Congressman-elect Nick LaLota and Rep. Andrew Garbarino.

Congressman-elect Nick LaLota and Rep. Andrew Garbarino. Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

LI congressmen get oriented

The Point checked in with Long Island’s new fully Republican House delegation now that the dust has settled from Election Day and they’re preparing to be sworn in after New Year’s Day. Here’s the latest, from Nick LaLota and incumbent Andrew Garbarino (newcomers George Santos and Anthony D’Esposito did not respond by press time).

Proud graduate

”I’m a proud graduate of congressman's school," said CD1’s Nick LaLota. “It was pass or fail and I passed."

That was LaLota’s report from new member orientation, which he described as 80% bureaucratic — such as signing forms and picking offices — and 20% “patriotic and inspirational.” The latter included having dinner at the Library of Congress and stepping on the House floor.

LaLota said he’s seeking to be placed on either the Appropriations or Armed Services committees, though it’s “too early to tell” what he’ll end up getting.

He says his speaker pick is California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who has faced some challenges to his ascension from members of the caucus. LaLota said that the current minority leader “personifies the commitment to America which is what I campaigned on," pointing to the economy and public safety.

Those were some of the areas LaLota highlighted in a recent email to supporters titled, “My priorities for the 118th Congress.”

He also included a section on “Holding our Government Leaders Accountable” which supported “focused hearings on vital issues such as drug trafficking, government corruption, the Afghanistan withdrawal, and making sure that vital services such as Medicare and Social Security are funded and available for Long Islanders young and old.”

That’s a relatively sober description of the House’s oversight function, which some on the right have signaled they want to use more as a Hunter Biden/impeachment platform.

LaLota told The Point that the overseas work of the president’s son could be a legitimate subject of inquiry. He said he didn’t include the younger Biden by name in that accountability list because “I intentionally didn’t want to prejudice” the narrative with conclusions before any hearing took place. “I think it’d be wrong to prejudge many of these things,” he said.

The dean

Andrew Garbarino, the only non-freshman in the LI cohort and therefore now the regional delegation’s dean, spent a portion of Wednesday in a steering committee meeting.

Part of that body’s role is to decide who is assigned to which House committees, the question of the hour these days and the subject of much haggling and hoping.

One of the other big subjects of haggling and rumor-mongering in Washington these days is the speakership, of course.

“I’m with McCarthy,” Garbarino told The Point by text.

The minority leader’s future status is still up in the air, as is the makeup of committees, which Garbarino said wouldn’t be decided until mid-to-late January.

That’s because the speaker and minority leader “need to agree on ratios for committee size before you can fill the slots,” Garbarino said. So the committee spots can’t be appointed “until there is a speaker.”

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

A hill Thiele’s still climbing

Assemb. Fred Thiele doesn’t often write letters or raise his voice about local development projects.

But when it comes to the Lewis Road Planned Residential Development — a project once known as The Hills — Thiele took his dissent to a new level this week, sending a strongly worded letter to the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission in advance of the group’s Wednesday vote on the project.

“At this late date, I have long ago lost hope that with regard to this application that the Commission will uphold the legislative intent of the Central Pine Barrens Act and seek to protect the Pine Barrens rather than the pecuniary interests of the developer,” Thiele wrote.

Despite Thiele’s urging for a “no” vote, the Commission approved the project — which includes 118 “seasonal” residential units and 12 workforce housing units along with an 18-hole private golf course. The development, on about 600 acres of land in East Quogue, would save more than 70% of the land for open space.

“I do not very often get involved in local land use matters, as I respect the role of local government,” Thiele told The Point. “But the Pine Barrens is a regional resource … and this is not a small project. This is a really, really large project that I think sets a dangerous precedent for the role of the Pine Barrens commission in the future.”

Thiele told The Point his opposition to the project comes primarily because it contains both housing and a golf course.

“One or the other, I think, would have been consistent with the intent of the Pine Barrens plan, but this is double dipping. They’re getting full density [in housing] and then getting a major intensive use on top of it,” Thiele said.

The Commission vote is far from the last step in what’s been and will continue to be a lengthy process. Thiele told The Point that the Lewis Road project now will go to the Southampton Town planning board. But even as it winds through necessary approvals, it’s also the subject of multiple lawsuits, of which Thiele is a party, that have yet to be resolved.

“This has gotten pretty far down the line, but there are still a few innings to play,” Thiele said.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Belly up in Georgia

Credit: FloridaPolitics.com/Bill Day

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Final Point

Adjusted for inflation, ARod’s pay wins verdict over Judge

Adjusting for inflation is all the rage these days in politics and economics. And with the announcement of Aaron Judge’s nine-year, $360 million decision to keep his glove and bat in the Yankee dugout, similar comparisons are flying in baseball.

Judge’s deal is massive, the biggest annual average salary for any position player, and, because it is a new free-agent deal and not an extension, technically the biggest contract in history. But Alex Rodriguez will be glad to hear that his 2010 salary of $33,000,000 still wears the inflation-adjusted crown, with a present-day value of $45,385,000.

Top annual salaries today are the New York Mets’ duo of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at $43,333,333 each.

Judge’s $40 million annually is about 739 times the annual median earnings of an American worker.

By contrast, in 1874 the highest-paid baseball player, Fergus Malone, brought in $2,400, about three times the annual median salary in the United States at that time.

The Point got curious about the highest salaries over time, which saw huge bumps once Curt Flood’s landmark 1974 lawsuit granted players free agency, and again when the era of big television money began in the 1980s and 1990s.

Here is a sampling of the largest baseball salaries over time, and their value in 2022 dollars.

  • 1910 Ty Cobb $9,000 ($274,000)
  • 1930 Babe Ruth $80,000 ($1,394,000)
  • 1950 Joe DiMaggio $100,000 ($1,268,000)
  • 1970 Willie Mays $135,000 ($1,064,000)
  • 1980 Nolan Ryan $1,000,000 ($3,830,000)
  • 1990 Robin Yount $3,200,000 ($7,485,000)
  • 2000 Kevin Brown $15,714,000 ($27,742,000)
  • 2010 Alex Rodriguez $33,000,000 ($45,385,000)

— Lane Filler @lanefiller