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Opinion

Looking to the past to inform the future

Joan Manahan of Brightwaters, candidate for the Suffolk

Joan Manahan of Brightwaters, candidate for the Suffolk Legislature's 11th District. Credit: Newsday/Rachelle Blinder

Daily Point

Conservative from the start

Joan Manahan is running for the Suffolk County Legislature, but she’s already won.

Manahan, who is competing against Republican incumbent Steve Flotteron and Democratic challenger Joseph McDermott in the 11th district, helped disrupt a plan hatched earlier this year by county Democratic Party boss Rich Schaffer and Conservative Party chair Frank Tinari to give the Conservative line to Democratic candidates in some key county legislative races. 

As she and Flotteron recalled, the Conservative Party was supposed to be the “conscience of the GOP.” In Manahan’s race, McDermott received the Conservative line and Manahan, as principled and established a Conservative as you’ll find, ran a primary against him and won her own party’s nod.

“Tinari went bad, that’s how I look at it,” Manahan said.

Manahan visited Newsday’s editorial board Thursday along with Flotteron and McDermott for an endorsement interview for their race.

While the conversation ranged across issues both countywide and specific to the South Shore district, one thing that leapt out was Manahan’s conservative bona fides. It’s not often, after all, that someone running for office nowadays worked on Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign. Manahan did, and as director of his Islip headquarters helped lead a 92-car motorcade from Brightwaters to Sayville to open a second campaign headquarters there.

Manahan, 88, was a charter member of the state Conservative Party, which was formed in 1962, and served as a committeeperson for the party’s first 20 years. She also worked for Grumman in a variety of positions in its heyday, from 1956 to 1989.

Previous brushes with elective politics, she says, include serving in 1968 as campaign chair for Charles Jerabek, one of the first two Conservative Party members elected to the State Assembly, and then as his legislative aide. Now, 47 years after that gig ended, she’s making a high-spirited, principled bid to join the ranks of lawmakers herself. And, she says, without any support from Tinari.

“He’s never given me a dime being on the line, so he’s absolutely ignored me,” Manahan said. “But I have the party members’ support because they voted me in.”

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Talking Point

Do the math

Political junkies seeing President Donald Trump’s Wednesday morning tweet (and trying not to obsess over Trump’s use of an-all caps vulgarity) could easily have let another aspect of the tweet trigger them. 

Trump wrote:

“The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!”

But Trump’s touted tally of 529 Electoral College votes doesn’t add up. What’s less well-known is that even if Trump’s total of his and Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College votes equalled 538, it still wouldn’t be right.

Going by the totals the day after the election, Trump received 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232. Trump often flips digits, reporting her 232 as 223.

But thanks to seven “faithless electors,” the actual numbers are a bit different and a lot more interesting. 

In some states, Electoral College voters are not bound to vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote, though they generally do. In 2016, though, seven defected.

One vote, from Hawaii, went to Sen. Bernie Sanders. One from Texas went to former Rep. Ron Paul, while another from Texas went to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Perhaps more surprisingly, since the 2106 faithless electors movement was meant to convince 37 voters pledged to Trump to defect to a moderate Republican and throw the election to the House, four Washington delegates originally won by Clinton defected, too.

Three went for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, while one opted for North Dakota Native American activist Faith Spotted Eagle —making the final correct total 304-227 for Trump.

Those seven were the most ever to defect from living candidates in a presidential election. The caveat is Horace Greeley, who lost 63 of the 66 Electoral College votes the popular vote ought to have earned him in the 1872 election when he died three weeks after the election he’d lost to Ulysses Grant and three weeks before the electoral college cast its votes. 

And while Trump’s Electoral College assertion is neither the most interesting nor the most contentious nor the most untrue point in that tweet, it is the easiest one to explain. 

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Not worried

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

Reference Point

When the (tax) levy breaks

Rising school enrollments, overused and inadequate facilities, shortages in funding and materials for construction.

That was Long Island nearly 70 years ago, when the rising post-World War II birth rate was exploding and the first wave of kids was moving through the elementary schools.

Newsday’s editorial board took note of the phenomenon, reporting on Oct. 2, 1951 that the tax levy for schools in Nassau County had risen from $25,532,251 in 1950-51 to $34,692,510 for ’51-’52 — an increase of 36 percent, in one year. State aid, the board noted, was estimated at well more than $10 million when it was $4.7 million five years earlier. The financial situation was so dire that in the state legislative session earlier that year lawmakers appropriated an additional $1.5 million to help cover deficits for new school districts and those where enrollment had increased more than 50 percent.

Newsday’s board, sensing a long-term trend, made a plea on behalf of taxpayers.

“But the tax load must not be made unbearable for residents,” the board wrote. “Which brings us right back again to the urgent need for more industries to help pay that load so that Long Island children can get the schooling they require. Every community must recognize that, too, and work for industrial development. Failure to alter zoning laws to attract industry now is deliberate cheating. Long Island’s own children are the ones who would be cheated.”

But the board also noted that at a meeting that week of school officials statewide, the Freeport and Long Beach superintendents said that solving these problems requires building public support for more teachers, more buildings and better educational services.

The burden on taxpayers and the history of communities voting for school budgets suggests the superintendents succeeded in that endeavor.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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