Windy happy hour
With lots of wind turbines slated to arrive off the coast of Long Island in the coming years, some climate activists are looking for creative ways to engage the public on the issue.
Hence the July 13 happy hour at Po’ Boy Brewery in Port Jefferson Station labeled "What's Brewin' Offshore?"
The event is being held by the education arms of Climate Jobs NY, a coalition of labor unions focusing on climate change and inequality, and the New York League of Conservation Voters. Wind energy giant Orsted, which is part of the LI sustainable energy plans, is a partner for the event, according to an online listing, and the purpose of the gathering is education (plus eating and drinking).
"This is a purely informational session to help Long Islanders understand the planned and proposed wind farms, the jobs associated with these projects, and how to get involved," says Mariah Dignan, Long Island organizer for Climate Jobs NY, wrote in an email.
There appears to be a political strategy behind the IPAs: The initiative shakes up the local climate conversation a little, currently so often bogged down in approvals and turbine visibility. More "What’s Brewin’ Offshore" sessions are being planned, and a future edition might even include virtual reality goggles to show visual simulations. Setting the series in drinking establishments allows the wind supporters to target young professionals and college students, as well as other members of the community.
"I think we need to have more creative & fun events like this to be sure Long Islanders are aware of the offshore wind projects and get involved," saidys Dignan in an email. "Early and often engagement is key to making this industry successful."
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Dueling political theater
Chuck Schumer has long been known for creative ways to get the attention of reporters and constituents, including corny lines and props and extremely specific news conferences about honey bees, robocalls, sunscreen, yogurt, or airline seat width.
Perhaps that’s why his protesters feel the need to up their own creative ante.
Since the dawn of the Trump era, activists from places like Indivisible and New York Communities for Change have often gathered outside Schumer’s Brooklyn apartment building to urge the state’s senior senator to wield more of his national power on issues like immigration or climate change. They reconvened on Monday to pressure the majority leader to end the filibuster and pass the big Republican-blocked voting rights package numbered S.1.
To that end, the activists did a little theater, setting up a cardboard voting station and a mock "voter suppression voting line" of people waiting to "cast their ballots," symbolic of the ways they say Republicans are trying to impede voting.
Also on hand: Stickers that say "I didn’t vote."
Schumer and his staff have long had a push and pull relationship with farther-left activists like these, and when asked about the protest, spokesman Angelo Roefaro nodded at GOP voter restriction efforts and said in a statement that "Our fight against modern-day voter suppression is just beginning. S.1. – the For the People Act – will continue to be a top priority in this Congress."
He added: "While last week was the first time we tried to consider major voting rights legislation, it won’t be the last."
The protesters are counting on it. Asked if they’ve found that they have to keep up with the performative Schumer with their Brooklyn protests, one of the organizers, Liat Olenick, turned it around: "I guess I’d rather say he’s keeping up with us."
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
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No free money yet for Suffolk politicians
Fresh from the ‘whatever-happened-to’ file: Public campaign financing in Suffolk, which has been on a slow track to fruition for years, shows signs of plodding forward – but at nowhere near the pace or on the schedule once foreseen. Now 2023 becomes the latest target date for the system’s debut.
Four years ago, the Suffolk legislature approved a law that would match small campaign donations with public funds and cap overall contributions. Early in 2019, preparations remained a work in progress with one board member of three still to be named to the Campaign Finance Board.
Now, a board and an executive director are in place, working to set up a system. But the funding needed for candidate payments has yet to be allocated.
When it all finally begins, candidates for Suffolk’s 18 legislative seats will be eligible to receive up to $50,000 in public funds. The county would match individual contributions of $250 or less with $4 to every $1 privately raised. Individual contributions to legislators would be capped at $1500.
So amid the practical uncertainties of budgeting during a pandemic, the 2021 primaries, which were slated to be a first test of public financing, came and went without the new system. That also will be the case with the general election in November.
But by postponing the start until 2023, the county executive and lawmakers – who were split along party lines about instituting the program – create a further complication.
That’s because in two years, legislative seats and the county executive post will be up for election at the same time. And officials all along planned to test drive public financing in a legislative election before introducing the added expense and administrative complexity of a countywide contest when executive candidates could qualify for up to $1 million in public money.
So if the board sticks to that plan, the first countywide race with public financing would occur in 2027 – a full decade after the measure to create it became law and after public funding for two legislative elections in 2023 and 2025.
The only alternative would be to commence county public financing all at once rather than phase it in lawmakers-first.
Given how slowly the law’s implementation has unfolded anyway, another six years doesn’t sound too startling.
— Dan Janison @danjanison