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Battling it out in the mail, at court

Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) on Jan. 15, 2019,

Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) on Jan. 15, 2019, in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

Daily Point

Air support for Gianaris

The tagline of the Primaries for Progress newsletter is “Primaries in blue America and risk-free moves to the left.” It’s a project of new left-leaning think tank Data for Progress. The newsletter highlights politicians the group designates as ripe for challenges from the left, often people on the national stage. Thursday’s edition, for instance, features members of Congress, including New Yorkers Nita Lowey and Jerry Nadler.

But the newsletter also featured a more local race: New York’s 12th State Senate District in Queens, represented by Sen. Michael Gianaris. And the think tank wasn’t threatening him, but protecting him, from a challenge not from the left but the right. 

That potential challenger is Justin Potter, the founder of Brooklyn-based internet seller Nettleton Hollow who says he changed his voter registration from Republican to Democrat this year. He criticizes Gianaris’ fight against Amazon’s HQ2 project in Long Island City. 

That fight certainly angered more moderate New York Democrats and Republicans, and Gianaris sided with the Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wing against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. But swathes of Gianaris’ district in the Queens DA race went widely for Tiffany Cabán, the most left-leaning candidate in that race, whom Gianaris supported. He also was a major part of the anti-Independent Democratic Conference movement in the State Senate that led to the group’s electoral defeat and a more left-leaning body.

Yet Data for Progress is bringing in air support for the state senator to rally the troops if the going gets tough from the right. 

It’s another example of Queens getting national attention, Gianaris included. When 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren held an Amazon-critical rally in Queens this spring, Gianaris was prominently featured. 

Can’t hurt to shore up support in uncertain political times. 

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Anti-vaxxers go to court

Nearly 30 percent of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the repeal of the state’s religious exemption for vaccination are from Long Island. 

Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccination group led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., filed the action Wednesday against New York State, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James. 

The lawsuit has more than 50 plaintiffs, all identified by initials, who said they previously had religious exemptions and claim their children can no longer attend school. About 15 Long Island families with nearly 30 children, ranging from elementary to high school, are part of the lawsuit.

While many of the other plaintiffs come from yeshivas in New York City and Rockland County, the vast majority of the Long Island parents send their children to public schools. There were multiple families in the Riverhead and Plainview-Old Bethpage school districts, while most of the others were spread out, covering communities from Oceanside and Merrick to Northport and Bay Shore.

State lawmakers voted last month to end the religious exemption on vaccinations, a move that came amid a statewide and nationwide measles epidemic. Since last fall, there have been 986 cases of the measles in New York State, including 620 in New York City, although the number of new cases has slowed in recent weeks.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status in state Supreme Court, does not specify which religious beliefs prevented those families from vaccinating, although it does focus on and highlight Jewish families whose children attend yeshivas. None of the major religions, including Judaism, formally oppose vaccination.

The plaintiffs are asking for a temporary restraining order to stop the new law that bans the religious exemption. The state is expected to respond to the lawsuit Thursday.

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

All in

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Final Point

Democratic Socialism, illustrated

For those who enjoyed the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comic book in May, we’ve got some good news: Sen. Bernie Sanders is the latest politician to get the comic book treatment, this time in an anthology collection cheekily called “Talk Bernie to Me” by Devil’s Due Publishing. 

Similar to AOC’s comic debut, Sanders' book includes 16 features about the Vermont senator. They range from the inane (Think, Bernie Sanders commanding a giant robot suit) to the autobiographical like an illustrated selection of some of Sanders' most famous quotes and a comic book-style retelling of his political career.

The book was clearly created by writers who admire Sanders' political viewpoints. AOC plays a prominent role in several of the stories, which makes sense given the similarities between their political ideologies and the popularity of Devil’s Due’s previous foray into the world of political comic books.

And depending on how things shake out in 2020, the book might be a good investment, even though Sanders himself might not approve of online sellers asking for more than the $5.99 retail price.

- Michael Cusanelli @mcusanelliSB

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