Good Morning
Good Morning

Queens vote draws to an end

Public defender Tiffany Cabán, left, and Queens Borough

Public defender Tiffany Cabán, left, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Credit: Composite image / Getty Images; Todd Maisel

Daily Point

Katz counting

The recount in the Queens District Attorney’s primary is slowly winding up, and Borough President Melinda Katz has at least a 60-vote lead over progressive activist Tiffany Cabán. The count should finish next week, but insiders say it’s all but certain Katz will win in a contest that became a proxy for the national fight for the soul of the Democratic Party between moderates and the party's socialist wing. 

As the would-be Democratic nominee, Katz is expected to coast to victory in this fall’s election to replace the late Richard Brown.

However, Cabán’s supporters are likely to take their fight into State Supreme Court and demand that all provisional ballots be counted. Those ballots fall into two categories: about 200 were cast at incorrect polling sites while another 78 ballots were set aside because the voters failed to affirm whether they were members of the Democratic Party.

Voting in the wrong polling site is likely a fatal flaw because it opens the possibility that someone could have voted twice. The Court of Appeals appeared to have settled that issue in 2005 during the recount between Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Republican Nicholas Spano in a Westchester State Senate race. The 78 ballots that don’t have the Democratic Party box checked off are likely to be opened. But the odds don’t favor Cabán making up at least a 60-vote difference when the ballots were cast all over Queens in a seven-person race.

The process of manually examining each ballot has taken its toll, especially for Cabán insurgents, who are determined to elevate a victory by a young public defender into a national example of how Democrats should move sharply left. That’s why the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders last week used its contact list in the NYC area to ask for volunteer observers to monitor the recount. 

As for Katz, the Bronx and Brooklyn Democratic organizations sent volunteers to the recount but Nassau County Democrats, who have gained considerable experience over the years sparring with the Republican Party’s ninja force of elections experts, rotated in 10 observers a day, one for each of the counting tables at the Board of Election offices in Middle Village.

- Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

Kaiman to the rescue?

Could there be a last-minute effort to settle the brutal fight between LIPA and Northport residents?

The court case between the Long Island Power Authority and the Town of Huntington over the tax valuation of the Northport Power Plant is headed back to court Monday for final arguments. It’s been a long, drawn-out case in which most players concede a negotiated settlement is the right answer. The $3.4 billion value the town puts on the plant is far too high, but the impact of a huge and instant reduction in the $84 million a year in taxes LIPA ratepayers fork over, plus a potential $800 million immediate refund of past overpayments, would be catastrophic.

Suffolk Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman now is in the mix, an emissary sent by County Executive Steve Bellone, who is one of many officials under increasing pressure from the Concerned Taxpayers Against LIPA. That group’s Facebook group boasts about 4,600 members, and it is persistent with its demands at public events, on social media and through telephone calls to officials.

In a phone interview Thursday, Kaiman told The Point, “We’ve been watching what’s been going on and we have a sense it’s coming to a head, and it would be helpful if everybody got back to the negotiating table.”

Kaiman said he’s been informally canvassing the players representing LIPA, the Northport-East Northport school district and the town, along with residents and leaders of Concerned Taxpayers Against LIPA. 

Unsticking such situations is a role that Kaiman, best known for his time as North Hempstead Town supervisor, has increasingly been assigned. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had him head up the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, where he negotiated an end to the county pay freeze, and run the New York Rising operation that led the state’s Sandy recovery effort.

Whether he will be the conduit to Cuomo, who some view as the ultimate negotiator in this case, could determine how far Kaiman’s portfolio takes him.

- Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point


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Reference Point

Mad about Medicare

“Socialism!” was the angry charge.

“Nonsense!” was the stolid rejoinder.

The debate played out fiercely — no, not just today — but 58 years ago, during a debate over the early version of the bill that would establish Medicare.

The American Medical Association lobbed the accusation that financing medical care for senior citizens via Social Security contributions was socialism.

“This comment is not only silly, but it is also an exaggeration,” Newsday’s editorial board wrote on July 26, 1961. “Instead, it is a pre-paid method of financing institutional care.”

The board anticipated arguments being made today about various proposals from Democratic presidential candidates for single-payer health care, free college and the like.

“The reason the word ‘socialism’ fails to affright,” the board wrote, “is that if you wish to equate services rendered by the government to its people with socialism, we have a good many dating back a long way.”

The board noted as “socialistic” examples the U.S. Post Office, the Tennessee Valley Authority and other public power agencies, the interstate highway system, and the granting of public land to western railroads to enable private financing that let them extend across the country.

“The plain fact is that, in a complex society, government has to administer certain services that private enterprise will not, or cannot, undertake economically,” the board wrote. “This is not socialism; it is just common sense.”

And still, we argue.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie