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Gordon, de Blasio play a game of votes

Lt. Col. Jackie Gordon, center leader of the

Lt. Col. Jackie Gordon, center leader of the 310th Military Police Brigade at Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale, NY on Jan. 4, 2012. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Daily Point

Gordon throws her hat in the ring

The 2020 race for New York’s 2nd Congressional District heated up Wednesday with the entry of Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon. Her launch puts pressure on other Democrats to get in the race and catch up, and it takes away the narrative advantage that 2018 candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley had as the only woman in the race.

Gordon was born in Jamaica, West Indies, and grew up in Queens, serving in the Army Reserve and retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel, according to her campaign.

She has more ties to the local Democratic establishment than Grechen Shirley, who lost by 15,000 votes to Rep. Pete King in the 2nd CD last year and missed the early support of Suffolk Democratic leader Rich Schaffer in her primary.

Gordon interacts with Schaffer through their Babylon posts — he is the town's supervisor — and a 2018 Facebook ad from State Sen. John Brooks pictures Gordon endorsing Brooks with Democrats Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre and Suffolk Legis. DuWayne Gregory, who lost to Grechen Shirley in the congressional primary.

Gordon would have both government and military service to point to in a fight with King.

“A single mom, a soldier, a school counselor, and a public servant, Jackie has made it her mission to do more in everything she does,” says Gordon’s launch news release.

As for others jumping into the race? Citing her new political initiative, Grechen Shirley says she’s “focused on the great work that Vote Mama is doing supporting Democratic moms running for office.”

Still, she is “seriously considering another run, and discussing it with my family.”

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

The long haul

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be inching closer to a decision on a presidential run. With limited home-state support and a crowded Democratic field, some observers wonder why he would go through the trouble.

One plausible explanation is that the months of speculation have allowed him to increase his national name recognition and fundraise.

The mayor’s Fairness PAC, for example, has been used to raise de Blasio’s profile and support Democrats in New York and around the country. But The Point wondered whether it could one day also be used to pay down some of de Blasio’s lingering and hefty legal bills from investigations that wrapped up in 2017 into his outside fundraising.

De Blasio has looked for ways to pay his legal bills, some of which are considered outside the scope of his public position.

Paying from a state-level committee does not appear to be allowed.

But there may be more daylight on the federal level. A Federal Election Commission spokesman told The Point in an email: “There is nothing under federal campaign finance law and agency regulations that would specifically prohibit such a payment.”

The spokesman added that someone could file a complaint “alleging that such a transaction is a violation of campaign finance law.” It would then be up to the commissioners to determine whether a violation had occurred.  

The 2019 financial filings for the mayor’s federal Fairness PAC are not available on the FEC’s website. If de Blasio actually became a federal candidate, he would set up a separate committee and direct donations to his candidacy. The committee would have more restrictions on use of funds.

The legal bills are not a favored topic of conversation for de Blasio.

Asked about the Fairness hypothetical, a campaign spokeswoman for the mayor wrote in an email that de Blasio’s legal bills “are being addressed through recently passed Council Legislation” and declined further comment. That council legislation, which allows public officials to create legal defense trusts for legal expenses in certain criminal and civil matters, passed the council in January. According to the council’s website, it aged into existence without the signature of the mayor.

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Shell game

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Reference Point

Dreaming of Jones Beach

The weather’s been lousy. Between the rain, the chill and the gloom, not many Long Islanders have been thinking about the beach.

But Newsday’s editorial board had the beach on its brain — this week in 1946, when it wrote about Jones Beach.

The topic was lofty — literally — as the board supported a notion to build air strips near the venerable park so private planes could fly to the seaside.

The impetus was a $500 million airport bill signed that week by President Harry Truman. It was time, the board wrote, “that Long Island airmen and planners got together and decided what they want in the way of small air strips for future private fliers.”

By 1950, according to federal estimates cited by the board, the metro region would have 40,000 such private planes.

“Many of those 40,000 fliers would be headed for Jones Beach, among other recreation spots on Long Island, come summertime,” the board wrote on May 16, 1946. “But whether or not they will find landing facilities at Jones Beach is a matter of debate.”

The roadblock was state parks commissioner and master planner Robert Moses, who “is allergic to airplanes buzzing around his parkways,” the board opined. The ostensible reasons: they posed a danger to cars and depressed real estate values, arguments the board deemed “certainly questionable.” Its evidence was that no one thought planes flying to and from LaGuardia Airport were a menace to cars on the Triborough (now Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge.

“Small airports for civilian fliers will be needed in many parts of the Island before long. Before land values soar higher and while government assistance is available is the logical time to set up a system,” the board wrote.

The board called for a joint Nassau and Suffolk county airport authority to plan “a series of landing places for the air traffic of years to come.”

We all know how that went.

So Moses got his way, again. And thankfully so. No fliers at Jones Beach.

Except for the planes pulling ad banners and the Memorial Day weekend air show. And the kites.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie