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Opinion

End of an era

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Breaking Point

Mondello stepping down

An era ended Monday with the resignation of Joseph Mondello, who has chaired the Nassau County Republican Party for the past 35 years.

Although his announcement cites a desire to spend more time with his wife, kids and grandkids as the reason for stepping down, Mondello, 80, is up for an ambassadorship to Trinidad and Tobago, and has long been expected to give up the chairmanship.

He went out with one last salute to his allies and a final barb to his antagonists in the media. “No matter what the future holds, or where that future takes me a big part of me will always be here – at 164 Post Avenue – where so much history was made – and no matter what the media says – so much good was done for the people of Nassau County,” he said in a statement.

What now for the future of the Nassau County Republican Party and its leadership? The county committee is expected to meet Thursday and a vote on leadership could come then. But in some ways, the future is as uncertain as it was when Mondello took over after the conviction of his predecessor, the late Joseph Margiotta, on extortion and mail fraud charges.

Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto are in the waning days of their federal corruption trial. Democrats named Laura have taken over traditional GOP roles, Curran at county executive and Gillen as Hempstead Town supervisor. The GOP brand in Nassau is tarnished. The state party Mondello also ran for years is dwindling rapidly.

With Mondello protege Anthony Santino managing to lose the Hempstead supervisor’s spot to Democrats last year and create a storm of controversy on his way out, the assumption was that Mondello’s likely successor was Hempstead Town Republican leader and OTB president Joe Cairo. Cairo still has the inside track, but his grasp on the post is far from certain as a party reeling from scandal may look for leadership less clearly connected to its past.

Mondello’s resignation officially takes effect in 10 days, but the jockeying that has been quietly occurring for quite some time officially began at 5 p.m. today.

Lane Filler and Rita Ciolli

This item has been updated to correct an earlier version that misidentified the age of Joseph Mondello.

Pointing Out

Sports betting in NY?

The last thing most gamblers would call New York’s politicians is forward-thinking. But the State Legislature did look ahead in 2013, and legalized sports betting here could come quickly because of that.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal regulation against sports betting that applied to 46 states is unconstitutional, ruling for New Jersey in its attempts to legalize such wagering. That still might have left New York with a very long path to sports betting, because gambling is banned by the state constitution — except for the kinds that have been allowed by constitutional amendments.

An amendment requires two votes of the State Legislature and a public referendum, but the 2013 amendment that legalized casino gambling also allowed for sports betting at casinos to begin if the federal ban disappeared via a court decision or a repeal.

New Jersey bettors could be wagering on sports in as little as two weeks, starting at Monmouth Park racetrack, where a sports bar equipped for the purpose by London bookmaker William Hill has been waiting several years for the go-ahead.

So how soon could New Yorkers place legal sports bets in their home state, and how easily?

Not as fast as New Jersey, experts say, but pretty quickly. Enabling legislation to regulate the wagering was introduced in both the Senate and Assembly in March by members who chair the chambers’ gaming committees. And rather than being limited to four recently licensed casinos, betting at racinos, tracks, OTBs and on mobile devices would be allowed by the bills via “affiliate deals” with the casinos.

With the legislative session due to end in a few weeks and gambling legislation seen as a priority, legal wagers in time for the World Series and football season might not be long shots at all.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

Divided

More cartoons of the week

Talking Point

Demands grow for East Side Access

After nearly two decades of delays, cost overruns and plenty of finger-pointing in the effort to build a connection between the Long Island Rail Road and Grand Central Terminal, three congressional representatives finally have had enough.

So, Reps. Tom Suozzi, Joe Crowley, and Carolyn Maloney have written to Amtrak Chief Executive Richard Anderson requesting better cooperation from the national passenger railroad in getting the East Side Access project done.

“Since 2014, Amtrak’s failure to perform has cost the project an estimated $340 million,” the letter says. “This situation is of grave concern to us as it affects the quality of life of our constituents.”

While Suozzi has been in office only since last year, Maloney and Crowley have held their offices since 2013, at which point the project was already significantly over budget and past deadline.

Suozzi, Crowley and Maloney requested that Amtrak provide an additional 15 to 20 daily workers to fill the need at Harold Interlocking, the Queens railroad junction critical to the project.

Amtrak officials to date haven’t made such a commitment, saying only that East Side Access is one of its many important projects and that they will “work cooperatively” to try to support the effort.

East Side Access is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, at a cost of $11.2 billion. In 1999, it was projected to cost $4.3 billion and be finished by 2009.

See the Newsday editorial board’s take here and here.

Randi F. Marshall

Quick Points

Historic obstruction?

  • A black graduate student at Yale University who fell asleep in a dorm lounge while writing papers was questioned by Yale police called to the scene by another dorm resident who questioned whether the grad student was supposed to be there. Thereby proving that while some people might be highly educated, they learned nothing from the Starbucks incident in Philadelphia.
  • More than half of Long Island school districts have no contested races in Tuesday’s school board elections. All the activist energy propelling people across the nation to get involved seems to have missed our schools.
  • Senate Republicans pursuing spending bills and presidential nominations say that Democrats are engaged in “historic obstruction.” No, historic obstruction is what Senate Republicans did to Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
  • The White House condemned a terrorist knife attack in Paris but declined to apologize for a staffer’s insensitive remark that Sen. John McCain’s rejection of CIA nominee Gina Haspel can be ignored because “he’s dying anyway.” There are all kinds of backstabbings.
  • NASA will send a tiny autonomous helicopter to Mars on its next rover mission. Anyone know what Martian law says about drones?

Michael Dobie

Columns