Smart Talk January 1st – 17th, 2020

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we attend the State of the State address, look in on multiple swearing in events and inaugurations across Long Island, and more…

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January 1st – 17th, 2020


COMMUNITY UPDATES

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“That is New York – we are idealists and realists, we are dreamers and doers. We have accomplished more together than we could have imagined and now we must do even more. Our current challenges are daunting – but nothing New York at her best can’t handle.” – NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo

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NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo Gives State of the State Address

On January 8th, Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his 2020 State of the State address, laying out his major priorities for this year’s legislative session and budget. Although the Governor’s address was light on identifying specific localities, there was plenty of good news for Long Island and Vision’s agenda.

Vision has long promoted objectives underscoring the need for investment in environmental revitalization which serves as a crucial link to Long Island’s continued economic success. To that end, the Governor rolled out a far-reaching program titled “The Restore Mother Nature Bond Act,” whose objective is to drive habitat restoration and flood reduction.

If put before voters and passed in November, this 3 billion dollar bond would help pay for natural restoration and resiliency programs all across the state, including fighting harmful algal blooms, restoring wetlands from Long Island to the Great Lakes, and combating climate change through the use of green energy.

Governor Cuomo emphasized, “It’s our responsibility and challenge to leave our planet cleaner, and greener, and more sustainable for our future generations.” Building on the progress of last year’s plastic bag bill, the Governor proposed new legislation to prohibit the distribution and use of Styrofoam, single-use food containers and packaging materials by January 1, 2022. He also charted an ambitious expansion of electric vehicles to attract this growing industry. All a win-win for our environment and our economy.

Vision has long understood and advocated that it is our local downtown businesses that also power economic success. Towards that goal, Governor Cuomo proposed to reduce the tax rate from 6.5% to 4% for qualified small businesses and expand existing tax exemptions for sole proprietors and small farms, hoping to promote local economic expansion. Small businesses employ half of our state’s workforce and serve as the economic cornerstone for communities across New York. Here on Long Island, our local chambers, civic groups, towns and villages know small businesses are far more likely to reinvest new revenue into their operations and their local economy.

Addressing the need for affordable housing, a pressing issue on Long Island, the Governor proposed what he called the “largest amount of funding in the history of the State of New York to help the homeless and build affordable housing,” and he demanded “a higher level of competence and skill and professionalism” form local elected officials across the state to address homelessness.

Vision is pleased the Governor raised the topic of affordable housing and looks forward to more specific information, which we hope will be sharpened when the executive budget is released.

Governor Cuomo touched upon dozens of other proposals, from expanding free state college tuition, to addressing labor abuses with the GIG economy, to passing an inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the state’s constitution establishing sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity as protected classes. One area of local concern glaringly omitted in the Governor’s address was the increased concern among local communities regarding New York’s criminal justice overhaul, despite the Governor’s concession a week earlier that the new bail reform law is in need of “changes.” This is one issue that undoubtedly needs attention and follow up.

All in all, the Governor laid out priorities that could work to boost economic development and meet the environmental challenges of Long Island. Vision LI, working with our local communities, chambers, civics, elected officials and other like-minded folks, will continue to promote and advocate for more livable, economically sustainable, and environmentally responsible growth in our local communities.

“That is New York – we are idealists and realists,” said Governor Cuomo. “We are dreamers and doers. We have accomplished more together than we could have imagined and now we must do even more. Our current challenges are daunting – but nothing New York at her best can’t handle.”

The Governor’s complete State of the State Address can be found here.

Long Island Lobby Coalition Heads to Albany for State of the State Address

Vision Board and staff joined members of the LI Lobby Coalition and community partners for the State of the State activities up in Albany.

Great to see folks stop by the LI Lobby Coalition table including NYS Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, NYS Senators Anna Kaplan, Kevin Thomas, Assemblymembers Chuck Lavine and Michaelle Solages, Michael Montesano, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Town of Oyster Bay’s Joseph Saladino, Former Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, office of Kirstin Gilibrands Magda Campbell, LIPA’s Tom Falcone, National Grid’s Keith Rooney, Kathy Wisnewski and Mcbride Comsulting’s Michael Martino.

It was a pleasure o see the following on Opening Day events: NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblywomen Taylor Darling, Anthony D’Urso, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator Kara Hahn, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, Town of Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Nassau Legislator Debra Mule, Chartwell Hotels George Tsunis, AT&T’s Amy Kramer, LI Federation of Labors Roger Clayman and Ryan Stanton, former Assemblyman Marc Alessi and Avrum Rosen.

