February 25, 2011

LIMBA Meeting Recap February 25 2011 - John Waffenschmidt, VP Environmental Sciences and Community Affairs for Covanta, The Town of Islip Resource Recovery Center

Another in our continuing our series of field trips to important Long Island locations, today's meeting was held at Islip Town's Resource recovery plant next to Long Island MacArthur Airport
The plant is run under contract by Covanta, burning solid waste and generating around ten Megawatts of electricity, which is then sold to LIPA.  The town and Covanta share the revenue brought in by the plant.  An additional revenue stream is generated by separating and selling recyclable metals from the waste stream both before and after waste burning.

As with our meeting at the Northport power station, the meeting opened with a discussion of safety issues.   The Covanta plant has compiled an impressive streak of over 2270 days that were accident-free, a testament to conscientious work.  The plant is part of OSHA's VPP program, attaining star status.

Waste to energy facilities have come far from their days where they were simply incinerators of garbage.  European countries with their limited space for landfills have long been the leaders in the waste to energy area.  The LIMA plant is a recovery operation, getting back energy and metals from the wast stream.  It also reduces the volume of waste, so that the ultimate end product of ash is a far smaller volume than the original source material. 

About 50 pounds of metal per ton of solid waste is recovered, and about 500 Kilowatt-hours per ton of electricity is able to be generated from that waste.  The recycling of the metals reduces greenhouse gas emissions substantially, as opposed to new metal production. 

The plant also operates well under its emissions limits, producing up to only 5% of the allowable levels.  This is due to the extensive gas scrubbers, particulate filters, and the O'Connor combustor design that is employed.  As part of the company's continuous improvement programs, projects to further reduce Nitrous Oxides, Mercury, and Dioxin emissions are underway.  During the program's lifetime, the facility was also part of EPA's Performance Track program.

Currently, Long Island exports about 800,000 tons of solid waste per year.  The Islip plant burns about 176,000 tons per year.  This additional fuel could be used to generate more base-load electricity as the Islip plant does.  Currently, it puts out an average of 10-12 Megawatts of power.  

The plant has been in continuous operation since 1990, about three years after the saga of the Mobro 4000, Islip's infamous "Garbage Barge", assuring that there won't be a repeat of that.  Dealing with the waste stream generated by living isn't attractive, but is one of those necessaries.  Landfilling it generates Methane, a greenhouse gas, and incurs expensive transportation and landfilling costs.  Burning it generates electricity and recovers some recyclable metals, but also introduces other kinds of air pollution.  It is a game of the lesser of evils, that we must address. 

Informing ourselves about the realities that are available to us allows us to make better decisions that are easier to live with.  Understanding the options before us is one of the main missions of LIMBA.  On a rainy late winter Friday morning, we learned a lot more about one of the ways we can deal with the real issues of our lifestyle.  Come join us to be better educated about the real, practical issues that are facing Long Island so that we can all make the best decisions together.

February 09, 2011

GigaOm post on Ethernet Exchanges

My first post for GigaOm is up on the Broadband section. It is a high level explanation of what Ethernet Exchanges are and why they represent a shift in communications.  We should really stop calling it telecom.  Ethernet exchanges can be thought of as truly open wire centers, like an old school telco Central Office, but where you bring an Ethernet connection rather than a twisted pair copper connection.

Channel Conflict

I think we can safely assume that CMCSA, TWC and Bright House will not be writing any more checks to CLWR http://bit.ly/e12IHh Talk about channel conflict. Oof.

January 28, 2011

LIMBA Recap – January 28, 2011. Edward Mangano – Nassau County Executive speaking at Adelphi University.

This morning we were invited to Adelphi University’s beautiful Garden City campus to hear Ed Mangano speak about the current issues facing Nassau County.  Our meeting was opened by Dr. Robert Scott, Adelphi’s President, who proudly noted the latest energy efficient  LEED certified buildings across the campus on the other side of Long Island’s largest geothermal plant.  The plant is hidden by an ample parking lot, which will come in handy as the University hosts the 2011 NCAA Division II and III Women’s Lacrosse championships this May.

This meeting was sponsored by LIFT, whose Executive Director, Bill Whalig, gave us a quick update on the progress on the various programs offered by LIFT, its cooperation with Brookhaven National Labs and Stony Brook University.  He also brought us current on the progress of the Advanced Material and Manufacturing Technology Innovation Center and the Morrelly Homeland Security Center, an important piece of our speaker’s revival of the Grumman property in his hometown of Bethpage.

