Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics

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Rick Brand

Rick Brand, a Newsday reporter for nearly three decades, writes about politics and government on Long Island.

The veteran reporter has covered a variety of assignments for Newsday in Washington, Albany and around the country and was part of the Long Island staff that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800.

During his career, Brand has been the paper’s lead reporter covering Suffolk county government, and spent three years as the paper’s beat reporter covering LILCO during the height of the controversy over the Shoreham nuclear power plant. He has also headed the paper’s East End bureau and even spent a summer doing a gossip column on the Hampton’s social whirl.

Brand had also worked several stints in Newsday’s Albany Bureau during the Carey and Cuomo administrations. He covered the upset victory of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Long Island’s first woman congresswoman, and the 1997 U.S. Senate battle between Alfonse D'Amato and Chuck Schumer and part of the marathon Senate campaign that led to the election of Hillary Clinton.

Before joining Newsday, Brand, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, worked as news editor of Suffolk Life Newspapers and as a reporter for the Long Island News and the Buffalo Courier Express.

State Legislature approves Grumman plume bill

Senator Charles Schumer holds a press conference on

(Credit: Anthony Lanzilote)

State lawmakers have approved a bill that orders the Department of Environmental Conservation to outline a plan to contain a toxic waste site in Bethpage.

The site centers on contaminated underground plumes traced to aircraft manufacturing operations by the U.S. Navy and Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., now Northrop Grumman.

The bill was one of slew of measures approved last week...

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4th C.D.: Blakeman replies to Nat. Review writer's pro-Scaturro piece

Republican Congressional candidate Bruce Blakeman, who has claimed in TV ads his primary opponent in the 4th C.D., Frank Scaturro, is not a real conservative, responded to Deroy Murdock's earlier-posted National Review piece dissecting the allegation. Here's his campaign's statement via spokesman Matt Coleman:

"Bruce Blakeman is the only conservative Republican candidate who can beat the Democrat...

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Open question as to whether Zephyr T. faces ballot obstacles

Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout at a

(Credit: AP / Mike Groll)

Will Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s declared Democratic primary opponent Zephyr Teachout face efforts -- from someone -- to prevent her name from reaching the Sept. 9 ballot? Two possible obstacles loom. She needs 15,000 signatures from Democratic voters, with at least 100 of them from each of 14 of New York’s 27 congressional districts, to be filed between July 7 and 10.

Not only can their validity...

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Attorney: Freeport portion of Hooper-Mangano aid pact paid off

Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), the deputy speaker, speaks

(Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

Nassau lawmakers last week authorized an “emergency” $624,800 grant to Hempstead Village -- reflecting part of a three-year-old agreement that hadn’t been fully executed between County Executive Edward Mangano and Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), the deputy speaker.

Mangano’s office has since been silent on where that left another part of the 2011 agreement, requiring $500,000 in county...

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Voting 'yes', LI state lawmaker cites controls in med-marijuana bill

More than 20 Assembly members who voted "no" in May on a bill to create a medical marijuana program voted "yes" Friday on a more restrictive proposal. Six were Long Island Republicans: Brian Curran of Lynbrook, Andrew Garbarino of Sayville, Al Graf of Holbrook, David McDonough of Merrick, Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk and Joseph Saladino of Massapequa.

Palumbo, a former narcotics prosecutor,...

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NYC traffic danger is to Bill what smoking, obesity were to Mike

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during

(Credit: AP / Michael Ainsworth)

The road to improved traffic and pedestrian safety became a bit more traveled last week when the State Legislature authorized New York City to drop the speed limit on a typical street to 25 from 30 mph. For Mayor Bill de Blasio, hazardous driving has now clearly become what smoking and obesity were for his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg -- a favorite target, against which progress in recent years...

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4th C.D.: Nat. Review writer calls attack on Scaturro hollow

The National Review -- founded by the late William F. Buckley Jr. and still influential in conservative circles -- has one of its best-known writers, Deroy Murdock, weighing in this weekend on the 4th Congressional District's GOP primary on Long Island, defending Frank Scaturro from claims by rival Bruce Blakeman that he is not a conservative.  The face-off is Tuesday.

The nub of the...

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The campaign year's third petition period looms on LI

Local party committee members, who in frigid March had to knock on doors to get signatures for contenders on congressional ballots and are now getting petitions for State Senate and Assembly races, will be back on the street for a third time next month.

In a last-minute bill, the State Legislature created 25 new Family Court judgeships statewide — one each for Nassau and Suffolk County. But...

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Suffolk: GOP's Kennedy rips merged-department move

Vanessa Pugh, who had been deputy commissioner in Suffolk’s economic development department, has moved up to become the chief deputy in the merged office of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs, where she is making nearly $26,000 a year more than her fired predecessor.

Pugh replaces Robert Meguin, who was axed in April from his $105,653-a-year job. Pugh moved into the post June 9, but her...

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Brookhaven warns Anthony Senft on illegal sign posting in 3rd Senate District race

Councilman Anthony Senft addresses the community during an

(Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

Republican State Senate candidate Anthony Senft, the Islip town board member already up to his ears with the town’s dumping mess, is now under fire from Brookhaven for putting illegal campaign lawn signs along local roads.

Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto sent Senft a June 16 letter, warning him the town code, revised earlier this year, bars all signs, including political signs, from being...

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