Hochul comes to Melville
We don’t know exactly how much the broad midterm political currents will affect New York’s gubernatorial race in November, but the national picture certainly tweaked Kathy Hochul’s schedule Thursday morning.
The Democratic governor was slated to be in Melville to interview with the Newsday editorial board in the afternoon, but that was before President Joe Biden announced a Thursday trip to New York, partially to tour an IBM facility and celebrate the company's big new investment in the Hudson Valley. The region, for the record, is home to a few crucial congressional races that both parties dearly want to win on their path to controlling the House of Representatives. Hochul had to meet Biden on the tarmac when he arrived, and the region’s air space would be closed before and after the Poughkeepsie visit. So the governor drove to Long Island early in the morning to be able to fly to the Hudson Valley before Biden.
The national implications didn’t change the state and local focus of the discussion, of course. Hochul, who is running against Shirley Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, answered questions about Albany ethics, housing, mental health beds, bail, and the debate about full public control and operation of Long Island’s electrical utility.
On that issue, Hochul batted away the question of whether her opinion would be guided by not wanting her name on every power outage.
“Can I tell you this, my name’s on everything anyhow,” she said. “I’m responsible for every crime in the state,” New York’s chief executive joked, perhaps referring to some media and social media reaction to high-profile crimes and state Democrats’ changes to the criminal justice system, which started before her tenure at the top.
“Welcome to my world,” she added, “I mean, people are gonna blame me whether it’s fair or not.”
Hochul nodded at the whirlwind nature of the campaign so far, even on days when POTUS isn’t disrupting local airspace. Asked what she’s reading or watching when time allows, she name-checked “Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now,” by Felix Rohatyn, and the period, NYC-set TV series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The governor noted that she was recently on the set, and saw all the marvelous clothes.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Albany going to the dogs
Assemb. Keith Brown’s door-knocking package has the usual literature featuring the incumbent’s smiling face, the date of the election, and text about how he’s “working hard for you.”
Also, there’s a dog treat.
Brown says he has distributed a “couple thousand” of the little bone-shaped goodies in this way, an innovation he added to his bid for a second term. The giveaway tonnage amounts to almost 140 pounds, according to his office.
“People really like it,” says the self-described pet lover and owner of Kaya, a 6-year-old golden retriever.
Brown, a Northport Republican who is running against Democratic challenger Cooper Macco in New York’s 12th Assembly District, says the treats have been good icebreakers across the Suffolk district. Sometimes, when a dog comes to the door, he gives the canine a treat himself (after asking for permission).
Brown has displayed an interest in animal issues in the past, sponsoring a bill to get a real property tax exemption for the League for Animal Protection of Huntington, which Gov. Kathy Hochul signed last year. The treats themselves represent a slightly more basic form of retail politics: “So many people have pets,” said the stumping politician.
Dog chases bone.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Big Foot politics
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The hubbub before the Hub
There are threads that weave through Long Island’s history, defining the region through the years for better and for worse. Think of issues like traffic and roads, development sprawl, and the quality of our water.
On Oct. 6, 1966, Newsday’s editorial board found itself weighing one such issue that became one of those threads, though the board might not have realized it at the time. The occasion was the release of a comprehensive plan for the development of Mitchel Field, the former Air Force base that the federal government had given to Nassau County to develop. Nowadays, the general area is known as The Hub.
The committee that produced the development plan had been formed in April 1961 — a long runway that turned out to be a harbinger of interminable delays to come. The board “hailed” the appearance of the new plan for Mitchel Field, recognizing that “its size, its central location and its undeveloped status has been a major challenge to Long Island planners” in a piece called “The Mitchel Field Plan.”
And the board noted, ominously but correctly, that “the new plan will, of course, be subject to revision during the process of developing the field.”
The plan — and stop us if this sounds familiar — called for a “blend of industrial, commercial, educational, residential and cultural uses,” including a transportation hub.
“The broad concept of a multiplicity of uses is a good one,” the board wrote, and called for a “broad public discussion” of the committee’s proposal.
In time, Mitchel Field became home to the Cradle of Aviation Museum and the entire Museum Row, Nassau Community College, the expansion of Hofstra University, the Mitchel Field unit of Lockheed Martin, and Mitchel Athletic Complex. And, of course, Nassau Coliseum.
The Coliseum was intended to fill a need identified long before by the editorial board. Exactly 17 years earlier, on Oct. 6, 1949, Newsday’s board had written about a five-day celebration of Nassau County’s 50 years of county independence that was being held at Roosevelt Field. And the board lamented a “shortcoming” it said would be evident to Long Islanders attending the Jubilee.
“In 50 years of growth and development, Nassau might have produced something more attractive in the way of a public exhibition hall than the peeling hangars of Roosevelt Field,” the board wrote, calling them “far from ideal for the sort of exhibits staged in a Grand Central Palace or a Madison Square Garden. All the red, white and blue bunting the county may drape them with can’t conceal that …
“If Long Island is to have big shows, Long Island must get itself a big, weatherproof showplace.”
Nassau Coliseum certainly was big. And it was weatherproof. But it never quite was the “attractive” hall envisioned by the board. And now its future is again uncertain. It stands largely unused, with some calling for its demolition, as Nassau again considers a plan for a multiplicity of uses, albeit on a smaller slice of what once was Mitchel Field, a plan that has been on a runway that seems every bit as interminable as the five years it took to produce the first proposal in 1966.