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Opinion

A numbers game

State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford) on July 1,

State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford) on July 1, 2019 in Bellmore. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

A short but meaningful conversation

State Sen. John Brooks had never spoken to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio before.

But earlier this month, on a Friday night, there was the mayor on the phone with Brooks.

What could have led the two to have their first conversation? The reason for the call was the city's desire to be able to take advantage of long-term borrowing to avoid layoffs — a move for which the city would need state lawmakers’ approval.

"He was pushing for the right to do the borrowing to avoid the layoffs," Brooks said. "I said, ‘Look, Mayor, I don’t have a problem with you doing it but it can’t be for you only. It’s got to be available to other governments and agencies as well, which he agreed."

The conversation, Brooks said, lasted about five minutes.

New York City is facing a $9 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years, But it’s not alone. Suffolk County is looking at a multi-year shortfall of more than $1 billion.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has expressed concern about the idea of long-term borrowing for New York City, suggesting it would be "reckless" to approve such borrowing without a financial control board in place. But that’s something de Blasio does not support, hence why he would approach Long Island lawmakers.

According to de Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt, the mayor has reached out to multiple Long Island state senators on the issue.

"What happens in New York City deeply affects Long Island," Neidhardt told The Point. "We’re talking about an investment in New York City to not only bridge the gap, but also to help drive further investment and a stronger recovery."

Neidhardt argued that a financial control board isn’t necessary, noting that rather than comparing the city’s current situation to the 1970s, when the control board was established, the more appropriate comparison is to the city’s financial troubles after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the control board was not utilized.

But, Neidhardt told The Point that the city still needed assistance — in the way of stimulus and long-term borrowing.

And that’s where the senators to the east come in.

"We need our friends on Long Island to help us out," Neidhardt said.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Keeping score

Among the many election season verities is the release of the environmental scorecard for state lawmakers by the advocacy group Environmental Advocates Action. And the 2020 version unveiled Thursday confirmed another eternal truth: Democrats score better than Republicans.

That was most starkly true for Long Island’s delegation in the State Assembly, where Independence Party member Fred Thiele (Sag Harbor) and the nine Democrats with whom he caucuses all registered perfect scores of 100, based on their votes on 16 bills. Only two of the 11 Republicans graded — Melissa Miller ( Atlantic Beach) and Edward Ra (Franklin Square)– matched that score.

The lowest-scoring GOP members were Michael Fitzpatrick (48), David McDonough (57), Michael LiPetri (60) and Michael Montesano (62).

The Republicans in the region’s State Senate delegation were more in line with their Democratic colleagues, with Phil Boyle and Ken LaValle both scoring 96, the same score posted by Democrat Monica Martinez. Each of the other five Democrats — Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan, Kevin Thomas, John Brooks and James Gaughran — scored 100, based on voting on 19 bills. Former Minority Leader John Flanagan, the third Republican in the delegation, received an incomplete after stepping down in June.

The scorecard credited lawmakers with making progress despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, beginning with several actions in the state budget — including banning polystyrene food packaging and packing materials, appropriating another $500 million for clean water infrastructure, and authorizing a $3 billion environmental bond act. In a one-week session in July, the legislature expanded protections for streams and restrictions on the use of PFAS chemicals and TCE, and banned the dumping of out-of-state fracking waste in municipal landfills.

One downside noted by EAA was when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo withdrew the bond act for pandemic-related reasons, what the group called "a shortsighted move that blemished a very good budget for the environment."

Which highlights one more truism: When it comes to the environment, there’s always more to do.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Pencil Point

Look, up in the sky!

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

Final Point

Biden’s suburban edge

A new poll from The Washington Post-ABC News shows former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of President Donald Trump by double digits, but the crucial number in the crosstabs might be 9.

That’s Biden’s edge over Trump in the suburbs, according to the Oct. 6 through 9 survey.

Democratic political consultant Bruce Gyory thinks that’s a sizable and important lead, given that the suburbs were much tighter in the 2012 presidential, and that "[Barack] Obama carried the suburbs by 3% in 2008."

And if the suburbs go for Biden, that would be meaningful for the final tally given how many voters live in suburbs.

"The share of the vote coming from small town rural communities is only 17-20% of the total national vote, the urban share is 31-35% and the suburban is 47-50%," Gyory wrote in an email to The Point this week. "If a Dem candidate carries the suburbs by anything close to double digits and wins [the] urban vote by over 2-1 margin (which is customary), the small town rural vote is simply not large enough arithmetically" for Trump to win.

Other polls have indicated similar slippage for Trump in the suburbs. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Thursday shows a similar national lead and an even more pronounced 15% suburban gap for Biden. Another survey conducted in October on behalf of Nancy Goroff-supporting 314 Action Fund in CD1 showed Biden up 4% in the swingish district won handily by Trump in 2016.

As Gyory sees it, Trump’s win in 2016 came from his base plus a crucial shift among the likes of white suburban women, independents, those with some college but not a four-year degree, third party voters, and an "ever so slight shift" among some minority men.

In this view, Trump is running out of time to close the gap.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Columns