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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: Newsday

Long Island Lobby Coalition says it's the un-LIA

BY JAMES BERNSTEIN

Posted: October 17, 2009
Originally Published: October 14, 2009

If there's anything Long Island's business community likes to do - other than breakfast and lunch - it's to form committees, and the one established just this summer may be the broadest coalition to come along in years, and one with a slight anti-Long Island Association edge to it, too.

The new Long Island Lobby Coalition includes 11 different groups, from the Long Island chapter of the AARP to chambers of commerce to technology organizations to transportation campaigns to environmentalists and unions.

The organization's first big meeting came earlier this month, when two people who spearheaded the coalition - Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island - sat down with Gov. David A. Paterson in Esposito's Farmingdale office to discuss small business needs, economic development and other issues.

Like most organizations, the coalition was born out of a frustration, the two members said.

"Our concern was that only big businesses were being heard in Albany," said Esposito. The LIA, the region's largest business organization, "does not represent us," Esposito said, citing as an example LIA's support for Broadwater Energy's proposed liquefied natural gas facility for Long Island Sound. Esposito's group opposed the plant.

Alexander said the LIA "is a voice and at times an important voice," but that "Long Island's strength is its grassroots" organizations, such as the coalition.

The coalition has five major issues, including jobs and economic development. Larry Kushnick, vice chairman of the Huntington Chamber of Commerce, said he sees the coalition as a unique opportunity.

"We get involved with groups we normally don't sit down with," Kushnick said. "When would a Huntington Chamber of Commerce sit down with a union?"

LIA spokesman Gary Wojtas noted that some of the coalition's leaders lobby for specific things, such as steps for the environment or housing. "The lobbying we do is for all of Long Island," Wojtas said.