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Williams Pipeline out of gas — for now

Opponents of the Williams Pipeline protested at City

Opponents of the Williams Pipeline protested at City Hall on April 18. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Daily Point

Arrested development

As National Grid’s moratorium on new gas hookups wears on, builders say it’s beginning to have an impact on key developments on Long Island — particularly in affordable housing, of which the Island already has an extremely limited supply.

Long Island Builders Institute chief executive Mitch Pally continues to send letters to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo detailing nearly 3,000 units of housing and hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial and retail development that Pally says are stalled, delayed or otherwise impacted by the moratorium. 

Among those the LIBI has identified are: 

  • 75-unit affordable senior housing project and LGBT Center in Bay Shore
  • 70-unit affordable multi-family housing development in Bellport
  • 226-unit affordable housing project in Hempstead Village
  • 150 units of multi-family housing in East Patchogue
  • 120 units of multi-family housing and 52 new rental units in Port Jefferson
  • 130-unit housing project in Hauppauge
  • 100 new affordable housing units in Wyandanch
  • 180 new units in Smithtown
  • 100 new rental units in Islip
  • 80 new units in Lynbrook
  • 292 new rental units in Farmingville
  • 250,000-square-foot building in Southampton
  • 295 new apartments in Yaphank

Pally’s letters appeal to Cuomo’s interest in economic development, and he says the projects together could account for thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue. Not to mention, add critically needed units to the housing stock. Builders have no “viable” alternatives to gas heat right now, Pally said.

“We can no longer sit back and assume that millions of dollars in investments will just wait and see what happens next month or next year if these projects cannot move forward now,” Pally wrote.

While National Grid restored gas hookups for customers with inactive accounts, the moratorium on new hookups remains. Cuomo has turned up the heat in recent weeks, asking the Public Service Commission to take a larger role and explore alternatives like trucking in the gas.

But so far, the gas remains off for the new housing, retail and businesses that might otherwise be coming to the Island.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Bucking trends  

Election Day 2019 brought some suburban victories by Democrats around the country. That included Virginia and Kentucky and right here in Suffolk County, where County Executive Steve Bellone coasted to a third term and blasted out a news release with the unsubtle top line: “BELLONE DELIVERS RESOUNDING VICTORY IN SUBURBAN BATTLEGROUND COUNTY WON BY PRESIDENT TRUMP IN 2016.”

Democrats in Glen Cove took the city by storm. 

But what happened in Hempstead? 

Democrat Laura Gillen lost her reelection bid for town supervisor, just two years after she won the office and shocked the state by defeating the storied GOP machine with an anti-corruption message, part of a blue wave on Long Island. 

There are a mix of peculiar reasons that Hempstead was an outlier that may have little to do with national trends. The county Republican machine showed once again its pockets of strength with the reminder that you can’t trust Democrats. The GOP focused on tax and reassessment messaging, Republican legislators noted at their Election Night party. Their mailers essentially reinforced a told-you-so message. It didn’t help that the county-level leader with actual control over the controversial reassessment that would have some homeowners in the town pay higher bills was another woman named Laura — Laura Curran, who won the county executive job in 2017, the same year Gillen was elected supervisor. 

But the sense among Democrats is that they lost the race through a confluence of missteps. 

The Gillen campaign’s message about corruption in the town didn’t resonate with voters against longtime GOP public servant Don Clavin, who was at the top of the ticket. At the very least, her claim ranked lower in importance to the GOP’s relentless claim that Gillen raised taxes, a weakness Democratic polling did not sufficiently detect. In the final weeks of the campaign, the GOP did a reprise of traditional Democrats-are-soft-on-crime bludgeoning, using the recent changes Albany lawmakers made to bail laws that will stop judges from requiring cash or bonds from most of those charged. 

The energy from progressive groups was less apparent in this race. The Long Island Progressive Coalition didn’t work elections on Long Island this year, says the group’s director, Lisa Tyson. That’s uncommon, but the group had reasons to be otherwise busy: the end of the state legislative session was packed due to Democrats being in control and moving legislation, and that was around when local endorsements would have happened. 

Then there’s the fight over fusion voting that has been a key concern of the Working Families Party and its allies like LIPC. State Democratic leader Jay Jacobs is central to the state commission that appears poised to upend fusion — the practice of candidates running on multiple lines — and the WFP. 

Jacobs is also the Nassau party chair. Responding to progressives who said they were too busy to get out the vote, he said, “Some of us can multi-task.”

He also noted that Clavin would have lost in a head-to-head Republican (65,275 votes) to Democratic (70,252 votes) match-up. The WFP delivered 2,479 votes to Gillen while Clavin picked up 7,419 on the Conservative line and 1,429 on the Independence line.

More crucially, to some Democrats, the party’s ground game seemed to be amiss. Republicans won New York’s first-of-its-kind early voting race by some 1,000 votes in Hempstead, putting Democrats on their heels at the start. Democrats had a volunteer and paid ground game in the field. “We couldn’t have had raised more money or had a bigger field operation,” said Jacobs, although some party insiders said it kicked in too late. 

Turnout percentages for this year are still being crunched by the Board of Elections, but early voting doesn’t appear to have gotten Democrats much closer to their presidential year turnout levels — crucial for the party, which needed to turn out new voters as GOP turnout percentages are often higher in local pocketbook elections. 

It all added up to a bad night for Democrats in this particular suburb, though whether that’s a bad omen for 2020 remains to be seen.

—Mark Chiusano and Rita Ciolli @mjchiusano and @RitaCiolli

Pencil Point

Down the drain

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Reference Point

Remembering the fall

The images 30 years ago were shocking. East Berliners standing on top of the Berlin Wall, rejoicing, celebrating, and not being shot by East German secret police.

This is the weekend in 1989 when the Berlin Wall started to come down. It began on Nov. 9, when the East German government followed months of unrest in other Eastern Bloc countries like Poland and Hungary by announcing that all East German citizens would be allowed to visit West Berlin and West Germany.

And East Germans swiftly crossed over, and climbed atop the wall, and were joined by West Germans, and began chipping away at the wall itself.

Newsday’s editorial board also celebrated, writing on Nov. 12: “The sight of East Germans dancing on the Berlin Wall is an incredible development, one that didn’t seem possible just months ago.”

The board captured the sense of dizzying and unforeseen change that world leaders must be prepared to face, writing that “the challenge for the United States and its allies (and for the Soviet Union), is to develop a vision, a strategic plan, of how they believe the world should change and to start working to influence events in those directions.”

The board offered some practical suggestions — the most important being that the “economic unification of Europe must proceed apace.”

That process picked up steam four years later and culminated in a monetary union in 1999. Of course, as the board noted, history moves quickly. Now Britain is attempting to exit that union.

Newsday’s most poignant commemoration of the beginning of the end of the Berlin Wall came in Doug Marlette’s editorial cartoon on Nov. 12, 1989. The panel depicted people standing on top of the wall along with the Statue of Liberty, with a caption that quoted former President John F. Kennedy: “ICH BIN EIN BERLINER!”

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

We wish all of those who served a Happy Veterans Day. The Point will return on Tuesday, Nov. 12.