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Gillibrand takes action

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announces a push on

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announces a push on the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards Act at her office in Manhattan on Jan. 13, 2019. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Daily Point

Gillibrand aims for debate stage

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign says she has qualified for the first Democratic presidential debates this summer, but you wouldn’t know it from the Facebook ads she’s running.

“GET KIRSTEN ON THE DEBATE STAGE,” the ads say, encouraging viewers to donate “to stay on track to qualify for the debates.”

There are two ways to qualify for the all-important contests: Register 1 percent or more in three of a number of vetted polls, or receive donations from at least 65,000 unique donors (and at least 200 per state in at least 20 states).

Gillibrand’s campaign tells The Point that she’s greenlit for the debate due to her performance on four polls, but as of Wednesday morning she hadn’t yet reached 65,000 donors.

The Democratic National Committee has said there won’t be a “kiddie table” debate and placement on the debate stage is random, so the 65,000-donor mark doesn’t matter for that. But it could have tie-breaker implications: If more than 20 candidates qualify, the top 20 would be selected by a methodology rewarding the candidates who meet both thresholds.

It’s hard to see Gillibrand dropping that far down in the field, but the ads might be an attempt to gin up more fundraising and clear the second threshold in a bid to show more support and standing among frontrunners.

On that front, she’s already behind. Several other candidates have said they raised money from more than 65,000 people. See, for example, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who started on his first post-grad school job around when Gillibrand was first elected to Congress. He has been running a more valedictory Facebook ad about the debates:

“Thank you for your support over the last two months. In that short amount of time, this community met the 65,000-donor threshold to get invited to the DNC debate,” says the Buttigieg ad.

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

AG James makes the rounds

Attorney General Letitia James visited Long Island Wednesday for conversations about opioid addiction, and met with the Newsday editorial board for a wide-ranging discussion regarding what she’s been up to during her first few months on the job. Wednesday marked her 100th day in office, James said.

Besides the opioid crisis, James said she’s focused locally on zombie homes and wage theft, among a host of other issues. She’s also studying the claims the state must pay out due to bad behavior by state officials and employees. At the top of her list: the state Department of Corrections. James said she’s working with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to establish an accountability program so she can analyze the amount of claims the state is paying out, and whether there are ways to catch or change poor behavior, through retraining and other means, before it ends up costing state taxpayers.

In the course of her discussion with the editorial board, James answered questions sent by Point subscribers. In response to one about housing diversity and exclusionary zoning codes, James noted that it often takes a referral to get a case started regarding civil rights violations in housing, but that she’s also attuned to the issue and looks for ways to make a case from what she hears at town hall meetings and discussions with her regional representatives.

In response to a question regarding the attorney general’s lawsuit against 3M and other manufacturers of harmful chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS, found in firefighting foam and other products, James said she had no estimate of how much it would cost to clean up the toxins on Long Island or around the state but that she is “seeking some financial damages.” She noted that the litigation came out of specific regional offices, but she could amend the complaint to reflect Long Island or statewide pollution if warranted.

But even as she works on those local issues, James’ attention is drawn also to federal topics, from the environment and the Affordable Care Act to the Census and entities affiliated with President Donald Trump. She said the state is negotiating with the Trump Foundation to come to a settlement that would dissolve the charity, ban individuals involved with it from being on other non-profit boards -- including Trump family members -- and distribute any assets to other, reputable charities.

The next big date on James’ calendar: April 23, when she will head down to Washington to hear Supreme Court arguments in the Census case, in which New York is taking the lead among a coalition of 18 states. The case challenges the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

Revolving door

or more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

History Point

Today in history

Some days in history are just more interesting than others.

Today, April 10, is one of them, for its collection of eclectic events that serve as a parable about starts and finishes.

  • In 1912, it was the day the heralded Titanic set sail from Southampton, England to New York City amid great fanfare as a ship thought to be unsinkable; four days later, it struck the iceberg that sent it to the ocean floor.
  • In 1925, it was the day “The Great Gatsby” was published to mixed reviews and poor sales such that author F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 believing his Long Island-centered novel would be forgotten and that he himself was a failure; now Gatsby is considered a literary classic, Fitzgerald a giant of the arts, and mansions on the North Shore still try to tie themselves to the era and characters he depicted.
  • April 10 also captures the start and finish of the arc of Adolf Hitler’s awful reign. In 1932, an ascendant Hitler finished second in Germany’s presidential election and soon after was named chancellor, giving him the springboard with which he quickly seized power. On April 10, 1938, Hitler annexed Austria. And on this day in 1945, Allied troops liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp, 20 days before Hitler committed suicide.
  • It was an auspicious day in sports — April 10, 1947 being the day Jackie Robinson signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers; five days later he broke baseball’s color line in a game at Ebbets Field before a crowd of more than 26,000, more than half of whom were black.
  • And it was auspicious in sports-as-politics — on April 10, 1971, an American table tennis team gave rise to the phrase “ping-pong diplomacy” when it arrived in China on a goodwill visit that marked a thaw in relations with the communist nation.
  • April 10 marked two other important debuts. In 1790, the U.S. patent system was established. And in 1886, the New York State Legislature passed the charter that incorporated the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, founded by a New York City philanthropist and diplomat named Henry Bergh. It took 102 years for those two events to cross paths, when the world’s first patent for an animal was granted to Harvard University for “Oncomouse,” a mouse genetically modified by scientists to develop cancers for research purposes. It narrowly missed a date-in-history trifecta, being granted on April 12.
  • And in 1962, came a beginning and end all rolled into one. That was the day Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bass player for The Beatles, died in West Germany. Which forced a reluctant Paul McCartney to switch from rhythm guitar. The rest, as they say, is history — including a self-interview Paul published on April 10, 1970, in which he implied (correctly, as it turned out) that The Beatles were breaking up.

What will we remember from today’s April 10 in the years to come?

Michael Dobie

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