Daily Point

TOH supervisor keeps pushing the envelopes

Ordinarily, elected officials send out holiday cards to constituents at their own or their campaign fund’s expense. At least that’s what is proper and expected with any personal or self-promotional mailing.

So to those who know the drill, it was a bit of a surprise when in recent days residents of the Town of Hempstead received warm season greetings from Supervisor Don Clavin, with Town Hall at 1 Washington Street as the return address — and stamped on a Pitney Bowes machine with a Hempstead ZIP code.

It was a very nice, tasteful blue card with a fitting snowflake border. "Best wishes for a joyful holiday season and a healthy, Happy New Year!" it proclaimed, with a signature from "Don." One town resident told The Point that it had to be a "first."

Contacted for comment, Clavin issued a statement through his campaign committee Tuesday afternoon: "Friends of Don Clavin paid for 400 holiday cards to be printed for distribution to friends of the Supervisor. Inadvertently, 195 cards had postage affixed at the Town's mail room.

"The Town has already been reimbursed for postage costs of $103.35 by Friends of Don Clavin. In accordance with the law, no disclaimer appeared on the cards as fewer than 500 cards were produced." The statement did not explain how the cards made it into the basement of Town Hall where they had to be handled by town personnel and placed in printed envelopes with an official return address — or whether the number was purposely kept under 500 to avoid printing disclaimers.

One might just respond to the "inadvertently" part of Clavin’s response with a casual dismissal of a mistake, except this is the sort of thing for which Republican Clavin’s political critics have been bird-dogging him for years.

Just last month, Jason Abelove, his unsuccessful Democratic opponent, called for investigations of what he called taxpayer-funded mailers that double as campaign literature. It’s unclear whether county election officials, comptroller officials or state ethics officials ever took up the matter as Abelove requested.

"They’re coming almost daily, now that we’re close to the election," Abelove said at the time, citing a budget report update on "Clavin’s 2022 budget to cut taxes and maintain services," one promoting parks improvements, and a town event billed very personally as "Don Clavin’s summer of fun."

Back in 2018, when Clavin was the town’s receiver of taxes, then-Democratic town supervisor Laura Gillen targeted his conspicuous mailing habits.

"The only elected official in the Town of Hempstead who has spent more than what was spent last year and who has spent more than every other elected official in the town is our receiver of taxes," Gillen said. "He has spent more this year than every other elected official combined."

As a second-term supervisor, Clavin persists in putting his stamp on a sometimes-controversial flow of mail.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Talking Point

Targeted JCOPE throws the book at Cuomo

Nearly 20 years ago, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik agreed with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board to pay a $2,500 fine for using three police officers to do research for his autobiography. Kerik admitted that while in office he used the officers to help him discover and describe how his mother died in Ohio.

That old outcome against a public official who later went to prison on other charges may be forgotten. But it shows just how proportionally massive the new attempted punishment by the state’s ethics commission JCOPE is against ex-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over his book "American Crisis," which staffers played a key role in preparing while on the public payroll.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, now under new management, is pressured by criticism it has been too lenient on the former administration. Now it is seeking to seize the ex-governor's $5.1 million advance. The vote to do so on Tuesday was 12-1. The commission’s future is in doubt anyway after the upcoming budget, with lawmakers still unsure on a plan to replace or revamp it.

Jim McGuire, a lawyer whom Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi says represents the former governor on issues related to the book, issued a statement saying "JCOPE’s actions today are unconstitutional, exceed its own authority and appear to be driven by political interests rather than the facts and the law. Should they seek to enforce this action, we’ll see them in court."

All sides in the controversy expect that to be the case.

The COVID-19 book has been a focus of procedural chaos. Back in October, after Gov. Kathy Hochul declared her intent to reform JCOPE, the panel failed to revoke its earlier authorization for Cuomo to publish the book. In November it did so, and now, the ethics panel is popping eyes with an action the likes of which wasn’t foreseen when Cuomo and the State Legislature first created it as a reform measure.

Last month, the Assembly report on Cuomo stated: "The evidence obtained demonstrates that senior officials, and the former Governor, worked on the Book during the course of normal work routines. One senior state official referred to work on the Book as no different from any other assignment he received from the Executive Chamber during COVID."

And all this puts Attorney General Letitia James back in the spotlight, at least as it involves JCOPE and Cuomo. Her office has officially had the book deal under scrutiny for months and issued at least one subpoena as early as September. It was unclear Tuesday exactly what she will do with regard to the new JCOPE action against Cuomo.

At least this week, compared with last, nobody can credibly accuse James of shaping her official action around succeeding Cuomo, or Hochul, as governor.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Pencil Point

Mighty change

Credit: San Diego Union-Tribune/Steve Breen

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Final Point

Championship politics

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a City Hall ceremony Tuesday for New York City Football Club’s championship win, an event that’s also a big marker for him — it's the first championship earned by a major pro sports team in Gotham under his tenure.

The Red Sox-fan mayor almost went through his full time in Gracie Mansion without an NYC win, something that hadn’t happened in decades — which the New York Post was happy to chide the mayor about this fall, noting that Fiorello La Guardia nabbed a bountiful nine championships.

The last-minute win for both the Brooklyn Democrat and NYCFC (which pulled off the victory in penalty kicks) got us wondering how Long Island’s current county executives have fared in the pro sports department.

In Suffolk, Steve Bellone presided over the Long Island Ducks’ 2019 win in the Atlantic League Professional Baseball Championship Series.

And Laura Curran can boast a 2019 conference title for the Nassau-based Long Island Nets, an NBA G League outfit. In the National Premier Soccer League, there was also a regional crown for the New York Cosmos in the same year, after a win at the Mitchel Athletic Complex.

Then there are the Islanders, about whose hockey and home ice woes much ink has been spilled. They failed to earn a Stanley Cup while Curran was in office.

But Curran did get to celebrate a homecoming earlier this year for the Islanders at the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park. Development at Belmont has been a long and winding road, including, incidentally, a one-time proposal for an NYCFC stadium. But that didn’t happen, to de Blasio’s gain.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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