Battle brews over Hochul's housing plan
Garden City, housing advocates weigh options
Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to be on Long Island Thursday but there are unlikely to be any public events about her controversial housing plan, which would both encourage and in some ways require municipalities to increase their residential stock. It’s a plan that is stoking attention from advocates and local elected officials alike.
At Tuesday night’s Garden City Village board of trustees meeting, the agenda included a discussion of the plan — and what the village could do about it.
Trustee Mary Flanagan suggested holding a meeting of community leaders, including those from PTAs, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, local fire departments, and more, to inform these groups about the plan and develop a strategy for fighting it. Her goal would be to have these organizations pass on the information to other residents.
“It’s a serious threat to our village and villages all over Long Island,” Flanagan said of the Hochul plan. “The board is united on this, as are the leaders of villages across Nassau County.”
Flanagan suggested holding the meeting on March 7, noting that any action has to be taken “quickly.”
“The first goal is to have this taken out of the budget,” Flanagan said.
The village’s move comes as housing advocates are trying to push Hochul’s plan forward. Housing Help and the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, along with other advocacy groups, planned to hold a rally and news conference Wednesday afternoon at the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station. Housing Help executive director Pilar Moya-Mancera told The Point that she hopes to make the community — especially those struggling to find adequate housing — more aware of the proposals and the need.
“Home rule has failed a large group of Long Islanders,” Moya-Mancera said, referencing local zoning laws that often restrict denser and multifamily development. The news conference, she said, will be an opportunity to open the door to elected officials who’ve opposed the plan.
“Today I plan on inviting Democrats, Republicans, independents, everybody, to please reach out so we can find some common ground and solve this severe housing crisis,” she said, noting the potential to make changes to Hochul’s plan or find alternative answers.
“We just need to find a solution already,” she said.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Santos is a punchline in far-right fight
Even an operatic public drama inside an organization known for its politically motivated undercover stings can find its way by association these days into the small, strange world of the fabulistic Rep. George Devolder Santos.
This week, lawyer Jenna Ellis, fleetingly famous for her televised role in helping peddle President Donald Trump’s election-fraud hoax, tweeted what she called a “breaking” item.
She posted a statement that the board of the nonprofit group, Project Veritas, had issued a statement alleging James O’Keefe — the famous self-described candid-camera “journalist” — “misappropriated HUGE amounts of donor funds for personal use and violated the nonprofit’s bylaws.”
Fans of O’Keefe, who has reportedly departed the organization, defended him in strident and condemning style. These included Donald Trump Jr., Steve Bannon and lesser-known figures including Vish Burra, a New Yorker who these days is director of operations at Santos’ Washington, D.C. office. Burra slammed the dissing of O’Keefe, Veritas’ star player and founder.
The response from Ellis, whose exact role in the controversy is unclear from the Twitter postings, was: “Don’t do this. Wait for the facts. There is a lot more to this, I guarantee you. … Do you care about facts and truth or do you care more about cult personality?”
Burra: “I care that @JamesOKeefeIII is an American Hero and I’ll take his word over anyone’s any day.”
Ellis: “So is that a no on caring about facts and truth? Fair, for a guy who works for George Santos.”
But there’s more.
Burra is executive secretary of the New York Young Republican Club, where The Point learned last week Santos remains a member. And the club seems to be carving itself a minor side role in the Veritas blowup. On Tuesday Burra issued an unusual statement that read in part:
“After conducting a series of interviews, the Board of Governors of the New York Young Republican Club has learned that Matthew Tyrmand, a member of our Board of Advisors, may have engineered O’Keefe’s ouster on tenuous claims of financial malfeasance.”
That’s because Tyrmand is also on the Veritas board.
“O’Keefe is a close friend of the Club,” Burra’s statement said, “and Tyrmand serves as a member of the Club’s Board of Advisors. Pending the outcome of an internal investigation, to be conducted by our Board of Governors, Matthew Tyrmand will be suspended from his role.”
Santos and Burra aside, all this intramural intrigue has also attracted interest in the local MAGA movement. On his “Loud Majority” podcast, Long Islander Kevin Smith declared: “On this show we are Team James O’Keefe. And as someone who has been betrayed by their friends, I know everything that James is going through.”
— Dan Janison @Danjanison
For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons
Lafazan gets to work on 2024
Josh Lafazan has been testing out some political slogans.
“Long Island deserves a Congressman who fights for the people, rather than fights to keep himself out of jail,” the Democratic Nassau County legislator wrote in a recent letter to supporters obtained by The Point.
“We deserve a Member who passes legislation, not one who couldn’t pass a basic background check,” the letter goes on.
The target, of course, is Rep. George Santos, the truth-challenged Republican from CD3. Lafazan lost a Democratic primary in the district last year, but he is now being very vocal about trying again: “I need your help to win,” the letter says. “We’ll need the resources to air commercials, hire staff, put out lawn signs, knock doors, make calls, and feed our (250+) interns.”
Lafazan has certainly been busy on the Santos front, filing a statement of 2024 candidacy for CD3 and making multiple Santos-related appearances in recent months. Last week he presented a crowdfunded $27,000 donation to Paws of War, an organization that works with veterans and service dogs — a pointed contrast to the reports of Santos’ fundraising scheme having to do with a disabled Navy veteran’s service dog.
Being, as Lafazan puts it, “amongst the loudest critics of George Santos” has certainly gotten him attention, which could accrue benefits in different directions. If Santos lasts all the way to 2024 in office, Lafazan would have a head start in what is sure to be a crowded Democratic primary. If Santos departs office before then and Lafazan isn’t picked by party leaders to run in a special election for CD3, the efforts could boost his reelection for county legislature later this year.
Candidates can generally make transfers from their congressional account to their state level or local one, according to the state Board of Elections, which could be helpful in a tight legislative election — or even a primary. Revisions to new maps for county legislative districts could place Lafazan in the same district as fellow Democrat Arnold Drucker, as The Point reported Tuesday.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano