The Republicans will probably remain in the majority in the state Senate regardless of whether they win a seat in the Albany area due to a stated preference by the Independent Democratic Conference not to sit with the Democrats led by Senator Sampson. The Republican Conference includes Brooklyn Democrat-Conservative Simcha Felder who announced two weeks ago that he believed the Republican Conference in the Senate better reflected the views of his community.
Politics being such, Felders announcement angered leaders in the Brooklyn Democratic Party from outside his community while delighting political, religious and civic leaders in his heavily orthodox Jewish district anchored in Borough Park. One thing is for certain — Felder is enormously popular and really has nothing to fear from the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
Republican Senator Marty Golden, whom I serve as chief of staff, was re-elected to his sixth term by a landslide margin that has grown to about 60 percent with the recount and tabulating of absentee and affidavit ballots. Golden, who already serves as a top Senate leader, is likely to move up the ladder further with his impressive victory during an election cycle that was difficult for many Republicans around the state.
Marty has been focusing much of his time and efforts on recovery concerns throughout his district that saw Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay severely impacted. In addition, a section of the seawall along the Belt Parkway collapsed, bringing attention to the need to replace a larger two-mile section that is deteriorating running from the bridge to Ceasars Bay.
The senator has been working closely with Congressmember Grimm on getting federal funding for the project that ultimately will be done by the Army Corp of Engineers. And, of course, there are countless insurance issues that involve everything from fallen trees and business losses due to power failures to the loss of cars and the complete destruction of homes.
The many immediate concerns in the aftermath of the storm move from phase to phase with reconstruction of damaged homes and housing for those with longer term needs beginning to take center stage.
It will not be long before city planners must confront larger concerns relating to the mass transit system and tunnels flooding, hospitals failing, the power grid going down in many places and the reality that we probably should discourage the construction of homes so close to the water in parts of Staten Island and the Rockaways.
If the souths experience with super storms and hurricanes can be used as a reference, you pick up, learn from the experience and move forward. This is clearly what New York has always been about.
I am confident that we are stronger and probably wiser as a result of the terrible storm. We have shown resilience and coming together as a community not seen since 9/11. Hopefully, these new bonds will outlast the recovery. It might be one of the few good things that came out of that horrible night.
Although Governor Cuomo deserves high marks for his overall handling of the storm and its aftermath, there is the matter of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). LIPA, which is responsible for providing power on Long Island and the Rockaways, has come under extreme criticism for its poor response and general mismanagement of the crisis. To this day, a full month after the storm, many on Long Island still have power issues.
LIPA is a state authority under the control of the governor. The buck stops with him. But, worse is the fact that LIPA had been operating with big holes in its leadership for some time prior to the storm due to a failure by the governor to make appointments as a result of earlier resignations. Some blame squarely sits with him.
Interestingly, many Democratic as well as Republican elected officials have taken LIPA to the woodshed, but seem afraid to place any responsibility on the governor even when confronted with clear evidence and independent media criticism.
I do not know what their reasoning could be for allowing the governor to get off the hook, but it is not a positive development. For criticism to be constructive, those who are responsible must be held accountable. In this case, Governor Cuomo needs to explain better how he let things at LIPA get so out of control.