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Battle of Hempstead
For the past few years, the battle for control of Hempstead schools has made that district’s school board election the most heated on Long Island. This year is no exception. It never is when the school district is one of the largest jobs programs in the community.
Reformers finally won a 3-2 majority last May when Melissa Figueroa won a one-year seat, but now she must run again in Tuesday’s election. She is opposed by two candidates, Deborah DeLong and Randy Stith, each allied with a warring faction.
Some in the old guard did not like the reform board’s recent appointment — by a 3-2 vote — of Shimon Waronker to the top job of all, superintendent. Waronker is an outsider and an innovative reformer. Already, opponents have scheduled a protest rally on Thursday, and some district insiders say a Figueroa loss next week could lead to an attempt by a board under traditional control to reverse Waronker’s hiring.
And that would only continue the frenzied pace of superintendent hirings and firings various Hempstead boards have made over the last decade. The old guard that ran and plundered the district for years is loath to let that go.
Long Beach was popping popcorn Tuesday night. The movie: “Superblock III.”
The city hosted a meeting about the third application to the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency from iStar, a developer that wants tax breaks to build two luxury waterfront condominium towers on the city’s boardwalk. It’s called Superblock. The meeting was billed as a chance for residents to learn about the latest application and as a chance for residents to ask questions, because it is unclear whether the IDA will hold another forum.
There was some confusion about the meeting’s structure, however, and it turned out to be more informational than one where residents could speak out. Among those who wanted a turn at the mic was former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, who was filmed yelling that it was a “phony meeting” to shield “incompetent thieves.”
He, like Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, who is running for county executive, took his frustration to Facebook afterward.
The Long Beach comptroller and a lawyer for the city hosted the event on Tuesday, and on Wednesday a city spokesman defended it, saying every question was read out loud and answered.
But some residents still felt misled and posted their feelings in blogs and social media: “Nothing is really being answered”; “There was no dialogue allowed”; “This public hearing was an orchestrated attempt by the city to appear neutral to iStar.”
So the plot thickens. And the story continues for now on social media, not at City Hall.
Making the rounds
Nassau County Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs has had a very busy week — and it’s only Wednesday.
On Sunday, he spoke at a rally for Democrats against corruption in Oyster Bay. The party is trying to capture Town Hall in the wake of the federal corruption indictment of Republican Supervisor John Venditto, who resigned in January.
Monday night, Jacobs sparred on TV with a Fox News team over the value of Obamacare versus Trumpcare. Identified as a member of the Democratic National Committee, Jacobs responded to an on-air interview with a woman who said her husband would be dead if he had been covered by Obamacare. “It was just so ludicrous,” Jacobs said. “Her story was from 2008, before Obamacare. It’s so ludicrous, I have a lot of fun with these things.”
Then on Tuesday night, Jacobs served on the host committee for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraiser-birthday party.
Jacobs has been on Fox at least four times in recent months, his profile rising with his support for DNC chair Tom Perez, but he doesn’t expect a steady gig. “I don’t see this as the start of a big TV career,” he said.
Anne Michaud and Mark Chiusano