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USS Bonhomme Richard Embarks 31st MEU ACE

first_imgThe forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) embarked elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU) Aviation Combat Element (ACE), June 24.The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and the 31st MEU will conduct joint forces operations in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.The ACE of the 31st MEU is comprised of Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron (reinforced) 265, which includes AV-8B Harrier jet aircraft, AH-1W Super Cobras, CH-53E Super Stallions, newly upgraded UH-1Y Venom helicopters, and MV-22 Ospreys.“The ACE is an essential tool to performing a wide variety of missions from combat operations to disaster relief,” said Capt. Daniel Dusek, Bonhomme Richard’s commanding officer. “This crew of Sailors and Marines working side-by-side gives us the ability to operate forward and maintain a presence in the 7th Fleet area of operations.”Bonhomme Richard provides a number of services for the ACE including aircraft handling, combat cargo loading and unloading, air traffic control, and aircraft taxiing and towing. The Air Department is responsible for safely directing, launching and recovering the ACE aircraft.“It’s great to have VMM-265 back aboard,” said Cmdr. Hans Sholley, Bonhomme Richard’s air boss. “They are the reason the ship has an Air Department and we strive every day to make the flight deck the safest and most efficient facility possible.”The ACE will make history this year by embarking MV-22 Ospreys for the first time on a Forward Deployed Naval Force ship in the Asia-Pacific region. The Osprey replaces the CH-46E Sea Knight and is a leap forward in enhancing combat air support.“The MV-22 is a significant upgrade in assault support capabilities,” said Sholley. “The speed and range that it provides the landing force commander gives an incredible amount of flexibility for response and operations.”The 31st MEU is the only permanently forward-deployed MEU that maintains a presence in the Pacific Ocean at all times as part of the III Marine Expeditionary Force and is based out of Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan.The Bonhomme Richard ARG reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.[mappress]Press Release, June 26, 2013; Image: US Navy View post tag: 31st View post tag: News by topic View post tag: MEU View post tag: ACE USS Bonhomme Richard Embarks 31st MEU ACE View post tag: Richard Share this article View post tag: Defense View post tag: Embarks View post tag: Naval View post tag: USS Back to overview,Home naval-today USS Bonhomme Richard Embarks 31st MEU ACE View post tag: Navy View post tag: Defence View post tag: Bonhomme June 26, 2013last_img read more

SASC suggests types of ships needed for US Navy ramp up

first_imgBack to overview,Home naval-today White paper suggests types of ships needed for US Navy ramp up While it is important for the U.S. Navy to increase the number of ships being built, it is even more important to have the shipbuilders construct the ‘right kinds of ships’, a new Senate Armed Services Committee white paper has suggested.A Small Surface Combatant that could begin procurement in 2022 or sooner; smaller, lower cost, conventionally powered aircraft carriers and more missiles and munitions are among the right ingredients that made it into the mix.The reason why a choice must be made lies is the fact that the U.S. Navy and its shipbuilders simply cannot accelerate production fast enough to build 81 ships by 2022, the report said.A recent navy assessment backed Donald Trump’s plan for a 350 plus ship navy, putting the number of ships more precisely at 355.Achieving that number of ships, from the current 274 ships, is unrealistic as the shipbuilding industry and workforce, as well as the Navy’s own personnel, simply cannot grow fast enough to execute this goal.That is the reason why emphasis should be put on which kinds of ships are to be built first.President Obama’s current defense plan calls for procuring 41 ships over the next five years. However, with sufficient funding, the Navy could procure 59 ships in this timeframe, including five fast attack submarines, five fleet oilers, three destroyers, two amphibious ships, two afloat forward staging bases, two undersea surveillance ships, two survey ships, two patrol ships, one aircraft carrier, and one new small surface combatant.The white paper says the navy should be optimized for deterring conflict against increasingly capable great power competitors by seeking to add new capabilities incrementally and make a series of strategic choices.Increasing and accelerating investment in unmanned and autonomous systems that could enhance current capabilities in certain areas, such as minelaying, surveillance, and offensive strike is one of the suggestions.The number of submarines being procured should also be increased from two per year to three per year in 2020 and four per year in 2024 if the navy is to retain its advantage in undersea warfare. The report suggests that the U.S. cannot produce more submarines over the next five years even if it wanted.Another strategic choice would be to curtail the littoral combat ship (LCS) program in 2017, buying only the minimum number of additional ships necessary to serve as a bridge for the industrial base to compete for the next Small Surface Combatant, which could begin procurement in 2022 or sooner. This could accelerate the next Small Surface Combatant by seven years and result in procurement of two additional small combatants by 2030 compared to the current plan.The navy should also pursue a new “high/low mix” in its aircraft carrier fleet. Traditional nuclear-powered supercarriers remain necessary to deter and defeat near-peer competitors, but other day-to-day missions, such as power projection, sea lane control, close air support, or counterterrorism, can be achieved with a smaller, lower cost, conventionally powered aircraft carrier.It is suggested that over the next five years, the navy should begin transitioning from large deck amphibious ships into smaller aircraft carriers with the goal of delivering the first such ship in the mid-2030s.Over the next five years, the Navy should therefore procure 58 additional F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and 16 additional EA-18G Growlers due to the continued delays to the F-35C. According to the paper, the navy currently has approximately 830 frontline strike fighters. Its projected shortfall will grow from 29 aircraft in 2020 to roughly 111 aircraft in 2030.The navy is also critically low in munitions for the same reasons as the rest of the force and should increase its munitions inventories, including the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile.Finally, the paper suggest the navy should develop advanced, long range, air-to-air, anti-surface, and anti-ship missiles, including hypersonic missiles. View post tag: US Navy Authorities January 18, 2017 White paper suggests types of ships needed for US Navy ramp up Share this articlelast_img read more

