There are times when one sound byte can tell a story. Or when a single tweet can give you all you need. But some times there are layers to a story. Some times there are complexities that need to be drawn out. When you want deeper, documentary-style storytelling, In Focus is your destination. This page is where you will find the most visually interesting and comprehensive multimedia reporting on Long Island.
Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. Top politicians in Nassau were charged with political corruption, and key officials in Suffolk were convicted of other crimes. A local pizza delivery man shot to fame on “America’s Got Talent,” while we mourned the deaths of iconic entertainers including Carrie Fisher, David Bowie and Prince. 2016 has been a dramatic year. Here’s some of what we’ll remember.
New York was one of eight states to lose population in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
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The legacy of Barack Obama
President Barack Obama has been many things in his eight years in office. As the nation’s first African-American president, he will always symbolize a historic breakthrough. The Democrat’s ambitious agenda — ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reforming health care, retooling the economy for the 21st century, resetting policy toward longtime adversaries such as Iran and Cuba, improving race relations, leading on climate change — proved controversial and produced uneven results.
Despite his campaign promise, Obama was unable to change the culture of Washington. The race to succeed him revealed just how divided America is — and the next president, Republican Donald Trump, could reverse many of Obama’s policies, putting his long-term legacy in peril.
Here are assessments of Obama’s legacy as his tenure ends.
Take a look back at how the first daughters have grown up.
Getty Images / Mark Wilson
Type in your Nassau County address to see how your property taxes have changed compared to others, and what impact the tax grievance process has had.
An 18-month Newsday investigation dug deep into millions of Nassau property records to reveal stark differences in tax bills and an assessment system weighted against the middle class and poor. Read the full story.
The map contains parcels that have paid taxes every year since the 2010-11 tax year for which geographic location information was available. The tax totals for the 2016-17 tax year exclude any exemption checks mailed to new STAR property tax exemption recipients.
Production: Tara Conry | User Experience: Matthew Cassella | Development: Will Welch | Data: Matt Clark
Refund totals include those the county has paid and those it estimates it will pay in the future for challenges filed since the 2011-12 tax year.
Property Value Details
A property’s assessment is a fraction (.25%) of what the county estimates it is worth — its “full market value” — but since officials have not updated their “frozen” estimates since 2012-13, most properties have become assessed below what they are worth as real estate prices have risen. Appealed properties, though, are assessed even lower.
Exemption change indicates whether exemptions (like STAR for school taxes) changed, affecting the assessment by 10 percent or more than if they had not changed.
A Euphoric Beginning
Episode 1: 2008
A young senator from Illinois sweeps to a resounding victory, inspiring millions while becoming the first African-American …
… to be elected president of the United States. He brings hope and the promise of a new day in politics to Washington — while preparing to take office during troubled economic times.
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle
Mantle of Power
Episode 2: 2009
The president soars into office before more than a million cheering Americans at his inauguration, but he is enmeshed …
… in two wars and the “gathering clouds and raging storms” of an economy teetering on the brink of another Great Depression. In his first 100 days he fights to push through a massive stimulus bill and is forced to choose between an expensive and unpopular bailout or letting two giant companies and more than a million jobs potentially vanish. His high-powered wife looks for a cause to champion while their two young children settle into a new school — and pick a White House dog.
Photo Credit: AP / Elise Amendola
All in on health care
Episode 3: 2009 – 2010
Reeling Republicans unite against Obama, leading him to abandon a key campaign promise to be bipartisan to muscle through his health care overhaul. On foreign policy, Obama — who earlier became the first sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years to win the Nobel Peace Prize — makes a nuclear arms deal with Russia and holds a summit on decreasing nuclear materials.
Photo Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak
Episode 4: 2010
With the economy in doldrums and nearly 10 percent of the country out of work, anger about the rising tide of debt and big government health care coalesces into a tea party wave that propels a GOP takeover of the House in the midterm elections. A somber Obama ruefully calls the election “a shellacking” and scrambles with his advisers to decide what to do next.
Photo Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak
‘Minutes passed like days’
Episode 5: May 1, 2011
Obama secretly has to make one of his biggest decisions in office. Should he send Navy SEAL Team Six on a risky mission to take out Osama bin Laden? As the president and his advisers watch the consequences of his choice unfold in real time from the Situation Room, “the minutes passed like days.” Obama makes a dramatic nighttime announcement from the White House.
Photo Credit: AP / The White House / Pete Souza
The president’s picks
Episode 6: 2012
Some of the presidency is actually fun and games. Obama decompresses by proclaiming his picks for his annual NCAA Tournament bracket. He welcomes a key foreign ally, scarfing down hot dogs at a tournament game — while squeezing in a visit to a swing state he’ll need in the upcoming election.
Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster
A new rival rises
Episode 7: 2012
Obama and the nation watch live as reporters rush to relay the Supreme Court’s verdict on the constitutionality of his Affordable Care Act, handing the president a major victory. He spends his summer kicking his re-election campaign into high gear as GOP rival Mitt Romney attacks his policies and argues he’d be a better leader for America.
Photo Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak
Episode 8: September 2012
The president is told the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans have been killed in Benghazi. The administration initially calls it a spontaneous street protest, but it is later found to be a premeditated attack by Islamic extremists — a mistake that engulfs Obama in political turmoil as he’s forced to answer charges he’s weak on terrorism.
Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images
What just happened?
Episode 9: Oct. 3, 2012
A rusty Obama prepares for a prime-time showdown with Romney that’s his first debate in four years. The results shock his advisers, as the polls dramatically tighten and his re-election suddenly appears in jeopardy. Can he summon a comeback?
Photo Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall
Episode 10: Nov. 6-7, 2012
A nail-biting election goes late into the night. The president, who found his footing in the last two debates, tells the American people “we have fought our way back” and that the country’s “best is yet to come.” He and Michelle Obama look back at the past four years — as the first dad tells Ryan Seacrest their daughters will be allowed to date during his second term.
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson
Trayvon ‘could have been me’
Episode 11: July 19, 2013
Obama makes a rare public reflection on race after a high-profile acquittal in the shooting death of a Florida teen. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama says. “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store,” he says. “That includes me.”
Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster
Episode 12: 2014 – 2015
Democrats lose the Senate in the midterm elections and Obama prepares to go it alone in the “fourth quarter” of his presidency. In a flurry of executive actions and foreign policy maneuvers he tries to forestall the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
Photo Credit: EPA / Jim Bourg
Episode 13: 2015
Shortly after Obama and more than 150 world leaders meet in Paris to try to hammer out a climate deal, he’s forced to turn his attention back to the immediate threat of terrorism as an attack in San Bernardino, Calif., leaves 14 dead. He prepares to address the nation from the Oval Office.
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Frayer
Powerless on guns
Episode 14: Jan. 5, 2016
The president is often called the most powerful man in the world.
But he can never get Congress to act on gun control, even as one mass shooting after another — with victims ranging from school kids to veteran police officers — happens during his tenure. More than three years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Obama hosts an event at the White House on gun violence and sheds rare public tears. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” he says. The NRA slams his latest plan as “ripe for abuse.”
Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster
Challenge to his legacy
Episode 15: 2016
His approval ratings surge and the unemployment rate drops, but voters reject his chosen successor and turn …
… to Donald Trump, a man who’s his polar opposite in policy and temperament, leaving his legacy in jeopardy. The president pushes himself and his staff to the finish line, fighting a losing battle with Republicans over a Supreme Court nominee and trying to prevent Obamacare from being dismantled — while facing challenges from Russia, terrorists, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the waning days.
Photo Credit: AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
An end and a beginning
Episode 16: 2017
Obama’s presidency comes to a close, but this is not the end for him and Michelle.
Though cornerstones of his policy record hang in the balance and his political legacy is still to be determined, his place in American history is firmly cemented and they vow to remain actively engaged. Obama is only 55 and Michelle a few years younger — with much of their story still left to be written.
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Aude Guerrucci
More on the Obamas
Most interesting things named after Barack Obama You may know about Barack Obama Elementary School on Long Island — but have you heard about the spider named after the president? Or the Obama phone? Or the Irish bread?
Sasha & Malia: The Obama daughters through the yearsWatch the first daughters, Malia and Sasha, grow up in this minute-and-a-half video.
Best Joe Biden, Barack Obama memesSocial media exploded with memes playing off the bromance and chemistry between President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as they began their exit from the White House.
Barack Obama editorial cartoonsEditorial cartoonists from around the country on the 44th president.
Did Obama keep past State of the Union promises?A breakdown of major proposals President Barack Obama has made in his State of the Union addresses, and what happened afterward.
Separate & Unequal
An 18-month Newsday investigation dug deep into millions of Nassau property records to reveal stark differences in tax bills and an assessment system weighted against the middle class and poor.
Taxes for this Syosset home have gone up
Meanwhile, taxes for this home next door went down
Sound unusual? It’s not.
of Nassau property owners have appealed their property taxes
and have typically seen decreases
or modest increases.
