The candidates for Nassau County district attorney held dueling news conferences Thursday, with Democrat Madeline Singas announcing the endorsement of a state Conservative Party leader, and Republican Kate Murray chiding Singas for what she said was her rival's dismissal of Wantagh resident's concerns at a recent candidates forum.
George Marlin, a former member of the county's fiscal control board, joined Singas, the acting Nassau district attorney, at a news conference in Mineola. In a reference to a Singas campaign criticism that Murray, the Hempstead Town supervisor, has no criminal law experience, Marlin said he supports Singas "because she is a highly qualified career prosecutor, not an unqualified career machine politician like her opponent."
Marlin, who stepped down from the Nassau Interim Finance Authority last year, said that while serving on the board he was "appalled by contracts parceled out to political cronies and campaign contributors." He called it "imperative that we have an experienced DA, who can uncover, prosecute and convict political rogues who rip off taxpayers.
In response, Murray campaign spokesman Bill Corbett Jr. said, "who is George Marlin, and why should voters care what he has to say?"
At a Mineola news conference, Murray, who has the Nassau Conservative Party endorsement, criticized Singas for her "weak" response to a resident who had asked her to weigh in on a dispute between Hempstead Town and the owner of a North Bellmore strip club, Billy Dean's Showtime Cafe, who wants to open a cabaret in Wantagh.
Kevin Milano, a Wantagh resident who has led opposition to the cabaret, said at the news conference that he raised the issue with Singas at a candidates forum Tuesday in Merrick, hoping she would express opposition, as Murray has for several years. The town initially granted a permit for the owners to open the cabaret, but revoked it in 2011 after vocal community protests. A state appellate later sided with the town.
The owners last year filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the town. Milano said that when he asked Singas about the dispute, she called it "a First Amendment issue." He said he told Singas that a social media account run by Billy Dean's -- where critical comments about Murray have been posted -- had endorsed Singas' candidacy for district attorney, and that Singas "laughed."
Murray said yesterday that Singas "could have shown a level of sympathy, she could have said she will work with local government to defeat this proposal." Murray also characterized Singas as "weak" on the issue of exploitation of women.
"There's a lot of things you can do . . . not just in a strictly legalistic way, to show your support and to appreciate that [residents] have a deep concern for quality of life."
A response by Singas spokesman Isaac Goldberg referred to endorsements of Murray on social media by William Flanagan, a retired top-ranking Nassau police official convicted in 2013 of misdemeanor official misconduct and conspiracy.
"When you've never prosecuted a criminal case, never practiced criminal law, and your most vocal supporter is a convicted corrupt former public official, you find a pile of straws and grasp," Goldberg said.