MTA chief executive Janno Lieber.

MTA chief executive Janno Lieber. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Daily Point

Where’s the love for LI?

After decades of waiting, Long Island finally got East Side Access and Third Track.

And now, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority seems to be telling state elected officials that that’s enough.

Want electrification out east? Service additions or station improvements? Or an alternative to increasing the MTA’s Payroll Mobility Tax?

As state representatives from Long Island questioned MTA chief executive Janno Lieber Monday, during a legislative hearing on transportation, they all seemed to get a similar response.

“The folks who live in that region generally are getting dramatic upticks in service,” Lieber told State Sen. Mario Mattera, in response to his question about electrifying the Port Jefferson branch.

It was an ongoing refrain, sometimes peppered with more detail or direct answers. For instance, Lieber told Mattera that electrifying the Port Jefferson branch “is expensive relative to ridership.”

But at one point, after Lieber had noted several times that the new LIRR schedules would amount to a 40% increase in service, Assemb. Gina Sillitti pushed back, noting that Lieber was comparing the new schedules with the pandemic schedules. Sillitti noted that the new schedules did not represent a significant increase in service in her district when compared with those before COVID-19.

Sillitti told The Point after the hearing that she hoped the MTA would be willing to rapidly expand schedules as needed and would continue to move the LIRR forward, even as two big projects have come to fruition.

“Pay attention to what’s happening on the Long Island Rail Road,” Sillitti said of her message to the MTA. “Pay attention to what’s happening on Long Island and at our stations — and keep improving service.”

Lieber’s argument — that the introduction of the Third Track and the East Side terminal now known as Grand Central Madison were the big projects the Island had sought and received — even carried over to his response to Assemb. Ed Ra, who criticized the Payroll Mobility Tax increase.

Lieber first noted that the authority is spending $300 million a year on Grand Central Madison service.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the businesses who, for the first time, are getting reverse commuting … to participate in that,” Lieber said.

When Assemb. Jodi Giglio echoed Mattera’s support of electrification, she asked about the added service she’d like to see for her district.

Said Giglio: “Long Island needs some love.”

Lieber’s reply?

“You get a lot.”

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

House sound

One sign that former Assembly member Mike LiPetri might have a congressional run in his future is his new (unpaid) gig. He’s now hosting a “video podcast,” The Mike LiPetri Show.

“What’s happening,” said the Massapequa Republican to start off his first episode, an interview with CD4 freshman GOP House member Anthony D’Esposito. “We just roll it here,” he went on, jumping right into questions about DC politics and policy.

The idea of a current or former politician getting into podcasting needs little introduction these days — see NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ new “Get Stuff Done-Cast,” an attempt to write his own narrative. But for LiPetri, there are obvious political benefits to be gained by asking softball questions of Long Island allies and power brokers like Lou Civello, a Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association official, and former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, both upcoming guests. (D’Amato’s Park Strategies is also LiPetri’s current employer.)

LiPetri lost the 2020 Republican primary for what was then CD2 to Andrew Garbarino. But redistricting and the implosion of Rep. George Santos mean that LiPetri could have another shot at the House depending on what happens with the famously dissembling freshman from Queens. LiPetri lives in what is now Santos’ CD3.

The D’Esposito interview included inside-baseball chatter about how D’Esposito has added some former Lee Zeldin staffers to his team in legislative roles, and also what it felt like to ultimately be sworn in “at 2 a.m. on a Saturday” after the delayed vote to make Kevin McCarthy the House speaker. D’Esposito said the only person left from the dozens that had shown up for him was his brother: “Timmy was the last man standing.”

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

A burning issue

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Mike Luckovich

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Quick Points

Ballooning fallout

  • Chinese officials complained about the balloon being shot down, saying they had asked the U.S. to deal with the matter “in a calm, professional and restrained manner.” Well, U.S. officials were certainly calm and the takedown clearly was professional, but “restrained” is always going to be open to interpretation.
  • At least 24 people have died from more than 150 wildfires burning across heat wave-scorched ……… Chile. The fact that you most likely didn’t know how that sentence was going to end is a pretty good indicator of the extent of a changing climate.
  • New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said President Joe Biden would try to take credit for job creation and an improving economy in his State of the Union speech this week. In other words, Sununu predicted that Biden would act like every American president who came before him.
  • A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Americans have little enthusiasm for a 2024 rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Not sure Biden and Trump are all that excited about it, either.
  • Some Suffolk County motorists caught by school bus cameras violating laws on passing stopped buses are complaining that the $250 fine is a money grab. Another theory says the high cost was designed to hurt, so drivers would change behavior before they hurt schoolkids.
  • Rep. George Santos’ communications director, pushing back on reports that the embattled congressman is not serving his district, says Santos has been reaching out to local officials but “can’t say specifically who yet.” Give his office credit for learning how to say something that can’t be proved to be a lie.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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