House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Credit: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Daily Point

Nassau, Suffolk to help decide House control

It’s becoming clear that 2024 might as well be tomorrow on Long Island. Congressional candidates are fundraising, campaigns are getting into gear, and national strategists are zeroing in on Nassau and Suffolk counties.

That’s the background for this week’s announcement of the Democrat-supporting House Majority PAC’s $45 million New York Fund, a bid to reverse the red wave that crashed over the state last year.

Minority Leader and New Yorker Hakeem Jeffries needs to gain five seats to earn the gavel, and Democrats see Jeffries’ home state — and particularly Long Island — as a major part of that effort. On Thursday, the House Majority Forward nonprofit unveiled a digital and billboard campaign hitting congressional Republicans on potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare. All three Long Island freshmen — Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota, and George Santos — were included on the list.

Just how close will those races be? The political prognostication outfit Sabato’s Crystal Ball came out with House ratings for 2024, also on Thursday, placing five of the New York GOP seats in the “toss-up” category — including D’Esposito and Santos.

Both districts as they’re currently configured went for President Joe Biden in 2020, and Sabato’s managing editor Kyle Kondik emailed The Point that CD3 and CD4 are “probably the two single most vulnerable Republican-held House seats in the country.”

Kondik called D’Esposito’s CD4 district “the best Biden seat held by any Republican,” and Santos’ CD3 is “a Democratic-leaning seat with a very damaged incumbent.”

Kondik acknowledged that the toss-up rating is “sort of a hedge” in Santos’ case, given the lack of clarity regarding whether the embattled freshman will make it to a general election, when he’d likely be “a clear underdog.”

Beyond the fate of Santos, there are more historical factors at play on Long Island for 2024. Sabato’s reports that the House has not changed hands in a presidential year since 1952. But also, a different turnout pattern next year could lead to a different result than in the midterms.

“It may also have been the case that 2022 represented a high watermark for modern Republicans in New York,” said Kondik, “and that things will stabilize with presidential turnout in 2024.”

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

On the casino question, Garden City’s a no

Garden City this week became the first village to officially oppose Las Vegas Sands’ effort to build a casino resort at the Nassau Hub.

In a resolution the board of trustees unanimously approved on Tuesday, village officials argued that the casino project would have a “dramatic” negative impact on the village’s quality of life.

“The placing of a 24-hour Casino and proposed ancillary uses in the heart of Nassau County would permanently impact the character of the surrounding communities,” the resolution said.

The resolution cites “serious” security issues that a casino would bring, “including illegal activity, crime, human sex trafficking, DWIs, prostitution, drugs and problem gambling."

Beyond indicating that the village board was “adamantly” opposed to the project, the resolution urged Nassau County not to allow the Nassau Coliseum lease to be transferred and asked the county to seek “appropriate uses of this property that will enhance our communities rather than negatively impact them.”

While no other village has taken a collective step to denounce the proposal, Garden City representatives aren’t the first elected officials to express their concern. In an op-ed published in Long Island Business News, Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro called the casino resort proposal “a uniquely bad idea” that was “lazy and self-serving.”

Others are waiting before making their position clear.

Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. told The Point that he has met with representatives involved in the casino resort proposal and has attended forums regarding the plan. His biggest concerns: Making sure there are enough direct community benefits, clarifying what job training and placement opportunities there will be during construction and permanently, and understanding the potential traffic impact, particularly along Hempstead Turnpike.

But, he noted, there are a lot of potential upsides to the project as well, including the impact of tourism and the influx of both new visitors and new employees, who, he noted, could be future village residents and patrons.

For Hobbs, the jury is still out.

“I haven’t really made a decision,” Hobbs said Thursday. ‘I’m still looking at the pros and cons.”

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

A model home

Credit: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune/Steve Sack

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

Reference Point

Deficits ignored, and perpetuated

The Newsday editorial from Feb. 23, 1983.

The Newsday editorial from Feb. 23, 1983.

Forty years ago, Nassau County was in fiscal stress, just one of many such occasions over the decades. Newsday’s editorial board chastised county officials for the situation, in a Feb. 23, 1983 piece called “Nassau’s Costly Failure to Heed Budget Warnings.”

“The county had ample warning of the impending deficit, which is now approaching $40 million,” the board wrote, citing a state finance official who told Nassau that its projection of sales-tax revenue was “wildly at variance with actual business activity in the state.”

Indeed, that revenue fell far short of the county-anticipated rate of 10%. The actual sales tax growth was 2.4% largely because, as the board noted, the county eliminated a tax on heating oil. The alarms “were simply ignored,” the board wrote. “County Executive Francis Purcell submitted a budget that made no provision for a deficit. The board of supervisors then cut $8.7 million out of Purcell’s proposed property-tax increase and awarded themselves a 15.1 per cent raise.

“Considering the warnings they had, Purcell and the board members demonstrated little foresight and less responsibility.”

But the lessons went unlearned, not just in Nassau but in other jurisdictions around the region, state and country, as municipalities continued to ring up deficits because of wishful thinking and faulty predictions and because good times eventually become rocky. In today’s uncertain economy, and as the federal government stares down a yawning deficit, the words of the editorial board four decades ago still resonate:

“Nassau County drifted into deep fiscal crisis because its officials evidently made two false assumptions: That a deficit goes away if ignored, and that tomorrow never comes.”

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie, Amanda Fiscina-Wells @adfiscina 

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