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First meeting honeymoon for LIRR president
Every month, Mitch Pally takes the same seat in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board room, from which he chairs the Long Island Rail Road committee meeting.
This Monday, there was a different occupant in the seat next to him as Phil Eng made his first appearance since taking over as LIRR president on April 16. And it was a bit of a honeymoon for Eng, who filed his first president’s report with optimistic pronouncements.
Under his leadership, Eng said, “It’s no longer business as usual.” He said the railroad is “turning the page” and “closing the book on the past year.”
Beyond the catchphrases, Eng did make news. He has reviewed the draft of his predecessor’s performance improvement plan and is going to rewrite it. The goals will be more aggressive, the timeline more accelerated.
He also pointed to small changes he has already made based on customer feedback from his visits to LIRR stations last week. One rider told Eng that he’d appreciate reports on how the subways were running during his LIRR commute, so if there is a problem on certain lines, he could change his plans while still on the railroad. Eng said the MTA started Friday to make announcements on LIRR trains about the subways.
Avoiding hard-hitting questions for now, the few board members who spoke congratulated Eng, welcomed him and wished him luck.
Said Pally, with a knowing smile, “We all wish him good luck.”
May the evening commute goes as smoothly as Eng’s first committee meeting.
Randi F. Marshall
Cuomo gets on board
If The Point had realized how quickly Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would respond to demands from the Newsday editorial board, the ask would have been $10 million and a getaway car.
A Newsday editorial noting the success of Suffolk County’s 5-cent fee on disposable plastic bags, and asking that Albany move statewide to curb the environmentally disastrous carryalls, was posted on our website Sunday and appeared in print on Monday. By Monday afternoon, Cuomo announced he was introducing a bill to ban disposable plastic bags at checkout in retail businesses statewide.
That’s the timing, but Cuomo’s announcement clearly was on his to-do list, because the text of his proposed law was already drafted and included with the release.
And New York City made national news Monday for considering a ban on the sale of plastic bottles at its parks, beaches and other outdoor venues. Westchester County is considering a measure like Suffolk’s, as are some upstate counties. Cuomo, who had taken heat for not pushing a statewide bill earlier in the legislative session, clearly couldn’t wait too long to get out ahead.
“No, don’t sell yourselves short,” Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito said when asked what prompted the move Monday. “They [Cuomo’s people] had definitely read it when they reached out this morning for a quote.”
Esposito also said that as far as she knows, Cuomo’s ban is the actual goal and not just an opening gambit to get a bag bill passed.
“After the New York City plan to impose a bag fee got killed last year, the governor sat down with the big environmental groups and said a ban was what he really wanted, and that he wasn’t comfortable with the fee unless it went to something that would actually help the environmental problem instead of store owners,” she said.
Now Cuomo’s challenge will be to convincing the State Senate — and vote-swaying Sen. Simcha Felder, a big bag-fee and bag-ban opponent — to come over to his side in the five weeks of the session that remain.
The Trump Game
A new day
- New Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng said at his first meeting of the MTA’s commuter railroad committee on Monday, “I can promise you that today is a new day for the LIRR.” Well, in terms of the calendar, he’s right.
- President Donald Trump tweeted that he doesn’t expect his personal attorney Michael Cohen to flip on him. Just like Cohen doesn’t expect Trump to tweet about him again.
- Fierce opposition to a new shopping center on Jericho Turnpike on the Elwood-Dix Hills border has centered on fears of increased traffic, water contamination and quality-of-life impacts. Anyone concerned about whether Long Island really needs more shopping?
- Long Island school districts are proposing to increase taxes by an average of 2.42 percent, the highest increase in five years, just as the new federal tax bill limits the amount of property taxes homeowners can deduct. Hey, it only feels like collusion.
- A law firm that gave money to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and whose partner is a major Democratic fundraiser started working for Curran and Nassau’s board of elections two weeks ago without a contract or approval from the county legislature. What is it about politicians and law firms and the deals they make?
- French President Emmanuel Macron explained his strong relationship with President Donald Trump by noting that both are mavericks who won elections unexpectedly on their first tries. He could also have noted that polls show both are now in trouble with voters.
- White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said CNN asking about her husband’s tweets criticizing President Donald Trump is an example of a double standard because she is a woman. Hey, Kellyanne, when the spouse of a high-ranking White House official once considered for an appointment by the president criticizes the president, it’s always news, no matter the president or the official or the spouse.