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Islanders in play
The New York Islanders are becoming quite the catch. As the hockey team weighs the possibility of leaving Brooklyn after the 2017-18 or 2018-19 seasons, the suitors keep coming.
First it was Belmont Park, the site of renderings for a new arena — and state officials who hope to make it happen. Then there’s Nassau Coliseum, where County Executive Edward Mangano has put in an offer to bring back the Islanders.
Now it’s Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who has proposed building a soccer and hockey arena at Willets Point.
She told The Point this week that the arena wouldn’t have to be on the parking lot at Citi Field, which is the subject of litigation over whether it’s considered parkland. Katz said there’s other land, including some owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and other property at Willets Point that’s ripe for redevelopment.
First, though, Katz noted that that area has to be cleaned up. While some old auto-body shops at Willets Point have been demolished, and most of the businesses there have been purchased by New York City, significant environmental remediation awaits. But Katz said that should begin even while litigation continues.
She noted that while she’d love for the Islanders to move to Queens, her preference is to bring soccer to the borough. There’s even a chance, she said, to do both.
“No matter what happens there, or what we decide, we can clean it up first,” Katz said, noting that she has reached out to Mayor Bill de Blasio to try to get that process going.
Randi F. Marshall
In Schumer’s shoes
Sen. Chuck Schumer has been on a relative tear of opposition to President Donald Trump in the past few days, including his Monday Facebook announcement that he would oppose eight Cabinet nominees. That has been of some satisfaction to progressive activists.
“I think he realized his constituents want him to stand a little more firm,” said Elizabeth Zeldin, an organizer of Resist Trump New York.
She and her partners comprise one of three activist groups that she says staged uncoordinated protests in front of Schumer’s Park Slope home earlier this month. Shortly after that, Schumer indicated he would oppose Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general, which was also being widely opposed by civil rights groups and leaders.
After the Women’s March on Jan. 21, Zeldin, 37, says her group’s Facebook page was “flooded with messages,” and organizers scheduled another event to pressure Schumer. It is set for Tuesday night in Park Slope.
Schumer should “lead the resistance,” Zeldin says. Protesters know that Democrats don’t have the votes to block nominees, but were “concerned about the precedent” of Schumer voting yes on a number of them.
She acknowledged that he is in a tough position and needs to look for openings to pull over Republican defectors. As for the role of constituents, however, Zeldin cited the online Indivisible resistance guide being circulated in progressive circles, which explains how to push elected officials via Tea Party tactics.
In turn, Schumer’s office appears to be meeting protesters on social media, where some of their gatherings originate and where staff members promote the senator’s views on Trump.
Who’s next for Saladino seat in Assembly?
As Massapequa Republican Joseph Saladino was sworn in Tuesday morning as town supervisor of Oyster Bay, election watchers weren’t expecting the Assembly seat he vacated to be filled any time soon.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would have to call a special election, and he sometimes has allowed long vacancies in state legislative districts. For example, when former Sen. John Sampson was convicted on federal charges in July 2015, his Crown Heights district didn’t get a new senator, Roxanne Persaud, until the following November.
State law requires a special election to be held between 70 and 80 days after the governor calls it, but he has wide discretion in making that proclamation. In a special election, nominees are picked by party leaders. Otherwise, candidates can circulate petitions for the regular ballot in November 2017.
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs told The Point Tuesday that he hasn’t thought about replacing Saladino in the 9th Assembly District. “It tends to be a strong Republican seat,” Jacobs said.
A special election is planned for Feb. 14 to fill a New York City Council seat in Harlem, vacated when Inez Dickens was elected in November to the State Assembly. The next special election, should the governor choose to call one, might not occur before Memorial Day — close to the end of the state legislative session.
Brendan Cunningham, 23, ran against Saladino in November and lost. The West Babylon Democrat told The Point that he’s open to running again.