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A Queens flyover
It looked and sounded like the kind of news conference that happens when two key incumbent politicians are running for re-election.
There were Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Rep. Joe Crowley standing on an elevated roadway Tuesday, lauding the opening of what they called a “flyover” that connects LaGuardia Airport to the eastbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway.
Crowley, the influential Queens congressman, and the governor bent over backward to praise each other. First, Crowley said Cuomo’s “investment in infrastructure is like nothing we have seen.” Then Cuomo thanked Crowley for his efforts to navigate federal approvals to get LaGuardia’s renovation underway, and his willingness to garner support from local communities. “That’s leadership and that is Joe Crowley,” Cuomo said.
There was only one problem in what appeared to be a mutual endorsement: Crowley, once poised to make a run for House speaker, lost his June 26 Democratic primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who quickly became a national darling of the party’s progressive wing.
Crowley is still on the November ballot — on the Working Families Party line. Was the effort to provide jobs to area residents, also announced Tuesday, or the emphasis on local unions rebuilding LaGuardia, or Crowley’s talk of the importance of Queens, a nod to that?
Perhaps, but it was awkward when Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director Rick Cotton, who promised when he began the event that Crowley would be next to speak, instead finished his speech and started to introduce Patrick Ornst, Delta Air Lines’ director of state and local affairs for New York.
Cotton turned to look behind him, saw Crowley, and immediately corrected himself.
Crowley came to the microphone and quipped: “I’m still here.”
Randi F. Marshall
Suffolk County Republicans may have gotten a little egg on their faces to get their judicial nominees on the Green Party ballot line this November, but they had more of a setback with the Women’s Equality Party line.
Three GOP candidates for Surrogate’s, County and Family courts were certified for the Green and the Reform party lines after Suffolk Republican chair John Jay LaValle took advantage of a loophole in the state’s complex election law that permits nonparty members to run for the judiciary. That means the candidates can ballot-hop without getting formal authorization from party leaders.
Green Party members are complaining that the GOP hijacked their ballot line. Minor-party lines, which can generate a few hundred extra votes in a judicial race, can be important in close local elections. But this season there are tricks within tricks. When the GOP collected signatures for all three parties recently, Damon Hagen was its candidate for Surrogate’s Court, which has turned into the battle royale of this season.
Hagen declined the GOP nomination. Under state law, two of the three committee members on the nominating petitions can make a substitution, which they did in favor of Tara Scully. It was Scully’s successful effort to petition her way on to the GOP and Democratic lines that blew up a deal between the Democrats and the Conservatives to nominate Marian Tinari. Theresa Whalen is now the Democratic candidate.
The Green and Reform petition committees also agreed to replace Hagen with Scully. However, the Women’s Equality Party, which was created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2014 and garnered enough votes to get an automatic ballot slot this election, has fewer than 4,000 members statewide. In the strict three-day period state law allows to make a substitution, LaValle could reach only one of the three people on the petition committee needed to make the change in favor of Scully.
The result: The WEP line will feature two male candidates in judicial races. However, in the critical Surrogate’s Court race between two female candidates, Whalen and Scully — really a proxy fight for political power in Suffolk County — the Women’s Equality Party will have an empty space.
Reduce, reuse, recycling crisis
The recycling crisis wreaking havoc around the country was on the agenda when a group of representatives from major Long Island and New York recyclers and solid waste handlers met with state officials last week in Albany.
In January, China, the world’s major market for recyclable material, banned the import of a whole bunch of recyclables, including several types of scrap plastic and mixed paper. And it toughened purity standards. Cardboard, for example, can now have only 0.5 percent contamination from sources such as food. Most American recyclers can’t meet those standards.
“They’ve created a situation where they’re not taking our materials and there’s no place locally to bring them,” Long Island attorney Michael White told The Point.
White represents major waste-by-rail player Tunnel Hill Partners and worked with the National Waste and Recycling Association to set up the meeting with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Mountains of recyclables are clogging recycling facilities nationwide. In some places, the material is being dumped in landfills, making pointless the efforts of residents to separate recyclables from trash. White cited the case of Brookhaven Town and its single-stream recycling facility.
“They’re paying for this stuff and they can barely sell it,” White said. “They have huge inventory and stockpiles to the point that nobody’s ever seen.”
Winters Bros., a big waste management company, wants to renegotiate its single-stream contract with Oyster Bay Town because of China’s actions.
White said the group that visited Albany delivered a message to the DEC: “You guys love recycling, you love to talk about recycling, but someone in government has to do something about it.
“What can we do to work with you to deal with this?”
The most intriguing possibility dealt with creating a market for recyclables in New York — by building paper mills and other handling facilities that would create recycled products out of the raw material collected throughout the state. That has big potential for job creation.
“That’s what lit their eyes up,” White said. “But it needs a substantial investment and time to put it together.”
The bottom line, White said, is that recycling is “down the tubes” and has to undergo substantial change.