Suozzi lands A-list spot
Tom Suozzi learned Wednesday night that he will be on the prestigious House Ways and Means Committee. While Suozzi doesn’t yet know which subcommittee he will be assigned to, Ways and Means is where the action takes place because of its jurisdiction over revenue-raising measures (such as tax and trade) and social programs (Social Security and Medicare).
Suozzi told The Point that being on the A-list committee will help him as he advocates to repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions, which is expected to hurt home values in a high-tax state like New York. “It gives me a bully pulpit and a voice to trying to pass this kind of legislation,” he said.
Suozzi will hold a traditional downstate New York slot once held by Democrats Charles Rangel and Joe Crowley. However, after Crowley lost a primary to the political meteor known as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the former chair of the Democratic caucus urged Suozzi to push for a seat on the committee.
That didn’t sit well with Ocasio-Cortez. Her progressive backers eyed a Ways and Means Committee seat as essential to influence a progressive agenda and supported the freshman lawmaker in her surprising bid for it. Ocasio-Cortez supporters even started an online petition that drew more than 100,000 backers to get the attention of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They attacked Suozzi for being a centrist and conservative.
But Suozzi lined up support the old-fashioned way, getting the backing of a majority of the New York delegation, most important that of Hakeem Jeffries, who replaced Crowley as head of the House Democratic caucus. And despite a last-minute effort by another member of the delegation to jump into the fray, Pelosi stayed with Suozzi.
De Blasio’s progressive gospel
In terms of messaging, Mayor Bill de Blasio may have hit his stride with his sixth State of the City on Thursday.
He stuck to a teleprompter (one year he used bullet points; it wasn’t great).
He got the theatrics down, a la Trump, signing an executive order with a flourish from the stage at Manhattan’s Symphony Space to create a mayoral office to protect tenants' rights.
Rather than deliver a prime-time address many New Yorkers are not exactly inclined to watch, he spoke for about an hour in the middle of the day and effectively leaked beforehand his major new proposals to national outlets like MSNBC and The Washington Post.
And yes, there were large portions of the address that adopted a “national” tone, fitting given that de Blasio has had national ambitions since the beginning of his mayoralty (as per emails between him and outside advisers released after a lawsuit) and said that he’d travel the country spreading the progressive gospel.
Legal weed. Healthcare for all. And plenty of progressive rhetoric for those primary voters following along on Twitter.
“There’s plenty of money in this city, it’s just in the wrong hands,” de Blasio thundered.
“We give back to working people the prosperity that they have earned,” he added.
If fines and penalties don’t change behavior from bad landlords? “We will seize their buildings,” he vowed.
People are struggling in this city and this country and de Blasio the progressive preacher has ideas about how to make it right. “The bible tells us, help your neighbor,” he crooned.
Those who are just tuning in to the confident, very tall Bernie-type from Brooklyn might not care to quibble much about what exactly he means when he says that health care will be “guaranteed” in NYC. They might not mind that the mayor devoted a lone line to NYCHA, the city’s destitute public housing agency, a tough arena in which to make real progress.
“Never, ever… underestimate New Yorkers,” de Blasio finished. Truer words, considering how things went in 2016.
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Baldwin gets its due
Thursday evening looks to be a busy day for economic development efforts in the Town of Hempstead.
Besides being the last of three days of public hearings on Belmont Park, Thursday also will be an opportunity for residents in Baldwin to hear about the town’s plans for an “overlay district” - a special zone that would set parameters for downtown Baldwin’s long-delayed redevelopment. That’ll likely include height and density guidelines and the geographic boundaries of a new zone.
The details come after a collaboration among town officials, advocates and community groups like the Baldwin Civic Association.
“There’s a tremendous amount of hard work that’s gone into this,” Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney told The Point.
Community members will be able to provide input during the meeting, to be held at Baldwin Middle School at 7:30 p.m. In the coming months, the overlay zone will be subject to an environmental impact study and, ultimately, will require approval by the town board.
But this is one of the rare issues in Hempstead where King Sweeney and Town Supervisor Laura Gillen are, it seems, on the same page. As a result, Gillen said she’s hopeful that approvals and the start of development plans in Baldwin could happen by the spring.
“We want to move this along as fast as we can,” Gillen said. “The people in Baldwin … have waited a long time to see something happen there.”
Randi F. Marshall