Common Sense: Senator Flanagan

State Senator Marty Golden, whom I serve as chief of staff, hosted State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan for an entire day last week to meet with many leaders of Brooklyn’s business and emerging high tech community as well to tour and meet with residents in Gerritsen Beach, which is still recovery from Superstorm Sandy. The senator also met with the commander and senior staff of Fort Hamilton Army base to be briefed on their plans for the base.

Senator Flanagan — who hails from Huntington, Long Island — was first elected to the Senate in 2002, the same year as Golden. The senator had previously spent two decades as a member of the State Assembly where he earned a reputation for being an expert on fiscal issues. Prior to being elected majority leader and president of the Senate, Senator Flanagan was the highly respected chairperson of the Senate Education Committee.

The tour of Gerritsen Beach included stops at abandoned “zombie houses,” the bulkheads, a visit to the volunteer fire and ambulance station, and a walk-through with community leaders.
From there, Flanagan and Golden visited the Heartshare programs located in Bath Beach in what was once the St. Finbar’s parish school. There, the senior education program staff of Heartshare discussed with the senators the low state reimbursement rates that are plaguing groups like Heartshare.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce held a luncheon with 20-plus members at Sorrentino’s Restaurant on 11th Avenue. After brief remarks from both Golden and Flanagan, there was a lively question-and-answer session. Senator Flanagan, who in the past three weeks had given important policy speeches to Crain’s New York and the NYC Partnership on tax, finance and economic development issues, discussed everything from the movie tax credit to the minimum wage and the possibility of capping city property taxes.

Fort Hamilton Army base is one of only three active U.S. Army installations in the state. Senator Flanagan had previously visited the other two – Fort Drum in the North Country and West Point. Colonel Davidson and his senior staff briefed Flanagan on the fort’s current mission, discussions to expand the use of the fort and an interest the Army has in reclaiming several acres of land currently used by the TBTA but owned by the military.

Then, it was on to Industry City to meet with its management and get a short tour. Industry City borders the Gowanus Expressway for about 10 blocks along Third and Second Avenues. It has something like six million square feet of light manufacturing, display and office space which, for comparison purposes, is more space of this type than exists in all of Buffalo, New York. The space has been undergoing an extensive upgrade for a few years now and is considered prime today.

Many of Brooklyn’s now famous, cutting-edge specialty food companies have consolidated in Industry City, as well as high-tech companies like the 3-D manufacturer Makerbot. Even the Brooklyn Nets have taken a floor of one building to set up a state of the art training facility.

The day ended at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Steiner Studios with a meeting of a consortium of universities that have created what is known as the Tech Triangle. Led by Carnegie-Mellon and NYU/Poly with strong input for CUNY, the meeting included CUNY Chancellor Immit and Medgars-Evers President Rudy Crew. This collaboration will result in 200 new high-tech, high-paying jobs being brought to Brooklyn over the next few years. And it will play a key role in moving east an industry that is benefited by having close integration between the academic and commercial world of product production, something that is not found on the West Coast.

There is a lot happening in Brooklyn. It was good that Senator Golden was able to show the leader of the Republican Party in our state government a small slice of it. From talking with Senator Flanagan during and after the event, it was clear that he enjoyed the day and felt that he had learned a great deal about many things that Senator Golden often speaks about in Albany.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.