Nothing new on the left

first_imgTo the Editor:Before there was the left and all its current expressions, there was an English Poet, Robert Southey. And after Mr. Southey had written a book which espoused many opinions (which are by now familiar to 21st century dwellers), a 30-year old essayist was assigned to review this book. The year is 1829, almost two centuries ago. And this is how the reviewer described the political thought of Mr. Southey:“It is, indeed, most extraordinary, that a mind like Mr. Southey’s, a mind richly endowed in many respects by nature, and highly cultivated by study, a mind which has exercised considerable influence on the most enlightened generation of the most enlightened people that ever existed, should be utterly destitute of the power of discerning truth from falsehood. Yet such is the fact. Government is to Mr. Southey one of the fine arts. He judges of a theory, of a public measure, of a religion or a political party, of a peace or a war, as men judge of a picture or a statue, by the effect produced on his imagination. A chain of associations is to him what a chain of reasoning is to other men; and what he calls his opinions are in fact merely his tastes.”And, indeed, the call for “Democratic Socialism,” “Open Borders” and other chiliastic dreams, come from men and women who are victims of this type of thinking: almost all of the left and media do judge of a theory, a public measure, of a religion or a political party, of a peace or a war, as men judge of picture or a statue: by the effect produced on their imagination. And truly, for them, a chain of associations is to them what a chain of reasoning is to other men and women. And further what these people deem their opinions, are merely in fact, their tastes.It would be remarkable, indeed, if the English Department in Bayonne High School spent some time during a student’s four years to teach our students critical thinking. The reviewer continues his point:“Now in the mind of Mr. Southey reason has no place at all, as either leader or follower, as either sovereign or slave.He does not seem to know what an argument is. He never uses arguments himself. He never troubles himself to answer the arguments of his opponents. It has never occurred to him, that a man ought to be able to give some better account of the way in which he has arrived at his opinions than merely that it is his will and pleasure to hold them.It has never occurred to him that there is a difference between assertion and demonstration, that a rumour does not always prove a fact, that a single fact, when proved, is hardly foundation enough for a theory, that two contradictory propositions cannot be undeniable truths, that to beg the question is not the way to settle it, or that when an objection is raised, it ought to be met with something more convincing than “scoundrel” and “blockhead.”And yes, here we are with name calling. If we replace “scoundrel” and “blockhead” with “racist” and “fascist” we will be either looking in the mirror (for those with the intellectual honesty to do so) or this sort of analysis will be met with indignation and a retort such as: “Well the reviewer is a Proto-Fascist or Proto Racist, Proto-Sexist, Proto-Homophobe, and Proto-Islamophobe.”The reviewer was Thomas Babington Macaulay, and never was such wisdom and writing style so vouchsafed to a writer in the English language as was to Lord Macaulay. BRUCE KOWALlast_img read more