We were also happy to share dinner with civic, environmental and chamber leaders LI Lobby Coalition Co-Chair Adrienne Esposito and CCE Director Adrienne Esposito, Uniondale Chamber’s Mariano Ugalde, Uniondale Land Trust’s Paul Gibson, Residents Forward Mindy Germain, Kings Park Civic Association Linda Henninger, Neighbor Supporting Neighbors Babylon’s Kim Skillen, LI Hispanic Chambers Angel Cepeda, and Queens Chambers Tom Grech.

More Coalition members joined us today and visited receptions from the NYS Assembly Speaker, and stopped in at events NYS Senator Majority Leader, NYS Comptroller and the Governor. Stay tuned for news and reflections on the State of the State address and it’s impacts/benefits for Long Island.

The buzz is more muted from last year with a $6 billion deficit looming. All the more important for local leaders to pull together and prioritize our communities needs so we can get our fair share of resources back from Albany.

Elected Officials Sworn in Across Long Island

2020 kicked off with a number of newly elected Long Island officials sworn in as well as some familiar faces.  Vision Long Island was in attendance at a number of the inauguration and swearing in ceremonies, and looks forward to seeing the changes that these elected officials can create.

The Nassau County Legislature held separate swearing in ceremonies for both the Minority and Majority Caucuses this week.  The oath of office was administered for both caucuses in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building.

The first ceremony took place on January 13th when the Majority Caucus was sworn in.  The ceremony was conducted by Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell.  Legislator Richard Nicolello, who has served in the County Legislature since 1995, was sworn in as the Presiding Officer once again.

“I was honored to be sworn in by County Clerk Maureen O’Connell for my second term as Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature,” he said at the event.  “Since my election to this legislature, I have fought for the taxpayers of my district and all of Nassau County. I look forward to continuing to fight to make the County Executive’s reassessment more fair and transparent, give our law enforcement the resources they need to keep us safe, make Nassau county more affordable, preserve our quality of life and more for the residents of this county. It is an honor to serve.”

The majority caucus in the legislator now includes Presiding Officer Nicolello and Legislators C. William Gaylor, Howard Kopel, Vincent Muscarella, James Kennedy, Thomas McKevitt, Laura Schaefer, John Ferretti, Rose Marie Walkers, and Steven Rhoads.

A second ceremony took place the next day when NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli swore in the Minority Caucus Democrats.  The ceremony featured a speech by Minority Leader Kavn Abrahams that called for bipartisanship in the Nassau government.

The full minority caucus for the Legislature now includes Minority Leader Abrahams and Legislators Siela A. Bynoe, Carrié Solages, Debra Mulé, Ellen W. Birnbaum, Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Arnold W. Drucker, and Joshua A. Lafazan.

Steve Bellone has been sworn in for his third term as Suffolk County Exectuive, which will mark his final year as such.

Executive Bellone took the oath of office at Argyle Theater in Babylon at the end of December, and was sworn in by US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.  Bellone, a Babylon native, thanked his supporters at the event and talked about the themes of bringing residents from all parties and levels of government together. 

“I wanted to not get into policy so much today,” Bellone said. “But just to speak more broadly about where I want us to go as a county and the opportunities we have to really give an example to the state and nation of ethical governance and what we can do.”

This will mark Executive Bellone’s final term as Executive as he cannot serve more than 12 in Suffolk County.

January 7th saw the swearing in of Town of Hempstead’s new Supervisor, Donald Clavin.  Supervisor Clavin has spent the previous 18 years as the receiver of taxes, where he worked to create an efficient system aimed at benefitting local residents.  He ran on bringing that expertise to a town-wide level.  Surrounded by his wife, Nancy Ann, and two daughters Margeret and Catherine, Mr. Clavin took the oath of office on a bible held by his sister, Virginia Clavin-Higgins, who is a local judge.

“What a tremendous honor,” said Supervisor Clavin. “It’s something special. This is government by the people and for the people, and that’s something I pledge to everyone here. It’s time to govern.”

