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Opinion

It's getting tricky

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Daily Point

Pravato’s pumpkins

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s plan to build an accurate property tax roll has fired up Republican county legislators. Now the GOP is using the same scare tactics in the final days of the brutal ground game over the control of the New York State Senate.

Jeff Pravato, the challenger in the 8th Senate District, distorted the plan Curran seeks in order to attack Democratic incumbent John Brooks. So did a Facebook page attacking Democrat Anna Kaplan, who is running against Republican incumbent Elaine Phillips in the 7th District.

Then-County Executive Edward Mangano froze property assessments in 2011 and granted so many reductions that by 2018, the assigned values bore little connection to reality. People who grieved have ended up paying too little, while those who never challenged pay too much.

Curran ordered a new assessment ratio and a new assessment that should make it possible to charge owners their fair share, and that means owners of the most undervalued properties would see their assessments rise dramatically.

So Curran wants a law passed by the State Legislature that would let her phase in the changes over five years to avoid egregious, immediate increases.

A post Sunday on the Facebook page “Jeff Pravato For Senate” featured spooky pumpkins touting “The scary truth about your assessment.” It argues that, “Nassau Democrats have a plan that could JACK UP tax assessments by up to 20% for many homeowners.” It promised that a Democratic Senate would approve the plan while “Republican senators say ‘NO!’ ” The signoff: “VOTE ‘NO’ TO JOHN BROOKS AND SENATE DEMOCRATS ON TUESDAY, NOV. 6TH.”

In addition, a dirge-like video using the assessments appeared on the GOP State Senate campaign committee Facebook page. “The Facts on Anna Kaplan” argued that ballet, soccer and family vacations might have to be canceled if Democratic state senators are elected, because they will pass Curran’s plan.

The messaging here is a mess, besides not being true. Curran’s plan would actually hike some owners’ assessments far more than 20 percent, as things stand. But that wouldn’t necessarily mean a huge tax increase. When values change, the tax rates would change drastically, too.

The posts against Brooks and Kaplan now appear to be unavailable, but the end-times video threatening an end to soccer and ballet was still playing as of publication time on the Facebook page of Republican Fran Becker, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Todd Kaminsky in 9th Senate District.

The ads were definitely intended to scare people, but now the backlash against them appears to be doing just as much spooking.

Lane Filler

Talking Point

Tricks on the eve of Election Day

Today in tricks, someone is sending around bare-bones mailers urging people to vote for Kate Browning for Congress on the Women’s Equality ballot line on Tuesday.

Browning, a registered Democrat who lost the Democratic primary to Perry Gershon in New York’s 1st Congressional District in June, is still on the general election ballot with the Women’s Equality Party.

But Browning is campaigning for Gershon, plus robocalling for him this weekend, said the Gershon campaign, which provided an example of the mailer. The mailer did not say who had paid for it. A spokesman for Rep. Lee Zeldin said, “We have no idea who did this.”

Browning tells The Point the mailers “are not from me” and calls them “pretty sleazy.”

It’s difficult to get off the ballot in New York, and there’s always the danger that lingering candidates peel off some votes in a close election. That was a big concern in the 1st and 2nd congressional districts this year because candidates endorsed by the Working Families Party lost their bids to get the Democratic line. The party replaced its candidates with the Democratic winners in both cases.

But the Women’s Equality Party did not follow suit with the difficult process for Browning. With the CD1 race considered close, that creates at least the possibility of a spoiler through Browning’s exploited candidacy.

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

The wrong guy

Quick Points

Party fights and Halloween frights

  • To those who deny that actions taken by various state election boards constitute voter suppression, two questions: Why is the group of voters predominantly affected never white? And why are the officials who took the actions always white?
  • An Idaho school district superintendent who suspended some staff members who posted photos of themselves wearing Halloween costumes that were Mexican stereotypes and standing behind a cardboard wall labeled “Make America Great Again” said the decision by the culprits was “insensitive and inappropriate” but not “malicious.” Sounds like a distinction without a difference.
  • Across the country, residents in states that have relaxed environmental regulations are finding that their well water is tainted with contamination. There is a word for that: Predictable.
  • A robocall to Georgia voters says Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who would be the nation’s first black woman to be elected governor, is “a poor man’s Aunt Jemima.” Trump administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urged Floridians not to vote for Andrew Gillum to be the state’s first black governor, saying, “This election is so cotton-pickin’ important.” Too low to even be a dog whistle.
  • When President Donald Trump participated in a groundbreaking for a plant in Wisconsin for worldwide electronics manufacturer Foxconn, he called the future campus “the eighth wonder of the world.” And indeed, Wisconsin voters who must decide whether GOP Gov. Scott Walker gets another term are wondering how the Taiwanese company lured by Trump got taxpayer subsidies of $4.5 billion, most of it in cash — as much as $1 million or more per job created. And we thought New York’s IDAs were running a candy store.
  • GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina says Democrats are spreading a “false narrative” that Republicans want to end health care protection for people with pre-existing conditions. Tillis apparently has amnesia about the 70 or so times Republicans like him voted to repeal Obamacare and protection for those with pre-existing conditions.

Michael Dobie

Extra Point

Honing in on Election Day

Our final pre-election episode of “The Bellwether” is live, as we track two key congressional races in the final days.

As readers of this newsletter know, it has been a fraught finish in New York’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts. We talk to Sister Mary Beth Moore, who works with immigrants in Hampton Bays, about how the immigration issue contributes to a tense atmosphere on Long Island. The nun tried to attend an immigration roundtable held by Rep. Lee Zeldin at Suffolk County Community College in September, but she and other advocates were rebuffed. The conversation ended up focusing mostly on law enforcement and gangs while pro-immigration advocates rallied outside.

It’s a fitting symbol of where we are right now in finding solutions to major policy issues as another election season ends.

Mark Chiusano

Columns