BSB announces Morrisons’ Andy Clegg as main speaker for spring conference

first_imgMorrisons category manager of bakery Andy Clegg will be keynote speaker at this year’s British Society of Baking (BSB) spring conference.The event is to be held at Campden BRI in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire on 26 April.Clegg will provide insight into how Morrisons took the accolade of In-store Bakery Retailer of the Year at last year’s Baking Industry Awards (BIA).He will also offer his own vision of how suppliers and bakers can drive innovation, quality and value.Clegg said a working partnership with its suppliers was key to having a successful supermarket bakery operation.“Bakery is a hero category for Morrisons and we value the expertise, passion and commitment that long-term relationships create, driving innovation and delighting customers with fantastic products,” he said.“We are proud of the whole team, both at head office and in-store, for winning the BIA accolade. Our achievement in winning the title, and the importance of colleagues and suppliers in that win, will be the theme of my talk.”Speakers also include Synergy Flavours’ ‘Dr Cheese’ Ciaran Lynch; Campden BRI bakery scientist Nicole Maher; and Queen’s Award for Enterprise winner Dinnie Jordan of Kudos Blends.The event will be a day-only conference, which will feature presentations covering subjects ranging from tackling sugar reduction targets in cakes to utilising novel ingredients such as cricket flour and resistant starch.last_img read more

Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ Announce New TajMo Tour Dates

first_imgTaj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ will bring their TajMo collaborative project back on the road when they embark on a tour this summer. The pair of blues guitar masters will once again be performing in support of their 2017 album, also called TajMo, which won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album earlier this year.TajMo will kick off their outing in Denver on July 23rd. Next, the duo and their band will swing through much of the West Coast before heading to the Midwest for a series of theater shows.Released in May of 2017, TajMo quickly became of the year’s most critically and commercially successful blues albums. The album also prompted an extensive tour that brought the 75-year-old Taj Mahal and 66-year-old Keb’ Mo’ to over 40 cities across the United States.Tickets for TajMo’s upcoming tour dates are now on sale.TajMo 2018 Tour Dates:July 23 Denver, CO – Botanic GardensJuly 25 Salt Lake City, UT – Red Butte GardenJuly 27 Eugene, OR – Cuthbert AmphitheaterJuly 28 Portland, OR – Oregon Zoo AmphitheaterJuly 29 Woodinville, WA – Chateau Ste. MichelleJuly 31 Saratoga, CA – Mountain WineryAugust 1 Hollywood, CA – Hollywood BowlAugust 2 Sacramento, CA – Crest TheatreAugust 3 Mammoth Lakes, CA- BluesapaloozaAugust 4 Pala, CA – Starlight TheaterAugust 7 Springfield, MO- Gillioz TheatreAugust 8 Madison, WI – Overture HallAugust 9 Champaign, IL – Virginia TheaterAugust 10 Joliet, IL – Rialto TheaterAugust 11 Cincinnati, OH – Taft TheaterAugust 12 Grand Rapids, MI – Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture ParkView All Tour Dateslast_img read more

Minnesota woman who lied to support family gets full pardon

first_imgMINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Board of Pardons has granted its first full pardon in more than three decades, to a woman who used a fake name and false documents to get a job in order to cover food and housing costs for her family. Maria Elizondo was convicted in 2012 of wrongfully obtaining assistance and identify theft. She was sentenced to serve 10 years of probation and ordered to pay back $24,758 to the state. The mother of seven took a job at a turkey farm in Ada, Minnesota, in 2006 under the pseudonym Natalia Rubio. Her son, Jorge Elizondo, says his mother never meant to be malicious but “did what she had to do” to feed her family.last_img read more

Regulators likely to require more climate risk disclosure from Australian coal firms

first_imgRegulators likely to require more climate risk disclosure from Australian coal firms FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Australian Financial Review:ASX-listed companies with high carbon exposures—such as Whitehaven Coal, Yancoal and New Hope Group—will have to ramp up their climate risk disclosures from the brief mentions in past financial statements.Minter Ellison climate lawyer Sarah Barker told The Australian Financial Review that Australian Securities and Investments Commission member John Price’s speech on climate risk disclosure on Monday was “almost the final piece in the regulatory puzzle.” Ms. Barker did not comment on individual companies.Whitehaven, Yancoal and New Hope, which are enjoying strong coal prices and Asian demand, make only cursory references to climate risk in their annual reports and barely discuss long-term implications of tougher action on climate change, which could hit Asian markets harder.Mr. Price said ASIC believed directors of ASX companies should take a “probative and proactive” approach to assessing climate change risk, and considered “unremarkable” a 2016 legal opinion by Sydney silk Noel Hutley that directors who ignored the risk could be in breach of their duties of care and diligence. He said ASIC would vet climate disclosures of ASX 300 companies.ASIC has previously said climate risk should be included in ASX companies’ operating and financial review if the risks are material. Mr. Price said they should go beyond strict legal requirements and consider “the general information needs of investors” and voluntary codes such the global Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) code.The TCFD code requires companies with climate-related risks to stress-test their business models and pay incentive structures against all reasonably plausible scenarios over short, medium and long terms, and disclose any material adverse or positive outcomes on asset values, such as potential “stranded assets,” in their financial statements.More: Whitehaven Coal, Yancoal, New Hope must ramp up climate disclosurelast_img read more