The ceremony also saw the swearing in of Town Clerk Kate Murray, who is beginning her second term consecutive term in the position after getting re-elected in the previous election.  Newly elected Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll was also sworn in as, as well as Town Councilmen Bruce Blakeman, Thomas Muscarella and Christopher Carini.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul spoke, addressing Supervisor Clavin to let him know that “This is in your DNA.  It’s not for everybody. There’s no greater opportunity to serve your fellow man. Find places where there’s harmony. Elections occur, but on a day like today, we begin to govern and we do it together. I come here with a friendship from Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and our administration.”

You can read more at the Levtittown–Tribune.

January 6th saw a number of elected officials sworn in to serve as the Town-wide government for Oyster Bay.

The ceremony took place at Massapequa High School and featured the swearing in of Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Councilwomen Vicki Walsh and Laura Maier, Councilman Steve Labriola, Town Clerk Richard LaMarca and Receiver of Taxes Jeffrey P. Pravato.  Supervisor Saladino, who is beginning his second term, had a few words for the more than 100 residents gathered at the event. 

“This new team at Town Hall is working together to move the Town of Oyster Bay forward,” Saladino said. “Just three years ago, I had the fortune of being this great town’s supervisor, and worked hard with our town board to return fiscal stability and accountability to our town, as well as restore the trust of residents. This new town board is a dream team of dedicated women and men, and we will continue to achieve meaningful results while providing the highest level of services and improving the quality of life of our residents.”

Other elected members of Town Government spoke as well, with Councilwoman Walsh pledging to make community outreach her top concern.  She announced plans for a listening tour in March and will visit community associates twice a month for Q&A sessions.

Freshman Councilman Steve Labriola brought up oversight as his priority and plans to form committees to oversee various facets of the town’s bureaucracy.  He stated that he will work to ensure department heads are serving the town well, and to find ways to help those departments work in a more efficient manner.

“Our team is moving Oyster Bay forward with 20-20 vision focused on every resident and every corner of this great town,” Saladino said near the end. “We are committed to keeping taxpayers first and foremost in our minds, and will continue to look at new ways to cut costs while ever improving town services.”

Four Town of Huntington officials were sworn into office this past week in a ceremony that took place at Huntington High School.

Town Board members Eugene Cook and Joan Cergol were both sworn in along with Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman and former NYS Assemblyman Andrew Raia, both serving their first full terms.  Mr. Raia is taking over in the role from his mother Jo-Ann Raia, who retired after 38 years in office.

The event was emceed by State Senator John Flanagan and attended by a number of local officials including Legislators Susan Berland, a former Huntington Councilwoman herself, and Tom Donnelly.  State Assemblyman Steve Stern was also present.

Hicksville Community Meets to Discuss Complete Streets Traffic Study

Great to see over 120 local Hicksville civic members, and businesses turn out recently for the second meeting of the Hicksville Complete Streets traffic study, conducted by Nassau County.

Nassau Legislators Rose Walker, Laura Schaefer and Arnie Drucker kicked off the meeting. County DPW staff Sean Sallie and David Viana presented the outline of the study, examining 2,100 crashes that have occurred over the last three years. NV5’s Steve Normandin and Chris Lucas presented eight recommendations that will enhance pedestrian, bike and automobile safety along with downtown and train station access. Jim Mcaffrey the Town of Oyster Bay’s Economic Development Director provided an update on the land use and rezoning plans by the train station.

A robust Q&A followed that was led by Vision’s Director, who has been assisting on outreach and planning for the project. Questions from Hicksville residents and business owners were answered by the consultant team. Feedback included deep concern over truck traffic funneled to Hicksville from other areas, which was the number one issue raised.

Negative feedback on one of the eight proposals that cut off the beginning of Jerusalem Ave. to better create a street grid at Barclay. The concern of too much congestion North-South on Broadway was voiced. This was a recommendation from the NYS DRI process. It was made clear though that other communities have changed their DRI plans and that the primary focus of the NYS DRI process was to recommend transparent expenditure of the grant money and not to plan the neighborhood.

Concerns were once again raised that the large Sears development project had already been approved despite community opposition. The Town of Oyster Bay’s James McCaffrey said clearly in no uncertain terms that the Sears project has not been approved by the Town, but a public hearing will be held on March 10th were folks can voice their concerns.

The other Station area recommendations for bike ave pedestrian safety in the presentation for the Complete Streets Study received positive feedback.

Legislator Walker closed the meeting with a call to reopen other roadways for truck traffic to help better distribute the load. This is something that has to be addressed regionally and Chris Hagen from Nassau County DPW was on hand to help map out solutions.

