In Focus: Long Island

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.

2016 in review

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.

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The Obama legacy

2009-2017

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

Property Taxes Map

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TAX BILL CHANGE

-$2.9M$3.3M

How fair are your Nassau County property taxes?




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

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Letters to the editor of 2016

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Letters to the editor of 2016

Throughout the year, Newsday publishes hundreds of letters from our readers.

Here is a sampling of letters from 2016, with readers’ thoughts on everything from opt-out to political corruption, from local taxes to global disease. For our year-end review, we selected letters that best captured the news and sentiments of 2016.

Click here to see all of the letters we published in 2016 or click here to submit your own letter.

The legacy of Barack Obama

The legacy of Barack Obama

Obama’s eight-year presidency envisioned as a 16-episode TV series.

Photo Credit: AP / Susan Walsh

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
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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
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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

The ‘shellacking’

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

Benghazi

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

Re-elected

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

4th-quarter points

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

Twin threats

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
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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
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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
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35 images from Obama’s presidency to remember

See memorable and unforgettable images from the Obama presidency.


Obama pop culture moments: Like, dislike or don’t care?

Obama has been more comfortable in a wider variety of pop culture settings than perhaps any of his predecessors.


What will you remember most about President Obama?

Share your thoughts about President Obama on our reader interactive.


Our most memorable Obama covers

Forty of Newsday’s most memorable covers on Barack Obama as a presidential candidate and president.

Nassau Tax Shift

Newsday / News12 Special Report

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

$0
2011201220132014201520162017

Meanwhile, taxes for this home next door went down

$0
2011201220132014201520162017

Sound unusual? It’s not.

61%
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+

The burden shifted onto others including more than 6,400 middle-or-low income senior and disabled homes with tax bill increases of $2,400 OR MORE.

Homeowners in minority communities, who tend to file fewer challenges, are now assessed at a level 17% higher than properties elsewhere.

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.

Grievances & Bills

2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017

% of properties that appealed

49.5%

CHANGE IN MEDIAN FOR CHALLENGERS

$329

CHANGE IN MEDIAN FOR THOSE WHO DIDN’T

$1855

And nearly half of the estimated savings, $789 MILLION, went to owners of
$1 million+ properties.

Savings breakdown

2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017

Top 25% Home Value

54M

3rd 25%

14M

2nd 25%

9M

Bottom 25%

5M

HOW DID THIS AFFECT YOU?

Read the Full Story

Reporter: Matt Clark Design: Anthony Carrozzo, Matthew Cassella Development: Jon Ingoglia Photos: Thomas A. Ferrara, Chuck Fadely Production: Tara Conry















The Politics of Corruption: James Burke

Ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke

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


Other LI officials charged with abuse of power

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USMMA students weigh in on sexual misconduct

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Students weigh in on sexual misconduct

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy students participated in focus groups in 2013 and 2015, responding to questions about the academy’s handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment, its culture and USMMA’s leaders. Participation by midshipmen, as students at the Kings Point school are known, was voluntary and all responses were anonymous.

Focus group responses were summarized in reports about the 2012-13 and 2014-15 school years. Data on the 2013 focus groups do not indicate exactly how many students participated, but said between nine and 12 students took part in each of six sessions. Forty-three students participated in the 2015 focus groups.

The Defense Manpower Data Center, a military contractor, conducted the focus groups at USMMA, the only federal service academy operated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Similar focus groups have been held at the other four service academies, all run by the U.S. Department of Defense. The reports on USMMA said the findings were illustrations of themes to be considered as the school reviewed its programming and could not be generalized to all midshipmen.

Read the full focus group reports | Read the Newsday/News 12 Long Island report

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