The other NYC primary
If the 2021 NYC mayoral election didn’t include enough throwbacks to and dark warnings about the era of high city crime, here’s another: Bernard Goetz donated $250 to Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa on March 31.
Sliwa confirmed that the donor was Goetz, the so-called subway vigilante who was acquitted of attempted murder in the 1984 shooting of four Black youths in a case that came to symobolize an era of crime and racial division. The incident revolved around Goetz being approached by the four young men on a Manhattan train and then shooting them with an unregistered handgun, severing the spine of and paralyzing one. Goetz was also accused of using racial epithets at a community meeting months prior to the shooting.
The donation was returned by Sliwa, who founded the Guardian Angels and has been reviving the focus on street and subway crime that brought him to fame in the 1980s, a fame that grew in part because of incidents like the Goetz case.
It’s just one component of Tuesday’s topsy turvy election, where most attention has been focused on the sprawling Democratic primary. While the outcome of that contest will almost certainly still be up in the air Tuesday night, we’ll likely have much more clarity about the two-man GOP contest featuring Sliwa and restaurateur and political donor Fernando Mateo.
In that race, a good number of Long Islanders will have supported the winner one way or the other.
Sliwa and Mateo have received $55,974 and $41,896, respectively, in contributions from Long Island residents, according to a Point analysis of campaign finance records.
The amount is particularly significant for Sliwa, whose $403,970 in total monetary contributions is less overall than Mateo’s $527,780. Sliwa also notched more individual LI donors than his opponent: 437 vs. 101.
Sliwa’s donors include a mix of current and retired municipal workers and small-business people, plus some well-known names like author Nelson DeMille, former 9/11 FDNY commissioner Thomas Von Essen, and public relations maven Todd Shapiro.
Sliwa told The Point that he did not focus on LI fundraising but had a fundraiser in Massapequa including "a lot of residents who were originally from Brooklyn and Queens," some of whom hailed from the Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up.
Though any Republican will go into the general election with a severe voter registration disadvantage, Sliwa is well-known around the region after years of news coverage including Guardian Angel stunts and radio and TV appearances on crime and other issues. He has become interwoven into the political fabric despite many hijinks, leading the Reform Party, and previously being romantically linked to Democrat and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
The interweaving continues. DeMille came through former Rep. Peter King, who is supporting Sliwa. And Sliwa knew Von Essen "who played stickball with me in Ozone Park."
Union election results leave rivals in place
To the leadership of Long Island’s CSEA, the elections that ended last week were high-stakes battles, riddled with intrigue, upon which the future prosperity and scope of the Nassau University Medical Center might ride.
But the membership was not as riled as the leaders, nor as roused about Nassau CSEA President Ron Gurrieri as Region President Jerry Laricchiuta had hoped. Gurrieri won his first election for the spot by a decisive 1,716-1,007 margin.
Laricchiuta tapped him for the post he was vacating a year ago, but then soured on the protege he’d worked with for decades.
"It was very low turnout, which was a surprise considering all that’s going on," Laricchiuta said. "I think union members need to get a lot more active and involved."
Laricchiuta said that now that the membership has spoken, he has to trust their voices, and believe the right people won, even against a slate of candidates that included Laricchiuta’s allies and his brother, who lost the race for first vice-president. "At the end of the day we all have to work together, and if we don’t we’ll have a weak union," Laricchiuta told The Point.
Of 7,491 ballots mailed out for the election, just one-third, 2,772, were returned.
And in the election for NUMC unit president that also took place last week, only about 500 of the 3,000 employees cast a ballot in a race that kept longtime nurse Nina Gavan in the spot.
Both Laricchiuta and Gavan have been relentlessly vocal in their demands that public-mission hospital NUMC and its A. Holly Patterson Nursing Home remain open and see no reduction in the scale of their operations. Gurrieri has been quieter, and has sought to separate himself from Laricchiuta’s sometimes bombastic methods.
NUMC is losing about $100 million a year and has liabilities approaching $1 billion. The board, after a series of leadership turnovers, now has a new chairman, Edward Farbenblum, who is more open to CSEA’s arguments that NUMC can succeed than was the previous chairman, or the head of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, Adam Barsky.
County Executive Laura Curran wants to look at the options for NUMC but she wants to contend with potential CSEA fury after the November election she is heavily favored to win, not before.
Laricchiuta, who is allied with Gavan and says he’s ready to make up with Gurierri, argues that while he knows NUMC will never operate without a subsidy, it can turn in far better financial results than it has while maintaining robust services if it is run properly.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
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Who’s showing up to the MTA meeting?
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is starting to make its way back to "normal" this week, as board members are able to return to 2 Broadway, the MTA’s headquarters, for Wednesday’s board meeting. But the meeting will be a hybrid event, as board members have the option of being in-person.
Long Island’s members are split. Nassau’s David Mack told The Point he’ll show up in-person, while Suffolk’s Kevin Law will take the virtual route.
Law said he had a previous lunch commitment he had made when he was told the meeting would be virtual, but will return to 2 Broadway next month.
Mack said he was looking forward to being back in the MTA’s meeting room, noting that "you really don’t get the flavor on a virtual meeting."
But Mack said he wasn’t sure if he’d be taking the Long Island Rail Road to Manhattan from his home in Kings Point.
Some things still haven’t changed for the MTA. Prior to the pandemic, the MTA would have two days of meetings each month – one for committees, one for the board as a whole. Last year, the committee meetings stopped, and were rolled into the board meeting.
The MTA hasn’t said whether the return to normal will include a return to the two-day meeting setup, which some board members have publicly said they would like to see return.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall