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Rallying the interns
Josh Lafazan promised to bring his youthful energy to the Nassau County Legislature.
But the 24-year-old Lafazan, by far the youngest county lawmaker on Long Island (by 10 years, if you’re keeping score), is gearing up to bring more millennial enthusiasm to Mineola than even he advertised.
Lafazan is recruiting a team of summer interns — anywhere from 50 to 70.
“The usual number for a legislator is between zero and two, and that’s the truth of it,” Lafazan told The Point.
Lafazan said 50 volunteer interns ages 14 to 22 helped him in his election campaign last summer. He divided them into teams — social media, events, constituent service — and they collectively knocked on 23,000 doors.
Lafazan said he’s motivated by his own experience with internships that mostly were about fetching coffee, as well as his understanding of people only slightly younger than him.
“I treat them as equals, I speak their language, I give them an opportunity to do something more,” he said. “Young people have limitless potential, and young people should have a say in making policy.”
Lafazan said the surest proof he’s on to something is that more than a dozen of last year’s interns ran for student government positions when they went back to school.
“That’s the genesis of how people get involved in government,” he said.
Next stop for his interns: a legislature near you.
State Sen. Carl Marcellino has put an end to speculation that he might retire from the district he’s represented for 23 years.
“100 percent,” Kirk Ives, a Marcellino campaign volunteer, told The Point about the senator’s plans to run for re-election.
Marcellino, 75, always was presumed to be running, but apparently had ducked calls about his plans. Also, his campaign’s unusually low cash-on-hand balance led to speculation that another Republican might run in his place. Marcellino reported a $64,357 balance at the start of this year, compared with more than $200,000 at the same point in each of his last three races.
He faces a rematch against Democrat James Gaughran in the 5th Senate District. Marcellino won in 2016 by 1.2 percent of the vote. Gaughran announced his candidacy the week of Feb. 26, and told The Northport Observer newspaper, “I’ll run against him [Marcellino] or whoever else the Republicans nominate.”
Ives said Marcellino’s fundraising is indicative of nothing. “Right now, he’s focused on the state budget and his work in Albany, not the campaign,” he said.
Gaughran believes he has a better chance running against Marcellino this time, in part because he’s starting earlier. But he’s not betting on a big wave of Democrats voting in November.
“I don’t believe in predictions anymore, not in the age of Donald Trump,” he told The Point.
Letter gets an edit
Monday morning, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson sent a letter to Alphonso David, counsel to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, welcoming the state’s assistance in streamlining and speeding up repairs and improvements to New York City Housing Authority complexes.
In the letter, Johnson noted that “decades of state and federal disinvestment in public housing” had played a role in the problems NYCHA buildings now face.
But by Monday afternoon, Johnson sent an edited version to David, “in the interest of being more accurate,” a City Council spokeswoman told The Point, which received the revised version after Monday’s Point was published.
The revised letter said only that “decades of federal disinvestment in public housing” had contributed to NYCHA’s difficulties.
Johnson, the spokeswoman said, eliminated the “state” because the state is not obligated to fund NYCHA.
Despite that, both versions of the letter request such funding from Cuomo.
“The Governor has a real opportunity to provide leadership now by including the funding in his upcoming budget that we all know is needed to complete long deferred maintenance,” Johnson wrote.
Some City Council members are in Albany Tuesday, where they met with state officials to discuss key city issues — including NYCHA.
So far, there’s been no official response from David to either version of Johnson’s letter.
Randi F. Marshall
On this busy news day, perhaps you haven’t yet finished your brackets before games begin Tuesday night in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Point provides a few local and political tips:
Naturally, Point readers should give New York teams some love. You can choose from the state University at Buffalo, St. Bonaventure, LIU Brooklyn, Iona or stalwart favorite Syracuse.
Though the striving players aren’t at fault, surely political issues might bump or drop a team in your estimation. Maybe you put the brakes on Michigan State University in protest of former employee Lawrence Nassar, the doctor who sexually abused female athletes.
You might demote teams like Arizona or Auburn, implicated in the federal investigation into illegal recruiting. Or, depending on how you feel about the FBI, push them into the Final Four.
Opinions about the executive branch might drive your decision on the University of Pennsylvania. The 16th seed in the Midwest Regional is President Donald Trump’s beloved alma mater.
And if your New York favorites among the men fall through, don’t forget that Syracuse and Buffalo are carrying the banner of the Empire State in the NCAA women’s tournament.