THIS IS LONG ISLAND

OPINION

This Will Have An Introduction

two man holding white paper

Long Careers in Long Island’s Offshore Wind

Where are all the jobs in New England’s energy sector? They’re out where the energy is harvested, in coal plants and oil burners and nuclear power stations. They’re far removed from the big cities where people want to live, from New York or Boston, places where the space to fit such power stations just doesn’t exist. And if the jobs are out there, then so are the people. 

For communities that are lagging behind in demographics or in diversity, lagging in a cultural respect, they need a way to invite new people with their own perspectives and ideas to help keep their communities relevant in a broader degree of recognition. These communities need a booster to keep them alive as the world progresses towards a more shared and global way of sharing. They need innovation. Innovation like sustainable energy dependence.

For Long Island and its many, historic and storied communities, there’s no option to build into the power industry. All the land is private and maintained. There’s no chance of putting up a power plant that brings pollution or the drastic scare of a nuclear powered accident. And as bright and cheerful as the neighborhoods may be, it’s not that sunny all year long. One day of rain or cloudy hour is enough to make solar power undependable. But there is a source of all natural power just waiting for young minds to exploit it: the wind.

As culture progresses and inclusivity and diversity take a front stage to rising developments, new ideas must be tested to help us push away from the old standards that can’t be maintained. New ideas like offshore wind – placing wind turbines in high-wind areas over the water, where there is no land to disturb the wind passing by or dampen its power. Offshore wind is one of the most efficient types of sustainable energy. Even just the change from 12mph to 15mph doubles the energy production of a standard turbine, and these speeds are the norm out on the waves off Long Island.

But why Long Island? There’s no better place. It has an established community focused on innovation and high scale production. It is also a place that could use a substantial boost to a developing cultural community. Energy, whether produced by the wind or by coal, needs to travel in the same electric lines. The turbines need construction and management. The power companies need to be able to sell this energy to consumers in order to compete with the established markets. 

This is a futuristic solution, rapidly approaching a modern, attainable reality. It needs those minds that have been trained to think about the future of themselves and the planet to properly manage it and deliver it to a larger scope of others. A diverse and distinct team of people will be able to connect with far more demographics. New York is the melting pot of the US, with dozens of different cultures interconnecting from around the world. And one thing that can bring them together is a cheaper energy bill, one sign of a stronger local economy.

Local energy is always cheaper to roll out and manage than imported energy, which currently accounts for most of Long Island’s energy consumption. Having a local source, produced and staffed by brand new locals with a united ideal set on green energy futures is how Long Island can have a long future. Offering long-term careers to hard workers to set this up is the next step of Long Island’s plan for a more diverse, and powerful community.

photo of wind turbines lot

Long Island’s Next Windfall: How Offshore Wind Will Lead to a New Energy Sector

The world is segueing into green energy solutions amid the many crises at hand where fossil fuels are not stacking up. The hardest hit is the every day consumer, with rocketing gas prices that have people dreading their time at the pumps more than ever. And even as electric vehicles become more mass produced and mainstream, the solution to power them still requires the creation of energy using the same means of burning fuels. Not every place on Earth gets the consistent sunshine needed to make solar a viable solution, like in Long Island where the winters are dark and cold, exactly when people need light and heat the most. 

But there is another solution. Instead of burning gas, we can depend on the gaseous air we already have present that blows through our hair. But that raises another concern: where to put windmills? Power generating windmills are huge, and the facilities to draw power from them need to be woven into existing infrastructure. Not to mention there are some unnatural wind blockers in New York’s skyline that keep the breeze from flowing. But off Long Island’s coast, there are no buildings, just wide open space and high winds. 

Offshore wind energy is already a solution that’s in development with several major power stations under development to turn the open ocean into a source of power. Long Island has an expansive coastline to take advantage of. These wind turbines won’t be in the way of any oceangoing traffic, and will provide clean and efficient energy at all times of the year, more reliably than solar could in this northerly part of the country. 

And that’s going to mean cheaper energy all around. More energy solutions on the grid means more competition. New Yorkers from the city and all along the coast will have the most immediate access to this new power source which can work even in the winter. It’ll lead to less overall petroleum products used in energy which can then be used for powering cars instead, to lighten the constant burden that’s present at gas stations across the state. 

These offshore turbines will need crews to maintain them, regular checkups and surveillance as well as power station staff to distribute the collected power to the appropriate places. New power solutions means new energy sector job openings, and the closer the headquarters the better. Long Island can be set up to host any number of offshore wind companies to take advantage of the owned ocean real estate. The green energy subsidies can even improve the housing market, making it more affordable for people to expand eastward out of the city and into the Long Island suburbs, leading to a bigger and healthier economy.

