Smithtown is 'Town Trump' in Germany
As the politics in Smithtown started to become extremely heated over the past two years, the battles attracted attention, first locally, then nationally.
And now, internationally.
Earlier this month, the German newspaper TAZ (short for Die Tageszeitung) published a 2,500-word piece on Smithtown School District board meetings and the politics of the town and moment. The newspaper itself has been unabashedly left-leaning since its founding in 1978. The reporter, a well-known German correspondent living in New York named Dorothea Hahn, gave both sides space to speak. But the piece clearly sided against the attendees who have started showing up to oppose mask mandates and the (theoretical) teaching of "Critical Race Theory," three of whom won seats on that board last May.
The piece is circulating on Facebook thanks to Maddox Elbert, a 13-year-old student and activist in the district. Elbert posted a link on his page, along with an English version he created with Google Translate.
Elbert told The Point he was not at the meeting Hahn attended, though he knows others she interviewed who were, and said she took some of his comments (such as belonging to his school’s LGBTQ group) and the ugly crowd response from recordings of meetings.
The (loosely?) translated headline of the piece is "Culture War in the Auditorium:"
And in English, the first paragraph reads:
"Diversity? Just don't! In Smithtown, New York, white parents want to protect their children from all the supposedly newfangled ways of bringing up children."
But the piece is also an exploration of the larger politics of both the town and the issues, and the hard-right attendees and members of groups like "Long Island Loud Majority" and "Save Our Schools" are treated respectfully, their quotes printed without editorial comment.
The piece calls Smithtown "Trump Town," and its commissioning highlights how fascinated the rest of the world is with the political games playing out in the United States.
And its final paragraph centers on the Newsday investigation two years ago which showed that as many as half of undercover testers sent out by the newspaper to pose as prospective homebuyers were racially steered toward or away from certain areas and properties.
The story, in German, can be found here.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
Nassau GOP meet to be upbeat — no matter how masked
Nassau Republicans gather Sunday at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale for their annual "kickoff brunch." The $175-per-ticket event ushers in a new election cycle. Expect the mood to be unusually upbeat, insiders say, coming three months after the surprising GOP surge in local elections across Long Island.
County chairman Joe Cairo and other party officials are bound to discuss who might run for what. All speculation is limited, however, by one yet-unanswerable question — how district lines for congressional, Assembly and State Senate lines will look. The State Legislature’s vote on proposed maps remains weeks away with nominations due next month.
Possibilities abound. If the lines are right, Assemb. Ed Ra, a resident of Garden City South, could make a bid for the Senate seat now occupied by Long Beach Democrat Todd Kaminsky. By all accounts petulant in the weeks after losing the race for district attorney to Anne Donnelly, Kaminsky has not officially said whether he will seek reelection; operatives in both major parties believe he will not.
Ra, representing what is now the 19th district, has gathered some seniority in Albany, formerly led GOP floor operations, and is ranking minority member of the key Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
At one time it was a clear step up for an Assembly Republican to go to the Senate, when that chamber was GOP-controlled or at least conducted by a bipartisan coalition.
Now that Democrats hold a supermajority in both houses, the best the party can achieve this year is to break that two-thirds grip, but they are highly unlikely to wrest the majority. Sent a message by The Point through his office, Ra didn’t offer a comment Friday on what he may choose to do.
Sunday’s fete is expected to attract the usual crowd of GOP rank-and-file, chairs, local club members, town, city and village officials, and contributors — potentially more if the recent ballot wins, such as in North Hempstead Town, boost participation. The top category of sponsorship listed on invitations is for $10,000.
As for plans, the Long Island Marriott website says "Signage throughout our hotels … remind guests to maintain social distancing," and that there are "occupancy limits and seating capacities reductions in our restaurants in compliance with local and state mandates, and partitions installed at front desks and food and beverage service lines."
In the restaurant, it’s "masks required at all times," and in the lounge, it says, "masks required for entry" in tune with state restrictions.
But with new County Executive Bruce Blakeman making much of his opposition to certain local COVID-19 restrictions, The Point sought to find out how mandatory mask-wearing might really be inside the locale at Sunday’s fete.
A GOP spokesman replied: "Masks will be available for use."
— Dan Janison @Danjanison
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In the news
Welcome to this week’s news quiz, based on events that took place this week. As usual, provide the answer for each clue, one letter per blank. The first letter of each answer, taken in order, spells the name of the United States senator who said this about the struggle to pass voting rights legislation: "I’ve got no new answers at all. Good meetings, good discussions, the president gave a good speech. That’s about it."
A link to the answers appears below.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Mountain State governor who said he is "extremely unwell" after testing positive for COVID-19.
_ _ _ _ _ _ Awards show that announced it will have a host for the first time in four years.
_ _ _ _ _ The combined number of wins posted this season by the New York Jets and Giants.
_ _ _ _ _ Dr. Anthony Fauci was caught on a hot mic calling Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall this, after Marshall falsely accused Fauci of hiding his financial disclosure forms.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ City in which President Joe Biden made a major voting rights speech.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Major League Baseball team that hired a woman to coach its Low-A farm club, the first woman to manage a team affiliated with MLB.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Suffolk County location of one of the two charter schools approved by State University of New York officials.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Last name of No. 17 in your Mets program, who will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame this summer.
_ _ _ Federal agency that "is in crisis," according to a taxpayer watchdog that cited years of budget cuts, new responsibilities, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Country that conducted its second ballistic missile test in one week.
Click here for the answers to the clued words and to the identity of the mystery senator.
— Michael Dobie @mwdobie
The Point will return on Tuesday, Jan. 18.