What kind of Long Island matters most to you?



f you turn on the TV or scroll TikTok, there seems to be a fight over our nation’s soul: two increasingly opposed camps, with extremists in each viewing themselves as the hero in a good-vs.-evil passion play. But “seems” is the key word. The members of my district — from Glen Cove to Oyster Bay to Hicksville, Plainview and Farmingdale — care about the economy. They care about the safety of their families, about their property taxes, and about their kids getting a good education and having a prosperous future.

It’s also fair to say that people across Long Island, and the state and the rest of our vast nation, are more concerned about the price of gas than identity politics or virtue signaling. Unfortunately, virtue signaling and identity politics are easier for politicians than finding reasonable solutions. “Amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics,” as Gen. Omar Bradley is reported to have said, and our current Democratic majority has, in that sense, proved itself an amateur. We, as a state and as a nation, need to start focusing on how we can make all of our lives better, rather than wasting our lives fighting meaningless culture wars with our neighbors.

For example, taxpayers don’t need to fund a study to prove that Americans are anti-traffic. It damages our environment and health, and costs us all in dollars and stress. According to a study commissioned by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, traffic congestion on Long Island costs $1.9 billion per year, and represents over 40 million gallons of wasted fuel — and that study is from 2020, before our inflationary spike. The average Long Islander loses over three days a year sitting, staring at brake lights. Those 40 million gallons also represent a huge volume of air pollutants, pushing the state further from achieving its carbon-emission goals as set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

To reduce traffic, governments can improve road systems, expand public transportation, or dissuade potential drivers from hitting the road. Our road system is in a state of disrepair. Additionally, the already insufficient Long Island Rail Road service to the northern part of my district was further cut in the past year, leaving drivers with no reasonable alternative but to pay congestion pricing — yet another income stream that will start on Long Island and flow into the five boroughs.

The Oyster Bay Line is caught in a top-down-imposed Catch-22 wherein service is reduced because demand is low, and demand is low because service is poor. Its users also lack direct access to the city, because the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gives us its dirtiest diesel engines, which are not permitted to travel west of Jamaica. Those engines also have to run 24/7, and so Oyster Bay residents are subject to the noise and air pollution of diesel engines idling all night, every night.

The solution seems to be using hybrid electric-diesel engines to ensure direct, reliable access. Otherwise people need to get in their cars and drive to the Hicksville, Syosset or Manhasset station, defeating the strategy of using public transportation to reduce the number of cars on the road. The current Democratic supermajority has instead chosen to do nothing, and because it is a supermajority, there is little that we, as a minority party or citizenry, can do.

The Democratic Machine’s ideology says that cars are bad, suburbs are worse, and the two together deserve nothing but scorn. Instead of trying to help the citizens of Long Island, the state is punishing them for the crime of living in Nassau or Suffolk County. There is no actual incentive for the party to offer reasonable solutions, because that is the furthest thing from their minds.

Just look at the botched rollout of bail reform, the 2019 tenant law, or marijuana legalization. The winds shifted enough that it was worth supporting a new cause, and with little thought of how to actually achieve their goals, Democrats voted “yea,” Gov. Kathy Hochul signed, and non-action (and disaster) followed, and continue to this day.

We Long Islanders — we Americans — need to turn our attention to how we get things done. For too long we have allowed the loudest, least productive voices to impose a conversation that prioritizes ideology over practicality. We need good public-transportation service. We need to take our traffic signal system out of the mid-20th century and use any of the several “smart” traffic control systems that exist. We need to work together and meet our CLCPA goals.

All of us.

Jake Blumencranz represents the 15th Assembly District.