Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Rep. Peter King recently met with President-elect Donald Trump, and told reporters that he advocated “leaning forward when it comes to investigating Islamic terrorism.” Given Trump’s previous support for “extreme vetting” of Muslims and tough law enforcement, the comment generated interest.
In a conversation with The Point on Wednesday, King clarified those remarks. He said his comments were focused on how the FBI and local law enforcement should conduct terror investigations. The Seaford Republican said he was not speaking about a resumption of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System that had tracked noncitizens from largely Muslim countries, which King deems not necessary.
“The Justice Department should ease the restrictions on when an investigation should be closed,” King said. Preliminary investigations can run for six months before being extended. Full investigations, which require higher benchmarks of evidence, have no time limits.
Asked whether there should be an upper limit on such investigations, King said probes should close if there is “absolutely no doubt” that a subject does not present a terror threat. Otherwise, they should be allowed to continue under FBI auspices, or taken over by local police.
He also encouraged police departments to “have sources and informers and leads developed in the Muslim community to know who’s who” — work that he likened to that of the NYPD’s Demographics Unit, shuttered in 2014. According to court testimony by the NYPD’s intelligence chief, the unit did not generate any leads in terror investigations.
Trump did not comment on the specifics of their conversation, according to King. But, “he agreed that we have to be less politically correct, and be more intensive, more aggressive, more forward leaning.”
Asked whether this week’s truck attack in Berlin caused him to rethink his plans to create a Muslim registry or ban Muslims from entering the country, Trump said Wednesday he’d been “proven to be right, 100 percent correct. What’s happening is disgraceful.”
About that traffic
Wednesday is the first of three gridlock alert days in our region, sure to be among the busiest traffic days of the year.
For travelers heading to LaGuardia Airport — now undergoing a $4 billion renovation — the congestion may grow exponentially.
The Port Authority is encouraging passengers to consider two alternatives.
On Thursday and Friday, the Q70 bus — known as the LaGuardia Link — will be free. Passengers can take the subway or Long Island Rail Road to either Jackson Heights or Woodside and board the Q70 to LaGuardia from either stop.
Those who must drive can avoid LaGuardia’s main terminal areas and park in the lot known as P10, just off the Marine Air Terminal. That lot will be free on Friday. Port Authority officials said drivers should approach P10 via the 82nd Street Bridge.
That should help passengers avoid the LaGuardia mess, at least until their shuttle buses try to navigate to the terminals.
Randi F. Marshall
Homeless order continues
Advocates for the homeless are relieved that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an extension last week of his January executive order, directing that people must be provided extra protection when the temperature dips below 32 degrees. The previous standard had been 20 degrees. Because each executive order is good only for a year, advocates worried that the January order would expire.
The order directs police to advise people to come in from the cold, and police must offer transportation if the person can’t get to a shelter on his or her own, according to Greta Guarton, executive director of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.
People who have been sanctioned or are otherwise not eligible to enter a shelter will receive exceptions when it’s below freezing, Guarton said. People who haven’t followed up to apply for social services through Nassau or Suffolk county governments are sometimes barred from shelters.
The governor’s order also means shelters can allow people to remain indoors all day. Normally, shelter occupants are encouraged to leave between certain hours to seek work or another place to live. Dana Lopez, a spokeswoman for The INN, which runs three shelters housing 83 people, said usually the residents are expected to leave between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The order won’t necessarily raise costs for The INN, Lopez said, because it is already staffed around the clock. However, Cuomo’s office expects that enforcing his rule will cost roughly $3.4 million in reimbursements to shelters throughout the state.
“When there’s a possibility of people freezing on the street with nowhere else to go,” Guarton said, “maybe our biggest concern should not be how much it’s going to cost us.”
Anecdotally, advocates are expecting a rise in Long Island homeless numbers this year. The most recent count, conducted on one night last January, showed 3,960 Long Islanders were homeless.
Be back in 2017
The Point will go on break and return Jan. 3. Enjoy the holidays and have a happy new year!