So Long, Mike
Longtime State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long announced his coming retirement on Monday as Democrats in the State Senate sped through anti-Conservative priorities like the Child Victims Act and new abortion protections.
But the new guard of progressives in Albany wasn’t why Long made the announcement, according to fellow Brooklynite Gerard Kassar.
It was “simply the fact that he's been doing it for 30 years," Kassar, a party vice chairman, tells The Point. “He became a little tired of doing it." Long turns 79 on Friday.
It was Long who forced state Republicans to hold the line on abortion issues, gay marriage and extending the statute of limitations for childhood victims of sexual abuse.
Kassar cited the vast number of grandchildren and great grandchildren that Long has, noting that he goes to all the birthdays: “He’s got a lot to do.”
Long made the surprise announcement at the party’s annual political action conference at a Holiday Inn in Latham, near Albany. Kassar said it was the right time since the conference features the largest attendance of party officials short of a statewide convention.
It’s certainly a big shift after decades of party service for Long.
Rep. Pete King, the Seaford Republican, who has gotten the Conservative line consistently in his career, underscored this to The Point in an email, noting that it will be hard to keep the same “clout as Mike was able to get and keep.”
King praised Long’s ability to “be principled and pragmatic and play in the big leagues.”
So who’s next for the minor party?
Kassar says he’ll throw his hat in the ring. He thinks the party can use some updating in terms of its approaches to digital media, but as far as Long’s longtime political philosophy and approach?
“He’s been fantastic,” Kassar said.
Same meeting, new players
Coming on the heels of a lousy Tuesday morning commute, for both subway and Long Island Rail Road riders, will be Wednesday’s budget hearing in Albany on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. From lawmakers’ calls for better service to MTA officials’ calls for more money, the hearing may not be too different from the one held a year ago.
But the players at the hearing table will be different. A year ago, then-MTA chair Joe Lhota handled the fire from lawmakers. This time, since the MTA still lacks a permanent replacement for Lhota, it’ll be a mix of top MTA personnel -- including President Pat Foye, Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran, Managing Director Veronique Hakim, and Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber -- on the defensive.
Expect to hear a lot about the MTA’s budgetary problems -- its 2022 deficit is projected at nearly $1 billion -- and about congestion pricing, the effort to toll NYC’s central business district and provide a new funding stream for the authority. MTA board member Mitch Pally told The Point he hopes lawmakers will address what they think of the proposed fare increase and suggest alternatives for a more immediate revenue boost.
Those in charge of the subway and the LIRR, Andy Byford and Phil Eng, are not expected to attend the hearing but there’s also sure to be plenty of talk about train service -- and the ongoing problems in both systems.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky noted that the MTA promised to make changes and improve service a year ago. “But the statistics are worse,” he told The Point, adding that he expects to display charts and read emails from angry constituents, just as he did a year ago.
At the time, Lhota said: “You have my word that this will get fixed.”
With Lhota gone, the question is: Whose word do we listen to now?
Randi F. Marshall
Stirring up trouble
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And the nominee is...
North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth will nominate a new board member to replace Anna Kaplan at the town’s regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday. However, ahead of the meeting Bosworth is not saying who she has chosen.
Kaplan vacated the seat she first won in 2011 to take her place in the State Senate; she defeated Republican incumbent Elaine Phillips in a bruising battle in November. Kaplan’s win was one of the semi-upsets that gave Democrats a commanding 39-24 majority -- a margin few would have predicted.
With Kaplan, Bosworth had a 5-2 Democratic edge on the town board (and a rare 5-2 female majority that will remain unchanged, sources who know the pick say), and should have no trouble getting her nominee approved for a seat that will be up for election in November. North Hempstead districts are councilmanic, meaning Kaplan’s replacement will be from the 4th District, which includes Roslyn, Roslyn Estates, Munsey Park, North Hills, Great Neck, Great Neck Gardens, Kensington, Kings Point, Thomaston, and the unincorporated areas of Manhasset and Great Neck.