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Sign of things to come
Political campaigns, they say, begin in earnest in September.
And yet, in the doldrums of August, a lawn sign has sprouted in front of a house on Arnold Avenue in West Babylon.
But it’s not touting a candidate for elected office. It’s a sign imploring people to VOTE NO! in November on a New York State constitutional convention.
“I’ve heard a few times about lawn signs; it’s nothing we’ve purchased ourselves,” Jordan Marks told The Point.
Marks is campaign manager for New Yorkers Against Corruption, an umbrella group of more than 100 organizations that oppose holding a convention to amend the state constitution. It’s on November’s ballot because by law, New Yorkers must be asked every 20 years whether they want such a convention.
“Our groups are putting out their own collateral material,” Marks said, referring to a mélange of labor unions, environmental groups and civic organizations. “Our allies are going to invest resources to make sure they’re communicating with all their members.”
Attempts to reach the West Babylon homeowners were not successful, so it’s not clear with whom they’re allied.
What is clear is that this is only the beginning. August might be warm, but con-con is going to be hot this autumn.
Where Excelsior Scholarship isn’t excelling
SUNY students waiting on their first-time Excelsior Scholarship funding could be waiting a while longer, even though classes begin in just a few weeks.
And the delay could affect thousands of students.
The state appropriated enough money to fund 22,000 scholarships. But it received at least 75,000 applications by the July 21 deadline. And that number could go up.
“We’ve been saying it’s 75,000 applicants, but likely it’s more than that. We’re still calculating the applications,” Elizabeth Bibi, deputy director of media relations for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, told The Point.
While Bibi said every eligible student would receive the full scholarship, she was unable to say when all students will be told whether they qualify. At Farmingdale State College, 139 students are getting the scholarship so far, and at SUNY Old Westbury it’s 103. But these numbers are expected to rise.
At each school, more students were approved than will receive the scholarship because other financial aid, such as Pell Grants or state Tuition Assistance Program awards, already cover their tuition.
The state Higher Education Services Corp. vets the applications, but sifting through the applications is time consuming in the short period before semesters begin.
The Excelsior Scholarship was approved in April in the final days of state budget negotiations. It makes SUNY and CUNY tuition free for New Yorkers who meet certain requirements. Students can receive the scholarship this year only if their family income is $100,000 or less, they go to school full time, and they have been New York residents for a year before applying.
Assemb. Tremaine Wright of Brooklyn held a forum Tuesday on the scholarship to help answer constituent questions. She said some students starting school soon still don’t know whether they’ll receive the scholarship or will need to get loans.
“Unfortunately, [state officials] weren’t able to say that all the money would be delivered by a certain date,” Wright said.
Vacation all he ever wanted
A puzzling nomination
Conservative radio host Phillip J. Jusino is pleased that his name has been submitted to the governor to fill an empty seat on the Suffolk County Community College board. But he says he doesn’t know how he got into the mix.
Jusino was an early and vocal supporter of Donald Trump for president — a prediction he’s proud of today, he told The Point. The Lake Grove attorney was nominated to fill one of three vacant seats on the SCCC board, along with Kevin O’Connor, president of Bridgehampton National Bank, and Shirley Coverdale, co-chair of the Suffolk Democrats’ black and Hispanic committee.
Jusino would be an odd choice for Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Usually the governor would take suggestions from local elected officials and party leaders. But no one will own up to sending Jusino’s name to Albany.
Jusino, who lives in South Setauket, attended Fordham University and Fordham Law School (Class of ’89), and is a former Suffolk County assistant district attorney. He’s the president of the Lake Grove Chamber of Commerce, and two of his three children have attended SCCC.
His radio show with co-host Frank Vetro is produced over the internet at 8 p.m. Tuesdays. A registered Republican and a self-described conservative, Jusino says he won’t bring partisanship to the SCCC board if he’s chosen.
“I’ll do what’s best for Suffolk County,” he said.