Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
In the wake of what some call organized labor's "Wisconsin Waterloo," delegates of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gather next week in Los Angeles to elect their first new president in 31 years.
The national rivalry to succeed veteran incumbent Gerald McEntee -- who announced his coming retirement in November -- has more than a bit of New York flavor. Danny Donohue, former Long Islander and head of the state's Civil Service Employees Association, opposes AFSCME secretary-treasurer Lee Saunders, who for four years administered New York City's sprawling municipal labor group, District Council 37, to end a period of scandal in the late 1990s.
Saunders edged Donohue for that secretary-treasurer slot at the union's convention nearly two years ago.
It remains to be seen whether fallout from the failed effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker will have any bearing on the outcome. From New York, Donohue counts on a sweeping CSEA constituency; D.C. 37's executive director Lillian Roberts backs Saunders, although within her organization, Santos Crespo Jr., president of Local 372, supports Donohue.
BORDER BUDDIES: Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Woodside), the Queens Democratic chairman, last week helped drum up donors for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice's fundraiser Monday night at the Seawane Country Club in Hewlett Harbor.
In an emailed missive Crowley states: "Queens and Nassau share more than a border. We share many common challenges and we are bonded by many shared values and family stories. I've grown to know Kathleen as someone of exceptional integrity, independence, and fairness."
"Friends of Kathleen Rice" offers a "Tournament Sponsor" title for $25,000 at the top of the contribution scale. It's $250 for just cocktails and dinner.
REEFER RIFFS:State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) earned mention on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" Thursday after he said of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's pot-possession proposal: "Being able to just walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it only being a violation, I think that's wrong."
A Cuomo spokesman quipped that this "would require some set of ears." Jon Stewart took the Skelos statement an absurd step further -- displaying a doctored high-school photo of President Barack Obama with small bundles of marijuana cigarettes behind both prominent ears.