TODAY'S PAPER
29° Good Evening
29° Good Evening
Opinion

Meet the MTA's Capital Program Review Board

A train leaves the Syosset LIRR train station

A train leaves the Syosset LIRR train station on July 26, 2011. Credit: Chris Ware

Daily Point

Meet the CPRB

With unanimous approval by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board last month, the MTA’s $51.5 billion capital plan was delivered on Oct. 1 to an obscure panel known as the Capital Program Review Board — which now has 90 days to approve it.

The board has four members — nominated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Cuomo has final say over the members’ appointments. Any one member holds veto power over the capital plan, although de Blasio’s representative has say only over the New York City Transit piece of the plan.

But in a radio interview this week, Cuomo suggested that the principals themselves — Cuomo, de Blasio, Stewart-Cousins and Heastie — should sit on the board, rather than appointed representatives. That, he said, would provide “real political accountability and transparency.” This week, various transit advocates supported the idea.

In the past, the CPRB has included representatives who sought improvements to subway stations in their districts, or other goodies, in exchange for their approval of the broader capital plan. Most recently, the 2015-2019 capital plan was held up when local village mayors and state senators had concerns about the LIRR’s third-track project. The board’s meetings have at times been held behind closed doors — and as far as The Point could determine, it doesn’t have a functioning website. There’ve been additional calls over several months for the CPRB to follow the Open Meetings Law.

Cuomo’s call comes as intense conversations begin with state and city officials over the 2020-2024 capital plan. The MTA hopes the state and the city each put in $3 billion toward the plan. While there’s been general support, concerns have emerged over the plan’s size, whether the MTA can get it done, and how some of the money has been divvied up. 

That became clear even during the MTA board’s discussions last month, when representatives of Metro-North territory argued that the Long Island Rail Road should not be getting $1 billion more than Metro-North.

Stewart-Cousins told The Point Friday that while there are additional Metro-North needs she’d like to see included in the capital plan, she wants to find a way to do it without taking anything from the LIRR.

But Stewart-Cousins nominated State Sen. John Liu, of Queens, to the CPRB, another representative from NYC. 

Stewart-Cousins said she chose Liu for his transportation and finance background, and that he would well represent everyone’s needs and that she would be just as accountable for what happens on the CPRB with Liu as her representative.

“There are a lot of big decisions that get to be made. None of them are made in a vacuum. None of them are made without me, and certainly without my members on Long Island,” Stewart-Cousins said.

Liu told The Point that subway signals and cars, and buses, are key priorities for him, but that he also supports the needs of the LIRR — including finishing the third track and East Side Access projects.

“Transportation is regional,” Liu said. “My view of this is that none of these items can be isolated.”

Meanwhile, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky told The Point he expects that no matter who’s sitting on the CPRB for the Senate, the Long Island delegation will play a key role in making sure the LIRR gets the money it needs. The next capital plan allocates $5.7 billion for the LIRR.

“Whatever decision will be made will be made with our input,” Kaminsky said. “We will be involved in every decision there.”

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

In defense of Trump

On Friday, Long Island might well have been the epicenter of support for President Donald Trump as one of his strongest national supporters, Nikki Haley, came to town and his strongest local supporter, Rep. Lee Zeldin, continued to get national attention.

Haley, the former ambassador to the UN, spoke at the Long Island Association’s annual fall luncheon at Crest Hollow Country Club. Having left her post at the beginning of the year, Haley has hit the road as a sought-after (and well-paid) public speaker, and has begun pushing her book, “With All Due Respect,” that comes out next month.

She’s in the area to be one of the “special guests” at a three-day Republican retreat and fundraiser in New York City that begins Friday and also features Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle (though Haley got top billing).

Zeldin, who was in Washington Friday for Trump-Ukraine whistleblower hearings that included his House Foreign Affairs Committee, got big props for his Trump support Friday when the president tweeted a Zeldin quote:

“When your [sic] making an unsubstantiated statement that the President is making a claim having to do with quid pro quo, this witness has blown a big hole into that statement. The Ambassador put a dagger in the heart of Schiffs is [sic] this fairytale.”

Zeldin’s feed is a steady stream of statements defending Trump and in an email he told The Point:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should have a formal vote on the  impeachment inquiry to move forward.
  • The rules of engagement should let Trump’s attorneys have the right to question witnesses and issue subpoenas.
  • Democrats are making false claims about Trump and lying about how the whistleblower came to Democrats’ attention.

“The President isn't perfect, but that phone call ABSOLUTELY wasn't an impeachable offense,” Zeldin wrote. “Congress has a legitimate oversight role, but this is a sideshow, partisan kangaroo court we are witnessing play out on this one trying to remove the President from office.”

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Cuckoo!

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Data Point

Top 10 LI places with the most rentals

Rentals on Long Island are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Village of Hempstead, which has the most number of rental units across all of Long Island's two cities, villages and hamlets. The census estimates 9,768 rental units in the village, which is nearly double that of the City of Glen Cove. 

Find out where the other top-ranked places are.

nextLI is a platform for participating in civic life on Long Island. It features data analysis and independent research. It is a project of the Newsday Opinion department funded by a charitable grant from The Rauch Foundation. 

— Kai Teoh @jkteoh  

Survey Point

We asked, you answered

From what we’ve heard so far, readers of The Point are most likely to:

  • Read the newsletter on desktop computers

  • Want to hear about Long Island politics and elections

  • Work in the private sector or government

  • Read all four newsletter items

Agree? Disagree? Tell us in this Point survey running the week of the newsletter’s fourth anniversary.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Columns