Confronting the recent headlines regarding NIFA’s takeover, Mr. Mangano opened with a review of the progress that his administration has made in its first year.  He identified the tax assessment process and their systems as a key factor in the financial difficulties that have built up over the past decade.  This has resulted in a large amount of borrowing necessary to fund the system developments, fixes and the resulting tax refunds. His team is implementing a plan to get the system back on track where after 2013, property tax refunds will be funded out of operating revenues rather than being borrowed.

In preparation for this, the Executive recommended that all property owners review their assessments, because these assessments are provisional right now, but will be made permanent in 2016. 

Moving on to current events, Mr. Mangano defended his repeal of the energy tax, and his balancing of the budget, noting that 2010 will go into the books has having a surplus.  Spending was cut, and 610 jobs were shed.  The budget surplus was accomplished without increasing taxes, and while more unfunded state mandates were handed down, along with increased pension obligations.  He characterized NIFA’s “drumbeat of doubt” as misplaced. 

Further outlining accomplishments, he cited the return of 125 police officers to street patrol through attrition and having civilians fill the administrative positions that were vacated, reducing expenses and pension obligations.  He has opened negotiations with the CSEA union to review their contract.  He views NIFA’s intervention as adding uncertainty to the contract renegotiation process and increasing taxpayer expenses by adding a layer of review to several layers already in place that are serving adequately.

He asserts that NIFA is sounding the alarm unnecessarily, especially when ending the year with a surplus.  NIFA’s proposed solutions amount to tax increases, and he has not heard any NIFA recommendations on expense reductions.  In closing, he reiterated that keeping spending flat when stuck with onerous contracts and unfunded mandates is a herculean task.  However, he has emphasized that the public employees of Nassau County are working as hard as their private sector counterparts to maintain the level of services that they have come to expect of the county.

Once again it was another opportunity to be at LIMBA meeting with an excellent speaker that you normally can only assess when filtered through the media.  Amiable and poised during a stressful point in his administration, it was a pleasure to host the County Executive in a fine setting provided by one of Long Island’s premier academic institutions.  Please join us for these Friday morning sessions that finish the work week off on a high note and never fail to be of value.


January 16, 2011

LIMBA Meeting 1/14/2011 Visit to National Grid’s Northport Power Station (NPS).

January is powerplant season at LIMBA!  This year we visited the largest power station on Long Island and one of the largest on the east coast.  Last year at this time, we hosted the Caithness power station.  This year, those presenters were in attendance for a great presentation by the NPS.  Attendees were treated to a tour of the power station that rivaled an episode of “The Worlds Toughest Fixes”  or “Big, Bigger, Biggest”.  In the words of Bob Bender, the meeting’s sponsor, it was a chance to look “Behind the Switch” and get a picture of the people, technology and business behind delivering this vital commodity.

Helmets Bob Allen, the general manager of NPS, opened our session with a Safety Moment.  In a facility this large and with the levels of power involved, things can go bad in a hurry, and preparedness is paramount.  Our tour would take us to one of the two control rooms that control the four units, across the turbine deck, and up alongside one of the units undergoing an upgrade and maintenance.  Bob reviewed the architecture and operations of the NPS, the largest of 5 steam power stations on Long Island. 

A short segment on how power is purchased by LIPA from National Grid and other generators followed, and a breakdown of the National Grid power station management organization.  There are about 700 employees that operate, maintain, and manage the powerplants.  A quick tour of the steam plants’

Smallplantmap history, from Far Rockaway’s start in 1898, to Island Park’s last burning of coal in 1964, to the gas conversion of Northport finishing in 2008.  

We then heard the impressive parameters of NPS; its gargantuan capacity of 4150 Megawatts of generating power, its oil storage capacity of 2 Million barrels, the million gallon per minute cooling water flow, and 1000 degree 2500 PSI steam operation, illustrating its brawn.
Turbineplate   Operating this behemoth efficiently within the extensively regulated environment is a ballet performed by the dedicated staff that takes great pride in their plant and work.  Balancing environmental regulations designed to protect fish, with getting the proper mix of oil and gas burning within air pollution requirements, and then coordinating the electrical output minute by minute with the New York Independent System Operator is an effort that demands constant attention to detail.

