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Racial justice is front and center in Freeport mayoral race

Carmen Piñeyro on Feb. 8, 2014. Piñeyro is

Carmen Piñeyro on Feb. 8, 2014. Piñeyro is running for mayor of Freeport. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Daily Point

Piñeyro and her allies take aim at racism

Three Long Island progressive groups are pushing racial justice issues to the fore in Freeport’s mayoral election in March.

New York Communities for Change, Make the Road Action, and the Long Island Progressive Coalition endorsed village trustee Carmen Piñeyro for mayor on Tuesday, with activists saying that Freeport "has endured repeated offenses of oppression and racism" and "needs to be more inclusive and diverse."

Andrew Hardwick was elected the village’s first black mayor in 2009, and Piñeyro would be the first woman of color to hold the position. She has served on the Freeport school board, was the first Latina elected village trustee, and is chief compliance officer at United Northern Mortgage Bankers Ltd., according to her LinkedIn page.

The village’s population is majority Black or Hispanic, and Piñeyro highlighted her history of advocacy for underserved parts of the village in brief remarks at the Tuesday event, citing housing issues and an event with former mayor Hardwick himself during the 2009 real estate crash.

A more recent Freeport concern cited at the news conference was the issue of "police brutality" in the case of Akbar Rogers, whose forceful and filmed arrest in 2019 went viral. Two of the police officers involved in the arrest are sons of current Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, who is running for another term. Rogers has not publicly disclosed whether he’ll get involved in the race.

Also noted at the news conference was another 2019 incident when a Freeport teacher encouraged students to write captions for pictures of slaves and "make it funny" and "don’t bore me."

How and whether voters respond to incidents like these is one test for March.

Piñeyro said that her goal was for Freeport to be a beacon that would show "how to live progressively together."

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Rechler ponders the "new normal"

Can a series of conversations with political, business and civic leaders help the region return to "normal" – even if it’s a "new normal"?

Long Island developer Scott Rechler hopes so.

Rechler, who heads RXR Realty, is beginning the series with a pre-taped interview of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, to air on Thursday. The series, called Recalibrate Reality, is being held in conjunction with the 92nd Street Y and the Regional Plan Association.

Rechler, who also chairs the Regional Plan Association, told The Point that he and the governor talked a lot about "regional connectivity," and how important the recoveries of both New York City and suburbs like Long Island are to the state and region as a whole. The conversation also touched both on how important the suburbs are in a world where people may continue to work more remotely, but also how critical public transportation infrastructure, like the Long Island Rail Road’s Third Track, will be to the region’s future. The chat was recorded last week, before the latest controversial chapter of the governor’s handling of nursing homes unfolded.

The goal of the chats, Rechler said, is to develop "a road map to building a more prosperous, sustainable, equitable New York, coming out of COVID."

Rechler said the inspiration behind the series came from breakfast conversations real estate developer Lew Rudin held in the 1970s with key New York City power brokers to figure out how to help New York City recover then. Those efforts ultimately led to the creation of the Association for a Better New York.

For Rechler, the effort doesn’t only mean coming up with new policy ideas. It also means trying to guide the general public through the challenges that remain, and to help determine what it will take to get people back to offices, entertainment, and more.

"We’ve gone through this hurricane, now we’re assessing the damage and preparing to repair and rebuild," Rechler told The Point.

Rechler’s second session, to be aired next week, will include Sen. Chuck Schumer. The real estate executive is hoping to do 52 in total – one a week for the next 12 months. He hopes to include restaurant owners, clergy, and Long Island elected officials, among others.

Rechler said he and Cuomo also talked about what a recovery timetable would look like. Rechler, for one, sees September as a goal line.

"I think in September, we’ll be back at the point where people are back in office buildings, back in sports stadiums, back at concerts," Rechler said. "We may be wearing masks or carrying certificates to show vaccination or testing, but we’ll have a new normal where things are reopened again and things are alive again."

To watch the conversations, go to https://www.92y.org/recalibrate-reality.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Abandon ship

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Final Point

Steve Bellone’s infrastructure wish list

Everyone’s making a list – and checking it twice.

Recently, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran provided The Point with her list of top infrastructure projects she hoped might garner some federal funding from a Biden administration.

Now, it’s Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone who has his own list – of $780 million worth of infrastructure asks.

Bellone told The Point many of his projects are related to the county’s Connect Long Island effort, which focuses on transportation, downtown redevelopment and research institutions like Brookhaven National Laboratory. He said he sees the Ronkonkoma Hub as the centerpiece. But also Bellone points to other projects related to it as critically important, including electrifying parts of the Long Island Rail Road and creating the LIRR station at BNL, redeveloping downtowns and completing sewer infrastructure for communities like Huntington Station, Central Islip, and Port Jefferson Station, reopening the LIRR station at Republic Airport, and, his Holy Grail, adding bus rapid transit along Route 110.

Beyond that, Bellone is also unsurprisingly putting a spotlight on coastal resiliency, which would make up $85 million of his total ask.

"All of the issues we’re talking about — in terms of the need to invest in aging infrastructure, to address climate change, to provide an economic stimulus post-COVID — all of that comes together here on Long Island," Bellone said. "You’re talking about leveraging investments in rail infrastructure, transportation infrastructure and downtown revitalization to create a more sustainable region."

While Bellone and Curran have different lists, Bellone told The Point that both county leaders are "on the same page."

"We have different projects that need to happen," he said. "We’re very much in sync in terms of where the growth in this region is going to come."

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

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