Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! We’re watching the dysfunction live from the New York State Senate floor this afternoon. Check newsday.com/opinion later today for our take on this cage match.
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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans a busy day on Long Island Thursday greeting supporters at a two-hour Crest Hollow Country Club fundraiser that will cost attendees $125 to $25,000 to attend. Cuomo is expected to stir the fervor of Democrats to take control of the State Senate and promote the chances of the party’s challengers in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Anna Kaplan (facing Elaine Phillips) will be there, as will Jim Gaughran (Carl Marcellino) and Lou D’Amaro (Phil Boyle), but the big surprise will be Monica Martinez (Tom Croci vacancy), who is expected to announce her candidacy earlier on Thursday.
Cuomo had been talking with both Suffolk County Legislators Martinez and Rob Calarco about running for the open seat in the 3rd State Senate District. Suffolk County party chairman Rich Schaffer was reluctant to support either; he was more concerned he could lose the Calarco seat to Republicans in a special election if the legislator went off to Albany.
So D’Amaro and Martinez will get the cheers Thursday as Cuomo puts an end to Schaffer’s long-held strategy of supporting Republican control of the State Senate by consistently choosing almost-certain-to-lose Democratic candidates.
There might be a lot of Democrats on Long Island willing to buy a ticket to see that go down.
Hooper in the hopper
Candidates for statewide office can begin petitioning Tuesday to get their names on the ballot. And it is a process expected to get quite testy in the 18th Assembly District as Earlene Hooper, who defines the term entrenched incumbent, finds that she has a credible primary opponent half her age.
Hooper, a Democrat, has represented the Hempstead-Freeport area for more than 30 years.
Business analyst Taylor Raynor, 34, is new to politics but has a core of seasoned political operatives unhappy with Hooper ringing doorbells with nominating petitions to get her on the ballot.
In a 2016 primary, Hooper defeated Carmen Pineyro, a Freeport village trustee, 2,271-1,513.
Hooper, who has not been forthcoming about her age, but is approaching 80, serves as deputy speaker in the Assembly. She is in the embarrassing position of being forced to fund the cost of her petition drive because local Democratic committee members refuse to do so, mostly in retaliation for her involvement in the Hempstead Village mayor’s race last year.
Hooper supported Republican Don Ryan, who defeated incumbent Wayne Hall in his bid for a fourth term. The imperial Hooper used her Assembly mailing privileges to send a flyer titled “Is Mother Nature Angry at Hempstead?” It depicted her standing over potholes, just days before the March election.
Raynor’s LinkedIn account says she has bachelor’s degree from Spellman College and a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Hofstra University.
The winner of September’s primary is almost certain to be headed to Albany in the heavily Democratic district.
Making government websites great again
The New York State Senate might be a supremely dysfunctional body, but its website is disproportionately modern and user-friendly. It’s a surprising pleasure for journalists, staff members and civic watchers everywhere because of its search capabilities, clean interface and mostly-up-to-date contact information for media aides.
The website got even better Monday evening with a beta-version launch of bill status alerts. You can now sign up for email notifications of milestones in a bill’s progress, such as committee or floor votes.
The alert system also shows New Yorkers how to register their opinions about legislation at each stage — when and how to reach out to a senator or the governor, for example.
Perhaps most incredible, the alerts track bills across sessions, even when a bill’s numbering changes. Years in the future, if a version of the bill gets introduced and advanced, you’ll get your notification.
So as the days dwindle in the current legislative session and the absence of a clear majority in the Senate sinks it further into disarray, take solace that technology will help you keep track of the chaos.