The plant is fueled by #6 fuel oil supplied by tankers that moor two miles offshore and by the Iroquois gas pipeline which terminates on the property.  This discussion segued into a description of the other ways power is generated on and brought to long Island.  The NPS used to provide 45% of Long Island’s total power needs, but as the region grew and new plants and transmission lines were added, this share has declined.  The Neptune cable from New Jersey brings 600 Megawatts of cheaper power onto LI, but that power is generated by coal-fueled plants, which drop their pollution onto us.  The NPS has had over $100 Million invested over the last 15 years to reduce its environmental footprint.  The fuel oil they burn has been reduced in sulfur content from 3% or liquid coal, to much cleaner 0.7% sulfur content.  The ability to burn cleaner natural gas was introduced.  Electrostatic precipitators capture solid pollution.

The latest efficiency upgrade was on view during our tour.  The steam turbines that turn the generators, are being upgraded to a “Dense Pack”, which increases their efficiency by 3 percent.  These retrofits were on full view during our tour.  As the turbines are being changed out, the rest of the shutdown  unit undergoes extensive maintenance and renovation.  Smallturbine We were also able to peer inside the 40 foot square combustion chambers that contain huge fireballs when in operation. 

In all, this was a master class in the mechanic, economic, environmental and human factors involved in operating an integral piece of Long Island’s infrastructure.  We extend our thanks to National Grid for allowing us to be one of the ten tours that are granted each year.  It was a special opportunity  to go “behind the switch” and see where our electricity comes from and get to know the facility and people that keep the lights on.  An educational opportunity not to be missed. 

December 16, 2010

Towerstream's Manhattan Wi-Fi Network - Close to true 4G

Today in frigid weather, I went to Union Square to see how Towerstream's Wi-Fi network performed. Considerably closer to the ITU's definition of 4G than any other technology available today, I was able to use my laptop's built-in 802.11N Wi-Fi adapter to connect to the Access Point at 138Mbps. Excellent quality on its own, and in the presence of 175 other access points you could say stellar.

The next step was to open a browser and bump up against the splash page, provided by Jiwire. After accepting the generic Acceptable Use Policy, the system allowed internet transit.  A quick speed test showed 5.45 Mbps down and 6.2 Mbps up, a perfectly good performance level, most probably restricted by the size of Towerstream's pipe between its AP location and its distribution site.  In their 3rd quarter conference call Towerstream described the general architecture of this network, and it allows for increasing the size of this connection.  Performance can be driven higher by expanding this pipe. That will take more advantage of the 802.11N Wi-Fi access points that they are trialing and deliver an even better user experience.

The latency on each network hop to Google was less than 10 Milliseconds, boding well for the support of IMS based voice clients that switch between cell and IP connections or pure VoIP apps.  With its strategic distribution sites in some of the largest US markets, Towerstream seems well positioned to be able to help cellular carriers and other ISPs alleviate some issues in their most painful locations by offloading the data traffic from their smartphones.  It remains to be seen whether Towerstream can convince the mobile operators in their markets to embrace their wholesale strategy and more fully integrate Wi-Fi data distribution into their architectures.

Even if they don't convince the MNOs of the world to buy Wi-Fi from them, it can be accretive to their bottom line, because just like an MSO, adding Wi-Fi to Towerstream's distribution network is a very low cost proposition.  The cost could be recouped by selling day passes or subscriptions to out of towners, or even through advertising, since they are leveraging mounting rights they already have, and not impinging on their customers' connections to deliver the Wi-Fi net access.  Their rollup strategy can only better this proposition, as it increases the coverage area they can provide in each market.

December 03, 2010

LIMBA Recap – December 3, 2010. The Shinnecock Indian Nation

This morning we held our LIMBA gathering in the beautifully arranged ballroom of the  MacArthur Holiday Inn to a near overflowing crowd.  Michelle Zere of Zere Real Estate was the main coordinating force behind one of the most significant meetings in LIMBA history today.  One of the oldest self-governing Native American tribes and the newest Federally recognized tribe came to us to discuss its culture, history, and plans around its newly recognized status.  As the meeting gathered, we were treated to lively holiday music by Mark Seratoff of Marken Music.

