources confirmed, likely would be less than $10 million.
To put that into perspective, the Coliseum’s renovation, completed last year, cost $165 million. A full gut renovation that would’ve kept the Islanders at the Coliseum for good would have cost at least $350 million, by most estimates.
But for the Islanders to use the Coliseum for some games for a few years, a far smaller upgrade would be enough.
And it’s worth it for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Islanders’ current home, and which is the parent company for Nassau Events Center, the Coliseum’s developer. On the nights the Islanders play on Long Island, the company would be able to use Barclays for potentially more lucrative events.
Talk about a win-win.
Randi F. Marshall
New York’s bad grade
In the works
State Sen. John Brooks has been the Don Quixote of tax battles, trying for years to solve the many problems of Nassau County assessments. Now, the even larger challenge of funding local schools through real estate taxes is front and center with the passage of the new federal tax law that caps deductions for state and local taxes. Brooks, a freshman Democrat, has grabbed his horse and lance.
“L.I. is going to get killed,” he told the Point, describing the numbers he has analyzed and the effects of the federal tax law. Brooks is working with State Senate staff to formulate his proposal, which he says would lower the amount homeowners pay in school taxes but keep current funding levels in place. Hint: The state would make up the difference.
Brooks, a former member of the Seaford school board, estimates he’s about a month away from making his plan public. But unlike fixing the assessment system in Nassau County, this time his plan might not be an impossible dream.
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