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Reading the Nassau DA tea leaves

Nassau County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Cairo is

Nassau County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Cairo is interviewed in his office at Nassau Republican Headquarters in Westbury, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Daily Point

Who's on the DA radar of GOP leader

For Nassau County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Cairo, it feels like a long period of hibernation is coming to an end. For more than a year the longtime politico, who was used to a steady diet of political and civic events every evening, stayed in his North Valley Stream home discovering the joys of bingeing with "Gunsmoke" ("there are like 600 episodes, so it keeps you busy") and "Seinfeld" ("I never even knew when it was on before, but I started watching during COVID and I’m kind of hooked!").

But now Cairo says his dance card is filling back up, with multiple events every night at which to drop by and plenty of local players who want to put a thought in his ear.

The hot topic? The previously unexpected special election for Nassau DA, scheduled for the day of November’s general election.

Party leaders get to pick the candidates. Cairo says the GOP expects to start interviewing later in the week, and shared five names of candidates he has either spoken to or been told are interested:

  • Joseph Nocella, currently Hempstead Town attorney, chief-of-staff to Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin before that.
  • Joy Watson, worked in the Nassau DA’s office for 20 years, was the GOP nominee in 2009.
  • State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Feinman.
  • State Supreme Court Judge Francis Ricigliano.
  • Ameer Benno, the GOP’s 2018 nominee in the 4th congressional district, a former prosecutor in Manhattan and president of the Merrick-Bellmore Jewish Community Council.

Cairo argues the list already has a lot to offer but, asked whether he wants a bigger name, said, "Of course, if it’s the right person, why wouldn’t I want a heavy hitter to put on the ballot? I’m looking to identify the person who would be best suited, and I think crime right now is an issue that’s going to get this race a lot of attention."

Cairo pointed to problems in New York City with shootings and attacks on Jews and Asians as issues that have Nassau voters concerned and acknowledged that adding a DA race to the ticket might change the tone of the election and overtake their primary message that the property tax assessment system remains broken.

But asked if he’d have done anything differently in choosing his county executive nominee, Bruce Blakeman, to oust incumbent County Executive Laura Curran, Cairo said, "I don’t think we’d do anything different at all with our other races. I think we have the right candidates."

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Kaminsky for the prosecutors

For a second time, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week signed into law the creation of a new commission to probe instances of alleged misconduct by prosecutors.

The reason for the repeat performance: A judge last year voided an earlier commission statute, deeming the 11-member panel’s powers unconstitutionally broad. The narrower version of the law has a better chance of surviving court challenges.

The redo has one detail of special local interest. On May 26, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky of Long Beach became the lone Democrat in the upper house to vote against the revised bill, according to an online roll call tally. By opposing the legislation, Kaminsky sided with the state’s district attorneys, including Nassau’s Madeline Singas, whom he seeks to succeed now that she has moved up to the state Court of Appeals.

As it happened, Kaminsky’s vote came a day after Cuomo’s nomination of Singas to the top court.

This week, the county Democrats’ executive committee is due to decide whether Kaminsky, the best-funded of all the prospective nominees in the November election, will go on the November ballot for DA. Officials said the committee will convene Friday rather than Monday night as earlier planned.

To be clear, Kaminsky voted against the misconduct commission in its first incarnation — well before the current nomination opening for which he’s widely believed to have an inside track. As a former federal prosecutor, the senator said in 2018: "We want prosecutors to make decisions based on evidence and the law, not what could get them dragged in front of a … politically created tribunal." And the issue has been far from strictly partisan, at least on Long Island.

While 16 of the 17 Senate "nays" statewide came from Republicans, three of Long Island’s four GOP senators voted in favor of the bill — Phil Boyle, Alexis Weik and Mario Mattera. Only Sen. Anthony Palumbo, a former assistant district attorney in Suffolk, voted against it.

For his part, Boyle, the longest-serving of that group, noted a local case that would warrant attention from such a misconduct commission — that of a former Suffolk homicide prosecutor who failed to turn over exculpatory evidence in a 2017 murder trial. More than three years later, the Second Judicial Department Appellate Division suspended the law license of the ex-ADA, Glenn Kurtzrock.

If Kaminsky is nominated for DA, his Republican opponent — whomever it proves to be — will put a critical shine on his voting record, and not just on this issue.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Pencil Point

Stopped the steal

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Final Point

All kinds of crazy

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is going on the offensive, pushing back against criticism of him by describing it as "craziness." Once again, he has the facts on his side.
  • U.S. Catholic bishops have decided to write new guidance that could deny President Joe Biden, the most religiously devout president since Jimmy Carter, the right to receive Communion because of his support for abortion rights. And the church wonders why it’s losing members?
  • So now the Nassau Hub might break ground as early as March because of a new "aggressive" timeline set by the developers and county officials. After nearly 20 years of failure, "aggressive" would be something new.
  • Embattled Fox News host Maria Bartiromo lashed back at critics, saying, "Keep trashing me, I’ll keep telling the truth." A more accurate response would have been, "Keep telling me the truth, I’ll keep trashing it."
  • The dangerous Delta variant of COVID-19 is becoming prevalent in unvaccinated communities in Britain. Given that what’s happened in the UK relative to the coronavirus ends up happening later in the U.S., that should be a warning.
  • Former President Donald Trump issued the following on Father’s Day: "Happy Father’s Day to all, including the Radical Left, RINOs, and other Losers of the world. Hopefully, eventually, everyone will come together!" After a pep talk like that …
  • Yelp researchers studying food and restaurant reviews discovered that mentions of "espresso martini" jumped 300% in the first half of 2021 compared to three years ago. Some things defy intelligent explanation.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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