The meeting opened with the pledge of allegiance to the US flag, and the sovereign nation contributed a benediction by a reading of the Lord’s prayer accompanied with a native dance by artist and tribe member Edith Wharton Collins.  This was followed by a drum and dance performance from Gordell Wright (drum and vocals), Miss Teen Shinnecock Autumn Rose Williams, a student at the Ross School, and Miss Junior Teen Shinnecock, Mattah Wright, a Southampton Intermediate School student.  After their performance, the ladies most elegantly introduced themselves in Algonquian and English.

Before the main remarks by Senior Trustee Lance Gumbs, a ten-minute video was shown illustrating the tribe’s history, some of its culture, and its modern economic history, including attempts to foster industry on the reservation, from aquaculture to paint manufacture.  An account of its current main revenue source, the annual labor day Powwow was included.  A highly professional production, it provided a preface to Trustee Gumbs’s talk on Indian Gaming and can be viewed at the Nation’s website.

Trustee Gumbs opened his talk by explaining the meaning of the word Shinnecock.  It is translated into English as “level land”.  As is well known, this level land has not been a level playing field for Native Americans since 1640, the first time the Shinnecock encountered European explorers entering Peconic Bay.  The nation has been an unknown quantity for the most part, surviving in substandard conditions while surrounded by great wealth and hemmed into a 900 acre reservation.

The nation has survived by engaging in many businesses.  They were the earliest whalers and manufacturers of wampum currency.  The first mint on Long Island, as it were.  In 1792, New York State imposed a governing structure on the nation.  This Board of Trustees has had annual elections each year for 218 years, making it one of the oldest self-governing tribes in the US.  Ironically, after such a long documented history of governance, the nation had to battle thirty-two years before finally being granted Federal recognition as an “official” Native American tribe.

What Federal recognition conveys is access to federal programs and the right to operate Indian gaming.  Trustee Gumbs had kind words for President Richard Nixon and his efforts to improve the lot of Native Americans, providing them more access to resources and creating the Indian gaming industry.  This opened a line of discussion regarding many misconceptions about what gaming does for tribes and how it affects the surrounding communities.

Across the United States, there are vast disparities in the physical resources that tribes control and have access to.  The Pine Ridge reservation encompasses 3 million acres, compared to the Shinnecock’s 900.  After much analysis and many attempts at industrialization, the space, land and finance picture for the Shinnecock all point to Indian gaming as a way to improve the future of the tribe.  The 2000 census put 60% of the Shinnecock nation below the poverty level.  The recent rainouts of the Pow-wow, the main source of revenue for the nation’s government and development programs, focused the leadership on moving forward with gaming.  Trustee Gumbs and Trustee Barre Hamp went through an exhaustive presentation of the economic benefits and regulatory environment surrounding  Indian gaming.  Indian gaming is also regulated very differently from the gambling environments of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.  The resources generated by Indian gaming are regulated as to how they can be used and distributed, unlike the large corporately owned Vegas and AC casinos.

A very strong case was made for the economic benefits of Indian gaming to both the Shinnecock and Long Island and New York State.  There were at least ten elected officials and staff members in attendance hearing this message at the town, county and federal levels.  The concerns around massive traffic jams were addressed and alleviated, and the nation’s commitment to place a gaming facility where it is welcome was heard.  Their determination to succeed in this effort was also firmly demonstrated and supported by the audience.

Once again it was another educational opportunity to be at LIMBA meeting with a chance to learn more about Long Island culture and our neighbors that have toiled in relative obscurity for many years.  Being able to get beyond the short stories in the print media and sound bites on television was invaluable.  Please join us for these Friday morning sessions that finish the work week off on a high note and never fail to be a great experience.

November 07, 2010

I have lost a friend, and I miss him terribly

I am a forty-eight year old man at the time of this writing.  Since I've been forty-four, I've been owned by a dog. And now, today, he's gone.  He died while I held him, in front of my house, after he'd been hit hard by a blue minivan whose driver didn't even stop to say he or she was sorry about what happened. And it happened so quickly, almost instantly.

He was like so many others of his kind, impulsive and instinctive.  Which is what did him in and ended his too short life.  We had managed to train him to stay when folks came to the door. But he couldn't resist some things like squirrels, birds and other dogs.  He bolted like lightning out the front door to meet a neighbor's dog across the street. The minivan's driver was going too fast for a residential street but in reality probably wouldn't have been able to avoid him had he even been going the thirty mile per hour limit.  The van smashed into him, throwing him thirty feet.  I was in the basement, listening to an investor conference call replay over the internet.

