Kevin Smith, co-founder of Long Island Loud Majority.

Kevin Smith, co-founder of Long Island Loud Majority. Credit: Mineola Republican Club

Daily Point

About that Jan. 6 police report

What exactly did Long Island Loud Majority co-founder Kevin Smith do in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021?

That has been a matter of some debate among Smith, his lawyer, and critics of the far-right grassroots group who have pored over Jan. 6 footage to highlight clips of a man who looks like Smith in the crowd around the Capitol. Smith’s lawyer Bonnie Lawston has repeatedly said that her clients — Smith and the Loud Majority — “were not present at the Capital at the time of the alleged insurrection riots and public disturbances.” Instead, they were “at the Maryland Train Station filing [sic] out a police report over vandalism,” Lawston wrote in a letter to The Point last year that included the identifying number of the police report.

The Point has now obtained that police report from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The document blacks out the identities of the five persons who filed the claim, but the responding officer writes: The victims reported returning to the lot “beginning at 1500 hours to retrieve their respective vehicles,” when it was noticed “that either one or two of the tires on their vehicles were flat.”

“It appeared the tires were intentionally cut with a knife or other sharp object,” the report says, regarding the collection of cars with mostly New York license plates.

The document logs the time that the transit police department received the call for this issue as 3:03:06 p.m. It is not exactly clear who made the call, or that person’s physical location. The cars were parked near the Fort Totten Station. That site appears to be around a 30-minute Metro ride or drive from the Capitol. Time-stamped footage from the day — including in a ProPublica database — shows people entering the Capitol not long after 2 p.m. It is not exactly clear when Smith left the Capitol gathering-turned-riot. Neither Smith nor his attorney responded to questions about the police report.

Though more than two years have passed since the violent attack, the Department of Justice is still pursuing those who broke laws related to breaching the Capitol.

More than 985 people have been arrested for such crimes already, and a Texas man was apprehended as recently as Tuesday.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Battle over LIPA's future gets more combatants

As the push to municipalize the Long Island Power Authority accelerates, efforts to popularize alternatives to a public utility are starting to emerge. The Long Island Association just released, but did not endorse, a report detailing the benefits of the utility being fully privatized — such as investor-owned Con Ed, or if your genre is horror, the deceased Long Island Lighting Co.

Another option to an outright public utility is the current hybrid model in which LIPA, a public authority, manages a partnership with PSEG LI to operate the transmission and distribution system. PSEG is ramping up a public education campaign about the benefits of continuing this approach.

Chris Hahn, vice president of external affairs for the utility, met Wednesday with the Newsday editorial board to preview the rollout.

“We are talking to key stakeholders and other groups about the successes we’ve had, about the benefits of keeping this model,” said Hahn, who pointed to the utility’s improved performance and efficiency.

Supporters of a public utility maintain that it would be more responsive to the public because it could have either a publicly elected board, or one appointed by elected officials. Hahn disagreed.

He said that under the current contract, PSEG is best accountable to the public because performance metrics determine part of executives’ compensation, noting that as of right now, their ratings are high. The current PSEG contract ends in 2025.

The LIPA commission is expected to release its recommendations in April, with action likely by the legislature before it ends its session in June. “PSEG would like to be part of Long Island moving forward,” said Kathryn Tatzel, PSEG LI’s director of communications. “It’s going to be a long road.”

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli

Pencil Point

Off the table

Credit: CQ Roll Call/R.J. Matson

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

Reference Point

Betting on relief for taxpayers

The Newsday editorial cartoon from Feb. 16, 1949, and the...

The Newsday editorial cartoon from Feb. 16, 1949, and the Newsday editorial from Feb. 16, 1960.

On Feb. 16, 1949, a marvelous cartoon on Newsday’s opinion pages depicted a man labeled “N.Y. STATE TAXPAYER” having his clothes systematically stripped off him by four smaller men labeled “TAX GRABS.” One of that quartet is reaching for the taxpayer’s shorts, emblazoned with “THAT 66% TAX INCREASE.”

The reference was to a proposed 66⅔ % increase in the state income tax rate, which Newsday’s editorial board said would make state taxes “the most punishing in the country” if passed by the New York State Legislature.

The board’s preference was passage of another bill before the legislature that would form a commission to study the legalization of off-track betting.

“That would be the first move to abolish the bookie and bring a rich source of revenue to the relief of state income tax payers,” the board wrote.

The bill was introduced by two Long Island lawmakers, Assemb. Frank Becker of Lynbrook and State Sen. William S. Hults of Port Washington, and the board advised that “a system of state-operated pari-mutuel substations can be planned to go in operation as soon as possible after the Legislature acts and the racing season opens in April.”

The board opined that the commission would not need much time to do its work, citing evidence already gathered by the “Kings County grand jury, Queens County grand jury and the New York Association of Chiefs of Police” that showed that state-controlled off-track betting was the way to counteract illegal bookmaking.

“Legalized off-course betting, properly established and controlled … can work for Education, Welfare and Health just as efficiently as can the income taxpayer’s hard-earned far-stretched sheckles,” the board wrote.

Come Feb. 16, 1960, 11 years later, the board was still imploring the state to legalize off-track betting. This time the target was Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who had relaxed his opposition and, the board said, acknowledged the possibility “that the issue might be submitted in a referendum, even though he still is personally opposed to the whole idea.”

If the idea was put to a public vote, the board said that “we are ready to bet $2 on it to win” since many New Yorkers recognize “that bookies are draining hundreds of millions of dollars in potential tax revenue away from the state; and that all the evidence, worldwide as well as at the tracks themselves, is that legalized gambling does not lead to a whole succession of horrors.”

The board also noted the long opposition to legalization from rural communities but wrote that with Rocky’s change of mind, “The point is that the ice jam seems, finally, to be cracking up.”

Not quite, as it turned out. Another decade would pass before the legislature finally enacted its first off-track betting law, in 1970.

As for state taxpayers, well, they might not have lost their shorts in 1949, but their taxes never stopped rising, either.

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

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