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King family reflects on the past

Congressman Peter King is interviewed during an executive

Congressman Peter King is interviewed during an executive breakfast event hosted by the Long Island Association in Melville Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Pete King reflects

Rep. Pete King’s news releases often cover a variety of topics a little off the news, from baseball to books he likes.

But Tuesday’s missive reflected on George W. Bush’s presidency.

“I strongly believe that George W. Bush was one of our strongest and most underrated Presidents,” he wrote, below a picture taken with the president. “Just yesterday I received this photo of Rosemary and me with President Bush that was taken during his speaking engagement at CW Post last fall. That photo caused me to think back on the Bush Presidency and my own personal experiences with the 43rd President.”

The news release came the day before Bush’s name would be back in the news for the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It was also a day after Bush had talked of the value of immigration at a Dallas naturalization ceremony, using rhetoric starkly different from President Donald Trump’s.

King’s note included anecdotes about Bush’s “integrity and character,” as when Bush insisted on spending time with a wounded veteran friend of King’s during a busy NYC trip.

The Point asked King whether Trump had a similar strength of character.

“Hard to answer,” he emailed. “I have seen some very human responses by Trump.”

He declined to elaborate.

Then on Wednesday, Trump launched a not-particularly-Boy-Scout fusillade against John McCain, the war hero and senator who died in August. Trump said he didn’t like the guy and was upset he’d gotten no “thank you” for his role (which was limited) in McCain’s funeral.

Here the Seaford Republican criticized Trump publicly, tweeting: “Time for @POTUS Trump to end the shots at John McCain a true patriot, good man and true friend.”

Were the Bush and McCain messages about character connected, The Point emailed?

“Really a coincidence. I just got the Bush photo the other day. Wrote the post before the McCain story broke. After POTUS speech in Ohio yesterday I thought it was time to say something. Owed it to John.”

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

Another King uses the past as a guide

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney has Amazon on her mind.

Two months ago, when Amazon’s future in Long Island City was still up in the air, King Sweeney wrote a letter to the online retailer’s chief, Jeff Bezos, and posted a video to social media inviting the company to consider relocating to her district, promising that she “could get development going in the town of Hempstead.”

And, during an interview with The Point Thursday, King Sweeney emphasized that her biggest issue at the moment is the future of development in the town -- an issue Hempstead Republicans often have avoided. Don’t forget, of course, that they were the ones who killed previous plans at the Nassau Hub, leading the New York Islanders to leave for Brooklyn.

But now, King Sweeney, who wasn’t on the town board when the original Hub plans were scuttled, says the opposition that sunk the Amazon deal reflects the need to “start thinking differently.”

“We should be gravely concerned that that mindset could affect the town of Hempstead,” King Sweeney told The Point.

King Sweeney said her attention is particularly focused on the Nassau Hub, where she’s a member of the community benefits advisory committee, and downtown Baldwin, where she’s working to establish an “overlay district” to allow for development there. And she advocated for a “wholesale reexamination of our zoning code” to update it to reflect the town’s current and future needs.  

“We can’t be afraid to fail,” King Sweeney said.

Talk about a change from the days when the town GOP was afraid to even try.

Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

Bone spurs

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Final Point

A bridge too far

Did we just take a bridge back in time?

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spends lots of time advocating for companies to move to the region (think Amazon), or grow in the region. And he spends lots of time talking about the state’s bridges and roads.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that a Thursday morning announcement about new bridge construction projects for Long Island -- including the desperately needed replacement of the Walt Whitman Road bridge over the Long Island Expressway in Melville -- would focus on the key companies that call Melville home.

But in reading the statement, Long Islanders might have wondered whether they had stepped back in time.

“The current bridge, built in 1962, sits less than two miles from the Nassau-Suffolk border in the booming commercial center of Melville, the headquarters of numerous national and international companies, such as Canon USA, Nikon and OSI Pharmaceuticals,” the statement read.

Canon and Nikon both maintain U.S. headquarters in Melville. But OSI? The once-beloved, locally grown company -- once thought to be the anchor of a future biotech industry on the Island -- hasn’t had a presence on Long Island since 2013. OSI was acquired by Astellas Pharma in 2010, which first closed the OSI headquarters in Melville, and then shut OSI’s remaining lab space at the Broadhollow Bioscience Park in Farmingdale.

OSI’s former headquarters building on Pinelawn Road was purchased in 2014 and renovated last year, and is now leased to five tenants, according to Alexandra Damianos, a spokeswoman with Damianos Realty Group, which bought the building with Little Rock Construction.

If only a new Walt Whitman Road bridge could bring OSI back to Long Island.

Randi F. Marshall