Colombian Experts Warn of “Probable” Eruption of the Galeras Volcano

first_imgBy Dialogo May 12, 2009 Bogotá, 11 May (EFE). – The Colombian Institute of Geology and Mining (Ingeominas, state-run) issued an alert today that the Galeras volcano, which borders Ecuador and is located in the department of Nariño, was likely to erupt within days or weeks. The change from a yellow to orange alert indicates a “probable eruption within days or weeks,” according to a communique issued by the entity at 18:36 local time (23.36 GMT). According to the monitors dedicated to Galeras, in the most recent hours seismic events associated with rock fractures and fluids have increased. The inhabitants of the affected area are advised to be alert for instructions from the local committees, which are in charge of instructing people on how to proceed in an emergency. Galeras’s most recent eruption, which occurred on April 25, left no casualties, but upset the inhabitants of Pasto, the capital of the department of Nariño. About 7,000 people live in Galeras’s danger area, which consists of some rural communities of Pasto. Galeras, located about 700 kilometers from Bogotá and rising 4276 meters above sea level, became active in 2004 and has since erupted several times. Its most dangerous eruption occurred on January 15, 1993, and killed nine people, including six foreign experts who were attending a world congress of volcanology and were making a scientific survey.last_img read more

Humanitarian Assistance Program Combats Malaria in Brazil’s Amazonas

first_img Representatives from SOUTHCOM, the U.S. Military Liaison Office, and USAID Brazil visited one of the beneficiary communities on January 19, and were praised by residents who have enjoyed the protection that the mosquito nets have provided them. One resident said that before receiving the nets she had contracted malaria five times, and since receiving the mosquito nets she has not been affected by the disease. In 2009, a similar program, supported by USAID in partnership with the Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation and the Foundation for the Defense of the Amazon Biosphere, helped reduce malaria infection by 62 percent in the municipalities of Autazes, Careiro, Presidente Figueiredo, Manacapuru and Manaus. Over a 12-month period, beds and hammock nets will be distributed to 29 percent of the population of four target municipalities with the highest reported rates of malaria. As part of the effort, educational material printed in Portuguese and three other native languages spoken in the region will be handed out to local residents. USAID Brazil Mission Director, Lawrence Hardy, and SOUTHCOM Humanitarian Assistance Branch Chief Steven Carro joined the vice-governor of Amazonas, José Melo, and the Amazonas State Health Secretary, Wilson Alecrim, in Manaus to launch the joint malaria prevention program. With reports of a high incidence of malaria, the program is focused toward the municipalities of Tefé, Ipixuna, Uarini and Eirunepé, in the state of Amazonas and will be implemented by the state government through the Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation in partnership with the USAID and the Brazilian non-governmental organization Fundação Amazônica de Defesa da Biosfera, with support from SOUTHCOM. center_img A program geared to the reduction of malaria incidence and mortality was launched on January 20 in Manaus, Brazil, by the United States Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Humanitarian Assistance Program in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Only the municipality of Tefé reached 1,400 cases in 2010. Eirunepé registered over 3,300 cases over the same period, while Uarini and Ipixuna (the vice-governor’s hometown) reported 1,070 and 380 malaria cases respectively. Together, the four municipalities recorded almost 2,000 cases of falciparum malaria, the most severe variation of the disease. By Dialogo January 26, 2012last_img read more

