Tunnel vision? Not in Southampton
Among the speakers at a last-minute emergency meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board Tuesday to discuss how to fix the L train were subway riders, Williamsburg residents, a small-business owner and even a TV reporter.
Then there was Alex Gregor.
Gregor of East Quogue is the town of Southampton’s highway superintendent, a position he has held for 10 years. He called himself a “part-time resident of Brooklyn” -- later telling The Point that his wife has a residence in the borough -- and said he mostly uses the F and G lines.
The Southampton town elected official was there to give his two cents about Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s controversial plan to avoid shutting down the L line to repair the train tunnel beneath the East River.
Gregor discussed his fears that the L train tunnel walls were damaged by salt water to the point where they could fall apart and that the new proposed plan -- which would repair and cover the tunnel bench wall, but not fully remove and replace it -- didn’t go far enough to fix them.
“I don’t think using mechanic in a can to spray the old bench walls is the ticket,” Gregor said.
Gregor, who left the meeting after about an hour, clutching a work jacket with reflective material, told The Point that he took the day off to attend the MTA meeting, but stayed in touch with his crews throughout the day.
Gregor used his time to argue that his department and the MTA “compete for the same funding,” noting that he does not favor a potential tolling plan on Manhattan roads if the revenue would only go to the MTA, instead suggesting congestion-pricing funds should go to highways, too.
Once back on Long Island, Gregor told The Point that he was frustrated by how Cuomo’s L train plan seemed like a “done deal,” and was concerned that the public trust was “at an all-time low.”
“I think the residents of the town would be happy to know I was there on behalf of them,” Gregor said.
Randi F. Marshall and Mark Chiusano
Schneider navigates Suffolk sewers
As Suffolk gears up for a Jan. 22 public referendum on what would be the county’s biggest sewer expansion in decades, it’s getting some help from an old familiar face.
Jon Schneider, once the top political aide to County Executive Steve Bellone, is working with a group of environmentalists, labor representatives and community activists to pave the way for passage of a referendum to authorize spending of $390 million in federal and state grants that would end up connecting nearly 7,000 homes to sewers.
Water quality “was something I worked on a ton in the county and was near and dear to my heart,” Schneider told The Point. “We put together a group to remind people to vote, get some messaging across.”
The three measures would expand the Southwest Sewer District north toward Deer Park and east into Great River and would create a new sewer district with its own treatment plant in Mastic-Shirley. Only affected residents can vote. The grants would pay for all construction costs and the pumping out and abandonment of cesspools. Homeowners would be responsible only for the kinds of operations and maintenance costs borne by residents already connected to sewers.
County officials are not allowed to advocate for the referendum, and Schneider noted the uncertainty of turnout in a special election such as this calls for extra effort.
“We’re going to do some mail pieces, different groups have people at meetings, we’ll be doing some door-to-door canvassing,” Schneider said. “We’re trying to do things very community-centric.”
Schneider is wearing several hats these days. He is working part-time as a consultant at Long Island University’s Global Institute and as a communication strategist for the Association of Municipal Employees, Suffolk’s largest union, and has joined McBride Consulting and Business Development Group as a senior consultant.
For Schneider, the sewer referendum is unfinished business.
And going... and going...
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Mayor de Blasio has his say
Maybe you didn’t think the lead up to the 2020 Democratic presidential primary would include NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio responding to former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the opinion pages of The Washington Post, but here we are.
De Blasio told Jake Tapper on CNN this week that he wouldn’t rule out running for president, and his Tuesday Op-Ed is full of advice for presidential contenders, even if it’s not him.
Clearly happy to get a piece of the national spotlight he has long sought, actual presidential plans or not, de Blasio returns to familiar themes in his piece. He bashes the “mainstream media” and pokes fun at The New York Times, the kind of cerebral antagonist whose criticisms seem to wound him deeply.
He quickly glosses over the progressive policies he says have transformed “deep blue” New York, and then delivers some half a dozen paragraphs of national political analysis — 11,000 votes in Michigan, the predictive power of ballot initiatives, felons not being able to vote in Florida, which aided Trump’s 2016 win.
It’s the kind of electoral strategery that de Blasio has often been known for in NYC political circles. A former political operative who skillfully navigated the waters (and took advantage of strange occurrences) to election and re-election in 2013 and 2017, de Blasio returns to comfortable territory in the Post.
Whether or not he actually employs any higher office electoral strategy for himself.