City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Jan. 28, 2018.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Jan. 28, 2018. Credit: Charles Eckert

Daily Point

Subway stop

One thing is certain: NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s detailed, 104-page plan outlining municipal control for the subway and buses, which he unveiled Tuesday afternoon, is reverberating far and wide.

Even to Vatican City, where Transport Workers Union president John Samuelsen was attending the Transport Union and Manufacturers Summit to examine fairness in access to transportation. Reached by The Point, it didn’t take long for Samuelsen to bring his head back to NYC and MTA politics.

He said that clearcut ownership of the system would be helpful, but mayors would be unlikely to actually want control: “It’s the biggest ball and chain that the world’s ever seen.”

Samuelsen, whose union includes subway operators and maintenance workers, has been closely allied to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and he seemed to relish the thought of negotiating with Mayor Bill de Blasio instead.

“We would steamroll him,” he said, calling de Blasio “a weakling.”

He added that more funding is necessary to improve the system.

Funding is a key part of Johnson’s plan, which includes a plea from the city to have more power over its own taxation (an issue largely controlled by the state).

Johnson’s proposal has all the funding from a potential congestion pricing program going to a new city transit entity and endeavors -- a potential sticking point given that Long Island’s state senators have pushed for a piece of the pie for Nassau and Suffolk.

More broadly, the fact that Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road wouldn’t be part of the city structure raises questions about their future, though Johnson’s estimates predict the railroads at similar, if not better, funding levels.

These and other details will surely be pored over by transit experts and political leaders in the coming days, though the one-sentence statement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office didn’t show much interest.

It may take the highest of powers to fix the MTA. Luckily, Samuelsen says his trip to Rome includes an audience with the pope.

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point


One of Long Island’s most prominent developers is sounding an alarm on prevailing wage legislation being considered by the State Legislature — and the warning doesn’t just sound apocalyptic, it is.

“We’ve been doing this for 32 years,” Bob Coughlan, co-owner of Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate, told The Point. “I’ve never come out against anything or in favor of anything like this one, it’s that scary.”

The bill essentially would require that prevailing wages be paid on any project that receives IDA benefits. Coughlan says that would be a job and development killer because anyone doing “significant work from a 30,000-square-foot industrial building on up” would not be able to get financing. Developers of multifamily rentals, for example, would have to raise rents by 15 to 25 percent — about $300 to $500 per month — to make the numbers work which, Coughlan notes, is not viable for middle-class families. And, he says, IDAs would go out of existence because no projects would be submitted to them, citing past experiences of IDAs in Ulster County and the City of Yonkers that tried to attach prevailing wage requirements to their tax breaks.

Coughlan and his brother and co-owner Jim put their concerns in a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that also was sent to every Long Island member of the Senate and Assembly, all Suffolk and Nassau county legislators, and other political, business and labor leaders in the region.

The Democratic-sponsored bill — which Coughlan says stems from a union dispute with Related Properties over the Hudson Yards project and also is intended to target the Buffalo Billion project as well as Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff — won’t pass in its current form, according to a veteran Albany lawmaker, but “it’s still on the radar screen.”

Four newly elected Long Island Democratic senators are listed as co-sponsors — John Brooks, James Gaughran, Anna Kaplan and Monica Martinez. Coughlan made a prediction about their futures.

“If it passes, it’s their MTA payroll tax,” he said, of an ill-fated 2009 vote that cost two Long Island Democrats their Senate seats and gave control of the chamber back to Republicans. “They’ll be one-and-done.”

Speaking of apocalypses.

Michael Dobie

Pencil Point

Skewed messaging

Tom Stiglich

Tom Stiglich

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Final Point

Keeping score

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were perfect. Rep. Lee Zeldin decidedly was not.

The judge was the New York League of Conservation Voters and the competition (of sorts) was the advocacy group’s annual National Environmental Scorecard.

Besides the two senators, New York had the most House members of any state with perfect scores of 100 — nine, all Democrats. The only Long Island rep to score that high was Gregory Meeks, whose mostly Queens district dips into western Nassau County. Among Democrats, Tom Suozzi scored a 97 and Kathleen Rice was close behind at 91. Republican Pete King checked in at 29 percent.

The GOP’s Zeldin, on the other hand, scored a 9, which is just a touch below his lifetime rating of 10. He wasn’t the state’s lowest scorer, though. That distinction went to upstate Rep. Claudia Tenney’s 6. So the state GOP can at least be proud that none of the 75 Republican members of the House who scored a 0 were from New York.

The highest-scoring Republican in the state — Elise Stefanik, at 51 percent — trailed by a significant margin the lowest Democrat, now-deposed Queens congressman Joe Crowley (86 percent).

The marks were based on votes taken in the two chambers in 2018. For the House, that meant 35 votes on what the NYLCV called “the chamber’s assaults on clean air and water, land and wildlife protections, and investments in clean energy.” Members of the Senate were graded on 14 votes that mostly involved confirmation of what the League called President Donald Trump’s “anti-environmental nominees.”

Now that control of the House has switched to Democrats, the bills will be different. But the scores most likely will remain the same.

Michael Dobie


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