Exit Skelos, Enter Flanagan: What Albany’s Power Switch Means for NY

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Around the Empire State this week New Yorkers from across the political spectrum have been scrambling to assess what it means when New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), one of the most powerful people in Albany, stepped down as senate majority leader so Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) could step up into the role.Some say it opens up the opportunity for major reform, others are more cynical that nothing will change. But one thing everyone can agree on. The capital has been in a constant state of historic upheaval since Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, took aim at what he called an unprecedented level of government corruption after Gov. Andrew Cuomo suspended the Moreland Commission last summer.First in Bharara’s sights was the Democrat-dominated state Assembly. A little more than three months ago Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) gave up his leadership post to Assemb. Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) after Silver was charged in January with taking almost $4 million in kickbacks.Last week, it was the Republican-led state Senate’s turn after Skelos was arrested along with his son, Adam, on federal corruption charges, which included steering a $12 million Nassau County storm-water contract to Arizona-based AbTech Industries–a contract that the county has since suspended.Meanwhile, both Silver and Skelos continue to serve their constituents pending the resolution of the charges they confront; each say they’re innocent.But, thanks to the federal prosecutor based in Manhattan, two of the fabled “three men in a room,” the Albany power trio that includes the governor, the Assembly speaker and the senate majority leader, have new faces.That doesn’t mean that Cuomo can gloat because his popularity has hit the lowest point since he became governor in 2011, according to a new poll conducted by Marist College and released on Tuesday. His approval ratings peaked at 59 percent in October 2012. This month, his job-performance rating had fallen to 37 percent. Still, it could be worse: 23 percent of the poll’s 712 registered voters gave a thumbs-up for the job the state Senate was doing while only 20 percent said they approved of the Assembly’s performance.Around here, a partisan few took Flanagan’s promotion as a giant leap forward for Suffolk County, marking a shift in power from Nassau’s traditional Republican base. But that’s not how most of New York saw it: more like “Keeping It On Long Island,” given that he’s one of the LI Nine, a significant bloc of Republican senators that surely must rankle upstate sensibilities.Until the announcement this week, Flanagan’s chief rival to succeed Skelos was Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), the chairman of the finance committee. Flanagan chaired the education committee, as opponents of the Common Core curriculum know full well, and as such, they draw no distinction between Flanagan’s stand and that of Cuomo.“Unfortunately John Flanagan comes to his position with a track record that is not very good,” said Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre and an outspoken critic of the Common Core curriculum, who is taking early retirement in order to oppose it. “Flanagan supported the bill, which increased test scores to 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation while adding an unfunded mandate for outside evaluators to observe teachers. He has been a strong supporter of charter schools, which drain money from our public schools, and has supported the Common Core… Let’s hope that in his new position he begins to listen and respond, and peels his education policies from Governor Cuomo’s.”Another thing that Flanagan and Cuomo have in common is that they both come from political families. Now 54, Flanagan was only 25 years old when he was first elected to the Assembly, replacing his father, a popular Long Island politician, who had died in office. Cuomo’s father, Mario, served three gubernatorial terms in Albany and lived long enough to see his son sworn in for his second term as governor on Jan. 1, 2015.By all accounts, Gov. Cuomo had a good relationship with Skelos, and observers don’t see any ideological difference between Skelos and Flanagan. How the governor will get along personally with the new majority leader remains to be seen.“Flanagan’s been up there a long time, and Flanagan’s father dealt with Mario,” said Lawrence Levy, dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University and a former Newsday columnist and editorial writer. “These are two families that have politics as part of their DNA. They’re both heirs to political dynasties. The Flanagans are less well known statewide but no less committed to politics and public service.”To Gerald Benjamin, distinguished professor of political science at SUNY New Paltz and a long-time observer of New York politics, it’s almost Freudian.“We have a governor who’s trying to live up to his father, a senator who’s trying to live up to his father, and an Assembly leader who’s trying to live down his mother!” he joked.Speaker Heastie’s mother, Helene, had pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny after she was arrested for embezzling almost $200,000 from a nonprofit she ran in the Bronx in the 1990s whose mission was to help the elderly and the infirm.  Sentenced for five years’ probation, she died soon after her conviction, according to the New York Daily News.