Stuck at the station
Good thing he wasn’t trying to catch a train.
Thursday morning marked Day 1 of State Sen. James Gaughran’s "Mobile LIRR Town Hall Tour," during which the senator plans to talk to riders at all his district’s stations over the next few weeks.
He and staffers were at the Syosset station during the morning commute, handing out postcards asking riders about their satisfaction with the Long Island Rail Road. It’s a potent topic, and Gaughran has recently been hammering the MTA for various follies.
The canvassing was business as usual until, Gaughran’s spokeswoman says, MTA police told them they had to leave because “management” didn’t want them on the platform.
She says Gaughran left the platform to avoid further incident, but he wasn’t happy about the treatment given that candidates and volunteers often work the platforms during campaign season. Gaughran said he had campaigned on that platform previously, too.
“We apologize for what transpired this morning and are looking into exactly what happened,” an LIRR spokeswoman said in an email. “President [Phil] Eng reached out to the Senator this morning to discuss any miscommunications, and welcomed him to return to Syosset Station.”
It’s not clear exactly what led to Gaughran’s heave-ho. There is some question about whether there was a tripod on the platform, which isn’t allowed. Gaughran’s spokeswoman says neither they nor a news crew in attendance had a tripod on the platform.
Gaughran plans to continue the tour. Preferably without delays.
- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Rep. Tom Suozzi was quick out the gate Thursday morning with an endorsement for Joe Biden’s presidential bid.
Suozzi tweeted his support along with a picture of him with the former vice president, both seeming to grasp each other’s arms while shaking hands.
The endorsement of Biden, who is much more in the center of the political spectrum than many of the other Democratic 2020 candidates, makes sense for Suozzi, who is vice chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
Biden quickly racked up support from his home state U.S. senators along with some more moderate Democrats like Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.
But other prominent New York politicians like state Attorney General Tish James seem to be holding their fire. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may be waiting to hold a big event with Biden before he gives his official stamp of approval, but CNBC is reporting that Cuomo is opening his formidable fundraising effort exclusively to Biden.
Others like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are in or are still pondering the race. Gillibrand has had trouble racking up much local support for her 2020 run, though in March she finally landed the endorsement of at least one member of the NY delegation: Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
Kathleen Rice is all in for Beto O’Rourke, another White House hopeful, as [has] IS another former House colleagues Sean Patrick Maloney.
To round out the Long Island delegation, a spokesman for Rep. Gregory Meeks says he hasn’t endorsed in the race yet.
It’s no[t] surprise that Republican Lee Zeldin “supports the President's reelection,” according to a spokeswoman.
And Pete King is expected to endorse President Donald Trump as well.
- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
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Learning about the issues
State Sen. Tim Kennedy might be from Buffalo, but he already has spent some time on Long Island since becoming chair of the State Senate’s transportation committee.
Friday, however, he’ll get a full dose of Long Island’s transportation concerns and issues.
The Long Island Contractors’ Association’s executive director, Marc Herbst, plans a grand opening of the group’s new office in Melville on Friday morning, and has added to the event a tour of Long Island economic development and transportation highlights. It is a way to give Kennedy an understanding of the region’s needs, and how they differ from New York City’s. That means talking about the Long Island Rail Road, the suburban bus systems, the roads and traffic congestion, and even the Island’s state-owned airport.
“In the transportation infrastructure world, Long Island gets lumped in with New York City,” Herbst told The Point. “We are not subways down here … When we talk about funding for the region ... we’ve got actual needs and they’re legitimate.”
The tour will begin with Route 231, at the Northern State Parkway interchange, to underscore traffic flow and safety issues. It’ll also take Kennedy to the state Department of Transportation’s information center in Hauppauge, the Meadowbrook Parkway drawbridge repairs over Sloop Channel, heading towards Jones Beach, and the Nassau Expressway. The tour also may hit the third-track project.
But perhaps the tour’s highlight is a stop at Republic Airport, which has been the site of years of starts and stops to develop the airport and the area around it. Kennedy should expect to also hear about the desire for a reopening of the LIRR stop at Republic, too.
It’s a packed schedule, with as many as seven stops between 9:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Perhaps the only question is whether Herbst and Kennedy will find themselves unable to get to everything because of one of Long Island’s biggest transportation challenges -- traffic.
- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall