Advocates and citizens frustrated with the avalanche of corruption scandals on Long Island and statewide are rallying and organizing other grassroots efforts aimed at pressuring lawmakers into being more ethical and transparent. Local good government groups picketed this week outside the Long Island office of New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown), urging him to allow passage of ethics reforms for Albany lawmakers before the legislative session ends June 16. And a New York City-based nonprofit this week announced that it’s suing LI municipalities that fail to turn over financial documents in a statewide citizen-led transparency initiative recently started in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The Long Island Rail Road is hosting six public hearings this week to receive local feedback on the proposal to build a third set of train tracks between Floral Park and Hicksville. The estimated $1-billion plan to lay nearly 10 miles of new rails would ease congestion on the busy Main Line during the rush hour commute, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Some residents who live near the tracks have expressed concerns—although New York State officials dropped previous controversial plans to condemn homes near the tracks.
The third track would run along a 9.8-mile stretch between Floral Park and Hicksville that serves 107,000 riders on an average weekday. During peak times, the LIRR is forced to run trains in only one direction, which becomes a huge bottleneck whenever equipment breaks down or some other unforeseen delay arises. This main line expansion is intended to relieve that decades-old bottleneck. But almost as soon as the governor announced it, community opposition—especially within Floral Park—was galvanized.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has two events in Nassau and Suffolk counties scheduled for Monday, GOP front-runner Donald Trump will speak at a fundraiser later this week on LI and Heidi, the wife of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is slated to host two public events on the Island, also on Monday.
Across the Island some municipalities are clearly ahead of the pack. These communities possess the good fortune to have visionary leaders, courageous council members and the right combination of assets, infrastructure and drive to make a difference in people’s lives. When you look for local role models, a few stellar examples quickly come to mind: Jack Schnirman, Long Beach city manager; Paul Pontieri, mayor of Patchogue; Francis X. Murray, mayor of Rockville Centre; and state Sen. Jack Martins, the former mayor of Mineola.
Context was often lost between the pace of coverage and testimony jumping around between dates, blurring significant moments in the timeline of the conspiracy. Seen in full, it offers a revealing look at the raw power that money has in The Empire State's politics, and the abuse of this state's most trusted offices to capitalize on this power toward a lawmaker's personal objectives.
The veteran Long Island Democrat leaves after eight terms in Congress and now the race is on to succeed him.