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Opinion

Rethinking the MTA board

MTA president Patrick Foye during a public hearing

MTA president Patrick Foye during a public hearing at the Long Island Hilton in Melville on Nov. 29, 2018. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Daily Point

Shuffling the deck

New Metropolitan Transportation Authority chair Pat Foye and new MTA board member Kevin Law won’t be the only new faces with connections to Long Island at the authority’s April board meeting.

Among Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s other appointments announced last week: Haeda Mihaltses.

Mihaltses is vice president of external affairs for the New York Mets, which means she works with city, state and federal officials, and the public. But her work is not limited to the team -- she also represents the Mets’ real estate arm, Sterling Project Development.

With that hat, one of Mihaltses’ biggest jobs lately has been handling much of the public outreach and media relations for the redevelopment of Belmont Park and on efforts to develop Willets Point.

Which brings us back to the MTA ... Public transit is one of the biggest questions regarding the development of a hockey arena for the New York Islanders, a hotel and a retail village at Belmont. Sources have told The Point that the MTA has been in talks with the developers regarding attempts to expand service, or even build a full-time station at Belmont. And the MTA also is a big part of any talk of building at Willets because it’s where the LIRR meets the 7 line.

Mihaltses did not return calls for comment, and it’s unclear whether she’d have to recuse herself from any particular discussions that might come before the MTA board. Former MTA chair Joe Lhota recused himself from Belmont decisions a year ago, because of his role as a director of the board of Madison Square Garden, which, at the time, had an interest in the Belmont plans.

Besides Law, Mihaltses and Foye, the MTA board also will gain Michael Lynton, previously chief executive of Sony Entertainment, and Rhonda Herman, who’s been part of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council.

Law will take the place of Long Island Builders Institute’s Mitch Pally.

Pally told The Point that he hopes the board might see additional changes in the months to come, especially in terms of how its meetings are run. That could include allowing board members to respond to the public during open comment periods, which they’re currently not permitted to do.

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

Up in smoke

One way you know Long Island’s State Senate delegation was at the center of this year’s budget fight:

A group called The Good Growth Alliance spent thousands of dollars on Facebook ads late last week and over the weekend calling out the six Democrats in the majority about marijuana, along with a few other suburban legislators.

The ads, targeted with each senator's name, told users that their particular senator “has FAILED to reform our marijuana laws in the state budget,” adding contact information and urging the user to ask the senator to “take action” on the issue before the legislative session ends.

The Long Island Six has generally been wary to tentative in the marijuana legalization process. Ultimately, the matter got dropped from the state budget as legislators were confronted with implementation issues and the reality of dispensaries in their districts. The road to legalization gets more difficult without a budget to cram it into and the smart betting says nothing will happen to legalize recreational weed this year.

But who is so interested in the minutiae of Long Island politics that they’re purchasing close to $10,000 in Facebook ads?

The Good Growth Alliance is registered as a lobbyist in New York and a website paid for by the group’s legalization campaign says “State licensed marijuana is changing people's lives for the better.”

But the group is hard to find online beyond the ads preserved in Facebook’s political ad archive. A handful of other ads last week targeted local governments in California, though most focused on New York. A phone number from an affiliated website traces back to Colorado (calls were not returned).

Apparently, news about LI influence is spreading.  

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Running

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Quick Points

Round and round it goes

  • So now the UK is talking about forming a national unity government to end the impasse over Brexit. And what makes anyone think they can form a government that has unity in the title?
  • The Wyandanch Public Library is proposing a tax increase of nearly 39 percent but officials would not provide a line-item budget. That's a good way to justify a whopping tax hike.
  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney is the only Democratic presidential hopeful who has visited all 99 off Iowa's counties. He's also the only Democratic presidential hopeful who's been running since the middle of 2017.
  • A presidential candidate campaigned against corruption but refused to attack opponents and promised to return a sense of decency to the nation’s toxic political environment – and won. The candidate –Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia. May she be a model.
  • A federal judge's decision blocking President Donald Trump's attempted lifting of an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the North Atlantic left the Trump administration on the losing side of some 40 similar environmental cases. Maybe that’s why Sen. Mitch McConnell is trying to get even more Republican judges approved for federal court.
  • When CNN's Jake Tapper asked acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney where President Donald Trump's health care plan was, Mulvaney replied, "We are doing the same thing on this that we did with taxes." So they're screwing regular people again.
  • Recent stories told about a 71-year-old woman who feels no pain or anxiety. Clearly, not a Mets fan.

Michael Dobie

Push Point

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