Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Assembly debates assembling
Assembly Democrats met behind closed doors Monday afternoon to decide whether there should be a special session this month.
Lawmakers have until the end of the year to vote themselves a pay raise effective with the new year, or wait another two years before they have another chance.
The Assembly’s Democratic leaders have balked at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s suggestion that he would support a minor pay raise if they passed some laws that got bottled up at the end of the June session. They said that smacked of an improper horse trade.
However, heading into the meeting, Joseph Morelle, the Assembly’s majority leader, held open the possibility that the legislature would return to deal with legislation on housing for homeless people, investigation of hate crimes, and on the expired 421a tax break for developers who build affordable housing.
Does that mean they are willing to do their jobs without any inducements? Or will the pay raise come through the Albany backdoor, where everything is negotiable as long as you don’t acknowledge it?
Answers anchoring soon
Students at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point shouldn’t have to wait much longer before they know what the future holds for the school.
That’s because U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx plans to receive recommendations and decide on a course of action for the college before his term ends on Jan. 20.
In response to questions from Newsday’s editorial board, a Transportation Department spokeswoman said officials hope to hear back “shortly” from outside experts who are conducting an extensive evaluation of the school. The academy has faced reports that sexual harassment and sexual assault are occurring at higher rates than at any of the other U.S. service academies. Federal officials are particularly concerned about potential harassment during the college’s Sea Year program aboard commercial vessels. Now, midshipmen are limited to federal ships to allow for increased monitoring and oversight. The academy separately faces a warning from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that it failed to meet five of 14 standards.
“The secretary intends to identify a way forward on these challenging issues before he leaves office,” the DOT spokeswoman said.
With Inauguration Day exactly seven weeks away, we’ll know soon whether this ship will sail.
Randi F. Marshall
To infinity and beyond
-- Donald Trump transition senior adviser Kellyanne Conway says there is not a “finite” list of candidates for secretary of state. Who doesn’t love infinite possibilities?
-- A new train line planned for southern France would run through special flower fields used in producing the iconic Chanel No.5 perfume. Chanel can always switch flowers and begin making Love Potion No.9.
-- Ben Carson, Donald Trump’s nominee for housing secretary, is a retired surgeon with no public policy experience. But he has lived in houses.
-- Retired Gen. James Mattis condemns torture, favors preserving the Iran nuclear deal, and believes in a world shaped by American leadership. Now he’s been nominated for secretary of defense by Donald Trump, who holds none of those positions.
-- Onetime Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says the media failed because “You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally. The American people didn’t.” Hey, Corey, are you referring to the part where Trump said he was going to bring back their jobs and make America great again?
-- It’s not just that those “I Love NY” highway signs are distracting, expensive, violate federal law and some were made in Arkansas. How about the fact that they’re UGLY!
-- A set of five incandescent lightbulbs created by Thomas Edison more than 100 years ago sold at auction for $30,000. Imagine what they would have brought if they still worked.
-- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats don’t have to change their message, and that Americans don’t really want change. Makes you feel good about her other declaration — that she’s hopeful about the party’s future.