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Mack knifed on MTA seat
Nassau County will not have an appointee to the powerful MTA board for many months, if not a year, because of political malpractice. But until the smoke clears, it’s hard to say who made the mistake.
Here’s what The Point knows:
County Executive Laura Curran had the unusual opportunity to quickly get her own representative named to Nassau’s vacant seat when John Molloy decided to step down after the Democrat won the election. Molloy, a retired CEO who joined the board in 2013, was recommended by former County Executive Edward Mangano and nominated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Molloy still had three years remaining on his term.
The nominations and approval by the State Senate usually occur in late spring, at the end of the legislative session. But with this year’s session likely to end Wednesday, a Nassau rep won’t be in the mix for consideration.
Curran sent three names to Cuomo: Patti Ann McDonald, the mayor of Malverne and widow of NYPD Det. Steven McDonald; David Mack, a wealthy real estate mogul and big political donor; and Peter Florey, a developer and honcho with the Long Island Builders Institute.
According to one version of what went down, Curran had promised Mack the spot, and she told the governor’s staff he was her pick. It’s unclear whether she was given a green light for Mack by someone on the governor’s staff. Curran then called McDonald to tell her the governor was picking Mack. Days later, a story in the New York Post said Cuomo “picks deep-pocketed developer over hero cop’s widow.” Who dropped that dime?
The other version is that Cuomo did not plan to put Mack back on the MTA board, and Curran knew or should have known that. Mack was pushed out in 2009 because he refused to cooperate with Cuomo, then attorney general, in his investigation of the state police. Mack was an “honorary” deputy superintendent of that force at the time. Cuomo even refused Mangano’s attempt to name Mack to the MTA board in 2013. Who’s responsible for the communications miscue? The Point was told that McDonald would have been an acceptable nominee for the governor, but after she blasted Cuomo in the Post for not picking her, she essentially blew up her chances.
Florey was disqualified, and one of the reasons is that Suffolk’s MTA member, Mitch Pally, is CEO of the Builders Institute; it would have been overkill to have both Long Island members associated with the group. The other reason is that Cuomo was in a spot because of the Post story.
On Wednesday morning, Nassau representatives in Albany scrambled to come up with a new choice who could be confirmed by the end of the session, but to no avail. Cuomo had dug in and sent word that he would not make any nomination for the county seat.
With the critical LIRR third-track expansion underway, as well as concerns about day-to-day railroad service, there will be no one in Nassau County’s seat on the MTA board.
Throwing caution to the wind?
A decision — or two — on one of Long Island’s hottest issues, the state’s first offshore wind farm some 30 miles east of Montauk, is approaching rapidly.
The 15-turbine project by Deepwater Wind was selected by the Long Island Power Authority back in January 2017 to solve the East End’s energy shortage. But the project needs a landing spot to bring that power ashore. The company is pitching a beach in Wainscott, and that requires official approval.
The East Hampton Town board will probably discuss the wind farm at its July 3 work session, with a vote possible on July 5. The town trustees, a different body whose jurisdiction over the landing spot is uncertain but whose approval Deepwater Wind is seeking, could vote at either their June 25 or July 9 meetings.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter van Scoyoc told The Point that “at this point the detractors have been very vocal. The proponents have been less vocal but are becoming more vocal.” Since a hearing in May, he said, the comments he’s heard have been “overwhelmingly positive.”
The loudest opposition has come from fishers worried about the impact of the 15 turbines. But science shows that hard structures serve as reefs and often improve fishing, as happened with the five turbines off Block Island. Van Scoyoc said that also has happened with oil derricks in the Gulf of Mexico, but wind turbines do not carry risks of oil spills and contamination.
“I believe frankly that both industries can coexist and they need to coexist,” van Scoyoc said. “We need both of those industries going forward.”
If either body rejects the proposal, Deepwater Wind will move on to a plan to bring the cable ashore on state-owned land, and East Hampton will forgo an $8.5 million community benefits package from Deepwater Wind that includes an estimated $2.5 million to bury existing utility lines, $1 million for a water quality improvement fund in Wainscott, and $3 million to support the commercial fishery.
“I think the town board probably has the votes to approve it,” van Scoyoc said. “The trustees are still talking about it; it might be a little closer. Ultimately, I’m hoping it will be approved.”
GOP holds its nose
Those other Democratic primaries on Tuesday
NYC’s often sleepy Democratic congressional primaries are showing a little excitement this year.
In a normal political environment, a contender for House leadership like Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens would have little to fear from a former campaign organizer. Longtime incumbents like Rep. Yvette Clarke (whose mother was a Brooklyn political hero) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (seeking her 14th term), wouldn’t be too worried, either, given the benefits of incumbency and low voter turnout.
But these members of Congress have energetic challengers looking to benefit from dissatisfaction with the party’s establishment wing.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has proven a thorn in Crowley’s side with swanky campaign videography and savvy social media presence that paint Crowley as unprogressive. This week, she roused some anger against Crowley when he skipped out on a community forum also featuring Ocasio-Cortez and sent a Latina female surrogate in his place (Crowley’s campaign says there was a conflict).
Clarke’s opponent in Central Brooklyn, Adem Bunkeddeko, has highlighted the congresswoman’s relatively thin legislative record. Bunkeddeko also nabbed an endorsement from The New York Times editorial board.
And Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, faces well-funded former hospitality executive Suraj Patel, who is slamming Maloney for votes for the Iraq War and the 1994 crime bill.
As always, the incumbents have plenty going for them, from campaign war chests to deep community bonds. But a surprise Tuesday night could make NYC a bellwether for the fate of grass-roots progressive challengers in the November midterms.