Controversy over LIPA decision grows
Judging by the level of ire being visited on the Long Island Power Authority lately, maybe it should consider a new branding slogan: “LIPA: We Keep Things Heated!”
The power provider is in the final stages of the battle it started nearly a decade ago to try to get the property taxes on four generating plants reduced. And Northport-East Northport residents are getting so riled up they say they will reach out to Nassau taxpayers also facing higher tax bills.
Right now, the focus is on the Northport Power Station, for which all LIPA customers pay $82.1 million in property taxes annually of which $54 million goes to the Northport-East Northport School District.
Earlier this month, the long-awaited property tax case went to court and the first week centered almost entirely on how to value the property, according to LIPA attorneys. That battle will return to court in April with two more weeks scheduled.
For locals, though, the battle is less about strict valuation and more about the politics of the situation, and they’re more fired up than they’ve ever been, as a new Facebook page and a well-attended weekend forum show.
The Facebook page, founded by Northport resident Paul Darrigo, a banker, is called Concerned Taxpayers Against LIPA. Darrigo told The Point that he started the page Friday night and it had two members, he and his wife. By Saturday evening, it had more than 400, and at 2:30 p.m. Monday, the count was 844.
What sparked the interest was a forum Saturday morning at Northport High School, hosted by state Sen. James Gaughran, where Darrigo also got up and spoke to what he estimates were about 500 attendees.
Darrigo’s Facebook arguments are not necessarily new in this running debate, but it seems to be the first time they are being heard by some.
His contentions include:
- The Town of Huntington and the school district have very different interests.
- LIPA has won the public relations war and those vulnerable to the tax reductions must strike back.
- The “glide path” proposed in a deal offered by LIPA, in which a 60 percent reduction in value gets phased in over eight years, is still a disaster and an “insult” that will correspondingly drive home values down as residential property taxes go up.
- One big impetus for not repowering Northport, a move that would help prop up the property’s valuation, is a state initiative to move to 50 percent renewables by 2030. Darrigo contends the policy in turn puts the onus on the state’s politicians to provide financial compensation for the communities impacted.
What’s next? Darrigo, heartened by the meeting and the speed with which the Facebook group is growing, says he wants to align his group with Nassau County residents in a similar fight with LIPA. And while one war rages in court, he wants to fight a political one, too.
A legacy to like
When Irving Like died in October at age 93, he left behind a huge Long Island legacy of environmental activism.
Like, an attorney, devised the legal strategies that helped stop both the Shoreham nuclear power plant and master builder Robert Moses’ plan to pave a highway across Fire Island. He then helped get Fire Island named a national seashore.
Like also was part of the legal team that won a $180 million settlement from the makers of Agent Orange on behalf of Vietnam War veterans and their families. And at the time of his passing, he was trying to get Fire Island National Seashore named a World Heritage Site by the UN.
Just as important, Like left a human legacy — a cadre of younger activists who worked with and learned from him and continue to use that knowledge in their own quests for justice.
Molloy College hopes to extend that legacy to yet another generation. The school’s Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Oceans Monitoring is hosting The Inaugural Irving and Margalit Like Environmental Conservation Award dinner on May 22, to celebrate the legacy of the Likes — Margalit, Irving’s wife of 69 years, died last May — and to further endow the Earth and Environmental Science Degree Scholarship at Molloy.
Given that the scholarships go to students interested in becoming leaders and advocates for the environment, it’s another cause Like likely would have embraced.
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Throwing stones at glass houses
- School administrators who say the 2 percent tax cap makes it difficult to deal with contractual salary increases of 2.5-to-3 percent always opt for the same solution — increase the cap. How about decreasing the contractual salary hikes, which is actually within their domain.
- In Ukraine’s presidential election this month, an actor playing a president in a television show is leading the polls and could win. Which isn’t much different from a guy playing a successful businessman in a television show and winning.
- On its annual list of the world’s worst human rights violators, the United States singled out South Sudan and Nicaragua for government-approved atrocities against their own people — but also has tried to limit immigrants from those countries seeking safety here. Someone please explain.
- Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says it’s not fair to cast accused New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant as a supporter of President Donald Trump. Tarrant, in his manifesto, called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” You decide.
- In one tweet about the late Sen. John McCain, President Donald Trump had four verifiable mistruths. Which means he barely topped the over-under.
- New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand got her first home state Congressional endorsement for president from Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Of course, she still trails former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Kathleen Rice, Sean Patrick Maloney) in that race, 2-1.
- With all the talk about Beto O’Rourke saying he was born to run for president, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar being asked whether she was born to run, let’s get one thing clear: Only one person was born to run and The Boss ain’t running.
- Activists seeking relief for New York City subways via congestion pricing descended on Albany Monday with sardine cans to mimic the plight of riders squeezed into cars. If they had opened the cans, they would have mimicked the smell on some cars, too.
- What would be better for New York City — having Mayor Bill de Blasio absent for extended periods in hopes of a presidential run, or having him in the city full-time engaged in his unique blend of get-nothing-big-done leadership?
- March Madness finally is upon us! To distract us from the 24/7/365 madness emanating from Washington and elsewhere all year long.