Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Here’s our wishful thinking of what President Trump will say in the State of the Union Tuesday night. Check newsday.com/opinion later to see our thoughts on what he actually says.
Special election update
New York will conduct special elections on April 24 — after the state budget negotiations, but before the end of the legislative session in Albany — to fill vacant seats.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo clearly wanted to wait until after a budget deal is done while Republicans, along with the Independent Democratic Conference, still control the State Senate.
With two Senate seats up for grabs, April’s results could result in a reunification of Democrats and give them control. Or, it could just push the fight into November, when all seats are up.
Long Island is not in the scrum for the Senate right now, although it will be big-time this fall. And April’s three Assembly races on Long Island look like snores, with only one seat possibly switching parties.
Even if the seat once held by Chap Lupinacci, a Republican who is now Huntington Town supervisor, flips to a Democrat, there will be little change in Albany power dynamics. The other Suffolk Assembly seat, once held by Al Graf, who became a judge, is predicted to stay Republican. In Nassau, Democrats consider their odds slim to snatch the seat of Tom McKevitt, who is now on the Nassau County Legislature.
LI reps should read this about tolling plan
If State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan were to look to his constituents and those of his fellow Long Island Republican senators to decide whether to support the congestion-pricing proposal for New York City, there’d be no question what their votes should be.
A resounding yes.
Of the Republican state senators on Long Island, Elaine Phillips’ district has the highest percentage of commuters who drive or take taxis into Manhattan’s central business district and would pay a congestion charge.
That staggering number? 4.1 percent.
Everyone else has even fewer commuters driving into midtown or downtown Manhattan, according to a study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an advocacy group that used census data to determine commuting trends by district.
Meanwhile, 18.6 percent of commuters in Phillips’ district in northwest Nassau County take public transit and theoretically would benefit if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority saw increased revenues from a new tolling system.
In Flanagan’s district, 1.9 percent of district commuters would pay the charge, while 5.6 percent take public transit.
For Sens. Carl Marcellino and Kemp Hannon, only 2.5 percent and 2 percent of district commuters, respectively, would have to pay the zoned congestion fee.
Even the three New York City state senators who matter most to Flanagan — Republicans Martin Golden and Andrew Lanza, and Democrat Simcha Felder, who caucuses with the GOP — should support congestion pricing based only on their districts’ commuting data. In Golden’s and Felder’s districts in Brooklyn, more than half of commuters use public transit, while fewer than 4 percent of commuters would pay the congestion charge. For Lanza, only 5.8 percent of district commuters from his Staten Island district would pay the fee, while more than three-fourths of commuters don’t head into Manhattan’s central business district at all.
The data are similarly stark on the Assembly side, where Democrats have been cold to congestion pricing. Across Long Island, 1.5 percent to 5 percent of commuters in Democrats’ districts would pay a congestion fee because they drive into Manhattan’s central business district, while as many as 23 percent take public transit. Similar statistics play out in eastern Queens, too, where Assembly Democrats like David Weprin have vehemently opposed congestion pricing, and in the Bronx, where Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie resides.
But even if the data make for a smooth ride, party politics could leave a tolling plan stuck in traffic.
Randi F. Marshall
State of Melania and Trump’s union
Slice of energy pie for LI?
Long Island leaders hoping to grab a healthy piece of what’s expected to be a large state wind energy pie might have been disappointed by the master plan for offshore wind released Monday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The plan, which outlines a path to Cuomo’s goal of 2,400 megawatts from offshore wind by 2030, cites the importance of port infrastructure in creating jobs in New York. It identifies sites in New York Harbor and on the Hudson River as being suitable for various manufacturing, fabrication, assembly and staging activities. However, it notes that Long Island “is best suited for operations and maintenance facilities.”
The report cites Long Island’s shallow waters as a problem. But state officials also note that proximity to the proposed wind farms off the South Shore is a bonus — as is Long Island’s location in the middle of other states also developing offshore wind. Operations and maintenance facilities on Long Island, in other words, can maintain and monitor the turbines of wind farms off other states’ coasts.
“This is a race New York intends to win in terms of creation of an offshore wind industry,” Doreen Harris, director of the large scale renewables program at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, told The Point. NYSERDA’s new president, Alicia Barton, has been invited to discuss the master plan at a February meeting of the Long Island Association.
Five sites were identified as having the most potential to support offshore wind — Jones Inlet, Great South Bay, Shinnecock Bay, the Montauk Harbor area and Shoreham.
And of the 5,000 new jobs cited in the report, 2,000 would be permanent positions in operations and maintenance. “We’re saying that Long Island is in a good position to capture those jobs,” Harris said.
The Huntington Town Board consists of two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independence Party member. An item in The Point on Friday incorrectly described which party has control of the board.