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Could David Mack return to the MTA?

David Mack, then Vice Chairman of the MTA

David Mack, then Vice Chairman of the MTA at a meeting in the Manhattan MTA headquarters, March 21, 2006. Photo Credit: Scout Tufankjian

Daily Point

Old Macky's back

As developer Scott Rechler announced his resignation from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board this week, it seemed Long Island had lost another key advocate for its public transit issues. That was a particularly bad blow, since the Nassau County seat on the MTA board is vacant, too.

But The Point learned Wednesday that the effort to fill the Nassau seat has moved forward, as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has sent real estate executive David Mack’s name for approval to the State Senate.

Mack was on the MTA board before, but was forced out in 2009 by then-Attorney General Cuomo after Mack refused to cooperate with Cuomo’s investigation into the state police. Despite that history, former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano submitted Mack’s name as his MTA board pick back in 2013 -- and Gov. Cuomo rejected the choice.

In June, County Executive Laura Curran submitted Mack’s name, along with developer Peter Florey, who had ties to the Long Island Builders Institute and was too similar to Suffolk County representative Mitch Pally, and Patti Ann McDonald, widow to NYPD Det. Steven McDonald. But after published reports suggested Cuomo might pick Mack, McDonald spoke out against the decision -- and that was the end of that. The legislative session ended without any pick being made or approved.

A Nassau County spokeswoman told The Point Wednesday that in December Curran made a new submission that included Baxter Estates Mayor Nora Haagenson, JP Morgan financial adviser Todd Richman, and Mack.

This time, Mack made the cut.

It’s unclear, however, when the State Senate will take up the Mack appointment.

While Rechler, who heads RXR Realty in Uniondale and owns a home in Old Brookville, didn’t officially represent the Island -- he was appointed by Cuomo in 2017 -- he often advocated for the region, and, at least, understood Long Island issues and concerns.

Without him, Pally, who heads the Long Island Builders Institute, is now the lone Long Island voice on the 18-member board until Mack gets Senate confirmation.

Pally knows it’ll be tougher to advocate for the Island without Rechler, who had “tremendous credibility and prestige and access to the second floor [Cuomo’s office],” Pally told The Point. Rechler’s departure “just reinforces whatever needs to happen to make sure Nassau County has a representative is done as quickly as possible,” Pally said.

But with lots of talk from Cuomo about reconfiguring the MTA, as he seeks more board seats and sole veto power over the MTA capital plan, a lot could change between now and April, and that may mean board appointments will be on hold.

Or, with so much else going on, it could be the perfect time to bring Mack back.

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

The politics of high taxes

President Donald Trump is not a traditional Republican, but when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo met with him Tuesday to argue for the restoration of unlimited federal deductions for state and local taxes that Trump’s tax bill capped at $10,000 starting in 2018, the president had a traditional GOP response: cut the excessive taxes in your state.

That taxes are high in New York is an accepted fact on par with the roundness of Earth, but how fair is Trump’s rebuttal when it comes to state income taxes?

New York’s top state income tax rate of 8.82 percent is, it turns out, eighth in the country, behind six states and the District of Columbia. California leads the pack with a whopping 13.3 percent top rate. Then come: Oregon (9.9 percent), Minnesota (9.85 percent), Iowa (8.98 percent), New Jersey (8.97 percent) and Vermont and the District of Columbia (both with top rates of 8.95 percent).

Of these, Trump won only Iowa in 2016.

Top tax rates, though, can be deceptive, as they often only apply to the very wealthy, but even middle-class Californians, for instance, pay far higher rates of state income tax than New Yorkers.

In New York, all annual income between $13,901 per year and $1,077,550 (for single filers) is taxed at between 5.9 percent and 6.85 percent. In California, a 9.3 percent rate kicks in for income above $56,085, escalating gradually to 12.3 percent for income above $572,980, and 13.3 percent above $1 million.

And California pays that higher rate on higher median household income ($69,759 in 2017) than New York ($62,447 in 2017).

It’s good to know someone has it worse, but for anyone looking to flee to a low-tax heaven of a haven, what’s needed is a list of the nine states that charge no income tax and so were least impacted by the SALT cap: Alaska, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Florida and New Hampshire.

Of these, Trump lost Washington, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

Good boy

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Reference Point

Safety first

As the nation prepares to solemnly observe the one-year anniversary Thursday of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, it’s worth looking back to realize how long our state has wrestled with the question of who has the right to own guns and under what circumstances.

Nearly 50 years ago to the day, on Feb. 15, 1969, Newsday’s editorial board wrote about a proposal from then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to require gun owners to be trained and licensed.

The board noted that cars are like guns in that both can be lethal but that only car owners must be trained and licensed, something it called a “silly state of affairs.”

Rockefeller had proposed requiring licenses for any gun owner over age 14 who “had demonstrated his ability to safely handle a gun.” Anyone with a conviction for a felony or certain misdemeanors and anyone suffering from mental illness would be denied a license.

“It is simple common sense to require that anyone who owns a gun at least know how to use it safely,” the board said in support of Rockefeller’s initiative.

While a license is now required to own a handgun in New York, and felony and other convictions as well as various measures of mental illness are grounds for denial, the state still has no safety education requirement for handguns or long guns.

Michael Dobie

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