I suddenly heard a tremendous amount of screaming, and thought that he had bitten one of the kids, really badly.  He liked to nip the kids, and tug on their pants, testing his place in the pack.  I raced up the stairs, but didn't see any kids.  My peripheral vision saw a crowd outside, and my wife in the street standing over my friend's motionless body.  I ran out the front door screaming his name.  He was on his way out, I knew it as I saw him on the cold street.  His left eye was open, but he was motionless.  My wife left his side to go comfort the screaming children.  There were at least eight of them that saw the van kill him, including my son Alec.  

I bent over him, crying, sobbing, my mind racing, thinking what can I do?  I thought he was completely gone, but his heart was still beating, rapidly.  The blood was flowing onto the street from his head, but he was motionless.  I knew he was going.  I told him I loved him over and over, agonized whether to rush him to the emergency vet, but I knew he wasn't going to make it.

This was the event that i had feared.  He loved to chase squirrels, birds, and frolic with other dogs.  He'd often paw and bark at the storm door in the front.  We had to make sure that we had the extra lock on it so he didn't pop the door open.  We were all just too late this time.

I held him and comforted him until his heart stopped beating.  It was wrenching, to try not to do anything but just be there for him while his life ebbed away so quickly.  After the life left him, I asked the neighbors to stand over him while I got the sheet he loved to lie on from the foot of our bed.  I returned and wrapped him in it, as gently as I could, picked him up and brought him into our backyard.

I laid him down and returned to the front yard, where all the neighbors and visitors had gathered. I thanked each for their compassion and help.  Going inside the house, i joined my wife and children, where we held each other and grieved our terrible loss.  After we had cried ourselves out, it was time to decide where he should rest.  

My daughter picked the place under the swingset where he liked to dig and rest on the cool dirt in the summer.  I took the mattock and a shovel, and started to dig through my tears.  Through the roots and the clay, down to the sand.  My back and arms were pained and sore.  When I was down deep enough, I called everyone out. I brought him over from where I first laid him down.  He was cold, heavy now.  I placed him down as gently as I could at the bottom. We buried him with his rawhide bone and a smelly sock from each child.  He loved to steal stinky socks, underwear, and towels, and we sent him off with a few of his favorites.  Everyone took turns laying some dirt onto him, and Emily and me finished the fill.

We left him in his resting place and returned to our quiet, empty house.  I had taken off his collar and given it to my Alec for him to hold.  Each time his nametag jingled against his rabies tag, it broke my heart again.  We will miss him, terribly.  His sweet affection, his vocalizing when he wanted to go out or be fed, and just the pure love that a family dog is. Nacho, my heart aches with losing you.


September 30, 2010

White Space - Lowers the barrier for entry into the WISP market

The big problem that White Space (WS) devices solve for aspiring Wireless ISPs (WISP), is installation. Presently the WISP business is a mashup of the cellular carrier and satellite TV businesses.  You have to acquire and backhaul to Access Point (AP) mounting locations just like the cellular carriers.  Wi-Fi's range is limited so you need outdoor client devices (CPE) on roofs. Wires have to run from the CPE through walls to get bandwidth to the customer, just like the dish and set top box for satellite.  This requires capex, opex, labor, training and lengthens the payback time until a new customer becomes profitable if you bury the cost of all this into the service pricing.

WS devices when they exist should be customer installed, which relieves a huge burden.  The first forms of WS CPE devices will probably be WS to Wi-Fi protocol converters, another type of MiFi device.  As Tom Evslin describes in detail, the potential for innovation and increased performance for WS is an exciting prospect.

Because of the sophisticated radio and location techniques needed for WS networking, the power requirements for WS clients will tie them down to houses and vehicles that have electricity available.  If you think iPhones have battery issues, the power headaches with WS are migraine inducing.

The WISP problem that WS doesn't solve yet is bandwidth. Early WS devices probably won't be able to deliver the same kind of bandwidth that Wi-Fi devices can. That means a WISP needs to have more WS macrocells to solve the bandwidth problem in spite of the better signal penetration.    Established WISPs like my Fire Island Wireless needed to upgrade to 802.11N because the demands of customers are going through the roof, just like every other ISP.  Cable companies are (or should be) furiously spending on node splits, and FTTH providers are stringing glass like its going out of style.

