Former Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz.

Former Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz. Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Daily Point

Place your bets

More than a decade ago, former Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz found himself fighting plans to build a casino at the Nassau Hub — his university’s neighbor to the east. At the time, he called a casino “counterproductive to everything every college is trying to do.”

But a lot has changed since former County Executive Ed Mangano paired with the Shinnecock Indian Nation to propose a casino for the Hub — a proposal that ultimately failed.

And now, Rabinowitz has been named one of the first three appointees to the downstate Gaming Facility Location Board, a committee that eventually will analyze all proposals to build casinos in the downstate region and choose the top three, which then will move on to the state Gaming Commission for final approval.

Rabinowitz told The Point that he sees this work as different from his efforts to oppose a casino at the Hub.

“I think it’s fair to say that I have a totally open mind,” Rabinowitz said. “I want the information and the input. And I think times have changed. This isn’t the same situation as it was before.”

By choosing Rabinowitz, along with former New York City Deputy Mayor Vicki Been and New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce chief executive Quenia Abreu, the state Gaming Commission deviated from its previous strategy, used for upstate casino licenses. This time, the commission chose downstate representatives to make the downstate choices. Previously, the commission had picked downstate representatives to handle the upstate choices.

Among those downstate members on the upstate location board? Stuart Rabinowitz.

Rabinowitz, who previously co-chaired the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, told The Point that he “enjoyed” his time on the upstate gaming board, except for the necessary travel. This time, he might be doing less travel — but the commitment and goal remain the same.

“We just have to do the best we can under the standards they provide,” Rabinowitz said. “But I have been through it all. I have reviewed financial statements and promises that were made by people who got the licenses and didn’t get the licenses … That experience is useful.”

The difference this time around, Rabinowitz noted, is an extra layer of approval that’s been added to the process. A community advisory committee, consisting of representatives chosen by the governor, local state senator, Assembly member, county executive or borough president, and, in New York City, the city councilperson, will have to approve a project before it even goes to the location board.

That, Rabinowitz said, will make his job easier. The upstate board at times would only know about opposition based on protests outside its office.

“This is a much more organized and orderly assurance that the community gets input,” Rabinowitz said.

The facility board now has 90 days to release a request for proposals. Talk of potential sites for two of the downstate casino licenses has centered around Yonkers and Aqueduct. But those applications still need to go through the process — and the third remains a larger unknown.

Among the rumored sites up for consideration? The Long Island Marriott and its next-door neighbor — the Nassau Hub.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Lancman to head LIPA municipalization push

The bumpily named New York State Legislative Commission on the Future of the Long Island Power Authority named its executive director, Rory Lancman, last week. The choice could be an indication that the Long Island legislators want a smooth path to a fully public power utility.

Lancman served in both the Assembly and on the New York City Council as a Queens representative, and LIPA’s service area includes the Rockaways. But his most recent job was New York State Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection. And one of his spotlight tasks in that job was pushing for the municipalization of private water service for about 119,000 Nassau County residents who had been paying unusually high rates to American Water.

Although PSEG Long Island, the current operator of the system for LIPA, has led the charge to argue that the current hybrid model ought to get strong consideration to continue, Lancman said his charge is to lay out “the specific actions, legislation and timeline necessary to restructure LIPA into a true publicly owned power authority,” according to his news release about the appointment.

To The Point, Lancman said, “What I’ve been asked to do is lay out a blueprint for getting to full municipalization, but the first section of the report is going to be the justification, and that’s where the case has to be made that the move will create better outcomes in terms of cost, service and reliability, if the legislature and the governor are going to act.”

What’s not clear is whether the legislature and governor will be willing to assume public responsibility for a power provider that has infuriated Long Islanders under every management model that’s been tried.

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Pulling together

Credit: / Koterba

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Final Point

Bail politics

There used to be some constants in life. Every election season for the last half-decade or so, for example, you could expect to hear Long Island Republicans railing against the tall, bad NYC mayor.

Bill de Blasio pressed GOP buttons on everything from policy to personal gym preferences, and it was good business for Nassau and Suffolk Republicans to run campaign ads about the burning socialist hellscape to the west. But this cycle, Long Island GOP candidates are going out of their way to say nice things about de Blasio’s successor Eric Adams, at least when it comes to bail.

Adams has repeatedly criticized the bail overhaul begun by Albany Democrats in 2019, a point which the Long Island hopefuls are quick to use to bolster their own criticisms.

“Even the New York City mayor is saying we’ve gotta fix bail reform,” said New York State Assembly candidate Kevin Surdi last week in an endorsement interview with the Newsday editorial board.

The assertion plays well on social media: Assemb. Ed Ra’s Facebook page over the summer promoted a post questioning whether Gov. Kathy Hochul had done enough to roll back the bail changes, linking to a New York Post article in which Adams called for his own rollbacks.

And the Adams tactic has been repeatedly used by gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin, who needs to win over independents or Democrats in his statewide run. In a September campaign email listing Hochul’s “Top 10 Crime Failures,” Number 1 was “Refusing to end cashless bail.”

“Hochul wouldn’t even listen to her own party on this one after NYC Mayor Eric Adams called for reform,” the Zeldin campaign email argues.

Adams’ point of view here is not shocking, given his background as a longtime NYPD member and his relatively moderate and sometimes contrarian stances. The Brooklyn Democrat was also a previously registered Republican.

Of course, LI Republicans haven’t entirely forgotten about their old friend de Blasio. CD4 candidate and former NYPD Det. Anthony D’Esposito traced the origins of what he described as a lawless climate in New York City to a pre-bail overhaul moment. He pointed to the “eerie feeling” in the streets after the killings of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in 2014.

“That was created by Bill de Blasio,” D’Esposito said in his Newsday endorsement interview this week.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Programming Point

The Point will be back Thursday, Oct. 6.