New energy, new projects, new jobs; an era of new for the old countryside along the shores. That’s what offshore wind farms can offer. The detractors will raise points about spoiling the natural beauty, that looking out along the coast just to see some windmills might ruin their enjoyment of the coast. But it’s a long coast, and a wide open ocean. The power that comes from wind farms is far more of a raise to the land’s value than the appearance. And it’s not just above the water where wind matters, but below. As installations are planned, the option for tidal power – turbines powered by the constant push and pull of the ocean water – also opens up. 

As we reach for energy independence, and a break from fossil fuels, we need look no further than the wind to guide us.

three men standing near window

Where Will the Record State Aid for Schools Go?

If you paid attention to the news three weeks ago, you heard about the historic increases in state aid to school districts on Long Island. If you read Newsday, then you might have seen a quote from yours truly: “It offers educators a historic opportunity to do things they could never do before to help all students succeed,” said Michael Cohen, a former Long Island school superintendent and academic analyst. “The question is, will the accountability be strict, and will they use the opportunity to do the right thing?”

First off, that’s the first time anyone referred to me as an “academic analyst.” My wife and kids found the description to be hysterical. I do not know why, but they did. One time, News 12 referred to me as an “education expert.” That was hilarious enough! My family ordered a coffee mug with my picture and the words “Education Expert” under my mug shot. (Bad joke) I do not consider myself to be much of an expert on anything, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.

On the serious side, the question I keep hearing is, “How will they spend all that money?” In Bay Shore, where we live, the district will receive an additional $11 million over last year’s state aid allocations hefty sum even by the standards of education spending on Long Island. A Bay Shore board of education member told me that the district’s proposed budget will include a 0% increase in taxes, which seems like proof positive that hell froze over. We all know about the inflation that we see every time we fill our gas tank, which makes us feel smart (or lucky) for buying a Tesla last year!

Now, the $11 million will more than cover the inflationary costs built into the budget, so what about the remainder? Great question! People ask me all the time how they can find the answer. Simple: Ask your board of education members and superintendents for a forensic accounting of the new spending. If you ask them for a “forensic accounting” they will get nervous, but who cares? The stated purpose of these increases in aid is help schools rebound from the instructional difficulties they confronted over the past two years.

The answer that you should receive is simple: The money is going into the classrooms. That means things like smaller class sizes, innovative programs, extended class time, classes after school, and classes during recesses. It should not mean generous increases in salary and benefits for central office administrators. It should not mean more administrative layers (positions). It should not mean jobs for family and friends of board of education members and central office administrators. Every study of educational improvement shows that the more time students spend in classrooms, the better they perform. Simple, right? That is the answer to the question that I keep hearing.

Start sending those emails and making those phone calls to your board of education members and your superintendents. Remember: They work for you…not the other way around.

judge signing on the papers

Want a More Just Long Island? Choose Better Judges! No More Hacks!

We hear a steady stream of political grandstanding about how the recent attempt at bail reform in New York State caused an uptick in crime—mostly from conservative politicians looking to make political hay at the expense of an issue that cries for closer examination.

The impetus for the change in bail laws came from cases like that of Kalief Browder, who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime, after his arrest in 2010, at the age of 16 for stealing a backpack, which he insisted that he did not do. Not being able to post $3,000 bail, he waited on Rikers for more than a thousand days to go to trial. The trial never happened. 

During his time on Rikers, he spent two years in solitary confinement and attempted suicide on several occasions. Prison videos showed him being assaulted by inmates and he recounted incidents of abuse at the hands of officers.

Released after three years without a trial, he returned home to the Bronx where he suffered from depression and other mental health issues. In 2015, he hung himself at his parents’ home. 

This is not an isolated case. About two-thirds of America’s jail population — 450,000 people — are behind bars awaiting trial. And five out of six of those people are in jail because they could not afford bail or because a bail agent declined to post a bond.

Against this backdrop, New York and other states passed bail reform legislation. Now, because of a surge in crime in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, politicians, including a large number of Nassau and Suffolk’s not-so-finest, want to turn back the clock to the bad old days that Kalief Browder lived through.

Instead of repealing the bail reform laws, I would suggest a different path—ban the cross-endorsement of judges. Did you ever notice that when you get to the part of your ballot that lists the candidates for judgeships, the same candidate’s name appears for each of the political parties? That happens because political bosses get together and trade judgeships like Pokémon cards. Does the cream rise to the top? Rarely. Instead, political leaders trade one of their hacks for a hack from another party. How do get chosen for these positions? You schmooze the leaders and make donations to their leaders and favored candidates. An attorney friend of mine told me about a judge who asked his court clerk what to do every time he needed to make a ruling…a stellar jurist.

By banning cross-endorsements, politicians will show their faith in democracy and give us more qualified and able judges. Even under the current reform law, a judge can remand a suspect to prison without bail. Why don’t they? Maybe it’s because they are incompetent and don’t even know their own authority. If we want a more just Long Island, maybe we should start by electing better judges. Makes sense to me.

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