GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: LONG ISLAND

January 26, 2019 at 4:30 am

Today is day 35 of the government shutdown. As the search for a compromise remains elusive, our neighbors are feeling its effects. We take a look at the growing hardship the shutdown has caused on Long Island.

Aired on January 26, 2019.

Transcript Print

>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
IT'S ANOTHER WEEK WHERE THE
CHIEF IS NOT IN THE MAIL.
FEDERAL WORKERS AROUND THE
COUNTRY WILL MISS ANOTHER PAY
CYCLE AS THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
HAS SURPASSED THE ONE MONTH
MARK.
DESPERATE TO MAKE ENDS MEET SOME
FURLOUGHED WORKERS NEVER ONCE
THOUGHT THEY WOULD NEED TO RELY
ON ASSISTANCE ARE NOW REACHING
OUT FOR HELP JUST TO FEED THEIR
FAMILIES.
LONG ISLAND ALONE MAY SEE A
SIGNIFICANT LOSS IN UNPAID
FEDERAL SALARIES AND THE ECONOMY
WILL SUFFER.
HERE WITH MORE ON HOW THE
SHUTDOWN IS AFFECTING BOTH
NASSAU AND SUFFOLK COUNTIES IS
JAMES P.MADOR.
LET ME START OFF WITH THE LONG
ISLAND SUFFERING.
PEOPLE THINK OF WASHINGTON, D.C.
WITH ALL THE FEDERAL AGENCIES
AND OFFICES THERE, THE
EXTRAORDINARY NUMBER OF FEDERAL
EMPLOYEES WHO WORK IN THE D.C.
AREA, BUT SOME FOLKS MIGHT LOOK
AT LONG ISLAND AND SAY WHY IS
THAT SO IMPACTED?
TELL US ABOUT THE FEDERAL
FOOTPRINT, IF YOU WILL, ON LONG
ISLAND.
>> 26,000 LONG ISLANDERS WORK
FOR UNCLE SAM, FROM THE FAA, AIR
TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS AND ALSO
SECURITY SCREENERS AT AIRPORTS
TO THE LARGE IRS PROCESSING
FACILITY IN SUFFOLK COUNTY.
REALLY, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
HAS A BIG FOOTPRINT HERE ON LONG
ISLAND AND WHEN IT'S SHUT DOWN
IT HAS AN I WANT -- IMPACT ON
THE ECONOMY.
>> DO WE HAVE ANY PERCENTAGE ON
THE FOLKS WHO ARE BEING
FURLOUGHED OR TOLD TO STAY HOME?
>> WE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY OF THE
26,000 HAVE BEEN AFFECTED.
HOWEVER, WE DO KNOW THAT IF ALL
OF THEM WORKING AND RECEIVING
THEIR PAYCHECKS THEY RECEIVE
APPROXIMATELY $28 MILLION A
WEEK.
SO SOME PERCENTAGE OF THAT MONEY
IS NOT BEING PAID AND THEREFORE
IS NOT BEING SPENT IN THE LOCAL
ECONOMY.
>> WE CAN UNDERSTAND THE LOSSES
TO THESE INDIVIDUALS.
AND IT'S TERRIBLY PAINFUL AND WE
UNDERSTAND AND CERTAINLY WE
SYMPATHIZE WITH THEM.
WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION OF OTHER
BUSINESSES?
OTHER IMPACTS ON THE ECONOMY?
>> I SPOKE WITH THE LONG ISLAND
ASSOCIATION WHICH IS THE LARGEST
BUSINESS GROUP AND THEY SAY THE
SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BEING
AFFECTED.
THE MOM AND POP STORES ON MAIN
STREET.
DELIS, RESTAURANTS.
LAUNDROMATS.
THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT
SEEING CUSTOMERS COME IN.
AND THEREFORE, THEY'RE NOT
RECEIVING THE REVENUE THEY NEED
TO KEEP THEIR DOORS OPEN.
>> WE HAVE SEEN A NUMBER OF
VIDEOS OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C.,
AREA.
AS YOU MENTIONED CAFES AND SMALL
RESTAURANTS AND FOOD TRUCKS AND
THERE'S LITERALLY NOBODY THERE.
ARE SOME OF THESE BUSINESSES
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SIMILARLY
SITUATED WHERE THEY RELY IF NOT
ENTIRELY SIGNIFICANTLY ON THE
BUSINESS THAT'S PROVIDED BY
FEDERAL WORKERS?
>> WE SPOKE WITH SOME PEOPLE WHO
HAVE BUSINESSES VERY NEAR
FEDERAL INSTALLATIONS ON LONG
ISLAND.
THERE'S A PIZZERIA NEAR THE AIR
TRAFFIC TOWER IN RON CONKA WHAT.
AND THEY'D SPEND $50 TO $60 PER
VISIT AND NOW THEY'RE COMING IN
ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS.
ANOTHER RESTAURANT WE
INTERVIEWED IS LOSING $130 A
WEEK -- I'M SORRY, $130 A DAY.
THAT ADDS UP OVER THE WEEK AND
THEY SAID, LOOK, WE CAN'T AFFORD
TO TAKE THESE LOSSES.
>> ARE WE SEEING ANY OF THE
AGENCIES OUT THERE ON LONG
ISLAND THAT ARE STEPPING UP AND
TRYING TO PROVIDE SOME
ASSISTANCE TO THE FEDERAL
WORKERS?
>> YES, WE ARE.
ISLAND HARVEST, LONG ISLAND
CARES, A NUMBER OF THE LOCAL
