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Opinion

Wasted time

A New York state trooper and members of

A New York state trooper and members of the National Transportation Safety Board view the scene of a fatal crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie, N.Y. on Oct. 7, 2018. Credit: AP

Daily Point

Federal limo regulations stall out

Two years ago Tuesday, a limousine hurtled through the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store in upstate Schoharie, killing its driver, all 17 passengers and two pedestrians. The ensuing state and federal investigations turned up shocking violations of law. The driver was not licensed to drive commercial vehicles carrying that many passengers and had enough tickets that, barring a clerical error, his driver’s license would have been suspended. The company had so many vehicles considered to be in poor repair that it should have ceased operations under federal law. And the limo itself had been cited repeatedly for malfunctioning brakes and had its insurance coverage canceled six times in the year before the accident.

There were multiple failures, including the lack of state and federal laws that would have increased safety.

On the state level, many of the recommended laws were passed. New York limo passengers must wear seat belts, the state can revoke registrations of vehicles that do not meet federal safety standards, and immediately suspend the registration and seize license plates of any altered limousine operating in violation of safety requirements. Also, limo drivers must have an appropriate commercial driver’s license and pass drug and alcohol testing for limousine drivers, and the Department of Transportation can seize any stretched limousine with an "out of service" defect.

But on the federal level, attempts at legislating a crackdown have failed. Some regulations passed in the House, but only as part of a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that never moved in the Senate.

Attempts to get them included in the one-year reauthorization of the FAST Act, the law governing the country’s transportation operations which itself was tucked into the temporary funding authorization passed last week to keep the government open, fell victim to the politics of President Donald Trump and the GOP.

A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Schumer said that with Trump and his circle so focused on eliminating regulations, there is no appetite for new oversight of the limousine industry … or any other industry.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Ad wars

Political advertising for CD1 in this cycle might reach the saturation point earlier than usual. Dueling ads were released Tuesday by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee making the Nancy Goroff case against Lee Zeldin, while Zeldin’s campaign dipped into the incumbent’s coffers.

The DCCC’s ad buy in the district focused on the pandemic, branding Zeldin’s response as "politics" and highlighting the relatively high number of cases that occurred in Suffolk County.

Zeldin put up an ad focusing on law enforcement issues and doubling down on his nickname for Goroff, "Radical Professor." The nickname business, which Zeldin used to good effect last cycle with the opponent he dubbed "Park Avenue Perry" Gershon, can also be seen in a Zeldin campaign website, www.radicalnancy.com.

The race is grabbing national attention beyond the DCCC’s ad dollars. Zeldin also has a Zoom fundraiser scheduled for Wednesday with special guest Donald Trump Jr., featuring a portion of time for VIP sponsors at $2,800 a pop and the rest for $20 general admission viewers.

Next week, Zeldin will Zoom fundraise with Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician whom President Donald Trump wanted for the head of Veterans Affairs before Jackson withdrew his name in light of allegations of on-the-job misconduct. Jackson is running for Congress in Texas and, like Zeldin, has gotten some boosts from Trump Jr. and the Trump clan more generally.

It sounds like it won’t be the end of the boldface attention for CD1.

"Some more big names coming up on the virtual front as well," said Zeldin campaign spokeswoman Katie Vincentz.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Nothing to see here ...

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Final Point

Land of Waste

As the scheduled closing of the Brookhaven landfill in 2024 creeps closer, the mounting concerns about what to do with Long Island’s municipal solid waste and construction debris pile higher. On Tuesday, the Long Island Association hosted a webinar prosaically called "The Future of Waste Disposal on Long Island."

While much of the discussion focused on using rail to take garbage off the Island, Stony Brook University professor Lawrence Swanson injected some imagination into the conversation with a pitch for "new opportunities for recyclable materials."

Read on to find out how recycleables could change the future of Long Island.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Columns