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Nassau County Legislator Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello on

Nassau County Legislator Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello on April 22, 2019 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Assessing the assessors

Monday’s meeting of the Nassau County Legislature will likely end the battle over a voter referendum on whether to return to electing county assessors rather than appointing them. But the meeting probably won’t end the squabbling over the county’s property-tax reassessment.

The Republican-controlled legislature voted to hold the referendum in April, but split along party lines. County Executive Laura Curran vetoed the plan earlier this month, as she’d promised to do. Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello said Tuesday that the body will take up an override of her veto Monday, but acknowledged he does not have the needed votes. Republicans have 11 seats but would need 13 votes to override Curran.

“We’ll just have to try to sway enough Democrats during Monday’s meeting,” Nicolello said.

Either way, county Republicans think their path to victory in November includes keeping their opposition to Curran’s reassessment, which they feel is unpopular with many swing voters, in the news. They’ve lambasted the process, and Curran and appointed assessor David Moog for delays, errors and a lack of transparency. But what they’re trying to tap into is voter dissatisfaction not just with the process but also with the fact that those who have grieved consistently since former County Executive Edward Mangano froze the roll in 2011 are going to see significant tax increases from the reassessment.

Nicolello and Republicans say an elected assessor would be responsive to voters. Curran and Democrats say an elected assessor might lack the proper experience and cower under voter demands rather than run a good and fair assessment system.

But the real issue for Republicans is not electing an assessor. It’s keeping a Republican legislative majority. And that’s likely to keep them hammering away at every aspect of this process, at least until November.

- Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Turning Rikers green

Even as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is stalled in Washington, other significant environmental efforts are alive and well far closer to home.

Perhaps that’s why Ocasio-Cortez is joining early discussions about turning Rikers Island into a home for renewable energy and wastewater treatment.

New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides said Thursday that Ocasio-Cortez would be joining him in co-hosting a town hall in Queens next week to talk about the future possibility of a “Renewable Rikers.”

The town hall comes as city officials continue to plan to move the jail complex off Rikers, potentially creating borough-based detention centers. Constantinides’ district overlaps with Ocasio-Cortez’s -- and both include Rikers.

“It’s good to have a federal partner in AOC to be a part of this,” Constantinides told The Point Thursday. “This is going to take a partnership on all levels of government and she’s a uniquely talented legislator. I’d rather have all of us united around this than not.”

The event comes as the City Council already passed its own Climate Mobilization Act last month, and as state lawmakers debate their version of climate change legislation.

Constantinides said he envisions using at least 100 acres of the 413-acre island for solar panels, and adding a modern wastewater treatment plant that could replace other plants in the city.

“This 400 acres can change the game for 400 other acres throughout the city of New York,” he said, noting that the town hall is the first step in what will be a broader effort to plan for Rikers’ future.

Constantinides had been working with State Sen. Jessica Ramos, Assemb. Catalina Cruz and Councilman Daniel Dromm on the town hall. But the addition of local superstar Ocasio-Cortez most certainly gives the event some extra attention and publicity.

That would be a win for both the councilman and the congresswoman — and perhaps for the future of Rikers, too.

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

The real Mueller report

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Final Point

LIRR double-decker delights

When it comes to the Long Island Rail Road, a discussion of “firsts” can be a mixed bag. First in number of passengers carried. First truly on-time train of the week. First worker on the list of overtime earners.

Seventy-two years ago, Newsday’s editorial board waxed about a genuinely positive first, writing that the LIRR this week in 1947 put the nation’s first double-decker train into service.

“On its first trip nobody had to stand, the coaches were as clean as pins, and the train arrived everywhere on time,” the board wrote on May 31, 1947.

To the board, the new double-decker “demonstrates that the LIRR can give good service if it will and if it has the money to do so.”

The board also complimented the railroad’s riders.

“Congrats are due to passengers on this new train who showed appreciation of clean cars by helping keep them that way,” the board wrote. “Most dirt swept out of a train at the end of its run is rubbish left behind by passengers. If they could learn to litter the cars less, they would not need to wade through each other’s discarded newspapers, candy wrappers, cigaret (sic) butts and other unappetizing mementoes before the cars get to the end of a run.”

As any current LIRR rider knows, the record since then also has been a mixed bag.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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