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Suffolk County clubhouse
Within minutes of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announcing Friday he would not seek re-election, Police Commissioner Timothy Sini announced he would seek the job as a Democratic candidate. Sort of.
Sini, a protege of County Executive Steve Bellone, actually had his candidacy announced for him by David Kelley, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District, in a barrage of news releases that seemed designed to highlight Kelley, now a partner with Dechert LLP in Manhattan, as much if not more than Sini.
“Former U.S. Attorney David Kelley Announces Tim Sini to Run for Suffolk County District Attorney,” blared the headlines on one release. The subtitle said, “Kelley, Famed S.D.N.Y. Federal Terrorism Prosecutor and Former East Hampton Police Officer, will serve as Chairman of the Sini Campaign.”
A few hours later, the campaign released another statement from Kelley, three pages long, with much of it about him. But that later statement also explained the strategy. Sort of.
Sini is in a difficult spot. He’s going to have to be careful about what he says and how political he gets in a race that features down-and-dirty Long Island political considerations at their finest, inside and outside his own party.
Sini will remain head of the police department while he seeks the Democratic Party nomination for district attorney, apparently against the wishes of county party chairman Rich Schaffer. That means some of the heavy lifting of campaigning will have to be done for Sini, lest he face accusations he’s not concentrating on his current public position.
And here was Kelley’s pitch to The Point late Friday: “There is this clubhouse mentality to the politics of Suffolk County, where nothing changes and the same issues that surfaced under [former District Attorney James] Catterson just keep coming back around. It’s always about politics here, but not governance ... I think Tim Sini has what it takes to be a great D.A.”
Tweet heard ‘round the city
The news-making tweet from a spokesman to Mayor Bill de Blasio included an emotional reaction to a hot-button immigration issue.
“Mayor’s been briefed on a fed immig agent showing up at Queens’ PS58 Thurs. asking about a 4th grader. School turned him away. A 4th grader,” Eric Phillips tweeted on Saturday.
Phillips didn’t specify which immigration agency. It turned out to be U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers “benefits” like green cards and visas. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) handles immigration law.
The tweet’s lack of clarity may have contributed to some early comments from New Yorkers and social media sharing that missed the distinction and assumed ICE was knocking on a school door.
Katie Tichacek, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, says the agents visiting the elementary school didn’t ask to speak to the child and were there to “verify certain facts about the student’s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit.”
But the response on all sides to the visit shows the tenseness of the current era with President Donald Trump’s commitment to deport many immigrants who are here illegally.
Though Citizenship and Immigration Services isn’t directly tied to immigration enforcement, its investigations could result in a notice to appear before an immigration judge.
De Blasio is scheduled to meet with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Monday afternoon, and de Blasio’s spokesman Phillips, not surprisingly, tweeted Monday morning that the mayor would discuss the city’s commitment to keeping immigration officials out of NYC elementary schools.
@realDonaldTrump sends a tweet ...
Day in and day out
- Another dismaying poll is out, and it found that 29 percent of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, 38 percent disapproved and 32 percent did not have an opinion. How could one-third of the country not have an opinion?
- Protesters criticizing the planned removal of a Confederate monument in Richmond, Virginia, did so while carrying torches. The evocation of the KKK is really going to help their case.
- Los Angeles has a good chance to host the 2024 or 2028 Olympics. Less certain is whether all the athletes would be allowed into the country to take part.
- Sen. Chuck Schumer says he won’t vote on a new FBI director until a special prosecutor is named for the Russia investigation. Way to go on gridlock!
- The word in Washington is that President Donald Trump is considering a huge change in White House staff. Not a bad idea, assuming that Trump himself wants to change, too.
- The new Nassau Coliseum will host the last performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on Sunday. Aficionados can take solace knowing the county’s political circus will endure.