Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Dems test the waters
Suffolk County Democrats are “in the field” testing messages for the countywide races for district attorney and sheriff. And, ironically, the popularity of Vincent DeMarco.
While Police Commissioner Tim Sini’s Soviet-bloc party support for district attorney makes him the favorite in that contest, the unpredictable race for sheriff still might have some twists and turns.
Dems are polling about 400 registered voters to gauge President Donald Trump’s popularity, to see whether concern over gangs is at the top of residents’ fears, and to find whether support of DeMarco, the highly regarded sheriff whom no party wanted to renominate, can make a difference.
The survey tests whether sheriff nominee Errol Toulon Jr., at the least the fourth person Democrats considered for the job, can be better presented as someone who will use “cutting-edge technologies” to stops gangs, or whether he “knows what it takes” to do the job. Survey participants are then told that Toulon, who spent 25 years in New York City law enforcement, physically took down a gang member who was holding another correction officer hostage.
The survey asks voters to rank the most important issues in the sheriff’s race. The first two choices, unsurprisingly, are “crime, gangs and MS-13” and “heroin and opioids”; then the survey veers off into “restoring integrity to the sheriff’s office and Suffolk County law enforcement" and running the jail “more efficiently and cost effectively.”
The party clearly wants to know whether the federal convictions of former Conservative Party boss Ed Walsh for his no-show job at the jail and that of former Police Chief James Burke for abusing the civil rights of a suspect still resonate with voters.
And that could mean more file footage of Walsh and Burke being marched off by the FBI in our future.
End of the Vecchio era
Patrick Vecchio was just defeated in his Republican primary for re-election as supervisor of Smithtown. An awful lot has changed since he took office almost 40 years ago.
At the start of 1978:
- The No. 1 song was “How Deep is Your Love,” by the Bee Gees, which makes perfect sense when you consider that . . .
- The No. 1 movie was “Saturday Night Fever,” starring John Travolta.
- The No. 1 U.S. company in the Fortune 500 was General Motors.
- The No. 1 TV show was “Laverne and Shirley,” edging out “Happy Days.”
- The Dow Jones industrial average was at 805.
- The minimum wage in New York was $2.65.
- A first-class stamp cost 13 cents.
- A gallon of gas cost 63 cents.
- And the population of Smithtown when Vecchio took office? It was about 116,000. Today, it has grown to just over 117,000 — one indicator of just how much the town Vecchio oversaw stayed the same even as the world moved on. The population of Suffolk County, over the same period, grew from about 1.25 million to approximately 1.5 million.
Here we go again
The mayor’s college days
Mayor Bill de Blasio went back to school Tuesday afternoon, visiting his old New York University dorm for a trip down memory lane. (It’s part of City Hall in Your Borough week for Manhattan. Previous iterations have put de Blasio in other photo-op and glad-handing scenes.)
One lesser-known aspect of the proudly progressive politician’s college days: According to Hunter College Professor Joseph Viteritti’s recent book about the mayor, “The Pragmatist,” de Blasio became fast friends with his roommate, “a science major and conservative Republican,” Peter Dicpinigaitis.
De Blasio, naturally, majored in metropolitan studies and took courses including “The Politics of Minority Groups” and “The Working Class Experience.”
The unlikely pair has traveled together to places such as Israel, Spain and the Soviet Union, thanks to generous NYU fellowships.
Back on campus, young de Blasio led demonstrations against tuition hikes and even satisfied an early taste for politics with a tough fight for dorm president. And of course, he famously dabbled a little in the marijuana department. But he has said that’s one part of his past, unlike the dorm room, that he won’t revisit.