Animals on the loose
The runaway bull in the Mastic-Shirley area has brought a little cowboy fun to the doldrums of Long Island summer, but it’s hardly the first time an animal on the loose has captured the region’s interest — politicians included.
First and foremost was the Harlem deer of 2016, a one-antlered creature whose wanderings drew the attention of both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The saga of whether to tranquilize or kill or save the deer became part of the two New York alpha males’ storied feud, a venison vendetta.
De Blasio had already had a bad history with animals trying to escape — in 2014, a Staten Island groundhog squirmed out of the mayor’s hands and later died.
Perhaps we will see more animal flight in the next mayoralty. Democratic primary winner Eric Adams has a well-documented antipathy for the rats that are the city’s numerous tenants, showing off medievelish traps in 2019 that drown the pests. Adams’ GOP mayoral opponent Curtis Sliwa takes in animals on the loose, sharing his home with a whole bunch of rescue cats.
Don’t be surprised if we get more cat content before November, hearkening back to the 2013 mayoral season when Joe Lhota, John Catsimatidis and Anthony Weiner bickered about shutting down the subway for a wandering cat.
For now, we have the Suffolk County bull, and who can say what comes next. Maybe it declares its candidacy for CD1.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Zeldin’s at homestretch pace at outset of run
When Rep. Lee Zeldin hit Saratoga Race Track with his wife and daughters for opening weekend last Saturday, it was not his first trip to the area in his quest to become New York’s governor. Zeldin managed to hit all 62 counties at least once by last month, and his campaigning pace, combined with congressional duties, has been so torrid you’d think his election was in four months, not one year and four months.
When Zeldin spoke to The Point Friday afternoon he was just leaving the Allegany County Fair, and headed to a tour of Livingston County. Thursday night was the Chautauqua County Republican Party dinner, while Friday morning saw Zeldin in Cattaraugus. Other stops between Thursday and Saturday evening included Steuben, Chenango, Delaware and Tioga counties.
With so much time spent upstate, Zeldin, who is the consensus front-runner for the GOP nod but faces opponents including former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, said the travels fit an overlapping strategy of seeking support for both the nomination and general election.
But he bristles at the suggestion that his method has him skimping on Democratic strongholds like New York City, or neglecting his House job.
"I would say that my time has been spent evenly around the state," Zeldin said, pointing to his campaigning in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge this week, one of the city’s more conservative-friendly outposts, and recently opening a campaign office a block from Penn Station.
But Zeldin did concede that his geographical focus looks a lot more equal if you figure it by square miles than population.
As far as House responsibilities, he says he has not missed a vote or made a single one by proxy even during the pandemic, is in D.C. at least Monday through Thursday, and will be back on the Island Saturday night.
And why is he going so hard, so early?
"This is a huge state," Zeldin said "and I have to introduce myself to the voters. It’s an organic process, you meet one person at a political meeting, maybe they invite you to their home or business for another event, and you make connections and get to know people."
And as far as winning … Zeldin said he did at least make a profit of $2 at Saratoga Saturday, after betting on favorites in three races in cashing in two.
Of course, he’s expected to win in Saratoga. It’s his potential difficulties around Aqueduct and Belmont that a Democratic opponent will look to exploit.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
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Top e-books from LI libraries during COVID-19
Lots of Long Islanders looked to escape into fiction during the pandemic.
Three of the top digitally checked out books in both Nassau and Suffolk public library collectives in 2020 were the same sweeping, stirring works of the imagination: the runaway bestseller "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens, Depression-era historical novel "The Giver of Stars" by Jojo Moyes, and "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng, now also a TV series.
Newsday Opinion asked for the stats in connection with Monday’s editorial about how the region’s libraries adapted during the pandemic. Facilities in both counties got imaginative, offering outdoor lockers to pick up books, digital browsing, shared hotspots, virtual events, and more.
They also loaned over 4 million e-books, as patrons turned to digital reading. Rounding out the top five e-books/e-audiobooks in the Nassau Library System were Alex Michaelides’ thriller "The Silent Patient" and Ann Patchett’s haunting literary family saga "The Dutch House."
The other top e-books borrowed through Suffolk’s Livebrary digital collection were "American Dirt," the controversial immigration story by Jeanine Cummins, and "Educated," Tara Westover’s memoir about a woman’s astonishing upbringing and the lone work of nonfiction of the bunch.
The titles paint a picture of readers eager to pick up something gripping during an extraordinarily challenging year — and libraries were happy to oblige.
Long Island’s libraries are now welcoming the return of their patrons. Read more about what their future might be here.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano