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MacArthur Airport riddle
Success for Long Island MacArthur Airport has always been a matter of finding the solution to a chicken-and-egg conundrum.
Is it the addition of new flights that brings passengers to the airport? Or is it healthy passenger use that brings new flights to the airport?
The next few months will provide data that will go a long way toward answering that riddle. That was the message the Newsday editorial board got from a visit Thursday by airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken and Angie Carpenter, supervisor of Islip Town, which owns the airport.
Frontier Airlines will begin service on April 8 to Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Charlotte, as well as Minneapolis and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The significance is that the first four destinations are the top four unserved markets for Long Islanders, according to a consultant’s report. The survey analyzed, among other things, airline ticket data on destinations to which Long Islanders were flying from airports other than MacArthur.
“Frontier answered the demand from Long Islanders,” LaRose-Arken said. “What’s next? Long Islanders have to step up to the plate and use the service.”
Southwest Airlines also upped its offerings by adding direct, one-stop flights to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, No. 8 on the unserved list. If successful, LaRose-Arken said, nonstop flights would follow.
The cautionary tale? April 8 also is the date that the flights Frontier began last fall to Fort Myers, Florida, and Miami will end — because they were not popular enough. And those two destinations had been Nos. 5-6 on the list of unserved areas.
Call it an experiment, but it will help determine whether MacArthur can become an airfield of dreams.
Gun debate political crossfire
For downstate Republicans in the State Senate, the spin on proposed gun regulations might be turning them into the deadliest political weapons of all. This week, it was Sen. Elaine Phillips of Flower Hill getting caught in the political crossfire.
In the wake of the shooting deaths of 17 people at a high school in Florida on Valentine’s Day, State Senate Democrats are pushing for tighter gun laws. But they can’t do anything without at least a little help from some members of the GOP majority. For the past two weeks, Democrats have tried to attach their priorities to Republican bills being debated on the floor. But Democrats need 32 votes to force consideration, and with two seats empty and Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn caucusing with Republicans, they are three votes short of forcing anything to the floor.
Democratic proposals that keep failing to get a hearing include strengthening background checks for gun buyers, banning the sale or possession of bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to operate like fully automatic machine guns, and barring the sale of military-style semi-automatic rifles.
No Senate Republican has joined Democrats in the amendments, which isn’t surprising. Senators of a feather almost invariably flock together. What was surprising was a news release from Phillips’ office Monday evening declaring her support for comprehensive background checks on all gun sales, a ban on “military-style assault weapons” and a ban on bump stocks.
Senate Democrats immediately jeered that Phillips should have supported those proposals and their amendments, though she alone couldn’t have turned the tide. Why, then, did she announce her support for what she had not supported earlier?
Come the November elections, support for increased gun regulations might be crucial to the re-election chances of downstate Republicans like Phillips. But approving such measures could spell trouble for upstate GOP senators. And the split in the needs of these two GOP wings could, if misplayed, spell the end of control of the Senate by the GOP.
The Point asked Phillips’ staff about her plan to work with her caucus to change minds and pass gun regulations she says she will push for but did not support in procedural votes.
The reply: “She is currently discussing legislation with colleagues.”
Voter registration status paranoia?
The fear of voter disenfranchisement is real in New York City. Just see the viral reaction to Bronx-Queens congressional hopeful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Tuesday tweet urging New Yorkers to check their voter registrations.
While some people had issues with the state Board of Elections website, by Wednesday morning, some missing registrations had reappeared, and the main problem appeared to have been the bulky, glitchy site.
But clearly, the memory of the city Board of Elections’ disastrous 2016 primary is real. That’s when more than 100,000 voters were found to have been improperly removed from the rolls.
The city BOE was forced to make amends, reaching a court settlement last year. The board’s first major oversight milestone is due on Wednesday: a remedial action plan presented to plaintiffs.
NYC BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan shared with The Point a preview of the plan, including an updated voter registration system that he says would keep better track of notifications sent to voters.
Ryan says some reforms were accomplished in the immediate wake of the 2016 primary, such as the reinstatement of improperly removed voters and the disabling of a process that allowed many to be removed originally.
Ryan thinks the board is in good shape for the year’s primaries, when Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is challenging Rep. Joe Crowley. Still, to make sure voting records remain as accurate as possible will take “constant vigilance,” Ryan says.