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Bannon lands on LI
With the defeat Tuesday of GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama, his greatest supporter, Steve Bannon, may have finally transitioned from hot political Svengali to radioactive Republican. Party members are jumping off his dystopian bandwagon in droves. On Long Island, Rep. Pete King, long a Bannon critic, doubled down, calling him a phony and saying the GOP needs to distance itself from him.
But that stampede does not include Lee Zeldin.
Zeldin, whose Manhattan fundraiser Thursday evening features Bannon as its headliner, has been under fire for a month for his connection to the rumpled former senior adviser and campaign manager for President Donald Trump.
Bannon, fired by Trump months ago but still close to the president, has resumed his control of Breitbart, a news and commentary site often accused of being a comfortable stage for “alt-right” and white supremacist thought.
Bannon supported Moore in his primary victory against Luther Strange, who most likely would have beaten Democratic winner Doug Jones, and stuck by Moore even after accusations came to light that Moore molested a 14-year-old girl and pursued other young girls decades ago. And it was Bannon who convinced Trump to support Moore.
So the buzz Wednesday is all about GOPers expected to flee Bannon.
Zeldin told The Point that Bannon would still be the main speaker at his event, where tickets start at $1,000 apiece. While he disagrees with Bannon on other issues, Zeldin said his loyalty is justified because of Bannon’s strong support for Jewish issues. Both strongly back the policies of the Israeli government and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and both strongly oppose the Iran treaty and the BDS movement.
As for Moore, however, Zeldin had little good to say, arguing he “should have stepped aside when the allegations came out, and I said so publicly.”
Water, water, everywhere
Long Island may have been one of the big winners at Wednesday’s Regional Economic Development Council awards presentation in Albany, but it was really water that took the top prize.
Of the $84.3 million awarded to the Island — one of the five top prizes statewide — more than $15 million was given to significant water quality projects across the region. Among them were an expansion of Northport’s sewer system along its harbor, which will get $5 million in state economic development funds, and a new sewer connection between Sea Cliff and the Glen Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant, an effort that will result in the removal of at least 160 older cesspools and that was awarded $3.3 million in state money.
Nassau County, Long Beach and the Peconic Land Trust were among the other big water quality project winners. Even far smaller amounts — like $30,000 to the village of Manorhaven — went to studies on sewer infrastructure upgrades.
There were plenty of other project winners across Long Island, of course — 98 in total — from the construction of a YMCA community center in Wyandanch, a new genomics center at the Feinstein Institute and a parking garage in downtown Huntington to improvements to Patchogue’s Shorefront Park, the modernization of Long Island MacArthur Airport’s terminal, and the restoration of the Sag Harbor Cinema.
But water was the clear victor.
Randi F. Marshall
The MTA board approved almost $2 billion in spending on the LIRR’s third track project Wednesday afternoon, the end of a long saga to expand the commuter railroad. On Tuesday, however, there seemed to be signal problems that could have caused further delays.
MTA board members appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio were questioning whether the money would be better spent on improving subway service, and noting that the LIRR’s East Side Access project had developed into a major sinkhole that still requires more money.
Long Island Association President Kevin Law didn’t want to leave anything to chance, so he drafted a letter to the board, and got Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive-elect Laura Curran to sign on as well. “We cannot and should not pit region against region. The fact of the matter is that New York City and Long Island economies are inextricably linked,” the letter stated. It noted that Long Islanders send $15 billion to Albany and get back only $10 billion annually, as well as paying $400 million in MTA taxes.
Since Law was on his way to Albany Wednesday for the Regional Economic Development Council shindig, LIA spokesman Matt Cohen stepped up to the mic to read the letter to board members at the Manhattan meeting. Although the votes were probably already in the bank to approve the third track project, comments made by NYC board members make it clear that any future dollars earmarked for Long Island may have trouble getting out of the station.
The start of something good for the GOP
Something about Donald Trump has gnawed at columnist William F. B. O’Reilly for the past two years. Something deep and fundamental that he says he couldn’t quite explain. But, he writes: “The Alabama Senate race mercifully unearthed it.” Read his column here.