Part of the settlement paperwork for Tiffany Santos in Queens Housing...

Part of the settlement paperwork for Tiffany Santos in Queens Housing Court. Credit: Queens Housing Court

Daily Point

End of one Santos legal saga

There were a couple dozen people nervously tapping on phones and shuffling sheets of paper at Queens Housing Court Friday morning, when the voice of a lawyer for Tiffany Santos piped out of a computer.

Santos, the sister of embattled CD3 Rep. George Santos, has been fighting her landlord’s attempt to evict her from her Elmhurst apartment. Her landlord’s court filings have said she failed to pay close to $40,000 in rent and other charges between 2020 and 2022.

Representatives for Santos and the landlord spoke virtually in the courtroom Friday morning, discussing a settlement, whose terms became clear in an afternoon court filing: Santos agreed to pay $19,525 in monthly increments of $1,000.

The proceedings have drawn public attention due to Tiffany’s connection to her brother’s political efforts, as well as the amount of money she earned and donated during the time when her landlord accused her of not paying rent. She ran a state political action committee called Rise NY that had multiple connections to her brother, and was paid more than $25,000 for those efforts. She also contributed thousands to George’s campaign and that of Michelle Bond, a CD1 GOP primary candidate.

The two siblings reportedly have shared a home together, and more: Santos himself has faced eviction in the past.

The settlement says that Tiffany will begin making payments at the end of March, meaning her final $525 payment completing the balance would be scheduled for Oct. 31, 2024 — days before George faces voters again, should he run for reelection.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Town attorney by day, casino protester by night

Opposition to Las Vegas Sands’ proposal to build a casino resort is gaining momentum — complete with a petition and newly formed civic association.

Leading the effort: Garden City resident John Chiara, who also serves as North Hempstead’s town attorney.

Chiara started the “Say No to the Casino” organization that has a website and a petition, which currently has more than 1,100 signatures. The civic’s mission, according to its website, is “to prevent the development of any type of casino at Nassau County Coliseum and adjacent properties.”

Chiara told The Point that he expects a casino would “destroy” Hofstra University, where he went to law school, and that he’s particularly concerned about the traffic and crime he said a casino resort could generate. Chiara, who grew up in Garden City but later moved to New York City, returned to the village in 2017.

“It’s not something I want to live next to,” Chiara said. “I don’t think I would have moved back to Garden City if it was next to a casino … When you move to a place, you want it to basically stay similar. You move there for a reason.”

But Chiara said his opposition to the casino goes beyond the impact on Garden City, or even the Town of Hempstead.

“I think it’s going to change the character of Nassau County,” he added.

Chiara said he is focusing his efforts on convincing Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and the county legislature to refuse to transfer the Coliseum lease to Sands. Chiara said he is hoping to also work with Uniondale residents, including Pearl Jacobs, who heads the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association, on the opposition to the project.

According to Chiara, Blakeman told about 100 residents at a community meeting about the casino resort last week that the paperwork for a lease transfer would likely be filed within the next 30 days.

Chiara said he keeps his North Hempstead work “separate” from his efforts to stop the Sands’ plans.

Is there a conflict between his job as town attorney and his leading the opposition organization?

“I don’t even want to answer that question,” Chiara said. “I have every right as an American and certainly as a Nassau County resident to fight for what I think should happen in my community, and my community is Garden City.”

But in North Hempstead, the view was different depending on to whom The Point spoke.

“John Chiara is acting as a resident of Garden City, not as town attorney, so it doesn’t involve the town,” said town spokesman Gordon Tepper, who represents the town and the town council, which has a Democratic majority. “I don’t see a conflict and the town has not taken a position on it.”

But North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, a Democrat who ran as a Republican and caucuses with the Republicans, was less certain.

“I think he needs to be careful to the extent that this proposal could affect North Hempstead residents,” DeSena told The Point, noting that besides any revenue impact, parts of the town — including Westbury and Carle Place — are quite close to the Coliseum site. “His obligation is to North Hempstead Town residents as the town attorney.”

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

A car wreck

Credit: Whamond

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Final Point

Hoping for takeoff

Bipartisan agreement during budget season?

It’s rare — but it happened on Long Island this week.

In a letter sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul, a bipartisan group of state senators, Assembly members, town supervisors and advocates requested that Hochul allocate $500,000 in this year’s budget to allow the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to purchase 40 acres of the Lawrence Aviation property in Port Jefferson Station.

The letter writers are hoping the MTA uses Lawrence Aviation, a federal Superfund site, for a new MTA rail yard and, potentially, relocate the existing Port Jefferson Long Island Rail Road station to the property. The letter notes that the work at Lawrence Aviation is a precursor to electrifying the Port Jefferson branch.

The letter writers said the timing of Hochul’s budget allocation is critical, because the U.S. Department of Justice has approved a settlement agreement between local, state and federal officials that outlines the process by which the Superfund site can be sold — and how the proceeds from the sale will be distributed.

“The opportunity for MTA/LIRR to secure this strategic forty acres may well only present itself this year,” the letter said.

The signatories on the letter include Sens. Anthony Palumbo and Monica Martinez, with a note that it’s also supported by all of Suffolk County’s state senators. Assembs. Edward Flood, Fred Thiele and Michael Fitzpatrick also signed on, with a similar note that the Assembly delegation from Suffolk County supports the effort. Eight Suffolk town supervisors signed on as well, as did union and developer groups.

Is that enough to garner Hochul’s support, too?

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Programming Point

The Point will be back Tuesday, Feb. 21.

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