“The No. 1 problem in Albany is the culture of corruption,” said Lisa Tyson, Long Island Progressive Coalition director. “Five senate leaders in a row have been faced with criminal corruption charges. When the richest of the rich are bankrolling campaigns, the issues that matter to everyday New Yorkers, like good jobs, housing and rent, student loans, climate change and educational opportunity, all take a back seat. So replacing Senator Skelos with Senator Flanagan won’t mean much change at all. Because the system is still corrupt.”On Tuesday, local residents and activists from a range of organizations gathered in front of Skelos’ district office, where they rallied to criticize him and other senators for blocking “meaningful reform.” The protesters included members of unions such as SEIU 32 BJ, CWA 1108 and UFCW Local 1500, advocacy groups like Alliance for Quality Education, Long Island Jobs with Justice, La Fuente, Long Island Immigrant Alliance, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, Make the Road, New York for Communities Change, New York Immigration Coalition, NARAL and the Working Families Party.Their efforts have a long history behind them.“Closing the door on corruption in New York is a practice that has been going on a couple hundred years,” Professor Benjamin told the Press. “So we need to start thinking about inviting people into the political system who are not going to be corrupt, rather than try to catch the people who are corrupt after they’re in.”Benjamin thought it was very noteworthy that it took a federal prosecutor “who’s really shaken the state system.” As for the governor’s own commitment to imposing ethical standards and implementing campaign finance and redistricting reform, Benjamin said it could have gone better.“He has given way on those issues to get other things done that he thinks are important,” Benjamin said. “He ended up with an egg on his face when he gave the state of the state [speech in January and used an image that] put himself in a boat with two guys who are now under indictment.”But, there are points in the plus column for Cuomo, he noted.“The governor has achieved great progress on the fiscal side in the state during his first four years and took some risks on the social side that diminished his margin in the election and had some unexpected negatives politically,” Benjamin said. “The governor’s challenge is that he’s not loved.”Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs thinks the change in leadership helps the governor advance his agenda as this legislative session comes to a close on June 17.“I’m pretty confident that…in some respects he’ll be more successful than he otherwise might have been had Shelly and Dean remained in their positions,” Jacobs said. “That said, it’s still going to be an uphill battle for him because that’s the nature of it in a second term.”Cuomo will get no relief from the powerful state teachers’ union.The president of New York State United Teachers, Karen E. Magee, has denounced “Gov. Cuomo’s war on public education” not only for “his attacks on teachers” but what she dubbed in a recent letter to her membership his “Billionaires’ Agenda” that “would hold funding for SUNY, CUNY and our community colleges hostage to a competition reminiscent of The Hunger Games.”Professor Benjamin acknowledged that the governor is facing tough demands from advocates who want him to increase spending, particularly on public education from preschool to the university level, but having a property tax cap on school districts has given Cuomo some leeway, although it’s set to expire soon.“The pressures to spend are enormous, far more than he can respond to, but he has a degree of flexibility that he didn’t have at the outset of his first term,” said Benjamin. “He can square the circle here.”As for Flanagan, a politician with nearly two decades of Albany experience, Benjamin said that making the tax cap permanent “could become a serious issue” for the new majority leader. “Flanagan has enormous potential, but he also has a very narrow majority and that’s a constraint,” he said.Of the 62 seats, the Republicans currently have 32 members plus Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) who routinely votes with them. Flanagan’s deputy, Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton), who has terminal cancer, is under federal indictment. Complicating the Democratic minority’s position in the senate is the Independent Democratic Conference, which has five members.Statewide, the Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, with 5.7 million registered voters to 2.8 million. There are almost as many unaffiliated voters, 2.3 million, as registered Republicans. The Assembly, dominated by New York City Democrats, is not up for grabs.Of course, the outlook ahead varies depending on who’s speaking.“I did feel it was time for Dean to step down, if for no other reason than it would have been incredibly difficult to operate with that kind of cloud over you,” said Frank Tantone, Islip Town Republican chairman. “Nassau has always been a political power. With Flanagan now leading the delegation, maybe some of that power will shift. We’ll see… One of the good things Dean has done is make sure that Long Island got its fair share—or some would say more than its fair share—for its school districts, so I would hope that will stay as part of the agenda. It’s not a bad thing to have a local representative in a position of power.”Jacobs, the Nassau Democratic chairman, said that Flanagan may have “a very tough job holding onto the senate in the next round. His majority is slim, and we’re going into a presidential year, which tends to favor the Democrats.”With former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likely to be at the top of the ticket in 2016, Democratic turnout should be heavy, putting the Republicans’ hold on the state Senate at risk, and putting Flanagan’s political acumen to the test.“That’s his big challenge politically: to be able to hold all the seats they took back in 2014,” said Levy. “If not, they may have to maintain the coalition with the independent Democrats. And that’s going to require a lot of real skillful deal making and personal politicking.”But given Flanagan’s background, those skills may run in the family.last_img read more