While 39%have not challenged their taxes and have typically seen their tax bills soar.
Among those with tax bill cuts
were nearly 11,000 properties
the county valued at $1 MILLION+
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
The county, schools, towns and other governments need to collect enough money to fund their budgets.
One way they do this is by collecting property taxes.
Nassau officials have settled nearly 700,000 assessment challenges since 2010.
This saved challengers an estimated $1.7 billion in taxes.
But to balance their budgets, governments had to raise tax rates, shifting the burden onto those who didn’t grieve.
Tax bills of the typical property owner who appealed
went up just $466, while the bills of those who didn’t increased $2,748.
And nearly half of the estimated savings, $789 MILLION, went to owners of
$1 million+ properties.
HOW DID THIS AFFECT YOU?
Reporter: Matt Clark Design: Anthony Carrozzo, Matthew Cassella Development: Jon Ingoglia Photos: Thomas A. Ferrara, Chuck Fadely Production: Tara Conry
Ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke
Convicted of: Depravation of civil rights, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice
Background: After a career that spanned nearly three decades, James Burke was arrested in December 2015 for orchestrating an elaborate scheme to conceal his own crime, Feds said. Burke, who was named Suffolk police chief in 2012, beat a heroin-addicted man who stole a duffel bag from his police-issued vehicle, officials said. He was sentenced in November 2016 to serve 46 months in prison. Burke is appealing his sentence, according to court papers. Read more
“I thought you were untouchable…Now look at us both, we are both incarcerated. The difference, besides the fact that my sentence is about to end and yours is only beginning, is that my actions reflected only me. … Your crimes revealed deep problems in the entire Suffolk County law enforcement community.”, The victim, Christopher Loeb
“Through my 31-year career in law enforcement, I have always believed that one must be accountable for one’s actions…This morning, sir, I stand before you accountable for my actions.” James Burke in a statement to a judge
The latest on the Burke case
Oct. 28, 2017: Brown: Thomas Spota couldn’t continue as Suffolk DA
Oct. 26, 2017: Burke, at heart of Spota case, receives $145G pension
Oct. 26, 2017: DA Thomas Spota ‘leaving my post’ after federal indictment
Oct. 26, 2017: Spota’s decades-long relationship with Burke leads to indictment
Oct. 25, 2017: Suffolk DA Thomas Spota, top aide indicted in cover-up
Oct. 25, 2017: Editorial: District Attorney Thomas Spota’s contempt for the law
Aug. 4, 2017: Burke accuser charged with violating order of protection
May 9, 2017: Sources: Drugs found in ex-Suffolk police chief Burke’s prison cell
April 26, 2017: Attorneys: Christopher Loeb indictment should be thrown out
April 1, 2017: Brown: Several investigations of Long Island public officials underway
Jan. 31, 2017: Christopher Loeb goes free as guilty plea is set aside
Dec. 21, 2016: ‘Numerous’ cops pleaded guilty in James Burke cover-up, court papers say
Nov. 16, 2016: James Burke, ex-Suffolk police chief, appealing prison sentence
Nov. 2, 2016: Ex-Suffolk police chief James Burke gets 46 months in prison
Oct. 31, 2016: Prosecutors recommend 51-month jail sentence for James Burke
Oct. 28, 2016: James Burke asks for no prison so he can care for ill mom
Sept. 9, 2016: Former Suffolk police chief James Burke sentencing date set
May 3, 2016: Steve Bellone was warned James Burke’s past would lead to scandal
Feb. 2, 2016: James Burke, ex-Suffolk police chief, offered plea deal of about 5 years, sources say
Dec. 9, 2015: James Burke’s arrest generates disappointment, concern in Suffolk
Dec. 10, 2016: Janison: Suffolk’s official puzzles are piling up
Dec. 10, 2015: James Burke, ex-Suffolk police chief, charged in assault, cover-up
Dec. 8, 2015: James Burke, former Suffolk police chief of department, indicted, sources say
Oct. 27, 2015: Suffolk Police Chief James Burke resigns as federal probe reopens
Nov. 7, 2013: Man at center of case with top Suffolk cop Burke says chief, other cops beat him
Oct. 24, 2013: Testimony: Burke left crime scene with duffel bag
July 13, 2013: Culture of cover-up: How deep is it?
June 27, 2013: Editorial: Suffolk chief crossed line of good judgment
June 25, 2013: Sources: FBI probing Suffolk Chief of Police James Burke
June 14, 2013: Police: Chief went to theft suspect’s home
June 14: 2013: Man accused of stealing police gun belt, ammo in St. James