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ARE
REACHING OUT BOTH WITH FOOD AND
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IN SOME
CASES BRIDGE LOANS SO PEOPLE CAN
PAY THEIR MORTGAGES.
IN OTHER CASES, MORTGAGE
PAYMENTS BEING DELAYED BECAUSE
PEOPLE DON'T HAVE PAYCHECKS IN
WHICH TO PAY THEIR MORTGAGE.
BUT STILL, VERY DIFFICULT.
WE HAVE HEARD ABOUT FEDERAL
WORKERS TURNING TO UBER AND
DRIVING PART-TIME WITH UBER.
OR DELIVERING PIZZAS.
OR SERVING AS NANNIES OR IN
CHILD CARE.
THE ONE THING THAT'S DIFFICULT
FOR FEDERAL WORKERS IS IF THEY
MOONLIGHT, MOST OCCUPATIONS THEY
HAVE TO GET PERMISSION FROM
THEIR EMPLOYER FOR THEM TO BE
ABLE TO MOONLIGHT.
SO THEY'RE RESTRICTED IN THOSE
SECOND JOBS THEY CAN TAKE.
>> SO A HORRIBLE SCENARIO,
BASICALLY WE'RE SAYING YOU CAN'T
BE WORKING AT YOUR REAL JOB AND
THERE'S NOBODY THERE TO EVEN
TELL YOU WHETHER YOU CAN DO
SOMETHING ELSE IN THE MEANTIME.
SO IT'S A DOUBLE BIND FOR THEM,
IF YOU WILL.
LET ME ASK YOU THIS.
LAST QUESTION FOR US TO TALK
ABOUT.
PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE NOTION OF
THIS HAS TO END AT SOME POINT IN
TIME.
WE HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT
HOPEFULLY -- I'M TALKING ABOUT
THIS FROM A NONPARTISAN
DIRECTION, HOPEFULLY REASONABLE
MINDS CAN GET TOGETHER ON BOTH
SIDES OF THE AISLE AND RESOLVE
SOMETHING, GET THE BUSINESS UP
AND RUNNING.
THE QUESTION IS WHAT'S THE
IMPACT GOING TO BE -- ECONOMIC
IMPACT?
SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY IT'S
LASTING.
SOME PEOPLE SAY IT WILL BE A
SNAP BACK.
IT WILL BE LIMITED.
FROM YOUR REPORTING AND WHAT
YOU'RE SEEING AND THE PEOPLE
YOU'RE TALKING TO OUT IN YOUR
AREA, WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT
THE IMPACT WILL BE?
>> THE ECONOMISTS I HAVE SPOKEN
TO FROM FARMINGDALE STATE
COLLEGE AND THE LONG ISLAND
ASSOCIATION SAY IT'S REALLY --
THERE ARE TWO PICTURES HERE.
ONE IS WE WILL SEE A BOOST IN
CONSUMER SPENDING.
ONCE FEDERAL WORKERS FINALLY
BEGIN TO GET THEIR PAYCHECKS.
ONCE THE SHUTDOWN ENDS.
HOWEVER, THERE'S ANOTHER GROUP.
FEDERAL CONTRACTORS.
THEY'RE NOT GETTING PAID AND
THEY WILL HAVE NO BACK PAY
COMING TO THEM.
FINALLY, YOU HAVE SOME
BUSINESSES LIKE RESTAURANTS
WHERE THEY HAVE LOST OUT ON
BUSINESS.
ONCE THE FEDERAL WORKER GETS
THEIR PAYCHECK AGAIN THEY'RE NOT
GOING TO EAT DOUBLE.
SO RESTAURANTS IN PARTICULAR ARE
BEING HIT HARD BECAUSE THESE
MEALS THAT AREN'T BEING TAKEN
YOU CAN'T REPLACE THEM.
>> I SAID LAST QUESTION, THIS IS
ACTUALLY MY LAST QUESTION FOR
YOU.
THAT IS THIS.
IN YOUR REPORTING, THE PEOPLE
YOU'RE TALKING TO, I THINK
PEOPLE SAID ALL RIGHT, THIS WILL
BE A BLIP.
A LITTLE BIT OF TIME, MAYBE A
WEEK AT MOST AND WE'RE PAST A
MONTH NOW.
ARE YOU GETTING ANY SENSE OF THE
PEOPLE YOU'RE TALKING TO AS TO
WHETHER OR NOT THERE'S ANY
OPTIMISM LEFT IN TERMS OF THIS
GETTING RESOLVED FAIRLY QUICKLY?
>> WELL, THE FEDERAL WORKERS I
TALKED TO AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE
ARE VERY DISCOURAGED.
IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THESE
ARE GOOD-PAYING JOBS.
THE AVERAGE WAGE IS $75,400 A
YEAR.
FOR THE LONG ISLANDERS WHO WORK
FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
THOSE ARE GOOD PAYING MIDDLE
CLASS JOBS THAT YOU NEED TO LIVE
ON LONG ISLAND.
SO WHEN YOU DON'T GET YOUR
PAYCHECK AND NOW WE'RE ON THE
SECOND PAYCHECK THAT'S NOT
COMING, PEOPLE ARE SCARED.
THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT KEEPING
THEIR HOMES.
THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT KEEPING
BODY AND SOUL TOGETHER.
>> WELL, I HAVE A FEELING THAT
YOU AND I MIGHT BE TALKING ABOUT
MORE DOWN THE ROAD.
GREAT REPORTING BY YOU.
WE APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING SOME
TIME AND SHARING WHAT YOU'RE
FINDING OUT THERE.
THANKS SO MUCH.
LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO YOU
AGAIN.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019