9. CLAVIN UNSEATS GILLEN
Democratic Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen was unseated in the November elections by Republican challenger Don Clavin, who recaptured the town’s top job in the GOP stronghold. Gillen was one of three incumbent town supervisors on Long Island who were unseated on Election Day, but the first-term supervisor stood out because two years ago she became the first Democrat to win the town’s top job in more than a century. Clavin, who has been town tax collector for 18 years, will be sworn in on Jan. 2.
8. ISLES BREAK GROUND
Construction started this summer on the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park in Elmont — the project that’s bringing the NHL team home to Long Island. Fans cheered the development, which includes a new Long Island Rail Road station that will make it easier for the public to take mass transit to games and concerts at the $1.3 billion arena. But the project is not without its critics. Opponents have filed lawsuits that aim to block the project.
7. KING BOWS OUT
Fourteen-term U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), the dean of Long Island’s congressional delegation, shocked the political world when he announced last month that he will not seek re-election in 2020, setting up a fierce fight for his district. King, who is the most tenured of LI’s five congressional representatives, is one of 20 members of the GOP minority in the U.S. House of Representatives to decline seeking re-election next year. His last day in office will be on Dec. 31, 2020.
6. FIOS1 SIGNS OFF
Verizon FiOS subscribers lost the hyper-local TV news station FiOS1 News last month. FiOs1 was to cease programming on Nov. 16, but the station instead signed off at the end of its Nov. 13 nightly news cast. It went off the air because Verizon declined to renew the contract with Rye Brook-based RNN, which produced FiOS1 News for Long Island, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey audiences for a decade. In its place, Verizon FiOS picked up LI’s sole surviving hyper-local TV news station, Altice’s News 12.
5. DET. SIMONSEN KILLED
Thousands of police officers from across the country lined the streets of Hampton Bays in February to salute fallen New York City police Det. Brian Simonsen at his funeral after he was gun down while responding to a robbery. The 42-year-old Calverton man was a member of the NYPD’s 102nd precinct detective squad. NYPD officers responding to a robbery in Queens mistakenly shot Simonsen and his partner on Feb. 12. Simonsen sustained a gunshot wound to the chest that proved fatal. His partner survived.
4. WATER WORRIES BOIL OVER
Concerns over pollutants seeping into Long Island’s drinking water hit critical mass this year. Local government entities filed lawsuits against DuPont and 3M, alleging that the companies wittingly sold products containing toxic chemicals that contaminated LI drinking water supplies for decades. A report suggested the region has the most contaminated water in New York State. And the Island’s congressional delegation called for federal assistance for public drinking water providers so the utilities can better handle contaminants such as 1,4 Dioxane and other emerging chemicals.
3. ALBANY’S BUSY SESSION
Upon recapturing the New York State Senate in January, Democrats made quick work of long-stalled priorities, many of which had ripple effects on Long Island. Among the biggest was passing the Child Victims Act allowing abuse survivors to sue their alleged perpetrators, election reforms that ushered in early voting, allowing undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses, enacting congestion pricing for drivers heading into Manhattan, banning plastic shopping bags, and bail reform, to name a few.
2. AMAZON PULLS OUT
Yes, Amazon planned to build its East Coast headquarters in Queens, not in Nassau or Suffolk counties, but the prospect of 25,000 jobs coming so close also had a ripple effect on the region. LI tech companies that are already struggling to fill vacancies due to a limited local talent pool and low unemployment saw Amazon as an obstacle to their hiring, as local employees were expected to be recruited to work at the world’s largest retailer’s new $1 billion campus in Long Island City. Then, of course, Amazon pulled the plug.
- CORRUPTION FALLOUT CONTINUES
Ex-Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota and his former deputy being convicted of covering up a police beating was just the latest in a long line of public corruption cases this year. Ex-Nassau Executive Ed Mangano was convicted of taking bribes at his retrial. His wife was convicted of lying to investigators. His former deputy, Rob Walker, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice. Suffolk County Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic) was arrested on perjury charges. Ex-Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto pleaded guilty to misconduct. And those are just the most high-profile cases. Spota and Mangano are appealing.