Wireless,  perhaps especially in the white space model cannot yet deliver the bandwidth required to eliminate the average family's cable or telco video subscription.  If there was a capital period on my keyboard, I'd use it.  It can compete against DSL, but not cable or fiber.  It won't be able to step up its game anytime soon because of the current technology state and spectrum policy, along with the economic and local political barriers to new marketplace entrants.

What WS does, is allow rural WISPs to enter the macrocell game with a modest investment by acquiring a few distribution sites and starting to generate revenue in low customer density, yet high demand areas.  This revenue stream can be rolled into acquiring more sites to deploy smaller cells and adding higher bandwidth services like 3.65 MHz WIMAX to satisfy and upsell their high consumption customers.

As WISPs in rural regions begin to aggregate these cash flows from subscribers and invest in their outside plant, the smaller rural cable companies will start to feel this competition.  The cable and telco companies in high density regions don't have much to worry about from wireless on the technology front for a while yet.  In fact they are using Wi-Fi microcells in a big way as a retentive and competitive strategy.  Just look at Cablevision's OptimumWiFi and Comcast's XFINITY Wi-Fi networks.  Wi-Fi has firmly cemented its place as the initial device connection to the internet, but there's lots of new ways coming to feed those devices bandwidth.

March 29, 2010

LIMBA Recap March 26, 2010 Helena Williams, President of the Long Island Rail Road, East Side Access Update

Ms. Williams last came to LIMBA during her stint as the Interim Executive Director of the MTA.  Today, she opened her talk with the tale of helping to recruit Jay Walder from Transport of London to the MTA, bringing him from the frying pan into the fire.    Her introduction was a good segue into a description of that fire, and the dire circumstances that the MTA and its member agencies are facing.  Preservation of some service to Greenport was a small victory, to give that up would have severed a long standing historical tie for the LIRR.   Right now, Ms. Williams is fighting a holding action to keep the LIRR in good shape while waiting for the economy to turn around and be robust again.

Addressing some of the transit-oriented development advocates and freight rail enthusiasts in the audience,  she spoke of Transit Oriented Development as bringing future LIRR customers into the fold and having plenty of capacity to support more rail freight to take more trucks off Long Island roads.  More rail freight means more revenue for the LIRR.

The main topic of her talk, East Side Access, helps the Suffolk County housing market because it makes commuting from eastern long island more possible to the east side of Manhattan,  preserving that quality of life in the suburbs.  The new LIRR terminal in Grand Central Terminal will be served by the current M7 electric cars, which the railroad is very happy with, and they are beginning to design the next generation of cars, the M9 fleet.  The entire railroad is eagerly anticipating the connecting of the LIRR and Metro-North Railroads, but there is lots of system integration work to do.  Harold Interlocking needs a tremendous amount of work to connect the new tracks that will run to GCT, and a new platform will be built in Jamaica to serve Brooklyn with a new type of shuttle service.  The creation of Moynihan station will primarily benefit intercity rail run by Amtrak, but the LIRR is looking to get some Penn Station improvements out of that project, particularly an expansion of the main Penn Corridor that runs between the E and 2&3 subway lines to increase pedestrian capacity.

The next phase of her talk was the presentation of a great video on the progress and methods of construction of ESA.  Animations of the tunnel boring, maps of the rail routes, and depictions of the new concourse were shown.  It is a great project that Ms. Williams is justifiably proud of being a part of.  It is a grand new public works project, a great expansion of the railroad, a very positive development.  Funding for the next two years is fully in place, for the present capital program, but the final years of the project need to be implemented and funded in the next MTA capital program.  Ms. Williams asked us for our support for this funding.  Another project that will require financial support is the double tracking of the mainline between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale.  Unlike the third track project, this does not require additional land, and will help reverse commuting and take better advantage of East Side Access.

Closing her talk, she referred to the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations;  where there really needs to be some relief for the railroad around work rules and penalty pay.  These efforts will help the LIRR ease some of its costs.  The Q &  A portion of the program opened with a tough assault on the MTA taxes and some large ticket projects by the MTA, which Ms. Williams ably handled, although the projects mentioned were not LIRR projects.

A follow up question on disability reform progress was again tackled by a frank discussion of what the LIRR could and could not control.  The LIRR has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the State AG’s office to cooperate in its investigation of disability fraud.  A lot of this is out of the control of the LIRR and under the jurisdiction of the Federal Rail Road Retirement board.

Again, a well spent Friday morning at LIMBA, where we got to hear from and talk to an important leader of one of the most vital links in our region’s economic health and stability. 

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