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When it rains it pours

LIRR commmuters flood the platform at the Ronkonkoma

LIRR commmuters flood the platform at the Ronkonkoma station on July 10, 2017. Credit: James Carbone

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!

Daily Point

‘Summer of hell’ burning off

A week before the so-called “summer of hell” comes to an end and full service returns on the Long Island Rail Road, it appears that extensive track work at Penn Station is done — for the most part.

In a wide-ranging conversation with The Point Tuesday, an Amtrak spokeswoman said the crews are on track to have full restoration of service next Tuesday, noting that workers are going through a final punch list.

After a relatively smooth experience this summer, Amtrak is poised to be more aggressive about future projects, rather than trying to do every repair and upgrade incrementally, she said.

“Often times, the answer may be just to go for it, even though there may be temporary disruptions,” she told The Point.

That doesn’t mean riders should expect another summer of hell — even if it wasn’t that hellish — anytime soon. For now, Amtrak will return to doing most of its ongoing work at Penn Station and in the region on weekends.

That work, the spokeswoman said, is never done.

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

Zeldin’s precision

For a lawyer, 1st District Rep. Lee Zeldin is surprisingly comfortable referring to a man who has only been accused of a crime as a “murderer.”

Michelle Schiavoni 27, of Greenport, was found dead in her home on July 10. The next day Jaime DeLeon-Tino, 23, of Greenport, was arrested. According to a news release from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, the man was arraigned on July 20 on a charge of second-degree murder, and was being held on $1 million cash bail or $2 million bond.

That was more than a month ago. So what prompted Zeldin’s emailed statement on Monday headlined: “Announces that Murderer was Previously Deported Illegal Alien.”

Zeldin did not reply to a request for comment.

But a news release on his website carried a slightly different headline: “Announces that Alleged Murderer was Previously Deported Illegal Alien.”

The emailed statement laid out the facts of DeLeon-Tino’s immigration history, saying the man had been deported and re-entered the country illegally. It went on to argue, “To prevent the tragic and senseless murder of innocent Americans, the federal government should increase penalties for those who return after they are deported.” And Zeldin co-sponsored a bill, passed in the House in June, that would increase the penalty for illegal re-entry after deportation to five years in a U.S. prison.

That probably could deter some from re-entering, although it could be argued that people who aren’t deterred from killing by penalties also won’t stop sneaking in because of them.

But at the moment, DeLeon-Tino is not officially a murderer, which is a legal term that applies upon conviction.

It’s a distinction people go to great pains to make clear. The Suffolk DA’s office, for instance, included this notice on the bottom of the announcement of DeLeon-Tino’s arraignment, as it does on every such release: “Be advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

Lane Filler

Pencil Point


More Hurricane Harvey cartoons



A local window on the efforts by Silicon Valley to regulate speech on digital platforms opened this week as Hewlett Harbor’s Pamela Geller reported she’s been blocked by YouTube for two weeks.

“Anti-Islamization” activist Geller said she recently tried to post a recruitment video made by Adam Yahiye Gadahn shortly before he was killed by a drone in Pakistan in January 2015. Gadahn, born Adam Pearlman in Oregon, was a senior operative for al-Qaida and was wanted in the United States for treason.

Geller tried to post the video as evidence of the dangers of Islam. On her website,, she wrote that she received an error message that her site had run afoul of YouTube’s policy against “Violence/Hate/Racism.” She’s been posting to YouTube since 2006, she wrote, and this is the first time she’s been banned.

Facebook, Google AdSense and PayPal also have objected — with blocks and bans — to some of Geller’s content.

“It’s nonstop now,” Geller wrote. “My warning to friends and foes alike, once you start shutting down people on the claim that it is ‘disrespectful’ or ‘hate speech’ you have made the use of such platforms contingent upon holding certain political opinions.”

Is the “alt-right” receiving more scrutiny than others? Geller apparently thinks so.

Anne Michaud