The meeting closed with extended discussions at table maps and boards around the station recommendations, land use and zoning plans, and regional truck traffic. Many folks stayed an hour or more past the meeting time to discuss.

We will have an unabridged video of the meeting available here. For more information on the project please check out the website at www.downtownhicksvilleny.com

Franklin Square Meeting Highlights Community Desire for Revitalization

Vision was out in Franklin Square listening to community members and business owners shape their emerging downtown revitalization program.

Issues raised at the meeting were varied and included parking, with the potential for tiered parking, shuttles and parking management.  Pedestrian safety issues were also discussed, including a rise in fatal crashes. Residents also reflected on the 20 years it took to get a crosswalk on Hempstead Tpke, which is a state road and there was consensus that an effort to slow the traffic down through Franklin Square is needed.

Waste management was brought up, including bringing back Operation Clean Sweep and additional garbage pails.  This was part of beautification ideas, which included a suggestion for an Adopt a Block program.  Concerns were raised about businesses closing due to absentee landlords that intentionally keep buildings empty.  Excess signage on buildings was also discussed which could be addressed with enforcement of the sign code.

There was also discussion about conversions of business and residential lots to religious use and the need for intergovernmental cooperation between NYS, Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead.

It was great to see over 100 folks out with a range of suggestions.

Nassau County Legislator Vinnie Muscarella spoke about current and past shopping patterns related to supporting small businesses at the meeting as well.  He referenced the increased sense of community in local Villages.  He also offered to assist in coordination with other levels of government.  At the same time, he also noted that “Government is not going to impose solutions on community.  The civic and the chambers need to propose a plan together with a real reinvigorated effort for Franklin Square’s downtown.”

A representative from the Town’s Dept. of Planning also spoke on behalf of the Councilmembers for the area and Supervisor Don Clavin, and pledged assistance.  A representative from NYS Senator Kaplan’s office pledged assistance from the State as well.  David Viana from the Nassau County Department of Planning also talked about how the County could get involved.

Meeting moderator Nancy Youngfert from the civic spoke about the need “Be in charge to drive change or get run over by them”

Credit for the meeting goes to all the organizers from the civic association and other groups for a well-managed meeting without vitriol and polarization.  All the more reason to face these issues in person rather than social media.

Check out the pre-meeting article in the Herald.

Abraham’s Table to Host Annual MLK Interfaith Celebration

This coming Sunday, January 19th, Abraham’s Table of Long Island is sponsoring their third annual MLK interfaith celebration, this year titled “Righteous Anger: How Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Used Love to Confront Injustice.”  The event will take place from 6 to 8 pm at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center located at 74 Hauppauge Rd in Commack.

The keynote speaker, NAACP LI Regional Director Tracey Edwards, will be addressing Long Island’s racial housing segregation.  The event will also include interfaith spiritual reflections framing the powerful words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and four choirs representing different cultural traditions and musical genres.

A light supper can be purchased until 5:45 at the Suffolk Y JCC’s Chic Chak Café.  There will be no admission fee but attendees are encouraged to bring nutritious canned food donations for LI Cares / The Harry Chapin Food Bank.

More information is available here.

Complete Streets Summit to be Held on April 1st

The Annual Complete Streets Summit will be held this coming April 1st at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College in Farmingdale.  The event will take place from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

This year’s theme will be Health Benefits of Complete Streets and will include discussions on active transportation, incorporating physical activity into regular daily tasks, and more.

Early registration is open and can be completed here.  More information will be coming in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Minimum Wage Doesn’t Cover Rent Anywhere in US

A minimum-wage worker would have to put in lots of overtime to be able to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country. And downsizing to a one-bedroom pad barely helps.

Even with some states hiking pay for those earning the least, there is still nowhere in the country where a person working a full-time minimum wage job can afford to rent a decent two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Even the $15 hourly wage touted by labor activists would not be enough to make housing affordable in the overwhelming majority of states, the coalition found. Nationally, someone would need to make $17.90 an hour to rent a modest one-bedroom or $22.10 an hour to cover a two-bedroom place.

To read the rest of this important article, head on over to CBS News.

Smart Talk

Contributors:
Eric Alexander, Director; Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director;
Christopher Kyle, Communications Director; Elissa Kyle, Placemaking Director; Jon Siebert, Administrative Director

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Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.
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