Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
A troubling skipping of the line
Early Monday morning, 11 travelers skipped the lines at Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 5 by slipping through an unattended security checkpoint.
Problem No. 1: The lack of Transportation Security Administration personnel at that checkpoint.
Problem No. 2: What happened next: TSA agents failed to notify Port Authority police about the screwup for two hours, meaning the travelers were apparently able to slip through the cracks altogether and board flights.
The failure of coordination among security agencies at Kennedy Airport was highlighted last year when chaos erupted after travelers celebrating runner Usain Bolt’s Olympic victory prompted a 911 call about a “disturbance.” The bigger problem, however, has come with broader TSA security lapses.
Congressional oversight committees and the U.S. Government Accountability Office have highlighted those issues, saying as recently as last summer that additional improvements were needed. And a November report from federal and state security officials recommended better coordination between the various agencies working at the airport.
Doesn’t seem like much progress has been made on either front.
Mark Chiusano and Randi F. Marshall
Diploma controversy held back
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky seems to have become the point man for a controversy over high school diploma standards.
Earlier this month in Rockville Centre, the Long Beach Democrat, who has strong teacher union support, hosted a forum that drew more than 300 people and included Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and Roger Tilles, who represents Long Island on the Regents board.
Parents, teachers and other advocates for special education students are unhappy that the state Education Department eliminated Regents Competency Tests that could lead to a local diploma. Now, these students can earn just a certificate that isn’t accepted by the military or trade schools as proof of high school graduation.
Kaminsky told The Point that momentum is building for “project-based” assessments, but educators can’t say yet exactly what that means. The Regents had included $8 million in a budget request to study how to make this work, Kaminsky said, but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo didn’t add it to his executive budget.
Kaminsky said he is “not optimistic” that the legislature will put the money in the budget.
But he added, “This issue is starting to percolate.”
Read: Probably not this year.
Old man winter
30th place, new rock group and more
-- Albany finished 30th in an evaluation of the best state capitals to live in, done by the personal finance website WalletHub. Contributing to the ranking: Albany was 12th in quality of life but 45th in affordability. No, there was no evaluation of the effectiveness of state legislatures.
-- Presenting the new alt-rock group Mike and The Street Sweepers: When President Donald Trump says something that upsets U.S. allies, the quartet of Mike, Rex, Nikki and Mad Dog takes to the road to clean up the mess.
-- Love the “buddy benches” installed in some Long Island schools as a way to encourage kindness and inclusion among students. Can we please get some in Washington?
-- China, upset over North Korea’s missile test, has told North Korea it will stop importing that nation’s coal. Given that China is the world’s biggest contributor to global warming and that coal is North Korea’s biggest export, that’s the definition of a win-win.
-- White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said President Donald Trump meant it when he called the press the enemy of the people, citing what he called “bogus” stories. Priebus had no comment on whether Trump invoking bogus stories like the one about Sweden makes him an enemy of the people.
-- Well, well, well. Conservative House Republicans reportedly are increasingly favoring a tax cut for corporations and individuals with no offsetting hike in revenue, which will increase the national debt. Just one more example of how President Donald Trump is upending Washington.
-- Sen. Rand Paul ripped colleague Sen. John McCain for his ongoing dispute with President Donald Trump, saying the nation is “very lucky” Trump is president and not McCain. And to think Paul once called Trump “a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag.”