Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Oyster Bay's other way
- Cuomo’s celebrity treatment
- Down-ballot dreaming
Push comes to shove in Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto’s announcement that the town will have to lay off 150 employees by Jan. 1 is by far the most severe proposal the 10-term town leader has made during years of financial strain. It’s notable because as town finances have weakened, Venditto has been slow to make big changes, even when talking tough.
Speaking to the Newsday editorial board in 2014, Venditto said he had wanted the town to have its cake and eat it, too, for far too long — spending too much on services and improvements but doing too little to raise revenue. His point then was that he was ready to get town finances under control. Since then, things have only gotten worse. A credit rating that had suffered multiple downgrades from AAA to a score just two levels above junk status by 2014 is now at junk status, significantly increasing borrowing costs.
A 2012 buyout led to retirements of about 8 percent of the town’s workforce, but the number of employees has since crept back up. In the context of Venditto talking tough about balancing the books and then pulling back, it’s worth noting that his warning of layoffs comes as the town negotiates with the Civil Service Employees Association union on a new contract. The current one runs out on Dec. 31.
Hollywood takes on Cuomo
Actor Ashton Kutcher is among a group of big names urging Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to veto a bill that would fine Airbnb hosts up to $7,500 if they advertise short-term rentals in various multi-unit buildings.
The bill, approved by the State Legislature in June, is still sitting on Cuomo’s desk. He has until January to decide.
Kutcher — an Airbnb investor along with PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and dozens of others — sent a letter to Cuomo on Tuesday asking him to reject the bill. The letter appeals to Cuomo’s commitment to innovation and technology.
But on this issue, Cuomo is hearing from all sides. Earlier this month, the less famous but perhaps far more powerful Real Estate Board of New York sent its own letter to Cuomo, urging him to sign the bill. Cuomo is also hearing from hotel unions and others who favor the legislation.
One of the bill’s sponsors, state Assemb. Linda Rosenthal, told The Wall Street Journal she thought a letter from Kutcher wouldn’t have an impact. “He’s trying to punk me,” she said, referring to the practical-joke TV series Kutcher created.
A Cuomo spokeswoman noted Wednesday that the Airbnb bill was one of more than 500 passed at the end of this year’s session. It’s “under review,” she said.
No word on whether Kutcher’s voice will make the difference in the governor’s decision.
Randi F. Marshall
The Progressive Power Coalition endorsed 16 New York City candidates for State Senate and Assembly Wednesday morning. The candidates include State Sens. James Sanders and Gustavo Rivera, who are facing primaries.
The coalition, including Citizen Action NY, Make the Road Action and Vocal-NY Action Fund, also endorsed in state races in 2014. In letters to candidates, the coalition outlined progressive priorities, including overhauling the tax code, closing the LLC loophole for contributions to political campaigns, reforming the criminal justice system and expanding voter access.
Those are all issues pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has urged supporters to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and for progressives down the ballot this fall.