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Former Rep. Steve Israel on Dec. 30, 2015.

Former Rep. Steve Israel on Dec. 30, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

American Water shareholders aren’t going thirsty

For Nassau County’s American Water Works customers, much is swirling around. The subsidiary that services them, New York American Water, agreed to be sold to Liberty Utilities for $608 million in November but the New York Public Service Commission postponed a decision on that deal until Oct. 15. It granted the extra time to give the Town of Hempstead, the Village of Sea Cliff and the Massapequa Water District a chance to analyze a potential municipalization of the system.

Meanwhile, customers can’t determine how much their future rates will be and the PSC has admitted it does not know, either. That’s because a rate hike and a separate system improvement charge set to take effect this year and postponed in response to COVID-19 will be levied on customers later in catch-up charges. The increase was set to be $3.21 to $4.74 per month from Sept. 1 until the end of the year for the average customer who uses 8,000 gallons per month, and that money will still be charged for those months, but on later bills.

Read on to see how American Water shareholders are profiting.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Ortt’s mission to take Long Island

The new Republican minority leader of the State Senate made his first official trip to Long Island this week, a region he said is going to be "ground zero for taking back the Senate" for Republicans.

Robert Ortt, whose legislative district borders Lake Ontario, was at a Tuesday morning news conference in the parking lot of the Perry Duryea State Office Building in Hauppauge, where he gathered some of his fellow candidates for what was billed as a "rally to take back Long Island."

The focus for Ortt and most of the speakers was a familiar GOP message of law and order and public safety. He said Democrats’ control of the State Legislature has resulted in measures that "have absolutely demonized, undermined and hurt public safety and the men and women who patrol our streets."

Even recent retreats by Democrats were criticized. Victoria Johnson, the GOP candidate taking on Democratic State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, called spring tweaks to Albany’s bail reform measures "like emptying the Titanic with a Solo cup."

Being the party of law enforcement has been widely embraced by Republican candidates up and down the ticket in New York and beyond. More surprising is another issue that received a fairly full airing at the event: Amazon’s decision to abandon plans for a major headquarters in Long Island City after an aggressive push by one of Ortt’s rival Senate leaders, Democrat Mike Gianaris, and the progressive left with which he has aligned.

"Bill de Blasio is no right-wing conservative and yet the Senate Democrats were further left than him to end this project," said State Sen. Phil Boyle. "We’re going to say come to New York, business, Amazon, whatever company, we want the jobs, we’re here to support you because we believe in business and we believe in jobs."

In an alternate universe, the Amazon issue may have been Issue One of the 2020 state legislative campaign season. Its diminishment shows how quickly the political world has changed, again. The legislative races of 2018 swung Democrats into power in the State Senate and turned John Flanagan into a minority leader who later resigned his seat.

Now his successor goes to Long Island casting for whatever wedges he can to rebuild GOP power.

"Where I come from, I would trip over myself to create a thousand jobs," he said.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Drop in the bucket

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Final Point

Zoom on over to the polls

A glimpse of how in flux the presidential race might be in certain swing states could be seen in the appraisals of two veteran Long Island political hands during a Bayport-Blue Point Indivisible Zoom meeting Monday evening.

First was former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head Steve Israel, who said that in key battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida, there’s a 2%-3% undercount in every poll for voters who are "ashamed" to tell pollsters they’re voting for President Donald Trump.

Israel said that was the assessment of Republicans he’d spoken to. With that potential undercount factored into polls in which Democratic candidate Joe Biden is leading, "it’s a dead heat in those states," said Israel, who directs Cornell University's Institute of Politics and Global Affairs.

Next came Tim Bishop, who served in Congress from 2003 until he was defeated by Republican Lee Zeldin in 2014. The Suffolk County Democrat pointed to a host of state polls that show Biden in the lead and Trump under 50%, which he called from experience a "thoroughly uncomfortable place" for an incumbent to be.

He agreed with Israel’s note about an undercount, but said that "the race is there for Biden to win it."

Zoom attendees — who sometimes forgot to mute themselves during presentations, in the now-classic manner of life in 2020 — asked Israel and Bishop and other speakers what they should do to get involved. Bishop encouraged organizing in or for Florida, a key battleground state, even if it took Long Islanders’ attention away from home.

Whether Biden carries Suffolk County or not "is irrelevant."

"New York is spoken for," Bishop said.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano